Newcastle Council - No open cast mines in Newcastle! No profiting from deadly mines in Latin America!

Newcastle FRFI address the crowd

On Wednesday 26 June, supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! worked with Extinction Rebellion North East (XR) to lead a march and protest to a full meeting of the Labour-led council in Newcastle. The council declared a climate emergency in April this year and committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 – more hot air from a council that promises the earth but slashes public services and does nothing to defend working class communities.

 

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Newcastle Unites capitulates to the police

On 6 April, Newcastle Unites, a coalition between the SWP and Labour councillors, backed down ignominiously when police insisted it make room for a bunch of fascists at the city centre Monument. The police used Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 to claim that Newcastle Unites was intent on ‘causing intimidation towards others with a view to compelling them not to do an act they have a right to do.’ The use of the law to protect the right of 30-odd racists to spread their poison needed to be met with determined opposition. But Newcastle Labour councillors from Heaton, Byker and Elswick who were at the protest decided that their role was to ensure the 100 or more counter-protesters abided by the police instruction.

 

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Imperialist hands off Sudan!

Supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) in Newcastle have been attending protests and meetings organised by the Sudanese Revolutionary Support Group. A member of the Sudanese Communist Party and a supporter of FRFI also spoke together at a public meeting on 19 February. FRFI demand the cancellation of all Sudanese debt, British troops out of Sudan and an end to agreements between Britain and the EU to use Sudan to stop migrants leaving Africa to get to Europe.

 

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SWP ejects anti-Zionists from meeting in Newcastle

Israel flags on an 'anti-racist' march

On 2 March, members of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) in Newcastle physically prevented RCG comrades from attending a meeting of the Stand up to Racism (SUTR), working with security guards to manhandle comrades from the event. The meeting, entitled ‘The road to Genocide and Institutional Racism’ would not have discussed the institutional racism of the Labour Party – SUTR President is Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, who calls for 500 extra border guards and immigration controls dictated by the needs of British business – ie British capital. Nor would it have discussed the decision of SUTR/SWP to allow the Zionist Confederation of Friends of Israel to join the SUTR march in Glasgow later this month.

 

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Newcastle’s Latin American right wing backs Trump’s coup in Venezuela

Imperialist hands off Venezuela

On Saturday 9 February 2019, supporters of FRFI petitioned against British support for the coup in Venezuela, presenting a viewpoint not covered in mainstream media outlets, even those characterised as being ‘liberal’ or even ‘left wing’. We stood against self-appointed, US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido and called for an end to sanctions on Venezuela. Comrades highlighted how crippling US sanctions imposed since 2017 have resulted in a crash in oil production and severe restrictions on international finance, costing Venezuela at least $6bn last year alone. These sanctions are hardly mentioned, with widespread media coverage of food and medicine shortages being blamed on socialist policies. We also stood against Britain’s part in the suffocation of the Bolivarian revolution, demanding that the $1.3bn of Venezuelan gold withheld by the Bank of England be released to the Venezuelan government. Britain’s backing of Guaido and the coup actively strengthens US imperialism in its attempt to recolonise Venezuela.

 

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Radical Lives: Coretta Scott King | Martin Luther King Jr

Radical Lives: Coretta Scott King | Martin Luther King Jr

‘For the last twelve years we have been in a reform movement. . .. After Selma and the Voting Rights Bill, we moved into a new era, which must be the era of revolution. We must recognize that we can’t solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power.’
(Martin Luther King Jr, To Charter Our Course for the Future, Address delivered at Southern Christian Leadership Conference staff retreat, 22 May 1967)

25 November 2018 saw a gathering at St John the Baptist Church Hall in Newcastle upon Tyne for a jam-packed evening of educational talks, film, discussion and music. The event, titled Radical Lives: Coretta Scott King | Martin Luther King Jr, was hosted by the Migration & Asylum Justice Forum (MAJF)* and launched their latest campaign – one for decent education and against the barriers currently posed to this by legislative and institutional racism.

