Anti-racists celebrate Bibby Stockholm closure—and say they’ll push Labour to do more

Posted on: July 23rd, 2024 by TTE
refugees barge anti-racists illustrating an article about the Bibby Stockholm closure

Anti-racists in Portland protest against the Bibby Stockholm prison barge last year (Picture: SUTR Dorset)

In a victory for campaigning by refugees and anti-racists, the Home Office will not renew the contract for the Bibby Stockholm prison barge in Portland, Dorset.

Anti-racists and refugees living on the barge—which is now set to close in January 2025—have protested against it since it opened last August.

The prison ship, which Tory former secretary Suella Braverman commissioned last April, holds 400 people.

Most recently the refugees held three days of protests and hunger-strikes last week to pressure Labour to act.  And anti-racists have battled racists who were against refugees being moved to the area.

Candy Udwin from Dorset Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) told Socialist Worker, “We are delighted that the barge is going. The men on the barge have been told that people who’ve been there more than eight months will be transferred to have their asylum claims processed and those who’ve been there less than eight months will have their claims processed on board. 

“The action the guys took last week have been part of making that happen.”

“The lesson is, when refugees and local communities unite we can win victories like this.” 

She added,  “Only safe passage for refugees, not more security, will stop the deaths in the Channel. We’re also calling for an end to the hostile environment. When governments target so-called illegal migrants, that’s what stirs up the far right.” 

The Home Office said the move was part of a commitment to “clear the backlog and fix the asylum system”.

Dame Angela Eagle, minister for border security and asylum, said she wanted the asylum system to operate “swiftly, firmly and fairly”. “The Home Secretary has set out plans to start clearing the asylum backlog and making savings on accommodation which is running up vast bills for the taxpayer,” she said.

But this comes in the same week that Labour home secretary Yvette Cooper announced a “summer blitz” of immigration raids.

The Bibby Stokholm has been ridden with scandals from the beginning. The refugees have long reported how the prison-like conditions on the barge have drastically impacted their mental health—and driven many to feel suicidal.

This culminated in one man, Leonard Farruku, dying on the barge last December by suspected suicide.

Braverman announced the barge in March 2023 and picked Portland to house 500 men the following month. Langham Industries, which owns the private Portland Port, made £2.5 million from its 18-month contract.

The Home Office moved in the first cohort of refugees on 8 August last year—only to move them off four days later after Legionella bacteria was found in the water system. It forced the men to return by mid-October by threatening to take away any asylum support.

And the FBU fire fighters’ union repeatedly documented the barge’s risk in a fire or emergency. 

Candy added, “We will continue to support refugees locally. We hope our action, and seeing the end of the Bibby and the Rwanda plan, can give us all confidence to stand up against racist targeting by the far right and to win a real welcome for all refugees in this country.” 

Anti-racists need to keep up the fight to demand Labour shuts down all detention centres, gives safe to refugees and stops the hostile environment. 

Four former residents of Wethersfield immigration camp in Essex are taking legal action against the Home Office. Join Weathersfield Camp Must Close protest. Wednesday, 24th July, 9am, outside the Royal Courts of Justice. 

Palestinian struggle runs through Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival

Posted on: July 23rd, 2024 by TTE
Palestinian ambassador Husam Zomlot at the Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival behind a banner

Palestinian ambassador Husam Zomlot at the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival

Several thousand trade unionists and campaigners gathered at the annual Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival in Dorset last weekend.

Palestine and anti-racism were high points at the event organised by South West TUC union federation.

On the final day, Palestinian Ambassador Husam Zomlot spoke on the main stage. He told the festival, “You have made Britain the epicentre of the international solidarity movement”. He led the annual Tolpuddle Martyrs procession.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) meetings attracted the biggest attendance with standing room only. The Unite union meeting on migrant workers’ struggles was full.

At the Palestine meeting, PCS civil service workers’ union general secretary Fran Heathcote and NEU education union leader Daniel Kebede spoke of mobilising for Palestine in the trade unions.

Stella Swain, PSC youth and student campaigns officer, told the meeting, “By taking action in our communities, on million strong national marches, in our workplaces, schools, universities and trade unions we can build a mass movement capable of tackling our government’s complicity”.

Dorset PSC trans activist Jo Macgregor received rousing applause when she spoke from the platform.

