UKBA protest: standing up to racism in Glasgow, 9 Sep 2013

On 9 September people gathered in front of the UK Border Agency offices to protest against their recent degrading poster campaign which depicts destitute refugees alongside slogans such as ‘Is life here hard? Ask about going home’. This blatant attack on some of the most vulnerable people in society is just one in a long line of continual repression and discrimination against asylum seekers and refugees throughout the country. Asylum seekers are forced into derelict housing where eviction is common and must live with the constant threat of dawn raids and deportation. And now to add to a life of poverty and human suffering, asylum seekers must endure further humiliation sat in the waiting room of this government agency building as their claim gets processed.

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters stood with other activists to oppose this racist scheme, shouting chants such as ‘Justice, Freedom and Dignity for all!’. There was attendance from groups such as Unity, Positive Action in Housing and Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees.

Official speakers included those from The SNP, the Green Party and Solidarity with ‘apologies’ from many other party members who ‘could not be there’. These official leaders all pointed to the obvious injustices and blatant xenophobia experienced by asylum seekers and refugees in this country. However, these speeches soon turned to rhetoric blaming the ConDem government and Cameron’s bad policy choices. There was a real failure from all of the speakers to place this oppressive treatment of asylum seekers within a wider context of British imperialism and the State’s foreign policy which causes the dispersion and persecution of millions of people around the world.

Instead of simply dismissing this as a single issue, it must be seen as a further attack on the working-class as a whole and as a way to pit one section of society against another. By scapegoating immigrants the Government seeks to divert attention away from the millions of pounds worth of cuts in social provision, such as housing and healthcare. The exploitation of migrant workers is a fundamental element of a racist, capitalist state such as Britain and must be challenged at its very core.

The only way to do this is to stand hand in hand with asylum seekers and refugees and fight together against further attacks on basic human rights and living standards. This will be achieved through effective grassroots organisation from those suffering at the hands of the government. It is only here that true resistance to the cuts will be found, and not from Labour or the SNP who make no secret in colluding with the racist policies of the British state.

Louise Gartrel