- Created: Thursday, 07 May 2009 14:06
‘On the street in Somalia I can buy an assault rifle made in Britain, France or Germany, but I can’t buy aspirin for my disabled son. That’s why we came here. Now we are living in a terrible hostel, five of us in two rooms, and nobody wants to know. They blame us for everything and they pick us out one by one and send us back to our country which they have helped to destroy.’ (Somali refugee to FRFI activist March 2005)
Racism is firmly on the ballot paper in this General Election – under the heading of immigration. The ruling class parties are tripping over themselves to gain the reactionary white British vote by promising to be the most punitive and repressive against desperate immigrants who arrive in Britain seeking a share of the stability and wealth stolen from their own lands over centuries of imperialism (see pages 6 and 7).
In Iraq over 100,000 civilians have fallen victim to the US and Britain’s imposition of ‘democracy’ – culminating in a shambolic election with a 57% turnout. Excluded from the vote were the 200,000 forced exiles from Fallujah where in January the US military reportedly used napalm and poisonous gases to murder 6,000 civilians and resistance fighters. Now, despite Iraq’s massive oil reserves, fuel shortages are common and electricity and water supplies intermittent. Unemployment in Iraq is 60% (see pages 4 and 5).
Yet when Iraqi immigrants arrive in Britain they are criminalised and used as pawns in the racist election competition. The same happened with Kosovans and Bosnians after the war on the Balkans in 1999 and with Afghanis after the bombardment of Afghanistan in 2002. We bomb their workplaces, schools, hospitals, water, sewerage and electricity infrastructure and transport systems and when immigrants arrive here seeking work and stability, we call them scroungers or say they’re potential terrorists!
Since 1997, this Labour government has introduced a catalogue of racist and repressive legislation; including denying all benefits for many asylum seekers, forced dispersal, ‘reception’, ‘accommodation’ and ‘removal’ centres, immigration snatch-squads and lists of ‘safe countries’ (see page 7). In this context there can be no excuse for any anti-racist or anti-imperialist to vote Labour in any election.
Or can there? RESPECT – a coalition of Trotskyist social democratic groups, liberals and other disaffected supporters of ‘old Labour’ – doesn’t agree. It is tacitly endorsing Labour by refusing to stand candidates against ‘anti-war Labour MPs’.
So what about these anti-war Labour MPs? Given that the occupation of Iraq is a principal policy of the Labour government, isn’t their position like being in the Nazi Party but claiming you are not anti-Semitic? If you join up to a party, organisation, association or group, you are identifying with its principles and aims. If these anti-war MPs really opposed the war on Iraq wouldn’t they sacrifice their parliamentary privileges and leave the Labour Party?
If the war on Iraq is not enough to make them leave, what about all the racist and repressive legislation at home? What about the Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, designed to punish the working class and political activists (see page 16)? What about poverty and overcrowding in housing which disproportionately affects minority ethnic people in Britain (see page 3)? What about the brutality of our prison system, recently exposed by an inquest into a death in Frankland segregation unit (see page 13)? What about Labour’s failure to tackle poverty and the growth of inequality in Britain? What about the privatisation of our National Health Service and the education system (see pages 8 and 9)? What about control orders – which edge us closer to a police state than ever before (see page 16)? Aren’t these good enough reasons to put their principles before their purse or prestige and stand down as Labour Party MPs? These people don’t deserve our vote. They must be told to get out of the stinking Labour Party.
In the six counties of Ireland, the Republican working class is paying the price for Sinn Fein’s compromise with imperialism (see page 11). Ironically, Sinn Fein took their cue to enter the ‘peace process’ from South Africa and Palestine. Today another bout of opportunist compromise from the newly elected bourgeois Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas is driving fast towards a dead end for the Palestinian people (see page 5).
For elections to be truly democratic, they have to accompany deep-rooted social and economic transformations, which give real power to the poor majority. This process is underway in Venezuela. In Cuba, where the means of production are in the hands of the people, elections offer us an insight into real, grassroots democracy. It is this example which the US tries to obscure with its fabricated and hypocritical accusations of human rights abuses (see page 14).
Bolivia and Nepal are ablaze with the righteous indignation of a risen people. The future is there for the taking (see pages 10 and 3).
Let’s assert our democratic grassroots demands – don’t vote for the racist Labour government – don’t vote for a racist alternative. Don’t vote for reformists. Don’t vote – organise! Join us – there is strength in numbers.
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FRFI 184 April / May 2005