Anti-racists rallied against the Tories’ racist Nationality and Borders Bill on Thursday as the House of Lords began the latest stage in the debate.
Around 150 people chanted at parliament, banged drums and blew whistles.
Protester Harvey slammed the bill as “disgusting”. “This bill, as well as a number of other draconian ones including the police and voting bills will affect so many people,” he told Socialist Worker. “In particular the most vulnerable, like refugees.
“And they’re all designed to scapegoat minorities.”
Harvey thinks the Tories are pushing the anti-refugee rhetoric partly for “political reasons” as well as “a genuine belief and hatred for refugees”. “They’ve created a narrative of desirable and undesirable immigrants and put refugees in a different category,” he said.
“And their rhetoric is to ‘keep people safe’—and borders and banning protests is their solution.
“It’s also to appeal to the most right wing backbenchers and win over voters. But they’re creating a problem to distract from their failings like Covid or now with these parties.”
Freya and Erica are law students who also attended the protest. “This bill is the tip of the iceberg,” said Freya. “They are pushing through so many terrible policies. “And on a human level we have to be against every aspect of the borders bill. My family could potentially have their citizenships removed if it passes.”
Erica said, “These powers will open the door for more and more. How we resist will affect what comes next.”
Speakers from the Sikh Council, Muslim Association of Britain, the RMT union and Jewish Voices for Labour addressed the rally.
They pointed out how refugees are forced to leave their homes because of wars, poverty and climate change. And that it’s not people smugglers that are the problem, but a lack of legislation allowing for safe routes in Britain.
During the demonstration, police warned organisers that a complaint had been made from House the Lords about the use of the microphone.
This was met with drums and chants of, “Kill the bill,” and, “If they won’t give us justice, we won’t give them peace.”
Weyman Bennett from Stand Up to Racism told the crowd it’s “brilliant” that people are resisting.
“In Number 10 there’s a criminal—Boris Johnson partied while black people disproportionately died in the pandemic,” he said.
Weyman said that although Johnson was born in US, he won’t be deported like people who’ve been kicked out of Britain for minor offences. “We can defeat them,” he added. “An injury to one is an injury to all of us.”
He urged people to join the SUTR demonstrations in London and Glasgow on 19 March and Cardiff on 20 March. “They use racism to divide and rule,” he said. “The only way to overcome this is unity and solidarity.”
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