John Maclean 1879-1923. Fearless Anti-Imperialist

‘I am not here then as the accused; I am here as the accuser of capitalism dripping with blood from head to toe’ (Maclean, 1918)

John Maclean’s defiant ‘Speech from the Dock’ at his 1918 sedition trial thunders across the century as imperialist barbarity in Palestine appals the world today.

Maclean died on St Andrew’s Day, 30 November 1923. He was 44, and had been at liberty from his latest incarceration for only the previous 11 months. Fatally weakened by five terms of imprisonment, force-feeding and drugging, his final sentence of one year had been imposed after he advised a crowd of unemployed people in 1920 not to allow themselves to starve but instead to take the food they needed.

 

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SNP: ‘a parcel of rogues in a nation’

Humza Yousaf signs nomination paper to become First Minister of Scotland

A parcel of rogues in a nation’: national poet Robert Burns’ description of those active in Scotland in the process by which the Union of England Act was passed in 1707.

Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and First Minister of Scotland since 2014, unexpectedly resigned on 15 February. A party election to replace her was called. With all the paraphernalia of televised debates and hustings the earnest hopefuls were paraded. SNP members narrowly split over the two main contenders Kate Forbes and Humza Yousaf. Almost half voted for a right wing Christian fundamentalist in Forbes who was opposed to abortion, gay marriage and the Gender Recognition Reform.

 

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Scottish cleansing workers strike for decent pay!

Bin workers picket line in Angus

As the cost-of-living crisis deepens, workers are being forced into action. Thousands of cleansing and waste council workers from across Scotland, members of Unite, GMB and Unison, went on strike during the second half of August forcing the Scottish SNP government and its council umbrella body COSLA into making new and improved pay offers. Between 18 and 30 August, workers in Edinburgh refused to doff their cap to the prestigious Fringe Arts festival, with rubbish piling up, much to the embarrassment of the city’s Labour led council and the Scottish government. The Edinburgh strikers were joined by workers from another 20 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities who joined the strike action from 24 August onwards. On 30 August Scotland’s SNP Deputy First Minister John Swinney, who had been part of negotiations between the unions and COSLA, claimed that there was ‘no more money’ to offer striking workers. Owing to the pressure generated by the bin strike, the level of public support and the plan for a second wave of strikes starting on 6 September which would also involve nursery and school staff, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was forced to intervene and, sure enough, more money was found.

 

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SNP: the Scottish wing of British imperialism

SNP call for 'the severest consequences' against Russia

The Scottish National Party’s (SNP) support for British imperialism and NATO has been laid bare again by the crisis in Ukraine. Following Russia’s military intervention on 24 February, the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed Sturgeon’s motion offering ‘unqualified support’ to Ukrainian forces, condemning Russia ‘unreservedly’ and urging the British government’s ‘limited’ sanctions to ‘go further as soon as possible’. 

 

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Scottish Power: No to a winter of heating or eating!

Living Rent protest outside Scottish Power headquarters (photo: Living Rent/Twitter)

On 6 December 2021 members of the campaign group Living Rent protested inside the offices of Scottish Power in Glasgow to highlight the case of a disabled tenant who was hounded by debt collectors after Scottish Power billed her £1,500 for energy she hadn’t used. Meanwhile, the impact of the pandemic and the rising cost of living alongside falling incomes, particularly for the poorest sections of the working class, can be expected to increase the number of people in fuel poverty.

 

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Rising poverty and inequality in Scotland: a ‘new normal’

Low-income housing in Glasgow

On 30 September 2021 the British government’s national furlough scheme ends and a deadline of 6 October has been set for the removal of the £20 weekly uplift to Universal Credit (UC), with claimants set to lose up to £1,040 a year. Latest figures from HMRC and the DWP, to the end of July, show the number of people on furlough in Scotland fell from 143,000 on 30 June 2021 to 116,500 as the economy continued to reopen while the number of people on UC in Scotland, at around 480,000 people, has remained relatively stable since July 2020 signalling a growing trend of in-work poverty. Older workers who cannot afford to retire face a double whammy as they are currently overrepresented in the furlough figures and are most likely to struggle to find new employment if they are made redundant. Young people across Britain are also being hit hard: the Resolution Foundation has reported that the number of 16-24-year-olds receiving benefits increased by two-thirds during the pandemic, raising the proportion from 9% to 15%, which is proportionately the largest increase for any age group. 5,000 more young people are currently on UC in Glasgow compared to before the pandemic.

 

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Scottish elections 2021: the only way forward is resistance!

