In July the Home Office launched a new anti-immigrant campaign. A mobile billboard was driven around north and west London with a giant poster warning “illegal immigrants go home, or get arrested”.
Even Nigel Farage of UKIP (that’s right, UKIP!) said the billboards were “deeply divisive and unnecessary”.
Yet the Tories felt able to defend the posters. Conservative MP Mark Harper said: “Let me clear this up once and for all – it is not racist to ask people who are here illegally to leave Britain. It is merely telling them to comply with the law.”
Every person who has spent any time in a UK primary school will know the psychology behind the words “go home”. This phrase is the equivalent of saying the N word or the P word. Something you can say without getting into trouble. If you’re still a bigot when you leave primary school, what you say then will be an overt racist term.
Whoever designed these posters understands that. The posters were designed to fan the flames of bigotry in this country in order to win back the votes of people who have recently voted Ukip.
The campaign is just one part of an escalating policy of brutality which includes Home Office drives to “round up” “illegal immigrants” — including spot checks on papers at railway stations.
Randomly searching anyone who looks foreign is apparently lawful. Tweeting out pictures of “immigration offenders” being arrested is just good fun (not harassment or abuse) from our friends at the UK Border Agency.
Some of the people the government has recently chucked out are homeless Roma people who have literally nothing to go back to in Romania apart from second class citizenship and systematic abuse.
Where is the trade union and labour movement when all this is going on? Why is it not defending vulnerable migrant workers?
As the climate gets more hostile towards immigrants and more detrimental to the unity our class, we need to make the arguments for international working class solidarity.
It is our duty to take those ideas on to the streets, into workplaces and colleges. That is the only way to counter the flow of racist bile coming out of the government.
• No One is Illegal has a gathering on 1 September, 12.30 to 5, at the People’s History Museum, Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3ER. Write to No One is Illegal, c/o Bolton Socialist Club, 16 Wood Street, Bolton BL1 1DY.