 

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Pro-Palestine activists fight the council while PSC defends ‘weasely’ Labour councillors

On 4 September, the Labour Party NEC passed the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. A day later, Labour-led Newcastle Council did the same, unanimously, without debate. There is now a stampede among Labour councils to adopt this reactionary definition despite the fact that Palestinian representatives and organisations reject it as Zionist.

 

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Fight for asylum seekers’ housing rights! No to room-sharing and squalid conditions

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On 23 March, the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum (MAJF), which is supported by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! North East demonstrated outside the tribunal where Home Office housing subcontractor Jomast were challenging a number of Environmental Health orders issued against them by Newcastle City Council over conditions in asylum housing. The campaign ensured the issue of overcrowding and unfit conditions in Jomast properties came to national prominence with coverage in The Independent. We also got a chance to challenge Jomast owner Stuart Monk (wealth in excess of £185m) as he left the tribunal.

 

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Newcastle: standing up to racism?

sutr newcastle

On 17 February, some 600 fascists led by Veterans against Terrorism (VAT) marched through Newcastle city centre. While Newcastle has been a frequent venue for such racist demonstrations over the years, this occasion saw the smallest mobilisation ever of anti-fascist forces, and one which was dominated by reactionary Labour Party politics.

The fascists paraded under a plethora of banners: Football Lads Alliance, People’s Charter,  Gays Against Extremism, Multiracial Alliance Tackling Extremism and Mothers Against Radical Islam And Sharia, mostly fronts for the English Defence League (EDL).

 

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Tyneside asylum seekers fight overcrowding

Victory! Following public pressure from the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum (MAJF) including FRFI supporters, Newcastle City Council has begun to take legal enforcement action against private housing and construction company JOMAST for breaking overcrowding regulations under section 139 of the Housing Act 2004. Hiding behind outdated housing law, JOMAST expect unrelated same sex adults to share bedrooms and cram multiple families into flats and hostels. Months of consistent protests, collecting testimonies and documenting asylum housing conditions have begun to yield results: several JOMAST residents have now been given their own bedroom after pressure from the campaign led to properties being inspected by Newcastle city council. This victory shows that asylum seekers and their supporters can organise to improve housing conditions.

The Home Office has contracted out the provision of housing for asylum seekers to the notorious G4S, which in turn has subcontracted private company JOMAST in the north east. JOMAST is making a fortune for housing people in run down, overcrowded accommodation. Newcastle City Council passed a policy against forced bedroom sharing in March 2017 but JOMAST ignored this. In response, MAJF rallied at the council in June to highlight the continued practice and demand the policy be enforced. Cabinet member Councillor Kilgour committed the council to 'inspect and if necessary take appropriate action in cases of forced room sharing against the wishes of the occupants'. Taking up this commitment, MAJF has knocked on doors and leafleted drop-in centres and has supported scores of residents to complain, leading to several victories. The campaign is calling on other councils to take similar action.

 

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Fighting racism in Newcastle

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Far from being a city of sanctuary as the Newcastle Labour council likes to claim, it is a city where

  • immigration raids regularly take place in predominantly migrant-owned businesses, targeting migrant workers with irregular immigration status;

  • asylum seekers frequently have their front doors kicked in during the early hours of the morning to be bundled into immigration vans and then imprisoned or deported;

  • the same asylum seekers are forced to live in privatised, severely overcrowded housing, with leaking ceilings, broken boilers and cookers and bed bug infestation, and are often tagged and put on curfew by the Home Office.

However, this repression has bred resistance, and migrants, asylum seekers and other working class people in Newcastle have joined forces to fight back. They face not just state racism, but the forces of the opportunist left, which in the guise of the SWP censors the views of migrants and seeks to restrict the fight against racism to a shouting match with the EDL.