She explained that she had never attended a demonstration until nine months ago and expressed her outrage at an Israeli soldier flying the Pride flag over the ruins of Gaza. “The Pride flag is a flag of love and peace, never of hostile conquest, occupation and genocide,” she said.

The SUTR meeting on fighting the far right was attended by refugees from the Bibby Stockholm prison barge. They had been on three days of sit down and hunger strike, calling on the new government to shut down the barge and process their claims for asylum.

There was discussion about the threat from Reform UK leader Nigel Farage and Nazi Tommy Robinson. Candy Udwin, joint chair of Dorset SUTR, explained the importance of everyone mobilising against Robinson on 27 July in London and getting on the Dorset coach.

  • Join the Stand Up To Racism mobilisation Unite Against Tommy Robinson—Fascists Not Welcome in London. Assemble Saturday 27 July in central London. More details can be found at

Forest Gate protest says no to anti-LGBT+ hate in east London

Posted on: July 23rd, 2024 by TTE
a crowd shot of the Forest Gate pride flag protest

The protest to defend the Forest Gate pride flag mural (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Over 100 people protested against the defacing of the Progress Pride Flag outside Forest Gate train station in east London on Monday.

It was called in response to the defacing the mural on the pavement, with the word no and a cross painted over it.

Jeandre Coetser is a Forest Gate resident and Socialist Worker supporter who was part of organising the protest. “We’re here to show that our solidarity is louder than the hate,” they said. “We’re here to show that our LGBT+ neighbours are welcome and that we won’t let hate divide our community.”

This was the third vandalisation of the council-sponsored murals located around Forest Gate and Woodgrange Road within the space of two months.

Jeandre added, “What we have seen here in Forest Gate shows the real danger of the narrative at the top of society. It’s not just hateful rhetoric—the bigotry at the top of society seeps down and has real consequences for the lives of LGBT+ people.

“Last year the rate of transphobic hate crimes increased by 11 percent—and by over 180 percent over the last 5 years.

“Last year I attended a protest in Clapham where a gay couple were physically attacked and stabbed. A week before that a similar attack took place in Brixton. I don’t want to see the same in Forest Gate.”

On Friday of last week, a small group of LGBT+ activists began reaching out to organisations and unions in the area to organise the protest.

Rob from the Forest Gayte Pride group told the rally, “We stand here today united in love, resilience and defiance. Our gathering is not just a response to the cowardly act of vandalism against our pride flags—it is also a testament to our unwavering commitment to equality and Justice.”

Local parent Kelly is from the newly formed community action group Queers + Allies. “We need to be encouraging our schools to deal with this at a grassroots level,” she said. “We need schools to educate everyone that this kind of behaviour is not appropriate in Forest Gate or anywhere else.”

The rally was supported by NEU education union branches in Waltham Forest, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets, Newham Solidarity Fund, Newham Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Newham Stand Up To Racism. 

Michael Dance from the NEU spoke about the “importance of responding to hate on the streets” and drawing links with struggles for Palestine and against racism. “It’s important we see the Palestine flag alongside the Rainbow flag and unite two communities that some might see as ‘separate’,” he said.

“We have to take the argument about unity onto the streets against Tommy Robinson on Saturday, but also onto the streets when we link with the Palestinian struggle.”

Leeds riot was outburst of anger at police and racism

Posted on: July 23rd, 2024 by Thomas Foster
Harehills in Leeds is where the riot took place

Harehills Lane (Picture: Ian S)

The riot in the Harehills area of Leeds last week was a cry of rage at racism and poverty. Anger exploded on Thursday last week after police forcibly removed children from a Roma family on behalf of social services.

It’s an area that is home to several migrant communities, including people from Roma and Romanian backgrounds. And it’s also an area the council has neglected and underfunded for a long time.

Figures from the Department of Education show that children from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) backgrounds are disproportionately taken into care. The proportion of GRT children in schools in England remained constant from 2017 to 2019, at 0.34 percent of the population.

But the proportion of GRT children in need and in local authority care over the same period rose from 0.45 percent to 0.56 percent. There is widespread anger over the treatment people face at the hands of the police.

The riot was a reflection of the bubbling anger among many in the community. Poverty is also intensely widespread.

