The day started with news that a yet unidentified sixteen year old Sudanese boy drowned in the English Channel trying to make his way into England writes Andy Stowe. That evening over one hundred socialists, feminists and LBGTQI activists protested outside the Home Office to insist that migrants are welcome and to reject the Tories’ fortress Britain rhetoric.
A coalition including Socialist Resistance, Mutiny, Another Europe Is Possible, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants and several groups from the radical left (a full list can be found here) called the event at little more than a week’s notice.
Whatever our differences on other things we are united by our opposition to home secretary Priti Patel’s militarisation of a humanitarian crisis. Earlier this month she appointed a “Clandestine Channel Threat Commander” whose job it is to make the seaways “unviable” for small boat crossings.
The threat of violence in this is barely concealed. With Covid deaths at almost 50 000, massive job losses all across the economy, A-level students traumatised and their government now synonymous with corruption and ineptitude the Tories are whipping their supporters into a frenzy about tiny numbers of migrants trying to enter the country at the risk of their lives.
It’s not possible to summarise the ten or so speeches, but some clear themes emerged. Migrants are part of the working class and it is the responsibility of the labour movement, including the Labour leadership to speak up for them; imperialism and ecological disaster have created these waves of migration and those caught up in these disasters need our full support; migrants don’t force down wages, it’s employers who do that.
Measured against the deluge of anti-migrant propaganda the right deploys in its culture war the demonstration was a very modest affair. What is showed is that there is a real appetite for socialists and other activists to work together in a comradely way to fight back against the hostile environment and to keep asserting that migrants are welcome.