Internationalism on a council estate
The Labour Party and the leftists who support them constantly express their concern about the rise of the BNP, racism and the plight of immigrants. Anti-racism and anti-fascism are strong and enduring features of capitalist democracy and, as such, con-tricks on the working class.
One of the most racist organisations of the capitalist state, as ‘institutionally racist' as the police force, is the Labour Party. "British jobs for British people" is the war cry of Prime Minister Brown. Talk of the ‘white working class' is used by Labour to Party outdo the BNP. The Labour Party crows about being tough on immigrants and shows it has nothing to learn from the BNP.
Just recently France and Britain jointly rejected proposals for a general amnesty for illegal immigrants. For the British state it would ‘send out the wrong signal'. In France they organised a partial amnesty promising papers for residence, which turned out to be a cynical trap. The paperless migrant workers that came forward were jailed and deported, with only a few receiving any sort of residential security. Campaigns round amnesties always fall into the framework of the ruling class.
In Britain, illegal immigrants are characterised as ‘spongers', job-stealers and linked to terrorism. There have been small but significant fights by elements of the working class against the policy of terror and forced expulsion towards immigrants by the British state.
On the so-called ‘sink estate' of Kingsway, Glasgow, the residents welcomed immigrants from Iraq, Pakistan, Algeria, Congo and Uganda amongst others, saying that the immigrants brought a completely different and positive atmosphere to the demoralised community (Guardian 13.6.8). After watching Home Office thugs coming to remove immigrant families before dawn and one man jumping out of the window to escape them, a retired shop worker said "It was like watching the Gestapo - men with armour going into a flat with battering rams. I've never seen people living in fear like it" (Ibid). She got together with other residents of the estate organising daily dawn patrols, hassling the immigration vans with the large crowds that formed, setting up codes warning the immigrants and helping them escape or hiding them in their homes. Virtually the whole estate was involved and they kept this up for two years, forcing the Home Office to abandon its forced removals. Those involved in the struggle pointed out the positive effects it had on them. According to the newspaper similar events have taken place in predominantly working class communities in Manchester, Sheffield, Bristol and elsewhere, where there has been a general welcome, solidarity and organised fights for immigrants against the repressive forces of the state.
There is always the danger of these structures for defence being integrated into the state apparatus, or into in a campaign that just wants to change the law on deportations. But the basic issue here, against all the vitriol and hatred from the ruling class, is the demonstration of basic working class solidarity.