Many migrant populations are pushed into the area, which landlords then take advantage of by exploiting their vulnerable position. Martin Bennell, a local Harehills resident, told Socialist Worker, “What is needed is more funding for local services, not support for the police that will take precedence in funding.

“Harehills is one of the poorest parts of Leeds and one of the most underfunded areas across England.” Labour home secretary Yvette Cooper called for the harshest possible punishment for those involved.

Cooper condemned rioters for being involved in “audacious criminality”—deflecting blame for the deprivation of the area that is rightly parked in part with the Labour Party. Martin added, “The response from the government has been unsurprisingly disgraceful.”

Far right use riot to whip up racism and division

The far right attempts to use last Thursday’s riot to boost racist arguments must be opposed. Nigel Farage, racist Reform UK MP for Clacton-on-Sea, posted on Twitter, within hours of the riot, “The politics of the subcontinent are playing out on the streets of Leeds.”

Reform UK consistently pushes anti-migrant rhetoric—and has seized on last week’s events as another prime opportunity. Fascist Tommy Robinson latched onto videos of the riot that were shared live on social media.

He spewed vile racism online, calling for the largely migrant residents living the area to be deported. Leeds Stand up to Racism released a statement at the weekend that said, “We condemn far right attempts to come to our communities to stir up hatred and division.

“We stand fully behind the community in Harehills and the community activists working for peace and unity. We won’t let the far right divide us. Solidarity always.”

Ongoing mobilisation for Saturday’s counter protest to Tommy Robinson in central London called by Stand Up To Racism has ever greater significance. 

Letters—Labour plans do not go far enough on housing

Posted on: July 23rd, 2024 by Daire Cumiskey
12 people stand behind a housing campaign banner, some holding placards

Housing campaigners last summer in Islington, north London

Keir Starmer’s inadequate policy on housing will have people looking for answers. Labour promises more social and affordable homes, but without any additional money to build them.

Its policy is not based on any assessment of housing needs, such as quantifying the number of social and affordable homes required.

Apparently, to help people priced out of the housing market, we should simply help house building corporations to make bigger profits.

This is supercharged neoliberalism. In London, 65 percent of new-build homes should have been affordable in 2017-22. But in fact only 20 percent were.

In planning, Labour will change the rules so we cannot stop unaffordable or badly designed buildings via planning objections.

We must also scrap Right To Buy to stop the loss of council housing. Council housing is in crisis—3,280 high rise blocks still have life-critical fire safety defects.

A council tenant in a new flat in Haringey, north London, pays a painful £13,000 a year in rent and service charges. Yet Labour will not ban these unaffordable “affordable” rents.

Children and families will lose out, and the prospects of future generations will be blighted. We can look forward to more tenure segregation in new buildings, where tenants cannot use the same entrances or lifts as homeowners.

Twenty local authority landlords have asked the government for an immediate £644 million of funding and more in the longer term.

That’s all because their housing business plans are going into crisis. The real answer to Starmer’s lack of change is to organise in working class communities to demand more and better homes.

A first step in addressing the housing crisis is signing people up to the five-point plan produced by Homes for All and Defend Council Housing.

Paul Burnham

North London

Trump is no victim, he’s reaping what he sowed

The assassination attempt on Donald Trump may be the single act that hands him a second term as Unites States president. It is wrong to depict Trump as an innocent “victim”.

Trump encouraged and incited political violence and hate across the US in his first term. Violent extremists who once infested the margins of society were emboldened by the fact that an open racist was in the White House.

During Trump’s presidency in 2017, we saw the murder of the anti-racist Heather Heyer by a white supremacist in Charlottesville. In the wake of her murder Trump described the racists rallying there as “fine people”.

In August 2019 Patrick Crusius carried out a mass-shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, murdering 20 people and injuring 26 others.

Crusius was a member of the so-called “alt-right” and a supporter of Trump. His presidency ended with the attempted coup in Washington on 6 January 2021. He reached out to violent racists such as the Proud Boys to help him retain office.

Trump has cultivated hate and incited violence as part of a political strategy throughout his career. He is reaping the hate he has sown.

Sasha Simic

East London

We can and should hold MPs to account

Jonathan Ashworth, Leicester South’s former MP, shared his frightened account of how he was chased, pitchforks and all, by constituents while campaigning with his family on election day.

