Posts Tagged ‘racism’

I can’t breathe

June 6, 2020

“I can’t breathe”, said George Floyd, neck pinned to the floor, his face caught in a rictus of pain.
“I can’t breathe”, he cried out, as he fought for his life, a plea which we take up again.
We can breathe, sweet, fresh air, we protest, we revolt, but the White House, enclosed in a wall, spews venom and hatred, anger and gall.
Workers rise up in the land of the free, where Kaepernick bravely took the knee.
Killer cop charged with manslaughter, third degree; the others get away, scot free.
And thousands of black men, confined to their cells. Don’t think it is solely an American crime.
Mark Duggan, Charles De Menezes, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
So let’s fight for a world which treats us all equally, police elected from the whole community.
Let’s fight to get rid of this capitalist system, it breeds inequality and hate.
Let’s fight for a world that is free of oppression, sow seeds of freedom, rather than a police state.

Adrift

October 29, 2016

They came – a few hundred, not thousands as claimed
Fleeing fear and persecution – they should not be blamed.
Desperate people, not a swarm, horde or flood
The same as you and me, made of flesh and blood.

Ils sont arrivés – quelques centaines, ce n’est son pas des milliers  selon
Qui fuyaient la peur et la persécution – ils ne devraient pas être blâmés
Des gens désespérés pas un essaim, une horde, ou une inondation
La même chose que vous et moi, de chair et de sang.

The Express and Daily Mail bleat unsparing, vile attacks
Some people sadly taken in by lies of right-wing hacks.
You might think World War III was on its way
If you read the tabloid press – so we need to sway

 «Aujourd’hui en France>> avec des attaques viles, impitoyables
Malheureusement certains croisent les mensonges de la droite.
Vous pourriez penser que la troisième guerre mondiale était sur son chemin
Si vous lisez la presse tabloïd donc nous aurons besoin de tangeur

the balance back – fight for the oppressed and the poor.
Unify against bosses, politicians who waged war
which created refugees; dispossessed, homeless –
It was not poor people who got us into this mess.

lutter pour les opprimés et les pauvres.
S’unifier contre les boss, les politiciens qui font la guerre
Qui a créé des réfugiés; dépossédés, sans-abri:
Ce ne fut pas de pauvres gens qui nous ont mis dans ce pétrin.

Immigrants were not responsible for the financial crisis
While bankers rake in billions, the media divides us.
We need solidarity, not racism against fictitious “angry mobs”
Who are no threat in reality, just want the chance to get jobs.

Les migrants ne sont pas responsables de la crise financière
Alors que les banquiers râtissent des milliards, les médias nous divisent.
Solidarité, contre le racisme fictif «des foules en colère»
Qui sont pas une menace en réalité , ils veulent une chance de trouver un emploi.

But they cannot work, just get by on an Azure card
Not welcome in certain places. Bureaucracy gone mad.
The system treats the asylum seeker like a criminal
No independence, singled out – the message is subliminal.

Mais ils ne peuvent pas travailler, juste obtenir une carte Azure
Seulement accepté dans certains magasins. Bureaucratie devenue folle.
Le système traite le demandeur d’asile comme un criminel
Pas d’indépendance, persecuté – le message est subliminal.

And the police respond with Operation Stack
COBRA is convened: we are under attack.
The refugee is dehumanised, feared by all and sundry
But millionaires are fêted, when they come to the country.

Et les flics réagissent avec l’Opération Stack
Le comité d’urgence est convoqué: nous sommes sous la menace.
Le réfugié est déshumanisé, craint par toute l’humanité
Mais les millionnaires sont acclamés, quand ils viennent au pays.

Opposing hatred and bigotry in Leicester

May 29, 2016

Leicester has been in the news a lot recently, because of the unprecedented success of its football team. However, we have seen the far-right attempt to jump on this bandwagon, oblivious to the multicultural nature of both Leicester and its footballing heroes. This was the scene last weekend:

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photo – Leicester Socialist Party – see more details

For two weekends in a row, the people of Leicester have successfully defended the city centre from Britain First, a far-right splinter-group which crawled out of the wreckage of Nick Griffin’s BNP. They claimed to be campaigning for the EU referendum, but their literature is full of lies and hatred, targeted at Muslims in particular. The Another Angry Voice blog has posted a useful guide to their brand of hatred.

Leicester is one of the most diverse cities in Britain and has a proud record of standing up against racism. Dividing people in terms of their race is a convenient smokescreen for the ruling class. If working-class people are made to view each other as the enemy, then they are not blaming the real causes of their problems. These include attacks on services and jobs which the Conservatives are carrying through nationally, but unfortunately the local Labour council are passing these on to the people of Leicester and the shortage of council housing due to a lack of investment in public housing over decades.

People are at the mercy of private landlords, on zero-hour contracts, in insecure employment or are unable to get a job. It is not surprising if the ruling class try to divert their anger on to scapegoats, such as “terrorists” or “immigrants”, rather than admit that the situation we find ourselves in is because of the system of capitalism. This results in an increase in racial attacks and discrimination against minorities.

