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Issue #1742      August 3, 2016

United left can beat hate

BRITAIN: Liberty and its new director Martha Spurrier have hit the nail firmly on the head in highlighting the role played by Theresa May and the Tory government in whipping up hate crime.

The number of reported incidents has been steadily increasing over recent years, with the single biggest jump occurring in the 12 months after May 2012. That was when the then home secretary Theresa May ramped up the rhetoric against immigrants and asylum-seekers.

“The aim is to create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration,” she told the Daily Telegraph at the time. It is unlikely that racists thought deeply about their intended victim’s legal status before indulging in verbal or physical abuse.

During this period of Tory-Lib Dem coalition rule, measures were enacted to deny work, housing and bank accounts to so-called “illegal” migrants in order to drive them from Britain. To reinforce the message, the Home Office dispatched a large van around the streets of London, proclaiming: “In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest.”

Since then, every year has seen new laws to deny residence or citizenship to people outside the EU, especially to those from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean hoping to join family members here.

The Tories won last year’s general election on a repeated promise to clamp down still further on immigration.

Meanwhile, successive British governments have shown a callous disregard for the “swarms” of refugees desperate to reach Europe, having fled from war zones and famines created largely by Western imperialism in their home countries.

Nor should we forget ex-PM David Cameron’s mission to suspend or slash child benefit and tax credits to migrant workers from eastern Europe as part of his EU “renegotiation” charade.

Then, this spring, we endured the unedifying spectacle of leading Remain and Leave campaigners promising to be “tougher” than each other on immigration and asylum.

So it is not surprising that the number of reported hate crimes rose again in the last two weeks of June, immediately before and after EU polling day. Although the figures subsided in the first fortnight of July, any increase at any time warns against complacency.

That’s why the “action plan” recently announced by the Home Office is so inadequate, not least because of its failure to match the fine words with extra financial resources on the scale required.

Liberty is right not to let the Tories and Theresa May personally off the hook over the long-term rise in hate crimes, one-fifth of which target Muslims, the LGBT community and people with disabilities.

What is extraordinary is the willingness of some EU supporters to seize upon on the referendum spike to lay most of the blame elsewhere. They prefer to denounce the 17 million anti-EU voters as racists or dupes for fearing the impact of unrestricted immigration, although – as TUC and Ashcroft surveys indicate – at least as many people opposed EU membership because they want decision-making powers repatriated from Brussels.

Singling out anti-EU left and labour movement campaigns for blame is even more reprehensible, especially given the anti-racist content of their stance and – at the height of the referendum campaign – their direct involvement in the convoy to assist refugees in Calais.

The priority now must be left and labour movement unity in the fight against racism and for EU exit terms which put the interests of workers first, whatever their race or nationality.

Morning Star

Next article – Turkey’s war on Kurds

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