He hid in a local vicarage to avoid being questioned by constituents. Local Palestine activists had suitably dubbed the former Labour MP “genocide Jon”.

The narrative that portrays Palestine protesters as masses of hateful individuals is such a false one.

In this sad story, Ashworth showed himself to be more concerned over being publicly humiliated than his inadequate response over the ongoing Israeli genocide.

It highlights why there was so much support for Independents, such as Shockat Adam who ousted him.

Joyce Cheza


Don’t trust Royal Mail in hands of billionaire

As Daniel Kretinsky’s takeover of Royal Mail gathers pace, there are many questions being asked in workplaces. One seems to be very popular—“What will change with a new owner?”

Awful changes are already taking place due to CWU union leaders Dave Ward and Andy Furey’s “surrender agreement” with Royal Mail bosses.

A new billionaire boss is hardly going to rip it up and save the workforce now, is he? No, it’ll be even more wage squeezing, bonus looting and workload increasing on an already worn out workforce.

Add in the possibility of compulsory redundancies next year, and another dispute isn’t that far away in my view. So, I think the answer is that it doesn’t matter who is in charge of Royal Mail Group—the fight remains the same.

Gary Smith

Postal worker in Coventry

Organising is what can win

Reading Socialist Worker’s article on heat in workplaces (10 July), I say get organised at work. Don’t wait for bosses or union leaders who sit in their air conditioned offices. In 1975 to 1984 I was a shop steward in a hospital laundry.

We organised morning and afternoon tea breaks. We also got orange juice with ice when needed—paid for by the hospital. Workers united will never be defeated.

Mike Archer


Off with all their heads

The king’s speech serves as a grim reminder of the backwardness of politics in Britain. It promised stability and security for the richest in society, as per Labour’s new fiscal rules.

King Charles Windsor made shallow remarks about the “cost of living challenges” from atop his throne. Under a new government and king, we can expect to see the same crises of the system.

Let’s build a revolutionary movement strong enough to take their heads off.

Archie Duffin


Beware Sir Kid Starver

The very fact that there was no proposal in the king’s speech to remove the two-child benefit limit should be a warning. This evil cut was introduced by the Tories in April 2017.

It means that families cannot claim universal or child tax credit for more than two children born after this date.

When Tony Blair was elected in 1997, the trade union leaders gave the Labour government a honeymoon period. Labour took a long time to implement any changes. And there’s a real danger that union leaders could repeat that grave mistake.

Sally Kincaid


Industrial round-up: DWP strikers battle poor pay

Posted on: July 23rd, 2024 by Daire Cumiskey
Striking security guards in Hackney, east London (Picture: @PCS_union on Twitter)

Striking security guards in Hackney, east London (Picture: @PCS_union on Twitter)

Almost 1,400 security guards in job centres finished off their latest seven-day strike on Sunday last week—and they’re already planning the next round.

Around 360 workers in the PCS union and over 1,000 workers in GMB union are fighting together for better pay.

Hundreds of strikers from both unions rallied in Westminster, central London, on Wednesday last week.

Veemal Gourdeale, a GMB member who works as a relief officer at sites across London, told Socialist Worker, “People with families can’t make ends meet.”

Outsourcing giant G4S only pays the security guards minimum wage despite raking in millions of pounds every year. And bosses are trying to break the dispute by using scab workers—who are being paid almost £2 an hour more than strikers.

Bosses recently offered strikers an insulting 23p extra an hour. And workers are looking to throw G4S out of the contract. Neio, who’s worked as a job centre security guard for 20 years told Socialist Worker, “The only solution is to get rid of G4S.”

Eamon O’Hearn from GMB said, “The DWP and G4S have happily overseen hundreds of days lost to job centre closures, and security guards go hungry on poverty pay.” “Things have changed and these workers will not give up their fight.

“Now G4S is paying more for agency staff than its own guards to break the strikes. “DWP has to do the right thing and step in.” Both unions are warning that more job centres would shut if the dispute isn’t sorted.

Workers are set to walk out for another seven days from Monday next week. They are due to picket in dozens of job centres across England.

Dáire Cumiskey

‘We save lives but would earn more making coffee’

Hundreds of healthcare workers in Plymouth struck for three days last week in a fight over pay banding and backpay.

Healthcare assistants, maternity care assistants, imaging care assistants and clinical support workers for University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust walked out last Wednesday.

