The last issue of Solidarity suggested two ways to “turn the tide” of racism against asylum seekers: supporting Socialist Green Unity Coalition candidates standing in the General Election and “fighting in the unions for them to break the hypnosis of the ‘Warwick agreement”’ – or, in plain English, to break with the policies of Blair’s government.
Both of these actions — desirable, though they are — are distant from the immediate concerns of fighting back on asylum. SGUC candidates will only be standing in around 30 seats and raising support for asylum rights as part of general socialist propaganda. Fighting to break the unions from Blair is a long-term perspective involving activists fighting through union structures to adopt left policies and ensure they are carried through. Neither provides a means for activists to become involved in the battle being fought now against the attack on asylum seekers.
There is, on the other hand, a broad movement in support of asylum seekers consisting both of individual anti-deportation campaigns, the campaigns around detention centres and more general umbrella structures such as “No One is Illegal”. These campaigns often involve trade union organisations and provide a focal point for taking the asylum issue into communities and the labour movement. They also provide practical solidarity for the asylum seekers themselves.
One current focus is the Day of Action called by the London European Social Forum 2004 for 2 April 2005, “against racism, for freedom of movement and for the right to stay as an alternative to a Europe based on exclusion and exploitation”. A national demonstration has been called in Manchester for that day. (For more details, see page 14)
Making our support visible and practical provides a basis for having the more general arguments about asylum and immigration that can begin to turn the tide.