On Racist Vans etc

While the Home Office’s #racistvan campaign has attracted the negative comment it deserves, for those of us who have been paying attention to the way (im)migration politics is going it somewhat less shocking.

Dawn Raids, Forced deportations, mass immigration checks at tube stations, a massive increase of incarceration of migrants, often for years. The Racist Van is just a logical extension of all that.

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Control and Resistance Mon July 15th


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The New Consensus: It’s okay to be Racist, It’s fine to hate the Poor

As we are told that Job centre Staff get Easter eggs as rewards for sanctioning claimants, we are reminded of the “grant monkey” that was placed on UKBA staffs’ desk as a humilation if they gave a asylum seeker leave to remain. Remember folks, that was during Labour’s mythical  “open door” immigration policy, which they must repenteth of every day.

Somehow Ukip have become the xenophobic policy pace setter, which the rest of the parties try to breathlessly catch up with. It’s easy to blame the Lib Dems and The Labour Party.

Mind you, that’s because it is their fault. Suddenly, the out of context, exaggarated and exceptional “Criminal Immigrants in Mansions on Housing Benefit funded Cannabis Factory”  type Daily Mail stories have become policy primers for all three parties, and apparently We, “the public” are swallowing it.

The facts. Don’t bother with the facts. Just keep lying and believing the lies.





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EXCLUSIVE!! We reveal the luxury housing being built just for foreigners

Harmondsworth-detention-c-006As David Cameron has said the allocation of public housing is a scandal. However, we can reveal that as well as council and housing association property being occupied by undeserving foreigners, some are allocated exclusive apartments at the cost of £120 per day to the tax payer*. Whether they like it or not. Residents at these designer apartments are treated to three meals a day, uniformed servants, and are handed highly sort after jobs –  earning up to 90p an hour. Many are then treated to a all expenses paid trip to a destination definitely not of their choice.

In fact, contrary to the tabloid-UKIP pleasing policy announcement made today, the expansion of UKBA’s detention estate is the only form of housing being built for foreign nationals. However,  the scarcity of affordable housing is something that the right has often  made the most of. Not only do they sell it off, they then profit politically from it’s scarcity.

However, with the rise of Ukip and the economic depression the kind of racist narrative that was once only winked at by the mainstream political parties is now part of a regular spiteful and normally xenophoboic weekend press release to feed the reactionary media.  When Steve Garner wrote in 2009:

“Housing is a basic right and is surrounded in emotive discourse about belonging and entitlement. It is therefore easy to manipulate politically. As a dwindling resource, social housing has become a flagship issue for the BNP.”

He probably hadn’t considered that 4 short years later the British PM would be making it a “flagship issue” for the governing party, with it’s coalition partners and opposition parties helping create a anti-immigrant consensus, rather than providing an alternative explanation.

The essay  “Home Truths: The White Working Class and the Racialization of Social Housing” from which the above quote comes from  tells the depressing story of how both new immigrants and a “undeserving” indigenous under class are blamed by the working class which was once given affordable housing as a right but which is now denied to them.

However, as Steve Garner explains it isn’t a “black and white issue”:

“The boundaries between ‘us’ and ‘them’are not always drawn in the same place. “I’m not racist”, begins another of our Bristol interviewees whose opening phrase is a familiar one. “I’m not racist … but I am prejudiced. I am prejudiced, but I’m not only prejudiced against people that are black. I’m prejudiced against people who are on the dole who don’t do nothing, and still get it all”.

The concern with”queue jumping” newcomers, or undeserving  is perhaps is understandable. They can be seen taking what is percieved to be “theirs”.  What is more mysterious to me is how those who create the conditions for the queue to form get away without being blamed. Of course, there is the biased media, the spineless labour party but perhaps as relevant is the “allocators” of this increasingly scarce resource are invisible to those who want it, so remote and untouchable that a more tangible and targettable neighbour, or near neighbour. What Steve Garner call the “Proximity Effect.”

His conclusion at least leaves a space for hope:

“Were a space to be created in which the white British working class, migrants and BME people could tell each other their stories of being refused housing, being obliged to live in sub-standard conditions (while paying a premium), and of asylum-seekers placed en masse in motels and in unwanted properties on estates (or even in detention centres!), our white respondents would probably find much more in common with these groups than they imagine. Feeling that you have less and less control over your life is not the monopoly of Britain’s white working class.”











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On Injunctions, Civil Actions & Free Publicity.