They have joined thousands of other Unison union members across England in a fight to have their clinical skills recognised and their job descriptions updated. The workers are currently in band 2, the lowest in the NHS, and are demanding to be regraded as band 3.

That would mean an increase of up to £2,000 a year—and back pay of up to five years. Imaging care assistant and Unison rep Leon Shrigley said, “I love my job. But we all feel very taken for granted. The hospital couldn’t function without us.

“We care for people who are very unwell and work in a high-pressure acute situation. “My colleagues and I regularly perform clinical observations and CPR resuscitation.

“It’s insulting when you think that we could all earn more an hour working as a barista in a coffee shop.” 

Local government pay ballots are coming 

A massive local government strike over pay could be coming in Scotland. Cosla, the local authority employment body, wants workers to take an offer that in cash terms is just 3.2 percent over one year.

Workers in waste, recycling and street cleanings in 12 councils and one arms-length management organisation have voted to strike. They want wages that outstrip inflation, and reflect how underpaid they’ve been for years.

Unison Scotland head of local government David O’Connor said, “Council workers deserve a wage that reflects their essential roles.

“With over 95 percent of those voting saying they are ready to take industrial action, it demonstrates how they feel, not only about the pay offer, but how undervalued they are feeling generally.”

And this week, some 38,000 early years, school and family centre workers will vote over strikes. “If they vote to strike, then schools will also be closing in September,” said O’Connor.

“Cosla and the Scottish government have to understand the anger amongst local government workers. They feel let down. The only way they can get government to listen is to threaten strikes.”

He said that workers’ pay had dropped “25 percent over the past 14 years”. To win the workers’ union needs to be prepared to bring them out on strike, not just threaten it.

Some 360,000 social workers, teaching assistants, planning officers, caretakers and other school and council staff are also voting over strikes in England and Wales.

The Unison members voted in a consultation over the 2024-25 wage rise for local authority and school workers and 81 percent rejected the offer of £1,290.

The offer has been accepted by the GMB union members but rejected by Unison and the Unite union. Unison members will vote from 4 September to 16 October. 

Bin walkout for union recognition

Nearly 100 refuse workers in Sheffield are set to cause a stink by striking this month. The action will bring the city’s bin collections to a standstill.

The workers employed by outsourcing company Veolia from the Lumley Street depot are striking because bosses are refusing to allow collective bargaining agreements with the Unite union.

That’s despite the union saying it represents around 80 percent of the depot’s workforce. Bosses claim the GMB union is the sole trade union representative.

Drivers and loaders are set to walk out from Monday next week to Friday next week. Unite also has a national bargaining agreement with Veolia across numerous depots across Britain.

Dock workers down tools for colleague

Ellesmere port dock workers employed by GAC at the Queen Elizabeth II Dock on Merseyside are voting for strikes after bosses fired their colleague.

Bosses at GAC fired the worker for “refusing a reasonable working request”. This “request” was a change in hours which meant he could not care for his disabled mother.

He informed the company he could not comply with the new rota due to being her primary caregiver. The workers, who are jetty operators in the Unite union, are voting until Tuesday next week.

Bus win for drivers in Merseyside…

Bus drivers employed by Stagecoach Merseyside voted on a new pay offer last week. They’ve accepted a new 6.4 percent pay offer which will reduce the gap between themselves and other drivers in the area.

It follows a six-day strike by the 500 drivers. Their Unite union cancelled four further days of action while the strikers voted.

..and another bus win in Bedfordshire

Some 140 bus drivers in Bedfordshire won a pay rise against their bosses at Stagecoach Cambus. The drivers, who are in Unite, won a 15.9 percent pay rise over the next two years backdated to May 2024.

Unite says that an 11.4 percent rise will be applied within six months with a further rise in June 2025. The drivers were due to walk out on for 14 days across July and August but Unite called action off as a “goodwill gesture”.

The drivers earned just £13.46 an hour while others in the area got over £15.

Israel targets Yemen in bid for wider Middle East war

Posted on: July 23rd, 2024 by Isabel
On the tenth national Palestine demonstration

Protesters in London have marched for months to stop the genocide and bombings (Picture: Guy Smallman)

The prospect of a wider Middle East war took a big step forwards last weekend as Israeli jets bombed a port in Yemen. The airstrikes targeted a power station as well as gas and oil depots around the Red Sea port of Hodeidah. Israeli attacks were directed against Houthi fighters that have declared solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.

