Posts Tagged ‘xenophobia’

Defend All Migrants

Friday, June 24th, 2022

Defend All Migrants. June 24th 2016 was the day after the Brexit referendum when by a narrow majority – 3.78% – the British population voted to leave the European Union. Although it was a non-binding referendum, the government had unwisely promised they would implement the result and eventually did so in the worst way possible, leading to many of our current problems.

Of course it’s done and although we were lied to and tricked in many ways it is a decision which cannot be reversed in the foreseeable future, though hopefully a new government will abandon the current excessively combative approach and try to negotiate some more sensible ways to live with our neighbours. On many levels we remain a part of Europe and need to find policies which recognise the facts of culture and geography.

One important aspect of the campaign to leave Europe was the encouragement of racism and xenophobia particularly by the UKIP-linked Leave.EU, but also by the official Vote Leave campaign. London Mayor Sadiq Khan was one of few politicians at the time to accuse Vote Leave of promoting ‘Project Hate’ but academic research as well as Parliament’s own Digital, Culture, Media & Sport committee has shown clearly how they used TV adverts and social media to use racism to promote the Brexit vote. You can read more in Truly Project Hate: the third scandal of the official Vote Leave campaign headed by Boris Johnson.

So on the day following the referendum Socialists and anarchists held a rally in East London before marching to the offices of News International on a roundabout route for migrant rights and against racism and fascist violence. Migration and immigrants have been attacked and scapegoated not only by both Remain and Leave campaigns but by mainstream parties and media over more than 20 years, stoking up hatred by insisting immigrants are a “problem”.

As I stated on My London Diary, “The event was called by Movement for Justice, rs21, London Antifascists and Jewdas, and supported by other groups including Brick Lane Debates, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), Right to Remain, Radical Assembly, Clapton Ultras, the Antiuniversity, English collective of prostitutes, sex workers open university, lesbians and gays support the migrants, Razem Londyn, London Anarchist Federation, Kent anti-racist network, dywizjon 161, colectivo anticapitalista Londres and Plan C London as well as others who brought banners and many individuals.

Despite the large number of organisations, the actual number of people who turned up for the protest wasn’t huge, though there were probably well over a thousand in Altab Ali Park by the time the speeches began. As I wrote, ” People stood around in groups bemoaning the result of the referendum; most had either voted to remain or chosen not to vote – or had not been eligible as EU citizens or foreigners working here. They represented much of mainly young London, very few of whom voted to leave the EU, and most like me who were shocked and bitterly disappointed by the Brexit vote.

A group of three people interviewing people to camera for a right-wing US website had clearly come to provoke people, asking silly questions and appearing to gloat over the Brexit result. People told them to leave but they persisted and eventually the woman interviewer complained to police that her jokey Brexit hat had been stolen and her cameraman had been punched, though it seemed more a performance to camera than a genuine complaint. Although police talked to a few nearby protesters who failed to back up her complaints they also made sure the crew left the park rather than continue to stir up trouble.

After a number of speeches the march formed up and moved off, with the organisers apparently taking a tour of the East End and the City on the way to London Bridge. A number of smoke flares made its progress colourful and there was considerable noise from slogans and some loud music. When the march turned north rather than south on Houndsditch I decided I’d walked far enough and left it to go home and file my story.

Much more on My London Diary: Defend All Migrants.