As we sneaked around preparing for the Heathrow Climate Camp in 2007, we could hardly believe our luck when the British Aviation Authority took out a injunction so wide ranging and absurd that it prohibited the entire membership of RSPB and the National Trust from travelling on the Piccadilly Line. It failed in it’s stated aim to prevent the camp.

You can’t buy that kind of publicity, or at least we can’t afford to. That’s why news that EDF are suing “No Dash for Gas” activists for a cool £5 million can only be good news and a boost for their campaign. (That is not to dismiss the extreme personal pressure that those named on the civil action will be under).

There are many other campaigns which have benefited from these heavy handed legal tactics. The most infamous is the McLibel case, but a lesser known one which I was drawn to by the very action designed to stifle it was the “Smash EDO” anti arms campaign based in Brighton.

Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden -Injunction specialist & unintentional Pro Bono awareness raiser for campaigners.

Until the injunction, pursued by the amusingly incompetent legal firm Lawson Cruttenden & Co in 2005, it was a persistent but small local campaign. The injunction, which basically prohibited any kind of protest, legal or otherwise from happening became a civil liberties  ’cause célèbre’, ignited a couple of mass days of action which came close to riots, and inspired a group of people, during the bombardment of Palestine in 2009 to literally “Smash EDO”, putting the factory out of use for a while and causing £200,000 worth of damages.

Not only that, but the injunction itself collapsed in court, costing EDO MBM in legal costs of between £1 m & £1.5m – more than an entire year’s profit.

But, then, why do corporations continue to engage in such costly litigation, when it only can boost the campaigns against them? Fear and paranoia that such actions will catch on, and put them out of business seems to be the answer. This analysis seems to be supported by recent revelations that another energy firm – E.ON – had been lobbying Ministers for harsh sentencing for direct action(s) taken against them.

While the personal cost to those who have taken on these behemoths in the past has been great – including interference in personal lives by undercover police, as well as the more manageable but still disruptive civil and legal actions, if the old adage that you should “do what your enemy least wants you to do” is true then, “Dash for Gas” seem to be on the right lines.

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‘Vile liars and truth distorters’

Truth, trust and the asylum system

by Melanie Griffiths

“Asylum seekers and refused refugees are some of the most
mistrusted persons in British society, and are commonly
assumed to be manipulating the immigration system. The
majority of the some 300 asylum applicants I spoke to
during research on identification requirements, were at
some point accused by the UK Border Agency (UKBA)
of providing untrue information about who they were and
what had happened to them, or requesting asylum when
they had no valid claim under the Refugee Convention.
Such accusations are crucial, given that the notoriously
difficult decision of whether to grant refugee status is
often bound up in assessments of the applicant’s honesty
or ‘credibility’”

For the full Open Access Journal Article click this:


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EDL & Labour Party – Plague on both yr houses

“The English Defence League (EDL) has attacked the Labour Party for supporting “rent-a-mobs” in advance of the group’s march in Bristol tomorrow… the group was expecting trouble from “idiotic communist types…who wanted to provoke a violent confrontation.”

Other than the plain absurdity of the EDL accusing other groups, not to mention the idea of the spineless local Labour party of causing trouble, (or being “communists”!) those with a political awareness which is more than five minutes old will recognize a deeper irony.
Of course, it was the Labour Government that launched the “War on Terror” in the shape of the illegal wars on Afghanistan & Iraq which cost not only cost the lives of tens of thousands of civilians but also a substantial number of UK servicemen & women – the latter whom the EDL claim as one of their core constituencies. Further, it was the rhetoric deployed both by the  “Coalition” which started the anti-Muslim narrative that is current in the mainstream corporate press, which of course fed those racists who were looking for a ‘better’ vehicle than the BNP’s plain old Nazi nostalgia.
The fact that the EDL, are now using a less sophisticated version of the Islamophobic rubbish only used by our governing classes 6 or 7 years ago, while portraying themselves as some enemy of the ruling classes and at the same relaying their message is just too much irony for one paragraph.



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Letter to the Border Agency

The EDL has nothing on these guys…

Mr Jeremy Oppenheim

Acting Head of Immigration

UK Border Agency

2 Marsham Street,

London, SW1P 4DF



Dear Mr Oppenheim

 Fishing Raid: complaint

I spoke to you briefly after you spoke at the Stratford meeting of the Refugee & Migrant Forum of East Londonon 13 December last year. You were kind enough to say that if the Friends of Queens Market had concerns about the conduct of the Border Agency in our local street market we could raise them with you. 

 We are most concerned by a raid which took place around mid-day on 21 June at Queens Market, (Queens Market, London E13 9BA).  This was a joint exercise between the Border Agency, the Police and officials from the London Borough of Newham: a Market Inspector and officials from Health and Safety and Trading Standards).