Israeli admiral Daniel Hagari boasted that the operation was “one of the farthest and longest ever conducted by the Israeli air force”. He said that Israel’s missiles specifically targeted “dual use” facilities. That means they hit parts of the port that are crucial for goods, including desperately needed food and oil destined for the some of the world’s most impoverished people.

The ministry of health in Sana, Yemen’s capital, said the attack killed at least six people and wounded a further 80, most of them with severe burns. Last week the Houthi resistance claimed responsibility for a long-range drone that struck Tel Aviv, killing one Israeli and wounding several others.

Far right politician Avigdor Lieberman urged the Israeli air force to go further, saying, “We must not be satisfied with a one-time blow—we must completely destroy the port of Hodeidah.” That message will find a willing audience in Binyamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet.

It hopes to draw the West into a conflict that targets Iran and forces allied to it. Israeli forces are primed for further attacks on Lebanon and Syria—knowing that Britain and the United States will not likely stand in its way. President Joe Biden’s Middle East policy faces in opposing directions. He was more than happy to unite with Britain to launch attacks on Yemen in January after Houthi fighters targeted Red Sea shipping.

But he worries that a broader conflict could destabilise the whole Middle East region and fears a revolt like the Arab Spring more than a decade ago. That’s why the US National Security Council was quick to say it was not involved with Israel’s bombing—despite the US having provided both the planes and bombs.

  • Israel’s “surgical” and “moral” approach to attacking Gaza was in evidence again last Saturday as its bombs killed some 64 Palestinians. Its strike on a United Nations-run school in the Nuseirat refugee camp killed some 23 people.

“These were civilians who were killed. These were children who were torn up in the strike, there’s nothing left of them,” one man yelled as he showed a white tarp covering body parts. Meanwhile, footage on social media appears to show an Israeli strike targeting a donkey cart pulling civilians in Rafah, southern Gaza.

The footage shows an aerial view of the attack. Palestinians in Gaza have been using donkey carts to move around or to transport the dead and wounded in the absence of fuel and lack of ambulances.

Solidarity with Hadid

Sporstwear firm Adidas has dropped pro-Palestinian model Bella Hadid from an advertising campaign after Israeli genocide apologists barraged the firm with complaints. Israel supporters were incensed when Adidas announced the half-Palestinian woman would be fronting the campaign for its SL-72 trainers.

They made a spurious claim that because Adidas named the shoes for the 1972 Olympics, they are intrinsically linked to the Palestinian attack on Israeli athletes at the Munich games. The argument is nonsense, designed only to silence pro-Palestine voices.

Hadid, whose father is Palestinian, has repeatedly made public remarks criticising the Israeli government and supporting Palestinians. Adidas apologised last week for the “offence” it had given. And it sacked Hadid, whose demands for human rights were deemed to be an insult to Zionists.

British cash to resume after Zionist deceptions

Britain will resume funding for Unwra, the United Nations (UN) agency for Palestinian refugees. Foreign secretary David Lammy conceded last week that Israel had provided no evidence for its claims that the agency and its staff were linked to the Palestinian resistance groups. Most Western states cut their funding to Unwra in January after Israel claimed that more than 2,135 agency employees, out of a total of 13,000 in Gaza were members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

By withholding funds the West helped spread death among Palestinians. French foreign minister Catherine Colonna conducted a formal investigation into Israel’s claims. In April she found that Israel is “yet to provide supporting evidence” for them. Yet it has taken months for Britain and other Western states to resume their funding. President Joe Biden is still refusing to reinstate US aid. Biden said the US would instead build a floating pier for its aid ships to dock at. But the pier has already been destroyed by waves.

Israel is an apartheid state

Israel’s occupation of Palestine is “unlawful” and breaches laws concerning apartheid. That’s the conclusion the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nations’ top court, handed down in an advisory opinion last week. The decision will pile even more pressure on Western states, including Britain, that give Israel political cover for its genocidal war in Gaza.

The court found that Israel’s “near-complete separation” of people in the Palestinian Occupied Territories and the West Bank breached laws concerning “racial segregation” and “apartheid”. For Keir Starmer’s government the decision will be a source of embarrassment. Labour has since 2023 effectively banned its members from describing Israel as an apartheid state.