Scottish independence rally in 2018

The 2021 Scottish Parliamentary elections took place on 6 May amidst a hastened lifting of Covid restrictions. As predicted, the Scottish National Party (SNP) retained its position as the ruling party in Scotland, with tactical voting by unionists denying it an overall majority by just one seat. With the Scottish electorate turning out in large numbers to support the call for a second independence referendum, the stage is set for another constitutional showdown with Brexit now at the centre of the debate. Whenever it takes place and whatever the outcome, it is clear that the working class have enemies to confront on both sides.

 

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Shoot-to-kill in Glasgow

Armed Police Scotland officers rush to the hotel where Badreddin Abadlla Adam was shot

On 26 June, 28-year-old Sudanese asylum seeker Badreddin Abadlla Adam was shot dead by armed Police Scotland officers, dozens of whom stormed the Park Inn Hotel, after he used a knife to stab and injure six people, including three asylum seekers and a police officer. Police representatives were quickly on the scene to confirm the fatality and injuries, assuring the press and public of their safety and that the police ‘are not routinely armed’ despite having to ‘deal with these types of scenarios’. SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and other politicians rushed to praise the bravery and professionalism of the police, while away from the cameras traumatised asylum seekers were handcuffed and left on the streets for hours without access to water, food or clothes. DOMINIC MULGREW reports.

 

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Those who helped and those who wouldn't

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 6, September/October 1980

The use of the PTA against our supporters in Glasgow was and should have been seen by all socialists as a dangerous attack on the basic democratic right to produce and to sell literature. The Glasgow 2 Defence Campaign recognised this and asked for support on a wide basis — from trades unions, anti-imperialist organisations, the Labour Party, MPs, civil liberties bodies, petit-bourgeois socialist organisations and newspapers. The results were very revealing. Some helped. Some would not lift a finger, or just as bad, took hours of time and effort to convince them to offer even token support. Interestingly enough, the second category is filled largely by those who have shouted loudest about ‘democracy’ — the petit-bourgeois socialists.

 

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Glasgow PTA Arrests

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 6, September/October 1980

The following are extracts from a statement written by Mike Duffield and Kirstin Crosbie.

 

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Safe housing for asylum seekers in Glasgow! End hotel detention now! Join the banner drop!

Since the beginning of April hundreds of asylum seekers in Glasgow have been forcibly moved out of safe accommodation and into cramped hotels where social distancing is impossible and prison like conditions are being enforced. Over 500 asylum seekers are reported to be currently detained in these Glasgow hotels, among them traumatised women, families and those with underlying health conditions. Some were given less than an hour’s notice to leave the flats they were being accommodated in by the Home Offices new sub-contractor, The MEARS Group, in a cost cutting exercise which could have deadly consequences. The company has been in charge of housing asylum seekers in Scotland, Northern Ireland and parts of England (North East, Yorkshire and Humberside) since September 2019, having been awarded ten-year government contracts worth £1bn

 

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Land ownership in Scotland: a question of power

Scotland land ownership

Scotland continues to have the most unequal land ownership in the western world. The concentration of land in the hands of a wealthy few has been the established norm for hundreds of years and, despite all the window dressing, there has been no serious challenge made to this by the Scottish National Party (SNP) since they took political power in 2007. The SNP are first and foremost a capitalist party, as is demonstrated by their hostility towards land reform. Any claims to ‘nationalism’ come second to this. Turning the tide on this inequality and injustice will require the working class to challenge those who hold the land and the power, the parasitic capitalist class, along with all their political servants.

 

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GMB union seeks to expel anti-Zionist

FRFI supporters, Pete Gregson and anti-Zionist Rabbi Ahron Cohen demonstrate outside the GMB building in Glasgow

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 268 February/March 2019

In a demonstration of how the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is being used by the official labour movement to suppress any opposition to Zionism,  Peter Gregson, the only GMB trade union shop steward for a staff of 24,000 NHS Lothian workers, has been suspended with a recommendation that he be ‘permanently excluded from the union’. This follows a disciplinary hearing in Glasgow on 19 December 2018 for actions breaching the IHRA definition. Scotland GMB has accused Gregson of being an anti-Semite and a holocaust denier for launching a petition which confronts Labour and the trade unions’ adoption of IHRA, calling Israel a racist endeavour and stating that Israel uses the Holocaust for its own political ends. The GMB, like Britain’s largest trade unions Unison and Unite, has adopted the IHRA definition.

 

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Equal pay in Glasgow: under attack, women fight back!