 I arrived in time to see one team of about fifteen leaving the market. I am told that there was at least one other team and possibly some forty officials in all.

 This was clearly a ‘fishing raid’.  There was no attempt on the part of the Border Agency staff to find named individuals whom they believed to be in breach of immigration laws.  Instead they picked randomly on shoppers and traders, in particular Africans and Asians.

 They actually gave chase to people which caused  a considerable risk to public safety in an enclosed area where frail pensioners and mothers with young children were shopping. Whilst we appreciate that the Enforcement Regulations allow Immigration Officers to question people who ‘attempt to leave hurriedly’ when they visit, this surely does not cover a situation where numbers of hefty officials, many in black ‘flak jackets’, suddenly converge without explanation on a public space.  They looked alarming and intimidating: their ‘riot gear’ suggested that trouble was imminent and getting out of the way a sensible precaution.

 Only ethnic minority members were interrogated by the Border Agency leading to a widespread perception of the raid as racist and as an attack on the market itself in view of the serious disruption to trade. Public and traders were left distressed and resentful.

 We think that the Border Agency officials involved might have compromised the need for their raid to be intelligence-led by joining forces with Council officials who  are not required to meet such restrictions on their enquiries, eg  Health and Safety officials, Market Inspectors.

 There have been similar raids in the past which appeared to have been conducted in a manner which breached the United Kingdom Border Agency Enforcement Regulations (I mentioned one to you at the meeting in December).

 Therefore on behalf of the shoppers and traders in our organisation I would like to respectfully request the following:

 An assurance that the Border Agency will not carry out any more ‘fishing raids’ and will act only on ‘intelligence received’.  It would be helpful if we could also be assured that future operations will be carried out discreetly, without such an intimidating presence, and showing the ‘sensitivity’ recommended by the  UKBA Enforcement Instructions and Guidance.

 An assurance that the Border Agency will not conduct any more ‘operations’ in Queens Market jointly with Council officials until there is clear guidance, available to the public, as to how the Border Agency will fulfil its obligations to act on ‘reasonable suspicion’  and in  a non-discriminatory manner  whilst working alongside officials whose remit apparently allows them to carry out inspections/interrogations at will.

 If you need more information from eyewitnesses (who in view of the events described above may well wish to withhold their names) regarding the events on Thursday 21 June I will be happy to supply it.

Yours sincerely

Pauline Rowe

(Secretary, Friends of Queens Market)

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The Crime of Existence

Just another UKBA news release: “Suspected bogus student arrested in Solihull”.  This Perhaps conjures up an image of someone pretending to enjoy getting blotto on low quality alcohol & listening to mediocre indie music. However, the truth  is less amusing, and in fact tragic. I don’t  know this man, aged 26, – lets call him “Jack” who was living in the West Midlands and apparently born in South Asia. He allegedly  forged a document – saying he had a University certificate he didn’t earn –  just like Jeffrey Archer.

The immediate conclusion to jump to was that he wanted to stay in  the UK to earn money – and was working “illegally” in the UK. Perhaps not though, maybe it was love that drew him here? Though he would have been disappointed to know that even if his theoretica amore had British Citizenship, he still wouldn’t have been able to settle here unless s/he earned over £25,000 a year. Perhaps it was neither money or love – maybe he just had very overbearing parents and wanted to leave home? In any case what ever the reason, he now is remanded in prison until July 25th where he will stand before a British Crown Court charged with deception. If you think that’s ok, your an idiot.



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Want to give practical solidarity to asylum seekers in Bristol?

As part of the Bristol Anti-Deportation Network we are offering practical solidarity to the many asylum seekers who have to sign at Trinity Road police station. We currently have a desk at  Bristol Refugee Rights at the ‘Drop-In’  on Wednesdays  between 10.00am and 12.30pm at Newton Hall, Newton Street, Easton, BS5 0QZ .

We keep our own record of those who go to sign, and offer accompaniment to the police station if asked for. Our project already goes beyond these two practical tasks and will go further if we can get enough support. We hope to offer this support to all migrants who sign at Trinity eventually.

If you can spare anything upwards of  1 hour a month to make our solidarity go further please let us know by e-mail: bristolsigningsolidarity@riseup.net

You can also call us on 07787 460817 (leave message).

Our host – Bristol Refugee Rights – is also looking for volunteers. Details of the various roles & dates of training can be found at: http://www.bristolrefugeerights.org/wanted-volunteers/

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