Ian Allinson reports from a rally in Manchester against deportations, the hostile environment and the mistreatment of the Windrush generation and their descendants.
A packed meeting on Wednesday (12 February), hosted by the trades council, discussed how to reinvigorate anti-racist and anti-fascist campaigning in Manchester. Many are furious that the far-right have felt able to stage flashmobs in the city which have abused, threatened or attacked the public, left-wing campaigners, a journalist and an RMT picket-line. But the dominant experience of racism doesn’t come from fascists or the far-right but from the government’s racist policies.
One of the main outcomes of the meeting was support for a rally on Saturday (15 February) to protest against deportations, the hostile environment, and the treatment of the Windrush generation and their descendants. The Manchester Central constituency has the highest concentration of people affected by the Windrush scandal in the country. In just a few days the rally secured backing from Unison, Unite, and the CWU postal workers’ union as well as anti-racist organisations.
In the Windrush scandal, people were denied access to employment, housing, benefits and even healthcare because they lacked documentation to prove their right to live in Britain – because the government had destroyed it. Some were deported. Though the government has apologised and a minister resigned, by 9 February only 23 people had received any money from the government’s special hardship fund.
The more recent deportation flight, which went ahead despite a court ruling, targeted what the government calls ‘foreign criminals’. People lacking proof of citizenship are being deported if sentenced to more than 12 months in prison, even if they have lived here since an early age and have no links to the country they are to be deported to. Speakers linked the policy to the disproportionate sentences handed out to black people. One example was someone convicted of speeding – despite this resulting in no crash or injury. ‘Joint enterprise‘ charges disproportionately target young black men, and result in convictions of people who did nothing wrong.
The importance of migrant solidarity and opposition to borders is only going to increase as climate change makes more the world uninhabitable and contributes to famines and wars.
Model motion for union bodies and Labour Parties
You can adapt this model motion for use in your union or Labour Party branch. While rs21 stands for no borders and rejects distinctions between those with or without legal status, or demands for rights to depend on being ‘good’ migrants, the motion highlights and challenges particular injustices which campaigners are trying to overturn.