Thousands of low-paid women council workers and their supporters brought Glasgow to a halt in a historic walk-out over unequal pay

On 23 and 24 October, thousands of low-paid women council workers and their supporters brought Glasgow to a halt in a historic walk-out over unequal pay. They were cheerily welcomed by enthusiastic crowds.  Representing what one striker described as those who do 'the invisible jobs', thousands of school cleaners, home support workers, classroom and nursery assistants struck solidly for two days. This was a real blow for equality.

 

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SNP in Scotland: no place for the poor

A homeless man in Glasgow

In July the homelessness charity Shelter took to the streets to picket the Scottish National Party (SNP)-controlled Glasgow city council, accusing it of breaking homelessness laws over 3,000 times last year by turning away homeless applicants who are legally entitled to temporary accommodation and support. At the same time Glasgow’s SNP council has been working in partnership with Police Scotland, businesses, property groups and social enterprises, to socially cleanse the city centre and its surrounding areas of beggars and homeless hostels. The council has threatened to use Criminal Anti-Social Behaviour Orders to ban any beggar caught drinking alcohol or taking drugs from Glasgow city centre. Clyde Place, which provides emergency homeless accommodation for up to 54 people a night, is being closed in order to make way for the new multimillion pound site called ‘Buchanan Wharf’, which will house Barclays Bank headquarters and other services. This process of pushing out the poor while welcoming in the rich, placing private interests before public interests, must be opposed as part of a wider fight for decent housing for all in Scotland.

 

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Celtic fans defend Hands Off Ireland!

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No 3, March/April 1980

Hands Off Ireland! carries out regular sales at Glasgow Celtic Football ground. These sales get an enthusiastic response from the fans.

On 15 December we were selling Hands Off Ireland! as usual. After a few minutes two uniformed police arrived and tried to stop us selling. A crowd of Celtic fans quickly gathered round the police. Discretion being the better part of valour the police withdrew. Hands Off Ireland! 1, Glasgow Police 0.

 

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Glasgow RCG: fighting for democracy to defend Palestine

RCG and supporters hold a sit-down protest in front of a Glasgow Friends of Israel stall

In a victory for democratic and militant protest, dozens of demonstrators led by the RCG surrounded a Zionist stall for an hour in the centre of Glasgow on 19 May in solidarity with the Palestinian people. The demonstrators had ignored attempts by opportunists to prevent such an action, and those present agreed to do it again the following week. It followed on the successful grassroots mobilisation to prevent the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland (CoFIS) from joining the Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) demonstration in Glasgow on 17 March (see FRFI 263).

 

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Stand Up To Racism sit down to Zionism! Report of Lobby of SUTR, 10/03/2018

sutr

On 10 March, a Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) steering committee meeting in Glasgow overwhelmingly voted down a motion calling on SUTR to tell the Confederation of Friends of Israel – Scotland (CoFIS) that they are not welcome to join the SUTR march in Glasgow on 17 March. CoFIS had been allowed to take part in the 2017 SUTR march, complete with a banner and Israeli flags, despite the opposition of Palestine supporters present at the time.

The Revolutionary Communist Group in Glasgow mobilised supporters of Palestine for a lobby of the SUTR meeting. In torrential rain, around 20 people lobbied SUTR with lively chants of ‘Stand Up To Racism – Stand Up To Zionism!’ and ‘Free, Free, Palestine!’. The lobby was called to put pressure on SUTR to publicly state that CoFIS, and all Zionist organisations, would not be welcome on the march. Over 1,000 people had supported our open letter to SUTR online and on street stalls and protests. Despite aggressive hostility from SUTR representatives, lobbyists invaded the building and continued their chants in the lobby.

 

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Scottish National Party – outdoing 'I, Daniel Blake'

snp cuts

Recent successful court judgments against the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) have drawn attention to the onerous process of mandatory reconsideration before a claimant who has received a benefit sanction can go to a Social Security Tribunal. Mandatory reconsideration applies to any DWP decision not just to sanction those on Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment Support Allowance, but also to decisions on Personal Independence Payments. Introduced in 2013, the purpose of mandatory reconsideration is to make life as difficult as possible for a claimant. The decision under appeal remains until the mandatory reconsideration process is complete; it may take weeks and the target is to uphold 80% of original decisions. Social Security Tribunals, on the other hand, grant more than 50% of appeals. Some welfare powers are now being devolved to Scotland, and it is apparent that despite many declarations to the contrary, the SNP government is determined to retain the same two-stage system.