 

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Residents call out Newcastle Labour council’s fire safety lies

YHN

Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) - the Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) that runs Newcastle council’s housing stock - have been caught lying by their residents. Following the Grenfell fire, YHN issued letters to tower block residents claiming that they have smoke detectors installed in the communal areas of their blocks and self-opening windows at the top of every stairwell. In many instances, residents have neither of these things. The letters also claimed that children have not been housed in tower blocks 'since the turn of the century'. This prompted young mothers and other angry residents to take action, demanding YHN retroactively fit sprinklers in all of their blocks and address other fire safety concerns, which include badly fitted fire doors, bin chutes and sufficient evacuation procedures for young families, disabled and elderly residents.

 

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Newcastle speaks out: safe and decent housing for all!

newcastle speakout

On Saturday 24 June, the North East branch of the Revolutionary Communist Group hosted a successful speak out in Newcastle city centre to demand housing that is habitable, safe and affordable for working class people.

Our demands were for ending forced room sharing in migrant housing, for more housing at social rent in Newcastle, and for an end to the racist ‘right to rent’ scheme, which discriminates against black and migrant people seeking to rent accommodation. We were joined by local housing campaigners who live in Your Homes Newcastle accommodation, a property management service which administers council housing.

 

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Asylum seekers challenge G4S and Jomast over housing conditions

In recent months the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum has been working hard to expose the conditions faced by asylum seekers housed by Jomast under the Home Office COMPASS contracts. Following a protest at Jomast’s local offices, press coverage and complaints to the housing and environmental health departments of Newcastle council, the campaign won the right to address representatives of G4S and Jomast directly. Following the meeting the campaign released this statement:

‘Sharon Holmes (G4S Head of business services), Juliet Halstead (G4S Head of housing), Charlie Cleverly (G4S Head of technical services), and Stuart Monk (CEO of Jomast), who has personal wealth of £175 million, met with representatives of the Migration Asylum Justice Forum on 22 May. Eight current Jomast tenants spoke about the problems they have been facing, including bedbugs, cramped conditions in the mother and baby hostels, issues with reporting repairs and getting them fixed, room sharing and being moved without sufficient notice. We have won some commitments to resolve specific problems and improve the reporting system for repairs. However, we know it is an uphill battle and the accommodation conditions will need continued monitoring by tenants and their supporters.

 

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Asylum housing in Newcastle ‘hostile to the well-being of children’

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Newcastle Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! activists have been campaigning with the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum to demand decent housing for asylum seekers, exposing the despicable conditions of housing provided by Jomast under the private COMPASS contract. In 2012, notorious subcontractor G4S won a big chunk of the Home Office contract to provide housing for those waiting for asylum case decisions. Across the north east, G4S has sub-contracted this service to property developer Jomast, whose tycoon owner Stuart Monk is worth an estimated £175 million.

 

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Durham teaching assistants continue fight against wage cuts

On Saturday 25th March 2017, supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! North East joined the Durham teaching assistants’ march to defend their wages and contracts. The teaching assistants have been engaged in a heroic 18 month struggle against Durham Labour council who, in 2016, voted unanimously in favour of cutting wages by 23%. The campaign has forced the council (who were due to be sacking the workers and rehiring them on the new contracts on 1st January) to temporarily back down and go back to the negotiating table.

 

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No to charter flights – End all deportations!

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On the 21st of January, a speak-out was organised by the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum (MAJF) as part of the two weeks of action organised by Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessary. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) supporters are affiliated with MAJF and this speak out was seen as a good opportunity to campaign together against the secret mass deportations on chartered flights to countries such as Nigeria and Jamaica.

 

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Sectarianism of Newcastle Unites

Newcastle Unites

On 14 September Newcastle Unites - a coalition between the Labour Party and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) - published a statement on their Facebook page banning the Socialist Party (SP) from attending a forthcoming demonstration against the racist English Defence League (EDL) on the grounds that an SP member is secretly affiliated to the British National Party. Newcastle Unites has published no evidence to support its claim, and until the SP says otherwise, we assume that it has either taken action against the member, or cleared him of the allegation. In these circumstances, we condemn the ban of the SP as both sectarian and anti-democratic.