The Socialist Party in Leicester have a long tradition of holding street stalls in the city centre, every Saturday. When confronted with the bullying tactics of the far-right, we refused to go away. Instead, we called on the public to oppose and surround their stall. We reminded people of the nature of Britain First, and why they do not stand for modern Britain. We pointed out that we need to unite as a community in order to defeat the Tories’ attacks and it is still vitally important to oppose the far-right, just as the people of Leicester saw off the National Front in 1979 and opposed the EDL when they marched through the city in 2012.

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A similar unwelcome reception for Britain First this weekend – picture Midlands Antifascist Network

If they are left unopposed, racist thugs can get away with attacks on Muslims. Britain First has invaded mosques, and its leader Paul Golding has been convicted of harassment. He was arrested again this weekend, after breaking bail conditions by failing to show up to a scheduled appointment in a probation office in Luton, as he was 50 miles north of that city, in Leicester.

leicesterbf3

Golding being escorted by members of the local constabulary – picture East Midlands Anti Fascist Network

The far-right have form in this city. In 2010, the EDL broke out of police lines and attacked Big Johns, a local fast-food restaurant, because it was selling Halal produce. In 2013, I wrote about a Leicester pub, “The Globe”, which was attacked on a neo-Nazi website for allegedly refusing to serve members of the armed forces, in case this offended Muslims. As a result, staff of the pub received threats, although the report was clearly completely fake. Britain First share the racist views of the EDL and BNP and have no place in a modern, democratic society.

The principle of freedom of speech extends only to those who will allow freedom of speech to others. In destroying a stall table and megaphone of socialist groups, Britain First showed themselves to be no respecters of the right of free speech. They brought a loud sound system, blaring out patriotic music, in an attempt to drown out the public’s opposition.

Fortunately, they were again sent packing, behind police lines and carrying armfuls of their racist publicity, which they were unable to give out due to being surrounded and outnumbered. The public of Leicester will need to be watchful and ready to mobilise to counter their threat.

The Socialist Party stands for unity of the working class and against any attempts to divide us. We stand against racism, bigotry and intolerance. We are a democratic party and are happy to debate with our political opponents, but we will organise against far-right bullies, who resort to abuse, threats and violence.

The Socialist Party campaigns for a LEAVE vote in the forthcoming EU referendum, but not on the basis of racism and xenophobia. We are for a united, socialist Europe, not the bosses’ undemocratic EU, whose treaties have imposed privatisation and austerity across the continent.

 

 

Save Our Services in Leicester

May 10, 2014

On Thursday 8th May, the public gallery was full as the scrutiny committee of Leicester Council met to discuss cuts to voluntary services in the city. Leicester Race Equality Centre (TREC) and Leicester Council of Faiths were both allowed to submit a response (although they were limited to just 5 minutes each to put their case).

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TREC argued that it provided a unique service, responsive to the needs of diverse communities in the city, often working with extremely deprived and vulnerable people, and had worked to improve relations between communities in the face of far-right attempts to increase racial tension, as has happened in Thurnby Lodge and with the EDL protests. In both these cases, TREC have been involved in combating racist ideas and developing dialogue between different ethnic groups.

The council’s response to TREC’s demands for an Equality Impact Assessment amounted to just 144 words, which was completely inadequate, and contrary to the council’s legal responsibility under the 2010 Equality Act. The council’s consultation exercise was itself discriminatory, by being on-line, it excluding people without access to the internet, whether due to poverty or to disability. Only 136 people responded, and only 78 attended public meetings, with overlap between the two groups. This failed to do justice to the vast number of people across Leicester City affected by the service cuts.

Peter Soulsby, the Mayor of Leicester, acknowledged the good work done by voluntary services in the city. However, he sought to blame the Tories for the cuts, rather than taking any responsibility himself for their implementation. He said that services had to go out to tender, as this was “the way of the world”, and that the council had no choice except to cut the overall funding pot. He failed completely to address the points relating to the failings of the council’s own report. Rather patronisingly, the groups were reminded that they could also apply for external funding and were offered assistance with this.

The response from both the Council of Faiths and TREC was that they already routinely approach external sources of funding, and that TREC had exceeded the council’s own agreement as to the services it provides, with a 98% satisfaction rate from users of the service. In the past year, TREC had dealt with 794 enquiries, and faced a 70% increase in cases of harrassment. Since 1967, an estimated 150,000 people had benefited from their support.

Mayor Soulsby went on to admit that a total of 18 other services were having to go through similar reviews, such as children and adult services. It is obvious therefore, that the cuts being made by the council are widespread and affect the most vulnerable people in our society disproportionately – in the case of TREC, asylum seekers, refugees and people experiencing discrimination or harrassment. TREC works with all communities in the city.