Delivering the court’s findings, ICJ president Nawaf Salam said that Israel must make reparations to Palestinians for damages caused by its occupation. And, he added, the United Nations Security Council, its General Assembly and all states have an obligation to not recognise Israel’s occupation as legal. Independent MP for Blackburn Adnan Hussain said the ICJ’s advisory opinion is a “historic moment for international justice, and confirms what the Palestinians, legal scholars and human rights community have been saying all along”.

He called for governments around the world, including Britain, to divest from “trade with occupied territories considered illegal under international law”. Labour, unsurprisingly, sought cover for Israel by focusing solely on the question of illegal settlements, which it opposes—and refused to engage with the court’s wider decision.

Things they say

‘You besmirch the presidency’

Backbench Labour MP David Lammy has some thoughts for Donald Trump in 2017

‘Trump is not only a woman-hating, neo-Nazi sympathising sociopath…’

Backbench Labour MP David Lammy in 2018

‘…he is also a profound threat to the international order’ Backbench Labour MP David Lammy continues

‘My job is to represent the national interests of this country’

Freshly minted foreign secretary David Lammy signals a coming change in attitude toward Trump

‘We’re both Christians so I think I can find common ground with JD Vance’

Foreign secretary David Lammy on Donald Trump’s running mate who calls Britain an ‘Islamist state’

‘Would not be right to have a blanket ban’

Foreign secretary David Lammy wants Britain to keep seelinmg arms to Israel

Labour’s war on migrants will include a ‘summer blitz’ of raids

Posted on: July 23rd, 2024 by Thomas Foster
Labour home secretary Yvette Cooper smiling with police as Labour launches new raids on refugees

Labour home secretary Yvette Cooper smiling with police as Labour launches new raids on refugees (Picture: UK Home Office)

The Home Office is launching a “summer blitz of illegal immigration raids”. This is the type of news readers might expect from a Tory government. But this is new Labour home ­secretary Yvette Cooper’s plan.

Cooper will redeploy over 1,000 staff from the failed Rwanda deportation scheme to instead round up refugees whose asylum claims have been rejected. They will target migrants from countries including Vietnam and ­workplaces such as car washes, beauty salons and nail bars. Cooper will then instruct the Home Office to deport people more quickly.

Labour claims this is to “smash the criminal gangs”. “Most people in this country want to see a properly controlled and managed asylum system,” Cooper wrote in the right wing Sun ­newspaper, “where those who have no right to be in the country are swiftly removed”.

Rounding up and deporting people does nothing to target gangs—it only leaves desperate people in more dangerous and precarious situations. Cooper will also lay out plans this week to allow refugees ­earmarked for Rwanda the opportunity to claim asylum.

Under the Tories, anyone who came to Britain ­without documentation in the last 18 months could not have their claims processed. Labour wants to clear the asylum backlog to save money on housing refugees in hotels—and kick people out faster.

As of April this year, 102,888 ­refugees were waiting for a decision. The Refugee Council estimates that 70 percent will be granted asylum. But anyone who has suffered under the Tories’ vicious asylum system should be supported by the new Labour government.

Meanwhile, another refugee died trying to cross the English Channel in an overcrowded dinghy last Wednesday. Coastguards rescued 71 people after a vessel deflated just off Gravelines, near Calais, France.

This is the fifth drowning under Keir Starmer’s Labour ­government after four refugees drowned the previous week trying to leave ­northern France. But Starmer is ploughing on with his war against smuggling gangs.

He recently pledged £84 million for projects in Africa and the Middle East to stop “illegal migration at the source”. This includes helping Syrian, Jordanian, Lebanese and North and East African refugees access education and jobs.

But better job ­opportunities won’t stop refugees fleeing war-torn countries or from corrupt regimes.
Starmer recently said “illegal migration” needed to be tackled “upstream”. Yet smuggling gangs are able to operate because there are no safe routes for refugees to enter Britain.

And Starmer hasn’t ruled out offshoring refugees for ­processing. He said, “I’m a pragmatist and I’ve always said we’ll look at what works.”

That pragmatism has led to the deaths of five refugees. Anti-racists need to fight the Starmer ­government’s racism and scapegoating of migrants and refugees.