 

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Byron Burgers targeted in Newcastle – End immigration raids!

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On Saturday 6th August supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! North East held a picket of the Byron Burgers restaurant in Newcastle. The picket was against the recent immigration raids, which Byron and the Home Office orchestrated, when Byron workers were pounced upon by immigration police in a phoney health and safety meeting called by Byron, and subsequently 35 workers have been arrested and deported.

 

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Newcastle marches against racism

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On Saturday 25 June, two days after the EU referendum, the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum marched through Newcastle against the racist 2016 Immigration Act. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! North East is centrally involved in the Forum and played a key role in organising the demonstration. Anti-racist and migrant-led organisations from all over the country joined the Forum’s protest: the Edinburgh Migrant Solidarity Network, Manchester Migrant Solidarity and the South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group from Sheffield, the Newcastle-based Angelou Centre, Beyond Borders, Keep Our NHS Public, Amnesty International and Peace of Mind, as well as supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle and Nottingham.

The Immigration Act is intended to deepen the oppression of migrants from outside the EU, making it even easier for the government to deport them, restrict their access to jobs, health services and housing, and increase powers of surveillance with immigration checks ordered at every level of society. The purpose of this is to force migrants into accepting super-exploited, casualised, poverty pay jobs. With the post-Brexit rise in xenophobia and racism, now is the time to redouble our efforts in the fight against state racism, and, despite EDL threats, we went out onto the streets confidently, loudly and defiantly marching down the roads and stopping traffic from the heart of Newcastle's West End, a working class community, home to many migrants and black people who will be subject to the Immigration Act.

 

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Join the march against the racist 2016 Immigration Act

Statement from Revolutionary Communist Group/Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! North East (a member of the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum)

Migration act

On Saturday 25th June, the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum will march in Newcastle upon Tyne against the racist 2016 Immigration Act. We will assemble at 12pm at the top of Stanhope Street, NE4 (intersection with Dilston Road) and march to Grey’s Monument for a rally. There are anti-racist and migrant-led organisations and individuals travelling to Newcastle to march with us from Sheffield, Manchester, Edinburgh, Teesside, Sunderland and Gateshead.

The British state has the power to impoverish, incarcerate and murder migrants and black people on a daily basis. The Immigration Act intensifies this government repression in order to intensify the hostile environment for migrants. We are clear: state racism is the principle threat to migrants and black people in Britain. We urge all committed anti-racists to march with us on 25 June to oppose this racist Act.

 

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Newcastle council cuts: Corbyn’s Labour in motion

On Wednesday, 2 March, Newcastle Labour council will vote on its next cuts budget. Another £30m will be cut from the city’s public services, bringing the total to £220m since 2010 - £785 per person living in the city. The list of proposed cuts is the stuff of nightmare.

The North East as a region has the highest suicide rate in England and is second to Wales for Britain. There were 13.8 suicides per 100,000 people in the North East in 2013, compared to a London rate of 7.9 per 100,000. The council’s proposed cuts strip away support on an inordinate level. 100% of ‘non-statutory’ mental health services are to be cut. With nothing left to cut, they go further: the mental health recovery team will cease to function unless alternative funding can be found, 21% will be cut from adult social care and 28% will be cut from care in the home services.

Alongside this, the council will begin its assault on the elderly. In September, 2015, Newcastle Labour council leader Nick Forbes stated, ‘We are at a dangerous time for the city, where the next round of spending cuts risk being so severe they could undo decades worth of work helping the disadvantaged and the elderly.’ He wasn’t lying. Preventative services for the elderly - for example, the council providing a handyman to repair items in the home - will cease entirely. Lunch clubs for the elderly will be cut by a third. Byker Lodge - a 20 bed dementia care home - will close. No discussion as to the fate of its residents has been made public.

And still, the budget goes on. Libraries across the cities will face a reduction in opening hours of over half: from 400 hours per week to 181 hours. The assault on the city's leisure services, which resulted in the closure of Elswick pool last year, is set to continue: Newburn Leisure centre and Kenton Park Sports centre will both face a reduction in support, amounting to a total cut of £145,000.