 

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Scotland: Fighting Labour and the SNP

Glasgow Stand Up Demo

The urgency of the fight for socialism has become apparent with the result of the general election in Scotland. A reshuffle of seats between the parties implementing austerity, racism and war saw the Scottish National Party (SNP) lose 21 seats, the Scottish Tories gain 12 and Scottish Labour gain six. In affluent rural constituencies, leading SNP MPs including deputy leader Angus Robertson lost to Conservative candidates while Labour regained some of its old territory in working class constituencies in and around Glasgow.

In the weeks before the election Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! comrades urged people to break from this parliamentary sham, arguing ‘Don’t vote – fight for socialism!’ On 27 May, we confronted the local Labour Party in Govanhill. Its supporters abandoned their stall after they failed to stop us exposing their record of cuts, racism and war to the passing public. We said that Labour and the SNP should be treated as class enemies, and many people agreed.

 

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Scotland: No vote for SNP or Labour!

labscotland frfi glasgow

As the general election campaign gets underway, sections of the left are calling either for a vote for Corbyn’s Labour Party, or for the Scottish National Party (SNP) on the grounds that one or the other is the only ‘progressive’ alternative to the Tories. Both, however, are completely reactionary, and the only progressive alternative is a boycott of this election sham and a fight for socialism.

No to the SNP!

The SNP is a reactionary, bourgeois party. Scotland currently has around 43,000 millionaires while also being home to some of the worst inequality and poverty in Western Europe. But the decade-old SNP Scottish Government has repeatedly refused to raise taxes on the wealthy in Scotland to alleviate the worst of these problems while decrying the lack of money from Westminster. It pays lip service to social justice but in education, health and child care, policing, courts and prisons it oversees inequality and injustice daily while implementing further cuts to legal aid, schools, colleges, jobs and services across the country. Its push for a second independence referendum is to dampen any resistance to its austerity programme and does not reflect anything progressive for the working class.

 

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From the cradle to the grave - Inequality and poverty in Scottish education

The first months of 2017 have been dominated by headlines of an attainment gap in education between the richest and poorest children in Scotland. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged education is her top priority amidst concern at falling standards in education overall. While elitist academics and politicians eagerly discuss the riddle of inequality in education, they cannot accept that the answer is rooted in poverty itself.

According to Scottish government statistics, children from wealthier areas outperform children from poorer areas from the moment they begin primary school (The Herald 14 December 2016). Around 90% of children from richer postcodes achieved the standards of reading, writing and numeracy expected of them by teachers. This compares to around 74% of children from the poorest areas. By Primary Seven, around 80% of children from the 20% wealthiest areas achieved the expected Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) standards of writing and numeracy, while almost half of children from the 20% most deprived areas failed to meet these levels.

 

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SNP pushes for Scottish Referendum 2

On 13 March Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon publicly announced the intention of the Scottish government to prepare for a second independence referendum. The timescale she proposed, between August 2018 and Spring 2019, is aimed to lessen the complications of Scotland’s re-entry into EU membership as an independent state. British Conservative Prime Minister May responded by ruling out another referendum on that timetable, fearing it will undermine the government’s position during the Brexit negotiations. Dominic Mulgrew reports.

While the Scottish government demands its ‘democratic right’ to a referendum, this dispute has nothing to do with democracy. Behind this ‘constitutional crisis’ lies a crisis of the British ruling class and its imperialist position worldwide; whether to side with US or EU imperialism. Moves towards a second independence referendum express the concerns and aspirations of a section of the British ruling class based in Scotland, as Britain heads towards a ‘hard’ Brexit. Masquerading behind nationalism and the interests of ‘the people’, their solutions will come at the expense of the working class and oppressed.

 

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SNP and Labour unite to impose austerity

sturgeon dugdale

The Scottish National Party and the Labour Party both say they are against austerity without any evidence to support such claims. On the contrary, both parties are putting legality before supporting social services. As an SNP councillor in Angus rural council stated: 'At this stage the only assurance I can give...is that we will deliver a legally balanced budget. I can give no further assurances about services.'

 

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Scotland – fighting austerity still the key!

dundee against welfare

As Scotland’s poor face another desperate winter forced to choose between heating or eating in order to live, the Scottish National Party (SNP) government’s promises of social justice are wearing thin.

Severe poverty is defined as those living with household income below 50% of UK median income. In 2014/15 this equated to £237 per week before housing costs (£12,358 per year) and £202 per week after housing costs (£10,533 per year). According to the latest statistics for 2014/15 the rates of severe poverty in Scotland stand at 12% of the population (630,000 people) after housing costs (Severe Poverty in Scotland: Communities Analysis report, August 2016). This includes 130,000 children, 10,000 more than the previous year.

