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Editorial: The labour movement must stand up to far-right anti-refugee thugs

IT IS not hard to identify the politics which pitches a squad of far-right activists onto the beaches near Dover to confront the desperate souls crossing in rubber boats. It is imperial British fascism.

Start with a dollop of fake history which sees centuries of slave trading, imperial plunder and merciless wars of colonial conquest as bringing civilisation to subject peoples. Deny the present-day reality that the people who arrive at our shores are fleeing, in the most part, wars which we have visited upon their lands.

Set this unsavoury mess against a mass media narrative which suggests that Britain is overrun with aliens, that migrants arrive here to enjoy the delights of our benefit system, plunder our unemployment insurance funds and steal our jobs.

What is the reality? A near 150 million passengers arrived in Britain last year. Arrivals from British, other European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals totalled 124.3 million, while arrivals from non-EEA nationals decreased by 7 per cent to 19.6 million.

Three million visas were granted, a 9 per cent increase. Over three-quarters of arrivals were visiting, one in 12 arrived as students, just 6 per cent were here to work and 2 per cent visited for family reasons.

When Home Secretary Priti Patel leads a chorus of voices that present this minuscule question of Channel-crossing migrants as an “invasion” or a threat to our way of life they are talking dangerous nonsense which feeds a narrative that allows the storm troopers of the fascist fringe to pose as the defenders of the realm.

The people arriving from Calais come from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Libya, Egypt and Yemen, mostly places with traditional colonial and political links with Britain and – as any news bulletin over the last decade shows – many bombed by Britain and its allies.

More come from sub-Saharan and African countries afflicted with drought brought about by global warming for which they bear no responsibility whatsoever.

Those from former Italian colonies often go to Italy, French-speaking refugees and migrants head for France where, incidentally, the benefit system is rather generous compared to ours. Those who come to Britain do so because they often have family connections here and speak English.

The campaign to defeat racism and fascism is complex, multi-faceted and will not be fully successful until the conditions which create these anti-human phenomena are changed.

A basic necessity is for fascist goons to be driven away from playing vigilante on our shores. Whether this is by effective policing or anti-fascist campaigning is hardly the point — but if the police and legal authorities are unwilling then there must be a mass mobilisation in defence of decency.

The refugee solidarity and support groups for which Kent is noted deserve every assistance.

Undocumented refugees have a right under international treaty — to which Britain is a signatory — to claim asylum. The reactionary drivel uttered by government figures which give credence to the idea that these people are “illegal” is beneath contempt. Refugees have human rights.

Crossing the English Channel is, for many refugees, the last and most dangerous stage in a terrifying journey filled with many perils.

It is a mark of a civilised society and a humane nation to give these people a helping hand.

Confusing this issue with the broader question of what should be Britain’s overall immigration policy serves only to reinforce racism.

The Tories make a great play about controlling our borders. The bigger question is what goes on within our borders. Devising and winning a non-racist immigration policy is a long overdue task for Labour and the entire working-class movement.

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