travellers, the state and the meaning of solidarity

Richard B. argues that traveller support must now become a part of our movement

Only those leftists unable to think anything beyond ‘anti-cuts’ could have missed what has happened in Essex these past couple of months. The few select days of continuous media coverage were of the kind usually reserved for foreign wars and natural disasters.

Despite these momentary manifestations of traveller resistance which flashed across our screens, it is worth noting that the small-scale siege which set alight the largest traveller site in the country is not a new occurrence: a site at Hovefields, just up the road from Crays Hill, was evicted only in February; the residents of Dale Farm itself have been resisting the legislative lunges of Basildon council for six years; settled communities have been defending travellers from eviction since at least the 1970s, and indeed it is arguable that the majority of contemporary traveller culture is a response to the ideologies and developing technologies of governmental attack. Continue reading “travellers, the state and the meaning of solidarity”

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UBS worker detained by UK borders agency

by Chris Kane

We have received shocking news that Lancaster Cleaning Services, a contractor for Union Bank of Switzerland, has once again colluded with the UK Borders Agency against cleaners. On this occasion Lancaster, having taken over the contract at UBS, has provided the Borders Agency with information on one of their workers who had just left their employment.  Acting on this information the worker’s home was raided and he is being held at an as yet unknown location.

The only crime this worker has committed is coming to this country and getting a job!  This is not first time Lancaster and cleaning companies have utilised the Borders Agency to attack migrant workers and attempt to intimidate others from organising to improve their working conditions. Deportations have taken place at SOAS and Willis specifically against union organised workers. UNITE activist Alberto Durango was arrested at the behest of Lancaster Cleaning company. This is however the first time it has been used by Lancaster’s in connection with the contract at UBS contract. Continue reading “UBS worker detained by UK borders agency”

immigration in britain today: london forum, 22nd march

The Commune’s next London forum is from 7pm on Monday 22nd March at the Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, near Old Street. Click here for leaflet.

The economic crisis has worsened anti-immigrant sentiment in British society. Not only has it created a breeding ground for the BNP and English Defence League to win support, but establishment racism is also on the up. Continue reading “immigration in britain today: london forum, 22nd march”

english defence league march on parliament

by Amanda Latimer

On March 6th, the fascists marched on Parliament.  More disturbing than their actual presence or message, however, was the fact that someone let them in the front door.

The English Defence League’s (EDL) march on Parliament was called with three days’ notice to welcome the visit of the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders to the House of Lords.  Somewhere between the “free speech” placards carried by the 200 or so EDL supporters, the predictable mire of nationalist and fascist salutes and equally predictable targets of their racism, was a feeling that, as one anti-fascist demonstrator put it, “This shouldn’t be happening.”  The march flew in the face of a long-standing rule that no one can march on Parliament whilst it is in session; a rule that was not simply broken by the EDL, but accommodated by the State.  What kind of message does it send when a far-right group is not only given permission for such an extraordinary action, but when their right to “deliver their message” is accompanied by a police presence in the hundreds, also convened over three short days? Continue reading “english defence league march on parliament”

question time: did the straw man really slay the griffin?

by Adam Ford

Viewers of the BBC’s Question Time were confronted by many truly repellent outbursts from the platform on 22nd October. The screening – which had generated massive controversy due to the debut appearance of British National Party chairman Nick Griffin – often broke out into shouting and boos as the audience expressed their disgust with Griffin’s barely disguised racism and homophobia. But a significant early comment by another panellist went almost unnoticed amidst all the fury: Jack Straw claimed that Labour and the other ‘mainstream’ parties’ have a “moral compass”. In this article I will examine that claim, look at the ideological role of Question Time, and criticise the tactics of Unite Against Fascism and the Socialist Workers Party.

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(Photo by Mike Fleming)

Since it began in 1979, Question Time has been a centrepiece of the BBC’s political coverage. During that time, it has played a significant role in framing the national policy debate, in determining which views are (and which are not) acceptable as ‘mainstream’. When the programme began, in the early days of Margaret Thatcher’s first Conservative government, there were four panellists – one each from Conservatives, Labour and the Liberals (as the third party were known at the time). The fourth panellist would be a prominent ‘talking head’, often from the fields of academia, the media or religion. In 1999, the panel was expanded to five guests, and the show experimented with ‘outsider’ figures, such as comedians, but this was quickly ditched. Continue reading “question time: did the straw man really slay the griffin?”

amnesty for some, or papers for all?

At yesterday’s Hands Off My Workmate conference a speaker from London Citizens argued for a limited and conditional amnesty for some unregularised migrants as the only ‘pragmatic’ means of helping them settle in Britain. Similar arguments were made at a May 4th demonstration organised by London Citizens, and here we present a translation of a text distributed at that event by the Coordinadora Latinoamericana.

papelesparatodos

In a political context, the expression ‘amnesty’ means a general ‘pardon’, turning the page and forgetting the past. In the immigration context this means a ‘grace’ which certain states eventually give to allow certain immigrants meeting given conditions to be able to be regularised. In our view, the idea of amnesty must have the widest possible meaning and cover and benefit all immigrants. In other words, amnesty must mean papers for all. Continue reading “amnesty for some, or papers for all?”

should “we” ban the bnp?

by Kofi Kyerewaa

Despite the repetitive Nazi name-calling, the British National Party achieved their hope of getting elected into the European Parliament, and the British hard left once again finds itself at the margins of electoral politics and unable to match the BNP in votes even across its fractured political front. The landscape has changed: the British National Party can command 900,000 votes, while a hotch-pot of Stalinist bureaucrats, Impossibilists (SPGB) and Scottish Socialists garnered less than half at 350,000.

What is Socialist Workers Party leader Martin Smith’s remedy to this tragic state of affairs? More of the same with added egg throwing, “No freedom of speech for fascists”, “we should ban the BNP” and, bizarrely on BBC’s Newsnight Smith exclaimed to the polite but patronising Jeremy Paxman and Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes that the BNP had to be stopped because “they are counter-revolutionaries [to a Socialist Revolution?]!” Continue reading “should “we” ban the bnp?”