Far-right attack Kirkby migrant hotel – build united workers’ movement against racism

For jobs, homes and services for all

Theo Sharieff, Socialist Party executive committee

The scenes of violence and intimidation against migrants outside the Suites Hotel in Kirkby have shocked working-class people across the country. The far-right group Patriotic Alternative descended on the hotel on 10 February with the objective of inciting violence against refugees, met by local residents in a peaceful counter-demonstration.

The attacks have been hypocritically condemned by politicians from all of the capitalist establishment parties. This includes Tory home secretary Suella Braverman. But she has used her position in office to demonise migrants, describing refugees fleeing war and repression as “the invasion on our southern coast”.

The Tories are attempting to stir racist division in communities, at a time when workers are uniting in a fightback against the cost-of-living crisis. The Tories blame migrants for the lack of housing and the strain on public services that their policies have actually caused – whatever the consequences.

It’s clear that far-right racist extremists feel emboldened under the Tories to carry out anti-migrant attacks. The attempted attack in Kirkby is only the most recent in a string of racist attacks and attempts at intimidation against migrants, including the attempted petrol bombing of an asylum centre in Dover last year.

Tories and Labour

But it isn’t only the Tory government which is responsible. The Labour Party has called on the Tories to step up deportations! That’s because Starmer’s Labour also defends the idea that working-class people should pay for the crisis, while the rich get richer.

Kirkby has some of the highest levels of poverty in the country. Labour has controlled Knowsley Council since 1973 – and for years has voted in favour of passing on brutal Tory cuts to council funding. This is in stark contrast to the Militant-led Labour Liverpool City Council of the 1980s, which led a united mass movement of workers and working-class communities to take on and push back the attacks of Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government.

In Knowsley, £485 per resident has been cut from its budget, compared to the national average of £188. It’s no wonder local people are angry.

Meanwhile, the richest 250 individuals in Britain now own £710 billion, up from £658 billion in 2021. No working-class people should face any cuts – make the billionaires pay!

What programme needed

The tiny far-right ‘Patriotic Alternative’ was able to persuade around 450 people to attend the protest outside the Suites Hotel on 10 February. Less than 100 were its own supporters, mobilised from across the north of England.

The fact that the brave, anti-racist, counter-demo – organised at short notice at the Suites Hotel on 10 February – was outnumbered, underscores the vital need for the trade union movement to take the lead. The fight against racism and the far right has to include the fight against the conditions that allow racism to flourish.

Leaflets distributed to houses in Kirkby by Patriotic Alternative in the days leading up to the protest referred to the cost-of-living crisis leaving people freezing over winter. But it’s workers of all different backgrounds in the trade union movement who are currently leading the way in the strike wave – the most powerful struggle against the capitalist-driven cost-of-living and energy crisis.

The potential for a united trade union campaign for jobs, homes and services for all couldn’t be clearer. That would be the most effective way of building a movement to cut across support for the far right growing. Such a campaign should also demand the resources our local councils need in order to meet the needs of refugees and the existing population.

Workers need a political voice

Tory rule continues to be threatened by the growing strike wave. So, there is no question that the Tories will once again blame migration to try to distract working-class people from the real causes of falling living standards. But what political alternative exists to the pro-austerity parties, who all agree with attacking the conditions of workers and refugees?

The Socialist Party says that the trade unions should take steps now to establish a new political voice for workers and young people. That could stand firmly against racist scapegoating, and against all attacks from the bosses and capitalist politicians.

A starting point would be standing workers’ candidates in the local elections and the next general election. A general election is due by the end of 2024, but could be much sooner.

If only a fraction of those workers currently on strike were to stand as workers’ candidates, this would help lay the groundwork for building the political party workers will need on their side in the important battles to come.

This would be a big step forward in the fight against racism right across society. But racist division is inherent within capitalism – a system where wealth is hoarded at the top of society by the super-rich who tell the rest of us to fight amongst ourselves for the remaining crumbs. As Malcolm X explained: “You can’t have capitalism without racism”.

That’s why the Socialist Party fights for a fundamental, socialist transformation of society. We fight for the nationalisation of the banks and major industries, under democratic workers’ control and management, so we can begin to run society in the interests of the majority – to provide decent jobs, services and housing for all.

The Socialist Party says:

  • Build a united working-class struggle for jobs, homes, and services for all
  • For councils to set no-cuts budgets based on what our community needs – not what the Tories want to give us
  • Defend the right to asylum – with democratic community control of emergency funding and resources. No to racist immigration laws
  • Support the strikes! For fully funded above-inflation pay rises for all
  • Fully fund our NHS – no to cuts and privatisation
  • No more austerity – reject council cuts and tax rises on workers
  • Tories out! Starmer’s Labour doesn’t speak for us, so fight for a new working-class party
  • Nationalise rail, mail, energy, utilities and the banks under democratic working-class control and management, with compensation only on the basis of proven need – nothing for the fat cats
  • Take the wealth off the super-rich. For a socialist alternative to capitalism’s poverty and crisis

Kirkby resident – far right blame refugees for failures of capitalist politicians

Socialist Party member Neil Dunne lives in Kirkby, and helped organise the 10 February anti-racist protest. This is what he had to say.

“Towns like Kirkby have experienced poverty, ‘managed decline’ and deindustrialisation. This is a breeding ground for the far right.

“Disenfranchised, local people have become politically homeless due to the failure of the Labour Party – and the Tories – to address cost-of-living issues. When people are forced to fight for scraps under capitalism, far-right ideas can grow.

“Cynically, another far-right group has renamed itself ‘National Housing Party’. It has been leafleting Liverpool areas, leaning on the plight of working people during a cost-of-living crisis, and blaming refugees for this problem.


“It seems a lifetime ago that kids where photographed lying dead on a beach after failing to escape their terrifying situation by boat. Now the capitalist media is putting front pages out to create hysteria about migration.

 “The cost of living, energy prices, and wage stagnation are just a few reasons why working-class people are rightly fed up and angry. Cuts to jobs and services and council tax rises in these forgotten working-class towns will bite hard like frostbite.

“Every workplace has had discussions on how they simply struggle to put food on the table and heat their homes. But, a vacuum has been created by Labour councils passing on Tory cuts with zero fightback.

“We need real wage rises. We don’t need Labour politicians holding ribbon-cutting ceremonies for food banks.

“When workers are free from the pressure and insecurity of bills and rent that they can’t afford, then it’s easier to make the case that people staying in a hotel, trying to make a better life for their families, are not the cause of their problems.”