Posts Tagged ‘The Guardian’

The Racist UK Immigration System

Tuesday, June 7th, 2022

The Racist UK Immigration System: The Home Office a couple of years ago commissioned a report following the huge publicity over the Windrush scandal after government ministers had been forced to agree to educate all Home Office employees about our colonial history and the experiences faced by black people coming to the UK.

The report, “The Historical Roots of the Windrush Scandal“, by a well-known historian the Home Office refuses to name, details how the whole history of post-war British immigration legislation since the Second World War was “designed at least in part to reduce the number of people with black or brown skin who were permitted to live and work in the UK“, reflecting the “racist ideology of the British Empire.”

For over a year politicians and others have been calling for the report to be published but the Home Office has refused. Last month it was leaked in full to The Guardian, but is still not available to the public, despite having been paid for by our taxes. Many requests for its publication from MPs including the home affairs select committee and campaigners over the past year had been turned down and a freedom of information request about it was refused.

The protest began on Bath Road in front of the Immigration Removal Centres

Some speculate that the true reason for it being kept secret was because it was in direct contradiction to last years report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities which had ludicrously concluded there was “no evidence to suggest that Britain was an institutionally racist place.

Others suggest the refusal to publish was that it would bring new highly discriminatory policies being introduced – such as the attacks on cross-channel migrants and the deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda – liable to greater opposition as a development of an already clearly racist immigration system.

Colnbrook on the left, Harmondsworth at right

Back in June 2014, when the Movement for Freedom organised a protest on June 7th outside the adjoining Harmondsworth and Colnbrook detention centres on the northern boundary of London Heathrow, the thrust of the protest was against the the unjust ‘Fast Track System’ and mistreatment of detainees by private security firms inside these immigration prisons.

John McDonnell speaks outside the detention centres on Bath Road

Local MP John McDonnell who came to speak told the protest that when he first became MP for the area in 1997 the immigration detention centre was only a small building housing a dozen or so detainees rather than the two large blocks the protesters were in front of. The protesters argue that immigration detention is almost entirely unnecessary, existing only to deter immigration and harass and punish those who come here to seek asylum.

Asylum seekers wave from behind the 20ft fence, razor wire and window bars

The fast track system was set up with the deliberate aim of deporting people before they had time to put together the evidence that would enable them to properly present their case to remain. You don’t get a certificate given to you for being tortured or raped but our system treats all of them as guilty, trying to evade our immigration laws and rather than the Home Office having to prove their stories are fabricated calls on them to provide proof of threats, torture, rape and other events that forced them to flee. Legal challenges including that by Detention Action in 2015 found “rules setting the tight timescales for asylum-seekers to make appeals were unlawful and ‘ultra vires’ and that the strict time limits in and of themselves were ‘structurally unfair’.”

Although the legal judgements led to the suspension of DFT, the deportations of asylum seekers to Rwanda currently about to take place clearly represent a ratcheting up of this punitive approach and seem likely also to be successfully challenged in the courts – thought not before hundreds or thousands have been wrongfully deported.

The detention centres were built on a site which has a private road leading to a BT site at the rear. After the speeches on the public highway in front of the site, the marchers walked down this road, making a lot of noise chanting and shouting as well as with whistles and other noise-makers. Detainees came to the windows and waved thanking the protesters for their support, and some were able to communicate using mobile phones.

Mobile phone messages from inside were broadcast to protesters using a megaphone

The two detention prisons are both surrounded by 20 foot high fences, the lower half solid metal sheets and the upper half with a dense solid wire mesh, which makes photographing the windows difficult. But we could clearly see the detainees and they could seem the long banner with the message ‘Stop Racism – End Fast Track – End Detention’ which was held up, and we could make out some of the messages they had written calling for freedom.

We were able to walk completely around the Harmondsworth building (but not the higher security Colnbrook one) and when I left the march organisers were planning to return their route in the opposite direction as they had so many phone calls from those inside, but I had to leave.

Diane Abbott published an opinion piece in The Guardian on the leaked report at the end of May this year, “The truth is out: Britain’s immigration system is racist, and always has been. Now let’s fix it“. Unfortunately I think our current government is unlikely to have any interest at all in doing so. She ends her piece: “The system is calibrated for racism. It always was. We know it, and now we know that, behind closed doors, Priti Patel’s Home Office knows it. The dirty secret is no longer secret.”


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West India Docks 1988 (1)

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

Millwall Inner Dock, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-65-positive_2400
Millwall Inner Dock, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-65

When the Docklands Light Railway opened in 1997 there were just two lines, one from the City at Tower Gateway east to Canary Wharf and then south to Island Gardens, and the second coming down south from Stratford to Canary Wharf and then using the same track south. For cost reasons it had been decided not to make a connection with the existing Underground network, except at Stratford where the DLR shared a station with both the Central Line and National Rail. The tunnel link to Bank Station was only opened four years later.

So I and my two young assistants had walked as in my earlier post from London Bridge across Tower Bridge to Tower Gateway station, and then took the DLR to Crossharbour. It was something of a fairground-like attraction, particularly around where the line turned south to go into West India station, and in the first years the line was little used and it was usually possible at the terminus to get a seat right at the front of the driverless train and imagine you were in the driving seat.

Glengall Bridge, Millwall Inner Dock, Tower Hamelts, 1988 88-6b-66-positive_2400
Glengall Bridge, Millwall Inner Dock, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-66

There was considerable building work taking place around Millwall Inner Dock, as well as cranes and the lifting bridge and it made a good day out for small boys as well as older photographers.

My assistants, Millwall Inner Dock, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-52-positive_2400
My assistants, Millwall Inner Dock, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-52

And here they are on an empty plinth surveying the scene, sandwiches and drinks in their back packs.

Millwall Inner Dock, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-55-positive_2400
Millwall Inner Dock, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-55

Millwall Dock was only opened in 1868 and was then quite separate from the West India Docks to the north. It had an entrance from the Thames on the west side of the Isle of Dogs to a large dock running halfway across the ‘island’, with another large dock, later called the Millwall Inner Dock branching off to the north. Most of the cargo was timber and grain, and McDougall’s built a large flour mill on its south bank the year after it opened. In 1928 it was connected to the West India Docks by the Millwall Passage, and became a part of the same impounding system for water levels.

Guardian building, Marsh Wall, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-41-positive_2400
Guardian building, Marsh Wall, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-41

The Guardian print works in Wimpey’s Enterprise Business Park was built in 1985-7 and apparently its silver-blue reflective panels and tinted glass were meant to make its ugly box look smaller, merging the building with the sky. It doesn’t work in black and white and it didn’t work in reality. The Guardian now has its print works in Stratford.

Millwall Inner Dock, Marshall Wall, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-42-positive_2400
Millwall Inner Dock, Marsh Wall, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-42

Looking roughly south down Millwall Inner Dock from Marsh Wall. The chimney in the distance is that of Deptford Power Station, demolished in a spectacular explosion in 1992.

Docklands Light Railway, DLR, Daily Telegraph, Marsh Wall, South Quay, Tower Hamlets, 88-6b-43-positive_2400
Docklands Light Railway, DLR, Daily Telegraph, Marsh Wall, South Quay, Tower Hamlets, 88-6b-43

The Daily Telegraph moved in to this building to the east of South Quay DLR station when it was completed in 1987, naming it Peterborough Court. In 1992 they moved to Canary Wharf tower.

Our walk around the area continues in West India Docks 1988 (2) shortly.


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Guardian Lies on Venezuela

Friday, September 20th, 2019

Back to looking back at my own work from a few months ago, and a protest outside the offices of The Guardian, a canal-side block on York Way to the north of Kings Cross, part of King’s Place. It’s a place I’ve visited a few time as in the ground floor entrance they have regular exhibitions of photographs, but on this occasion they were not letting people in to see them, with security staff at the door.

The protest was organised by the Revolutionary Communist Group, a name that might put some people off, but who I think are one of the friendliest and most sensible groups in left politics, and while I may not always agree with their views, they have been very active in campaigning on some of the our pressing social issues – including housing, universal credit and other benefits and disability, working together with other groups without trying to take things over. Often they are the people who bring a PA system to protests and make it available as an ‘open mike’ for others as well as them to speak.

They have a newspaper too, ‘Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism’ and it runs readable and well-researched articles on many subjects, and it includes much coverage of events in South America, informed by people who have lived and worked and have good contacts there.

Of course they view the situation from a particular political perspective, supporting the left-wing popular movements in the continent, and in the case of Venezuela, the government under President Nicolas Maduro. Of course not everything is rosy in the country which has suffered greatly from US sanctions, low oil prices and other economic pressures, but they are very aware of these pressures and the problems they have led to.

The stringences in Venezuela have particularly affected the middle-classes, while the Bolivarian revolution begun under Hugo Chavez meant great gains for the peasants and indigenous peoples, even though there has been deterioration in recent years.

The Guardians coverage of events in Venezuela have been almost entirely from the point of view of the middle classes who their correspendent clearly is at home with, and have largely ignored the popular support still enjoyed by Maduro. While the support of most of our press owned by billionaires as well as the establishment BBC for the US-backed efforts to mount a coup in the country against the democratically elected leadership is hardly surprising, many on the left are surprise that The Guardian should so one-sidedly support it.

The protesters held up posters listing some of the successes of the Venezuelan government under Chavez and Maduro with the Bolivarian revolution building socialism and transforming the lives of the poor which have led to the crippling US sanctions and the US-backed coup and called on The Guardian to stop publising lies and to report the facts and both sides of the argument in Venezuela rather than simply parrot the views of the US-backed opposition.

Towards the end of the protest a small deputation attempted to deliver a letter to The Guardian but were not allowed to enter the building. Instead the security man at the door accepted their letter and promised that it would be delivered.

More pictures at Guardian lies about Venezuela.


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