The Socialist 19 March 2014 |
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Unite to end racism and cuts
Marvin Hay, Waltham Forest prospective TUSC candidate
On Saturday 22 March, as part of the UN's International Anti-Racism Day, the TUC has coordinated marches in London, Cardiff and Glasgow.
We will be flying the banners of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and the Socialist Party and call on others to join the protests.
It is indisputable that the plight of workers under the tsunami of austerity and neoliberal reforms is a cause for a mighty fightback.
But the cuts are having a disproportionate effect on certain sections of the working class. Unison and TUC research in recent years has shown that since the Coalition came to power young black men have experienced the sharpest rise in unemployment.
In September 2013 the Department for Work and Pensions reported that while the unemployment rate for white people aged 16-24 was 19%, for young black people it was more than double that, at 45%. For young Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers it's even worse at 46%.
And it's not just young black and Asian people who are being affected. In 17 London councils (arguably the most diverse) black workers are being disproportionately hit by job losses - by up to 32%.
All this goes to demonstrate how much the austerity measures are worsening the already unequal situation faced by black and Asian workers in Britain, with a similar effect in austerity-hit countries around the world.
The Immigration Bill (now in the committee stages in the House of Lords) is part of the Tories drive to make Britain, as described by home secretary Theresa May, "a hostile place for illegal immigrants".
It has been described as one of the most racist pieces of legislation passed in the UK.
Threat to welfare state
Under pressure from Ukip's right-wing populist propaganda, combined with the government's attack on workers' rights to justice (made worse in the wake of legal aid reforms) the government is seeking to take back rights won by workers in the past.
The Bill will see foreign students charged to use the NHS, terror suspects (before conviction) stripped of British citizenship, the right of appeal against immigration decisions limited and the courts' and tribunals' right to give weight to the Human Rights Act restricted.
This will be used as a wedge against universal access to all aspects of the welfare state.
The Immigration Bill will see private landlords required, under the threat of a £3,000 fine, to ensure that 'illegal' immigrants are not given access to their properties.
The nasty reality of this draconian provision is that ethnic minorities will have a higher hurdle to climb to secure accommodation in what is already a process riddled with inequality and racial prejudice.
Despite the clear racist and xenophobic suggestion of the legislation and its attack on human rights, it was passed in the House of Commons by 303 votes to 18, with only six Labour MPs a three Lib Dems opposing.
It's telling that just 4% of local councillors, 2.3% of MPs, and 3.5% of senior civil servants are black.
Almost none stand up for the working class. Pro-big business politicians have no solutions to the problems we face.
The reality is that legislation like the Immigration Bill, combined with continued attacks on workers' rights, including human rights, are increasing real racial inequalities, as well as whipping up divisions between workers.
This has the potential to weaken any movement to resist the austerity attacks and must be opposed.
That's why only a united mass workers' party with a socialist programme can represent the struggle to genuinely combat racism, which is what the Socialist Party and TUSC will be arguing for on the demonstrations on 22 March.
- London: assemble near Nelson Mandela statue in Parliament Square at 11am for march to Trafalgar Square where there will be a rally 1-4pm
- Cardiff: assemble 11am - venue tbc
- Glasgow: assemble George Square 11am for a march which will leave at 11.30am and be followed by a rally