Against Xenophobia

Lee Jasper of the Movement Against Xenophobia

Many of us here in the UK are worried by what seems an increasing tide of prejudice against foreigners. Newspapers making up hate stories about foreigners, biased reporting even by some of the more respectable media, and increasing statements and actions by the government against asylum seekers and immigrants generally. Raids by the UKBA on places where foreigners are thought to be working, picking out people who look foreign for bullying questions about their status, vans in the street encouraging those without the necessary documentation to be here to go home, e-mails suggesting the same sent to many regardless of their immigration status and more.

And now a new Immigration Bill aimed to remove most of the grounds on which people can appeal against deportation, and to get banks, landlords and others to check on immigration status, checks on driving licence applicants and more, including levies on temporary migrants who want to access the NHS.

All this despite report after report that immigrants have a positive effect on the economy, and the obvious (except to racists) invigoration they have brought to so many aspects of our society. London could not run without migrant labour carrying out low paid jobs, many of them without proper immigration status. And no, I refuse that racist term “illegal immigrant” that the government has labelled them with – and the BBC and other media use. People may be here without the documents that allow them to stay here, they may even have committed an immigration offence though that generally remains to be proven, but people are not illegal. They are here perhaps because they could not safely remain in their own countries, but largely because we need them. Need the work they do, and need the taxes and national insurance that they pay.

Labour had a poor record in office, bringing in new restrictions if never managing to deal with what some see as the problem, kowtowing to the racists and the right wing press. The Condem coalition is worse, not least because it has begun to be more efficient in its anti-immigrant measures.

The newly formed Movement Against Xenophobia brings together various groups concerned about this increasing racism and victimisation, and intends to challenge the current anti-immigrant discourse and the attacks on human rights.

Photographing the event I was keen to bring out what the protest was about in the pictures – and focussing on some of the placards was one way to do this. The protest involved a number of fairly well-known people – trade unionists, MPs and others who I wanted to make sure to include. And then there were those whose features I found particularly interesting – such as a woman with such splendid hair and a bright red jumper (people had been invited to wear red for the event.)

I got close to put her on the edge of the frame, with as many people as possible with placards and a banner in the background. Lee Jasper, the main organiser of the event and a well-known Black campaigner is speaking in what was perhaps the best overall view I made of the event.

Unite political director Jenny Formby

I took some better pictures of Lee himself, including several with the poster ‘No Blacks No Dogs No Irish’ he had brought to the event, and it also comes in some other pictures. Among the others I made sure to get decent pictures of were Unite political director Jenny Formby, Habib Rahman, Chief Executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and Jeremy Corbyn, MP.

As well as the main banner from the ‘Movement for Justice’ I also took pictures showing the other banners present clearly – including those of Southall Black Sisters and the LGBT banner for the Movement for Justice. I also tried to cover the whole range of placards, including those from Unite, PCS, Socialist worker and Movement for Justice (who had prepared a number of variations.) I try to make sure that at least in some images the whole message on the placard is legible, though often cropping tightly to avoid a whole series of simple ‘person holding placard’ pictures.

A person holding a placard, but the lively background adds interest

More pictures and text at Movement Against Xenophobia.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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