Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/153/7778
Reject the Racist Lies
A MISERABLE band of 50 National Front fascists attempted a march through Margate last Saturday, trying to cash in on the anti-asylum seeker climate being encouraged by New Labour and the Tories.
They were outnumbered four times by anti-fascists and drew little support from local people. But there's no doubt that racism is being encouraged by the hostility being whipped up against asylum seekers by New Labour and the Tories, particularly in the run up to the local elections.
Much of the national and local media are ably assisting - as with London's Evening Standard that screamed "60,000 seeking London asylum", claiming that London councils would be paying out £243 million as a result.
Councils are dishonestly trying to blame cuts and council tax rises on the cost of accommodating refugees but, as the Evening Standard had to admit, they are reimbursed through government grants. Council cuts were happening well before refugees of the Kosovan war arrived in Britain.
In fact, immigration minister Barbara Roche admitted that the cost of support for asylum seekers in 1999-2000 is 19p per person per week - less than the government has spent on 'useful' projects like the Eurofighter, the millennium dome and armaments.
The Liberals are reporting New Labour and the Tories to the Commission for Racial Equality. This may show them up but it smacks of hypocrisy from the Liberals who have been more than willing to whip up racism, notably in Bermondsey and Tower Hamlets, to win local elections.
Tory MP Anne Widdecombe's call for bounty hunters (a 'removals agency') to track down illegal immigrants that have supposedly 'flooded' into this country, are amongst the most blatantly hostile utterances.
But Labour can't shift the odium from themselves either. It's their policies which are denying asylum seekers enough cash to live on, forcing them to beg on the streets. Turning the screw, they're now talking tough about fast-tracking 'aggressive' beggars through the system - the implication being that they'll be fast-tracked out of the country as supposedly 'bogus' asylum seekers.
The government's criteria for legitimate claims are so draconian that they exclude people like Mary Wandia Njuguna who fled Kenya for her life after blowing the whistle on a corrupt election official.
Far from Britain being a 'soft-touch' for refugees, it has become almost impossible to enter legally. Widdecombe's assertion that because 80% of applications are rejected it proves that the bulk of them are bogus, is nonsense.
§ Oppose Labour and Tory scapegoating of refugees.
§ Build a united movement for civil rights, decent housing and fully-funded public services for all.
In The Socialist 14 April 2000: