Immigration controls: The racist British state

Figh RacismFight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 1 – November/December 1979

‘British officials in Bangladesh are telling women and children who want to settle in Britain that they must first have X-ray examinations to prove their identity ... One such case involved a pregnant woman whose skull was X-rayed, despite the fact that Department of Health regulations would prevent such a test on pregnant British women except in cases of absolute medical necessity, because of the danger of an X-ray damaging the unborn baby.' (Guardian 8 February 1979)

Such brutal racist practices, X-rays, virginity tests, the splitting up of families and detention of immigrants, are daily events in the British state's drive to exclude and persecute immigrant workers. The racism of Britain's immigration controls is rooted in the nature of the British state. It is because the British state is an imperialist oppressor state that its immigration controls are necessarily racist.

Imperialism has divided the world into oppressed and oppressor nations. To maintain the highest profits the British capitalist class, with the aid of its state has systematically brutalised, exploited and impoverished the oppressed nations. To safeguard imperialist super-profits the British state sustains and aids viciously repressive regimes throughout Asia, Latin America and is a mainstay of the racist apartheid regime in South Africa. Britain is still today one of the strongest imperialist powers. Throughout the world its bloody tentacles retain a stranglehold on the masses in the oppressed nations. It condemns the masses in the oppressed nations to poverty, unemployment and starvation. This year in South Africa, black workers on strike were offered their jobs back if they accepted wages of 15p per hour. In India 40% of all children die before they are five years old; 200 million people live on less than 10 pence per day. In Kenya the average annual income is £84. In Pakistan it is £57. In Bangladesh it is £30. Unemployment in Jamaica is 25%.

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Defend Southall!

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 1 – November/December 1979

It is now five months since the British state used its police force for a brutal and murderous assault against the black and Asian people of Southall. Accustomed by years of practice, the British state has since taken all measures necessary to cover up what happened on that day. Blessed with the most servile labour movement leader-ship and the most cringing media, British imperialism has now moved smoothly on to the stage which normally follows its bloodiest deeds — the prosecution and persecution of the victims of its assault.

The British state has quite consciously decided to hammer those who were arrested at Southall. The cases of those charged are being heard at Barnet Magistrates Court, 20 miles from Southall, thus making mobilisation in defence of those accused as difficult as possible. The conviction rate is 87% clearly showing the state's intention to use the trials as a further weapon against the black people of Southall. And not content with all this the Court is now using a Magistrates Act of 1361 to bind over those who have gone to court simply as witnesses for the defence. On September 26 the magistrate said to Mr Rampal, a defence witness:

‘You were also a member of that hostile crowd and have come here to excuse your friend.'

He then bound over the witness to keep the peace for 12 months on a surety of £100. Clearly the fact that in so many of the cases defence witnesses prove the police case to be a pack of lies has become an embarrassment. The result is this latest tactic of binding over witnesses in an effort to intimidate them.

The number arrested – 800 — and the number of those going through the courts — 342 — shows how enormous was the assault launched on April 23 in Southall. Its scale and ferocity make it the worst single attack against black people in Britain.

A huge police operation beginning early on April 23 virtually sealed off Southall. Using 5000 police, including the notorious SPG, the British state was determined to force the black people of Southall to submit to the humiliation and insult of a meeting being held in Southall by the racist thugs of the NF. More than that, the British state was determined to show by its actions that it would not tolerate organised resistance to any aspect of the racial oppression which black people suffer; that it would smash that resistance. To do this the British state used methods which have become familiar to the Irish people over the past ten years—brutality, assault and murder. When the oppressed dare to rebel the thin veneer of British 'democracy' is pushed aside to reveal the British imperialist monster a thirst for the blood of its victims. The savagery of this carefully planned attack left one man, Blair Peach, dead and 1000 others injured, many severely. One victim of the police described what happened to him:

‘First a mounted police horse kicked me and then I was grasped by the hungry wolves and kicked right in the guts ... The police picked me up and threw me over a five feet wall ... On the other side of the wall more British police pounced on me like vultures and then there was no end to it, they were kicking me and hitting me with their fists and then I passed out.'

This man suffered damage to his kidney, a fractured pelvis and multiple internal bruising. Another young man was so severely beaten that both his testicles have since had to be surgically removed. Multiply the injuries hundreds of times and a true picture of the savagery emerges. A local community group's premises were raided. The police ripped the building apart and those who had sought shelter and medical aid there were repeatedly beaten as they were forced to run the gauntlet through lines of truncheon swinging policemen.

This brutal attack was no freak or isolated incident. It must be seen as the most serious single assault in a continuous campaign against black people by the forces of the British state. Day in and day out the immigration laws, the police and the courts are used to harass and persecute black people. In that deadly campaign black families are split up, black people are beaten on the streets and in police stations and black people rot in prison framed by the police and courts. The result of such oppression has been growing resistance. Black people are in the forefront of opposition to the British imperialist state. The state's attack at Southall had a clear purpose — to try to destroy the revolutionary challenge to its power which is developing amongst black people in Britain.

The British state has written many bloody pages in the history of oppression. It has been responsible for countless massacres and atrocities throughout the world. And after each particularly bloody deed there have always been those who have leapt forward to say that this or that massacre was not the responsibility of British imperialism but of individual soldiers or policemen rioting or showing excessive zeal in their butchery. When the British state murdered 14 civilians in Ireland on Bloody Sunday 1972 it did so as part of its strategy to terrorise the risen nationalist people into submission. Yet the blame was laid with individual soldiers supposedly panicking. The purpose of this argument is a simple one— to cover up for British imperialism, to hide the fact that it can only rule by terror. It proves this daily in Ireland. Equally, since British imperialism is blatantly incapable of providing equality and justice to black people in Britain then it must use force to keep them where it wants them — at the bottom. And it must then use more force to smash the resistance which this oppression inevitably produces.

After April 23, just as after Bloody Sunday, the usual chorus started up, this time stating that it was the result of the SPG rioting out of control. The British left led the chorus. The SWP went so far to back up this view that it printed two articles by Paul Foot the purpose of which was to contrast the 'out of control' SPG with the (presumably under control) 'decent minded' ordinary policemen. Black people will be surprised to learn that:

‘Decent minded policemen, and there are lots of them, are often shocked at the bullying and racialism which is permitted and even encouraged in street patrols.' (Socialist Worker 26.5.79)

And that:

‘Police often do help people.' (ibid)

How conveniently the SWP forgets the fact that there were 5000 police at Southall of whom 200 were SPG; that Swarm Singh Grewal died in a Southall police station full of lots of 'ordinary policemen'; that such `ordinary policemen' make black peoples' lives a misery. But above all how carefully and conveniently the SWP twists reality until the brutal deeds of the British imperialist state are the result not of its very nature but instead, of its 'out of control' servants.

The same trick has been performed by the IMG [International Marxist Group]. Tariq Ali, in an article in the Guardian (24.9.79) showing how the frame-up of the Southall defendants is being conducted by the courts ends by complaining that the British judicial system is:

‘... less accountable and less democratic than the judiciary in virtually every other bourgeois democratic state.'

His solution is to bring the judiciary under control by having them elected. Perhaps it has escaped his notice that in the USA the fact that judges are elected has made no difference to the fact that US prisons are crammed full of black victims of frame ups. Elected or appointed, the judiciary is there to serve the interests of imperialism and those interests demand injustice, racism and brutality.

But the British left was not content with thus covering up for British imperialism. It went one stage further — to condemn the black and Asian people of Southall for fighting back against the British state. The CP [Communist Party] said: ‘Of course racism will never be defeated by throwing stones at policemen. Squalid little street fights with the police on the part of tiny groups are no answer to the problem.' (Morning Star Editorial 24.4.79)

And the Socialist Challenge eye-witness account of April 23:

‘Tariq Ali stresses the same message (ie ‘no provocations') but the impatience of the 'young lions' is overwhelming. They attack a bus and clashes with the police follow. Walls are knocked down so that bricks can be used as missiles. It is a big mistake born of anger and frustration and as the day evolves everyone will realise this is so.' (Socialist Challenge 26.4.79)

Such an attitude to resistance by black people should come as no surprise. The British left has consistently condemned the Provisional IRA, a movement which has heroically and effectively fought British imperialism to a standstill in Ireland. The British left is quick with its sympathy for victims but as soon as victims become fighters then the tears rapidly dry and the abuse starts. It starts with terms like `mistaken', 'squalid', 'unwise' and ends up, as it has done in the case of the British left's attitude to the Provisional IRA, with streams of vitriolic abuse.

As the war in Ireland has progressed, as the Provisional IRA has proved to be a skilful and effective national liberation army so it has become obvious that two sides exist in that war and that British socialists have to choose their side. The RCG unreservedly supports those fighting British imperialism in Ireland. But the major part of the British left, finding the middle ground no longer exists, have come down on the side of British imperialism and against the Irish people. And with its response to Southall the British left has given another warning that when black people fight back, and as that fightback grows, then once again the British left will side with British imperialism.

Bloody Sunday in Ireland and the associated war of terror by British imperialism in Ireland led inevitably to greater resistance by the nationalist population; led inexorably to Bloody Monday when that figurehead of imperialism, Mountbatten, along with 18 British soldiers were executed by the Provisional IRA. Imperialism cannot break the resistance of the oppressed. Repression will call forth resistance. April 23 in Southall has stoked the fires that one day will destroy the British imperialist monster.

Maxine Williams



Throughout this country the Black community has been subjected to horrific and violent racist attacks and provocation. The death of one Brother Gurdip Chagger in June 1976 in Southall was one of such countless incidents.

The death of Gurdip Chagger sparked off a new leaf in our struggles for equality and justice. The youth of Southall demonstrated that they had had enough, leading to the formation of the Southall Youth Movement and similar groups in other parts of the country. The events in Southall on 23 April 1979 are much more sinister and have grave repercussions for our community in this country. The decision by the Tory Council to allow the racist National Front permission to hold a meeting and spread their filth in the heart of the coloured community was part of a deliberate strategy of provocation. The

police accompanied by their notorious SPG deliberately came into Southall to smash the community — old and young, men women and children. A police state was in operation in Southall. Over 800 people were arrested and 342 of our brothers and sisters charged for daring to defend our community against racist provocation. Many were seriously injured — Blair Peach was killed. The purpose of the manoeuvre to move all the Southall defendants' cases to Barnet Magistrate Court, some 20 miles away, is to demoralise the community and smash any resistance. Heavy sentences and fines are being imposed on our brothers and sisters appearing at Barnet, where the contradictory police evidence has become its hallmark. We are all on trial at Barnet. Defeat for Southall is a defeat for us all.


Southall Defence Fund Appeal

The Southall Youth Movement has made the ultimate sacrifice of all in the defence of Southall and our right to exist. More than half of all arrested on 23 April were our members. Two of our members, Birk and Rai, have already been sent to prison. The severity of the imposed sentences is such that it is estimated some 70-80 more defendants will be sentenced to imprisonment. What took place in Southall does not just affect Southall, it affects the whole of the Asian Community in this country. We need your help to save our brothers and sisters who have made the sacrifices. We hope that you will express your solidarity by donating generously to the Southall Youth Movement Southall Defence Fund. All donations for the Southall Defence Fund to be sent to: SYM 12 Featherstone Rd Southall, Middlesex. All cheques payable to SYM or Southall Defence Fund.


Racist Britain 2016 time to fight back

racist britain

In August the Equality and Human Rights Commission published a major report on the state of race inequality in Britain.1 The report amasses a wealth of statistics that show that, despite decades of race equality legislation, racism continues to operate in every area of British society, and in many respects is getting worse.2 Any movement to defend the interests of the working class as a whole needs to take into account the specific oppression of ethnic minority workers and place anti-racism at the core of its politics.3


The report shows that Black Caribbean and Mixed White/Black Caribbean children are permanently excluded at three times the rate of all children, and Gypsy/Roma and Irish Traveller children have the highest rates of both temporary and permanent exclusion. There is significant evidence of racist bullying in schools, with over 1,400 young people phoning ChildLine for this reason in 2012/13, a 69% increase on the year before.

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Theresa May – racist Home Secretary becomes racist Prime Minister


On 13 July Theresa May became the Prime Minister who will oversee Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. May’s record as Home Secretary over the past six years of Conservative government equips her alarmingly well for this task and no-one should be fooled by her Remain stance in the run-up to the Referendum; Theresa May is an unrepentant ruling class racist. Nicki Jameson reports.

