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From: The Socialist issue 877, 4 November 2015: 10 an hour now!

Search site for keywords: Waltham Forest - Austerity - Refugees - Solidarity - Homes - Housing - War - Black - Asian - Cuts - Accommodation - Evictions - Racism - Shelter - Homelessness - Homeless - East London - Discrimination

Struggle for solidarity with refugees must be anti-austerity

March for Homes in Waltham Forest on 21 November

Isai Priya, Waltham Forest Socialist Party

War, poverty and dictatorial regimes are among many reasons why innocent people risk their lives fleeing their country to have a chance to live.

According to the United Nation High Commission for Refugees there were 59.5 million refugees worldwide by the end of 2014. This figure has grown four times over in the last four years - it is now equivalent to one person in every 122 on the planet.

Latest figures released by the UN show that more than 218,000 people made the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe in October 2015. This is a record breaking figure and nearly the same as the whole of the last year. This year alone, more than 3,440 people have died or gone missing during the journey.


Particularly after the picture of Aylan Kurdi, the toddler drowned on one of these trips, went viral on social media, ordinary people showed solidarity with the refugees in their thousands. Tens of thousands of people have marched through the streets on "refugees welcome" demonstrations.

Under huge pressure Cameron has agreed to take in 20,000 refugees over the next five years. That is 4,000 a year. Not only is this pathetically low, but there is no attempt to offer a decent life for those who do come.

They will need homes, jobs, and access to services such as the NHS and schools. The resources exist to do this and much more, but it needs a fight against austerity.

Working class people of all backgrounds, but disproportionately ethnic minorities and migrants, are struggling. The huge housing shortages, sky-rocketing rents and low wages means that for the majority of us every day is a battle.

These cuts are affecting the most vulnerable in our society. More than 3.6 million children in the UK are living in poverty.

The homelessness charity Shelter has estimated that there are more than 70,000 homeless children in England living in temporary accommodation. All this is in the sixth richest country in the world.

Some activists try to separate out the struggle against racism and supporting refugees from these austerity issues. But establishment politicians and their media are using the lack of services, jobs and homes to fuel anti-immigrant propaganda. Socialists can't ignore this, we have to tackle it head on.

They are trying to divide communities. But we, as ordinary people, whether we are black, Asian or white, have more in common with each other than the establishment politicians and millionaires.

For example, there has been huge support for the alternative anti-austerity policies that Jeremy Corbyn stood for in his election campaign among all communities.

39% of Ukip voters liked Corbyn most in the campaign compared to 38% of Labour voters. Some of these Ukip voters will now have joined Labour hoping to defend and implement the policies Jeremy Corbyn spoke of.

Jeremy Corbyn

Ukip is a racist party but not all its voters are racist. Many have voted for Ukip as a protest vote - we need an anti-racist, working class alternative to appeal to them instead.

Only an anti-austerity programme is able to unite working class communities and to fight all forms of discrimination. It is through this that we will be able to build a fightback against the right wing and media anti-migrant propaganda.

The same struggle is the only way to guarantee real victories that can make life better for migrants and those who are already here. Part of this battle will be to fight for decent affordable homes for all.

This is a big focus of the Socialist Party's campaign work in Waltham Forest at the moment. Waltham Forest Trades Council is organising a rally and demonstration demanding decent affordable homes for all, rent control, council house-building and solidarity action to stop evictions - which we are helping to build for

  • If you live in east London, please join us on the housing demo on 21 November, assembling in Abbots Park, E10 at 12pm

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