However, Soulsby offers no strategy to stop cuts to services. We were left wondering – what was the point of voting in a Labour Mayor, or 52 Labour councillors, if they then fail to provide any meaningful opposition? In the 2015 elections in Leicester, the Socialist Party as part of TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition), will provide such a principled opposition. If any Labour councillors are prepared to break ranks and vote against cuts, then we will support them in their stand. However, we are seeking to put forward as many candidates as possible against councillors who cut services. We will also look to stand against Soulsby in the mayoral elections, in order to save jobs and vital services in the city.

The Socialist Party would scrap the tendering process, it merely adds bureaucracy and opens up public services to the private sector. Instead of wasting resources in drawing up tender documents and having to justify themselves to the council, services should simply be able to get on with the job they are supposed to do.

We point out that the council has a choice – it could refuse to implement cuts and use its £150 million reserves to buy time to build a campaign to force the government to back down on its austerity agenda. If Leicester united with other Labour councils across the country, and built support amongst council trade unions for united strike action, the government would face massive opposition and could be forced into a position where it had to back down. However, if Labour councillors are not prepared to fight, and the overwhelming evidence is that the vast majority of them will do nothing – then they should stand aside for others who will.

The Socialist Party has a long track record of fighting successful battles against cuts – for example Liverpool Council’s fight against Thatcher from 1983 to 1987 and the mass non-payment of the Poll Tax in 1990. We will continue to fight against all cuts to services, whichever party is implementing them.

Tide of purple filth

May 6, 2014

UKIP are a laughing-stock, the butt of all our jokes
Whether blaming gays for flooding, or European folks
For bringing skills and culture to Britain’s drizzly clime,
Farage sends a barrage of abuse – ‘cos “foreigners cause crime”.
Regardless of statistics, science or commonplace
Sense, their leaflet goes on, till purple in the face
It runs out of insults and expletives. Explodes in a rant,
A putrid purple shower of racism and cant.
Nick, the con-man, not the common man, fiddling Brussels’ expenses,
A millionaire stockbroker, with views I find offensive,
And the cheek to claim that he’s anti-establishment.
Sometimes I wish he’d met his end in that plane accident.
No – that’s too harsh – just let his neurons be rearranged
To make him less xenophobic, bigoted and deranged.
We need to counter UKIP’s propaganda and deceit.
You see, their policies are designed specifically to cheat
Us of our hard-earned cash, rip up human rights,
Privatise the NHS, rob us of the power to fight
Back against austerity – stop this tide of cuts
That’s swamping public services, threatening to shut
Our libraries and schools, turned into academies.
Tired teens trundle through education factories.
They don’t want us to think, just give UKIP a big cross,
Vote racist, angry, malevolent – do the bidding of the boss.
The working class need to find a common cause
To unite us, across disparate cultures. Otherwise, it is our loss.
Build a new party, to give us all a victory
Something to cheer about, not racists and their bigotry.

 


You can read some more of my poetry in ‘Little Red Poetry’ (£4 pbk, £2.50 pdf e-book).

All proceeds go to build a new party for ordinary people, against cuts and privatisation. Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Copies are also available from Left Books

The Globe – a friendly, welcoming pub in Leicester

August 18, 2013

Just got back from a drink at The Globe, where I had a lovely pint of Tiger and a Titanic Plum Porter – well worth seeking out if you happen to be in Leicester. The Tiger was well kept, the usual balance of hops and malt. The Plum Porter (4.8% from Titanic Brewery) was very unusual – a fruity taste, with a lot of body and roasted malt flavours.

What’s all this? This is usually a blog about politics, with a bit of poetry thrown in. I didn’t come here to read about real ale or pubs.

The reason I went along to support a local pub, was that it has been the subject of threats from the far right. As a member of the Socialist Party, I felt it important that we stand up to their bullying tactics – and it was a good excuse for a pint!

A far-right blog (I’m not going to give them the satisfaction of mentioning it by name) has made threats against the staff, and accused the pub of refusing to serve service personnel, because of causing offence to the Muslim population of Leicester. Nothing could be further from the truth – while I was in the pub, a member of a charity for ex-servicemen who have been left homeless, dropped by to leave some leaflets.

The site put up a completely bogus photograph of a different pub, in Knutsford – about 75 miles away in Cheshire. The staff at the pub received a phone call threatening to harm them as they left work, so naturally the landlord called in security staff. In response, the blog then had the cheek to claim that the extra security was to turn away servicemen trying to enter the pub. “You can’t win”, was my comment.

The blog even turned on the Leicester Mercury, displaying a picture of the editor wearing a red tie (obviously a Communist Party member then), saying that the paper was full of communist sympathisers for daring to run an article pointing out the truth.

This sad farce shows the depths to which far-right, racist, moronic keyboard warriors will stoop. I hope the publicity (the pub has been on regional news) actually improves custom. The staff have been brave in keeping the place open through what must have been a difficult time.