May addressed the nation from outside Downing Street with a crafted speech reminiscent of Thatcher’s ‘where there is discord…’ Alongside an unambiguous commitment to the Union – not the European one but the United Kingdom – designed as a slap in the face to the Scottish National Party’s pro-EU stance and second independence referendum plans, the speech was replete with rhetoric about fighting injustice and tackling gender and race inequality, aimed directly at the constituencies of UKIP and the Labour Party.

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National Day of Action against the 2016 Immigration Act

On 13 August the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum called a national day of action against the racist 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts. Around the country supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! joined the protests and will continue to support this important work. We would like to thank the Migration Forum for calling this positive action and engaging so many different groups in the campaign. Below, we publish the report from the Migration Forum with pictures of all the different protests. We look forward to taking part in the next action!


On Saturday 13 August 2016 the Newcastle based Migration and Asylum Justice Forum called a national day of action against the racist 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts. In a strong show of strength, many different organisations and individuals stood together by taking part in protests right across Britain - in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Manchester, Nottingham, Tottenham, Stratford and Brixton.

With one voice, protesters demanded, 'Decent jobs, housing and healthcare for all! An end to immigration checks and controls in employment, housing and healthcare! A continued fight against racist Immigration Act(s) and an end to health care surcharges for asylum seekers and refugees in the UK.'

The call for a national day of action was made after groups from around the country came to Newcastle on 25 June 2016 to march together against the Immigration Act 2016. The groups involved agreed to go back to local communities to continue the campaign.

The 2016 Immigration Act builds on the 2014 Immigration Act. The legislation tightens Britain's already racist immigration controls in order to make a 'hostile environment' for migrants. It does this by making it easier to deport people, by severely restricting access to services and forcing migrants into low-paid and precarious work and poor housing. An attack on one is an attack on all.

This was the first in a series of national actions. Local groups will continue to campaign in their communities, developing links and will continue to grow in strength and solidarity. Another national day of action is being planned and we hope to have inspired others to join the fight and get involved in the campaign in their local area. We are fully confident that local campaigns, with a degree of national coordination, have the power to repeal racist legislation; including the Immigration Act 2016.

Please keep reading to find out how the protest went in the different towns and cities. See the website for more information and get in touch if you want to build a campaign where you live - and become part of the active fight against the racist Immigration Act 2016.


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The Migration and Asylum Justice Forum held a protest outside the Newcastle RVI Hospital to demand decent healthcare for migrants and decent healthcare for all. The racist Immigration Acts have introduced a healthcare surcharge for non-EEA migrants meaning they have to pay up to £200 per person per year to access healthcare. Immigration checks have also been imposed which creates racial discrimination and makes a lot of migrants too afraid to go to their GP or hospital for check-ups and treatments. Austerity is the cause of attacks on the NHS, not migrants. Any campaign to defend the NHS must have anti-racism at its core.

The British Medical Association (BMA) recently passed motions condemning the new laws, stating that they do not want any NHS staff (including admin staff) administering immigration checks and they are opposed to migrants being charged for healthcare. Our protest was in solidarity with the BMA’s excellent anti-racist stance.

We got a lot of support from people going to the hospital and passing-by. We will continue the campaign to demand decent healthcare for all. We aim to build a strong relationship with the BMA, junior doctors and Keep Our NHS Public in order to fight for a healthcare system that meets the needs of everyone in our communities.

The protest was also supported by Beyond Borders, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! Keep Our NHS Public and Peace of Mind.

We have a public meeting about healthcare, racism and austerity on Saturday 27 August, 4pm in the Multilingual Library, Upper Level, Eldon Gardens (in Eldon Square) NE1 7RA.

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Migrant Solidarity Network targeted Byron Burgers Lothian Road branch in Edinburgh. This followed a successful protest last Friday at Byron's North Bridge restaurant where we had leafleted the customers inside and surrounded the entrance, drawing in the Fringe Festival passers-by. Today the management were ready for us and blocked us from making links with the workers inside, aggressively pushing some of the peaceful protesters. We had collected tips for the Byron workers and written messages of solidarity, highlighting that Byron were exploiting workers in Edinburgh alongside their exploitation and racist targeting of migrant workers in London, but we were unable to get these through the shut doors or past the clutches of the management. We chanted and leafleted along the shop front for two hours, protesting against the deportation of 35 staff after they had been told to attend a bogus health and safety meeting that turned out to be an immigration raid. This collaboration with the immigration police is part and parcel of the roll out of the new Immigration Act passed in May which means more raids, more powers of deportation, more immigration checks from landlords, in hospitals, GPs surgeries, banks, job centres, and increased attacks on migrant rights.

