How To Unite the Fight Against Racism

Confronting any rise in racism, now and in the future, is a critical task for all trade unionists and other concerned citizens. Needless to say, building organisations that can successfully oppose all forms of racism is a critical task at this present time, which means that the strategy adopted for uniting such a resistance is crucial. The success or failure of fighting racism is at stake no less!

In terms of building a broad based movement that can undertake successful political interventions, I, like most other socialists, are more than willing to work alongside anyone who says they are committed to fighting racism.

This may mean standing shoulder-to-shoulder with people whom I have great political differences in order to oppose the growth of racism and the threat posed by fascists organising on our streets. But that form of united action doesn’t mean that I withhold my criticisms of any allies in the fight against racism, especially if I believe they are engaged in other political actions that actually serve to fuel the growth of racism.

Certainly the pro-business, pro-austerity, anti-working-class politics of New Labour have helped provide the social conditions that have enabled racism to flourish. So it was a nice surprise that lifelong anti-racist campaigner Jeremy Corbyn has been twice elected leader of the Labour Party – an individual who has always resisted the pro-business policies of his own party.

Corbyn played a leading role in organising the fightback against the illegal war on Iraq (which he still opposes to this day), and, now, by standing on a clear anti-austerity platform, Corbyn represents the type of principled socialist politics that have the possibility for actually undermining the growth of the type of ill-informed racism that scapegoats other members of the working class for problems caused by the political representatives of big business (be they Blairites, UKIPers or Tories).

So if I was placed in a position where I could invite a Labour Party MP or councillor to speak at a local anti-racism event, I would make sure I picked one who was not only opposed to racism, but also supported the type of Labour Party policies that fought racism too. In Leicester that would slightly limit the number of speakers available, as only a couple of councillors even have the nerve to publicly say that they support Corbyn’s anti-austerity politics of hope.

Certainly inviting a Blairite councillor who plays a leading role in the rightwing (“Progress”) faction of the Labour Party in an attempt to inspire people to get involved in a fight against racism, would perhaps, be the worst thing that might be done.

Why invite a speaker who likes to pretend the war on Iraq — which slaughtered over a million people that has caused a refugee crisis worldwide — was 100% legal? Why invite a speaker who has publicly supported the coup against Corbyn’s principled leadership of the Labour Party when any number of local Momentum supporters would be prepared to speak at such an event? Why invite a speaker to anti-racist event who is supportive of the governments’ Islamophobic PREVENT anti-terrorism program? Why invite a speaker that believes Labour lost the general election because Labour wasn’t close enough to big business?

This is what Leicester Stand Up to Racism has done by inviting councillor Vijay Singh Riyait to speak at their forthcoming event in Leicester (see his recent tweets below).

It is one thing to work in anti-racist alliances with Blairites and the like, but another thing entirely to invite them to speak from a platform to talk about the fight against racism. Nevertheless, I think this event will be an important meeting, with a number of other great speakers, so I will be attending, and I will certainly be raising my criticisms of New Labour representatives like councillor Riyait.

EVENT DETAILS: 7pm on Wednesday 1st February at Leicester Adult Education College, 50-54 Belvoir Street, Leicester, LE1 6SL. Speakers to include Roger McKenzie, Assistant General Secretary Unison, Natalie Bennett, Green Party, Vijay Singh Riyalt, Labour cllr Abbey Ward, Zak Cochrane, Stand Up To Racism and more.

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