Opposing the far right at Stradey Park Hotel

Mark Evans, Swansea and West Wales Socialist Party

On 8 July, a protest was called in Llanelli by the far-right group Patriotic Alternative (PA), supposedly for ‘boots on the ground’. Only a handful of PA members turned up. Socialist Party members played a central role in the counter protest against PA, organised by Swansea Trades Council, alongside Carmarthenshire County Unison local government branch members and other anti-racist groups.

The PA protest was a cynical attempt to exploit the anger of local people at the Tory government’s plans to house 241 asylum seekers at the Stradey Park Hotel, as part of their strategy to create a ‘hostile environment’ for asylum seekers. As a result, around 100 workers at the hotel will lose their jobs and already stretched local services will be put under even greater strain. Meanwhile, the hotel owners laugh all the way to the bank as a result of their contract with the Home Office.

As a result, there have previously been two protests in support of sacked hotel workers organised by Furnace Action Committee, a group set up by local people to oppose the Tories’ plans, which Socialist Party members have attended (see ‘Protest against Tory ‘hostile environment’ in Furnace, at socialistparty.org.uk).

The Furnace Action Committee made a clear call that “anyone intending on using racist or offensive attitudes is asked not to attend” their protests, but nonetheless the far right are trying very hard to ingratiate themselves with the campaign. Making sure that the far-right gets no hearing in our community requires fighting for working-class unity to win jobs, homes and local services for all. Unfortunately, Stand up to Racism has been too quick to label people as racist, ignoring the legitimate concerns of local people, even when their own material states that asylum seekers should not be housed in the hotel.

The Socialist Party opposes housing asylum seekers in the hotel as it is not suitable for asylum seekers or the community. The council has a strategy to house asylum seekers across the wider community; why doesn’t the government fund the council to do this? Why doesn’t the council put up a fight for this money? If council services and other public services had not been cut to the bone since 2010 by the Tories, the council and the health service would be a far better place to provide housing and services for all.

We mobilise against the far right where ever they raise their heads. Our approach is to win local people to a fight for jobs, homes and services to defeat racism, for the right to asylum, no to racist immigration laws, and workers’ unity against any racist attacks on asylum seekers.