We say - No one is illegal! Stop all immigration checks and deportations! Boycott Byron burgers, defend migrant workers! An attack on one is an attack on all! We are here! We will stay! We won't give our rights away!

Next organising meeting Friday 9 September 6.30pm at ACE, 17 West Montgomery Place EH7 5HA

The Migrants Solidarity Network is a platform of groups and individuals working together to organise against racist immigration laws and to defend migrant rights. Supporting today's protest were activists from Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, International Workers of the World (IWW), Fight Racism Fight Imperialism, Rise, Oficina Precaria (OP-PIE), Revolution (Scottish section of the International Marxist Tendency), Socialist Workers Party and others.


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Manchester Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) organised a protest against the Immigration Act with our friends from Manchester Migrant Solidarity (MiSol), taking over the airwaves in Piccadilly Gardens with speeches, chanting and songs. Passers-by stopped to sign the petition to scrap the racist Act and asylum seeking women led chants of 'Shut down Yarls Wood' and 'Shut down Dallas Court' - one a notorious prison down south and the other a reporting centre in a remote area of Salford where refugees are forced to sign weekly under threat of detention. There were Congolese songs from members of MiSol and Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) and people spoke of their struggle for justice against a racist immigration system, demanding an amnesty for all migrants in Britain and an end to all deportations.

A comrade from Somaliland was keen to offer solidarity to the Palestinians, who constitute the world's biggest refugee population and are often completely ignored by the British media and cultural establishment keen to exploit the plight of Syrian refugees while letting hardly any seek asylum. Zimbabwean women led the crowd and chanted, "Free free Palestine - free free refugees" and held up Palestinian flags. Following the rally on the steps of a statue in Piccadilly, there was a spontaneous picket of Byron burgers, protesting against the chain's collaboration with the Home Office. An RCG supporter took to the open mic to talk about the cover-up by the BBC and other media while undocumented workers were rapidly deported.

The RCG have got a revolutionary African film festival on 27 August, 1-8.30pm at the Eagle Inn, Salford M3 7DW. Films include: Concerning Violence, Moolade, Thomas Sankara The Upright Man and Cuba-Africa-Revolution!



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Phone: 07466850588



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Supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! in Nottingham held an open mic protest against racism in Hyson Green. Black Lives Nottingham contributed their sound system, which was put to good use, with speeches and music attracting a lot of support from people in the local area. Car drivers showed their support by shouting 'Well done' and beeping their horns, while some made good use of the traffic at the junction to listen to speeches. Many pedestrians stopped to sign our petition against state racism and a few members of the local community took to the mic to speak about racism, capitalism and the need to fight back. After the open mic event, supporters of the event went on to join a local community festival to raise further awareness about the racist nature of the Immigration Act.

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Phone: 07746559033


North London RCG held a street rally in Tottenham, north London, where the London uprisings began in 2011. Many of the local population are migrants themselves so there was strong support for the protest, as people stopped to sign the petition and listen to speeches on the sound system about state racism and the increasing criminalisation of migrants.

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The Focus E15 campaign and the Revolutionary Communist Group had a speak-out against racist discrimination in housing, in solidarity with immigrants.  The main racist argument against immigrants is that there is not enough room.  This is no more disputable than in housing, where we in fact live on a relatively empty island, where there are over double the amount of empty homes, as there are homeless people.  'Room for Immigrants.  No room for racism!'

The Focus E15 campaign (FE15) have a weekly stall every Saturday 12-2pm on The Broadway (outside Wilko's), Stratford E15, Nearest station: Stratford. The stall is used to raise issues surrounding housing and racism and to launch campaigns.



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Phone Number: 020 7837 1688



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In South London, members and supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Group held a speak-out in Brixton - scene of one of last month's largest Black Lives Matter protests - with banners and posters denouncing Britain's racist Immigration Act. The rally was addressed by Gasim, from the Asylum Centre in west London, who spoke powerfully of the struggles faced by young Sudanese asylum seekers to access the services - especially mental health services - they so desperately need.


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