 

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Scotland: Who owns the land?

mipim

Scotland has the ‘most concentrated, most inequitable, most unreformed and most undemocratic land ownership system in the entire developed world’ (Professor James Hunter, The Guardian, 2013). Around 432 families own half the land in Scotland. The Global Justice Now report, Scotland’s land barons and their connections to global capitalism published in August 2016, has shown Scotland’s land system is not simply a ‘feudal relic’ but very much part of a global parasitic capitalism (imperialism) with ‘billionaire oilmen and Emirati princes, mineral conglomerates, London property speculators, online clothing retailers, Swiss bankers, and financiers of every sort’ claiming a stake alongside the Dukes of Buccleuch and Argyll.

Landowners in Scotland are notoriously hard to identify, with almost 750,000 acres of land held through a series of opaque offshore companies. The SNP government has been criticised by land campaigners for giving carte blanche to rich industrialists buying up vast swathes of Scotland’s countryside. Under pressure it has set a target of publicly registering all landowners by 2024. Some landowners have already been exposed by Global Justice Now as having links to colonial style racism through land grabs, exploitation, human rights abuses and environmental destruction:

 

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Victory against prison brutality in Scotland

JB pic

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters were present at Greenock Sheriff Court on 24 June to see the fabricated assault charges against John Bowden finally abandoned. A not proven verdict was given by the judge after a roughly two hour trial. The case had been dragging on since 6 March 2015. 

Since his imprisonment over 30 years ago, John has been a regular contributor to FRFI’s Prisoners Fightback page, as well as to other progressive publications, and has been a consistent organiser for prisoners’ rights. Eager to get their own back and silence John, the prison authorities in England and Scotland have repeatedly targeted him with brutality and isolation. This was but the latest attempt to pin fresh charges on John in order to delay his long overdue release. However, due to John’s uncompromising stand and the bravery of another prisoner who witnessed the incident and gave evidence in court, a further injustice was not allowed to happen.

 

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Lochee protests against exploitation and austerity. 'SNP! Hear Us Say – Budget Cuts – No Way!'

On Saturday 7 May history came alive at the protest in Lochee. Dundee against Workfare. Dundee Against Austerity (DAA), the Revolutionary Communist Group, Class War, Scottish Unemployed Workers Network, Dundee Trades Union Council, Dundee Trades Union and Socialist Coalition and the Socialist Workers Party stood united to condemn workfare exploitation at the Range store.

We were standing on the site of what was once the largest jute mill in the world where Scottish and Irish immigrant workers toiled to make the Baxter, Caird and Cox mill owning families fabulously wealthy. At one point in the 19th Century the densest proportion of millionaires in Europe could be found in the richest suburb of Dundee, Broughty Ferry, many miles from the filth and heat of their factories.

 

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Scotland: SNP and Labour share out austerity

‘This idea that the SNP are going to put an end to austerity is just nonsense.’
David May, independent councillor

Pensioners in Angus have learned the reality of that statement. Service users and their families in the small towns have confronted the SNP-run rural council. Iain Gaul, council leader, argued on BBC Radio Scotland that privatisation was the most effective means of providing care services. The SNP council is seeking £0.5m cuts, and the vulnerable are to bear the cost. So much for the SNP’s claim to be anti-austerity.

 

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Fighting deportation: exposing the SNP

The Scottish government’s White Paper, published in 2013, proposed that in the event of independence the SNP would end dawn raids, close Dungavel Detention Centre and grant people seeking asylum access to the mainstream welfare system. As it is, immigration law remains a ‘reserved issue’ for Westminster, over which, according to the rules of bourgeois democracy, the Scottish government has ‘no power’. SNP politicians and ministers have repeatedly raised their opposition to inhumane UK immigration policy and proclaimed ‘refugees are welcome here’. However, the reality is that devolved Scottish institutions and public bodies, above all the police, are deeply involved in colluding with the racism of the British state and its associated violence. The apparent outrage of the Scottish government is worthless in the face of Police Scotland’s direct role in carrying out dawn raids and brutalising those who are actually opposing Britain’s racist immigration system.

This collaboration was starkly exposed by recent events in Glasgow. On 21 March, Police Scotland officers and local social workers assisted a Home Office Enforcement Team in carrying out a brutal early morning raid against Beverley Vaanda Kanjii and her 14-year-old son. In the course of the raid, in front of her terrified child, Beverley was handcuffed, dragged across the ground and repeatedly kicked, sustaining serious injuries. After her son refused to board a flight from Glasgow Airport, they were transferred to the Home Office’s Immigration Reporting Centre on Brand Street.

 

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