Family and women’s services will suffer dire blows. Presently, the council partially funds domestic violence services, in partnership with volunteer-led services. Its contribution, which amounts to £20,000, will cease: a 100% cut. All childcare available in statutory homeless accommodation will be cut. The council will introduce a charging policy where it does provide childcare. This is on top of cuts to Sure Start of 65%, agreed in 2014.

The list does not end here. Cuts will also be made to learning disability services (3%), early help and inclusion services (61%), youth services (22%) and the education service Connexions (13%). Public museums will be gutted, their pieces sold to the highest bidder. 240 jobs will be lost. To top it all off, council tax will increase by 3.9%.

 

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Hands off Syria! HSBC forced to close doors in Newcastle

On Saturday 19 December, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters in Newcastle attended a march organised by Stop the War Coalition against British airstrikes in Syria. Around 100 people assembled at the city’s Centre for Life and proceeded through the city, to Grey’s Monument. FRFI led chants of ‘Hands off Syria!’ and ‘1, 2, 3, 4, we don’t want your bloody war! 5, 6, 7, 8, Britain is a racist state!’ Once at Monument the demonstrators were addressed by speakers representing various organisations and trade unions.

 

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Newcastle protest against Britain bombing Syria

On Tuesday 1 December, supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! North East joined the rally called by Newcastle Stop the War Coalition against Britain bombing Syria. In a great show of strength hundreds of people joined the rally in the city centre of Newcastle. There was a lot of anger and a lot of energy for taking further action.

After only 45 minutes, Tony Dowling, leading member of Stop the War attempted to halt the protest. Given the energy of the protesters, FRFI supporters insisted it should continue. A clear division emerged as Dowling not only wanted to limit the duration of the protest, but also decided he should defend Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to allow Labour MPs a free vote on airstrikes. We argued that Corbyn had effectively placed Labour unity before the need to oppose imperialist war. We were met initially with hostility from staunch Labour supporters but quickly were able to keep the protest going with the help of all of the people who did not want to call it a day, and who could see through the deceit of Labour Party apologists. We set up an open mic for everyone, and many of the protesters used it.

 

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Freedom for migrants! Justice for refugees! Report of march in Newcastle 12 September 2015

On 12 September 2015 supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! joined hundreds of people on the ‘Newcastle Welcomes Refugees’ march. This was part of a national day of action in response to the on-going crisis faced by refugees and migrants across Europe.

FRFI supported the demands of migrants in Calais to open the borders and to grant safe and legal passage to Britain, and called for an end to deportations and the closure of all immigration prisons. A leaflet with the text below was distributed:

 

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Save Elswick Pool! Fight the Cuts!

Public meeting of the campaign

On Saturday 22 August, over 30 local residents came to a meeting in Elswick pool. The meeting was organized by local activists, Parents Against Cuts and FRFI supporters to discuss the planned closure of the pool in late October. At time of writing, an online petition to save the pool, launched earlier in the week, has over 2,100 signatures. Many residents have commented that this is one of the last remaining facilities in Elswick, one of the poorest areas of the city. Meanwhile the council has recently announced plans for a £45 million refurbishment of its own offices in the Civic Centre.

 

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Environment Campaign List

  • Climate protests – a breath of fresh air >

    ‘We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again. We have run out of excuses Read More
  • RCG joins Youth Strike 4 Climate - 15 March >

    On 15 March, more than a million school and college students, along with teachers and other supporters joined the second global Youth Strike 4 Climate (click for background on the Read More
  • World has 12 years to solve climate change >

    On 8 October 2018, the world’s leading climate scientists warned in a report for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that there are only 12 years for global Read More
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North East Events coming up

We have street actions and political educational meetings in Newcastle every week.

For more information on events in the North East you can also join the FRFI North East e-mail list and the mailing lists of campaigns we are involved in on the following pages:

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