Rob Quirk, East London Socialist Party
The Tory government is trying to build an ‘immigration enforcement centre’ in Docklands, east London. A demo on the evening of Friday 4 December protested against Home Office plans to construct the centre in Newham.
The Tory Windrush scandal recently hit workers from the Caribbean who had lived and worked in Britain since the 50s and 60s. Many had their citizenship revoked, were denied services such as NHS treatment, and faced deportation – to countries they had, in some cases, not seen since they were a child.
Last year, the Home Office submitted plans to Newham’s Labour council to relocate an immigration reporting centre from Becket House in central London to Warehouse K at the Royal Victoria Docks. However, the government did not mention the plan to construct 35 holding cells for migrants.
This was no mistake from the Home Office. To relocate just minutes from London City Airport, increases the likelihood of Warehouse K being used for deportation. This could potentially create hostilities in a working-class multicultural borough like Newham. The Tories try to whip up division to distract from their attacks on all working-class people. We need to fight for jobs, homes and services for all.
The council rightly rejected the application – and this must continue. The demonstration outside Warehouse K was attended by around 40 people, including the Socialist Party.
Despite the message being clear that Warehouse K should not be used as an enforcement centre, the only speaker to criticise Labour was Steve Hedley from the RMT (transport workers) union. He rightly said Labour has not done enough to fight racism and attacks on workers, including allowing the recent ‘Spycops’ bill to pass (See ‘Spycops inquiry finally opens’ at socialistparty.org.uk).
Newham Labour council is currently trying to force 300 more working-class students, mostly Asian, into the already overcrowded ‘Little Ilford’ school. Unfortunately, the approach of ‘Stand Up to Racism’, which called the protest, is not to criticise the Labour politicians responsible for these attacks.
The campaign must seek the consultation and support of workers in the existing Home Office facility, organised in the PCS union.