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Lee Anderson’s defection exposes Tory weakness

As Lee Anderson joins the racist Reform party, anti-racists must mobilise
Issue 2896
Defected MP Lee Anderson (Picture: David Woolfall)

Defected MP Lee Anderson (Picture: David Woolfall)

 
The far right will be cheering as Reform UK gained its first MP on Monday. Lee Anderson defected to the racist party after the Tories suspended him for remarks even they found embarrassing.
 
But although they now denounce Anderson, remember that he was perfectly acceptable to mainstream Conservatives until very recently. 
 
He was made the party’s deputy chair so he could say the unsayable and thereby, thought the Tories, appeal to the working class in the “Red Wall”.
 
He said for some people foodbanks were “like a weekly shop for them”.  And the Tories also defended his racism.
 
When asked if he had sympathy with people protesting against refugees outside former hotels, Anderson said, “Of course I do. These are not far right extremists.”
 
In August 2023 he said asylum seekers not wanting to be housed in prison barges “should fuck off back to France, or better, not come at all in the first place”.
 
The government defended the comments as “not bigotry at all”.
 
It was therefore no surprise when he attacked London mayor Sadiq Khan, saying, “Islamists” have “got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London”.
 
At the press conference where Anderson announced his defection, he said, “We are giving up our streets to a minority of people who literally hate our way of life.”
 
Reform UK is led by Richard Tice, who labelled migration as “making us poorer culturally”, saying we need to “operate under one single British culture”.
 
Its deputy leader, Ben Habib, has said that the “promotion of minority ethnicities above and to the detriment of our own is killing off the United Kingdom”.
 
No wonder Anderson finds the party appealing. Reform UK hasn’t come out of nowhere. It has been emboldened by the government stirring up racism.
 
But it doesn’t “speak for Britain” as it claims. There are far too many people who accept racist ideas but there is a majority of anti-racists too.
 
In November 2023 the European Social Survey said British views on immigration and its economic and cultural impact had undergone “a complete about-turn” over the past two decades.
 
Its latest poll for 2022 showed for the first time a majority of people thought immigration was very positive for the British economy. 
 
They agreed that immigration enriches the country’s cultural life, and makes the country a better place to live.
 
Those at the top want to divide people and limit the resistance that unity can bring.
 
We mustn’t let the Tories’ and Reform UK’s politics of hate beat the movements on the streets for Palestine.
 
It’s vital that everyone joins the national anti-racist protests this weekend.
  • Join Stand Up To Racism’s national protests, Stop the Hate on 16 March in London and Glasgow, and 17 March in Cardiff. More details here

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