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.

The racist English Defence League (EDL) intends to march from the top of Northumberland Street to the Monument in order to oppose the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum. The threat that the EDL poses to black and migrant people is not significant compared to the reality of British state oppression. The EDL does not run the police force, the racist courts, the racist prison system; it does not run asylum detention camps. It does not run the Border Agency or organise daily raids on places where migrants work. It does not control migrant access to the NHS which the Immigration Act requires. On 25 June the EDL will be nothing but a distraction from the real fight against racism.

In May, the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum invited Newcastle Unites, which includes the Labour Party, to join the march against the Immigration Act. Its representatives never responded. Instead, three days before the march, it announced its intention to mobilise against the EDL on Northumberland Street. Its Facebook postings do not mention the march against the Immigration Act – a disgraceful act of sectarianism. It wants to reduce the fight against racism to a shouting match with the EDL, and distract attention from the racist policies of the Labour Party. Do not be deceived! Join the real fight against racism, join the march against the Immigration Act!

Fight the racist Immigration Act! Justice for immigrants! Freedom for refugees!


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%.

Newcastle’s services and the lives of its residents are being destroyed. At every opportunity, the Labour council has voted unanimously in favour of the cuts. It has offered not an iota of resistance. Instead, it has repeated that it must pass a balanced budget and that if it does not then a Conservative commissioner will be sent to Newcastle to institute a cuts budget far worse than that we could ever imagine. This is smoke and mirrors. Here is the reality: there is nothing left to cut. The council have already implemented devastating cuts, and are following the instructions of their leader Jeremy Corbyn not to set an illegal budget. Don’t listen to him! We say it is better to break the law than break the poor. Bring on the commissioners! The people of Newcastle will deal with them.

There is one path left: resistance. The council has shown, over the course of 6 years, that it will not do anything close. It stands against the working-class of Newcastle today, as it always has done, bleeding the city dry. We must organise now. Class war has been declared on us, and it is to class war which we must respond.

James Bell and Anna Snaith

No Cuts to Council Services! March and protest on budget day

5pm, Wednesday 2 March.

On the 2 March, Newcastle Labour council will pass a cuts budget of £30m. Enough is enough.

Assemble at 5pm at Newcastle Monument.
We will march up Northumberland Street to the Civic centre where there will be a protest.

No cuts to council services! No cuts at all!

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