Wednesday, June 22, 2016

British Morning Star Editorials: Fascism Is On The March; Perspectives on Brexit
Morning Star in Editorials

MPs on all sides of the House of Commons united in paying tribute to Jo Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen murdered so brutally last Thursday in an apparently fascist-inspired attack.

The pain felt by her colleagues was evident and the praise for the “caring, eloquent, principled and wise” MP heartfelt.

It could not be diminished by noises from Nigel Farage about the tragedy being used for political purposes: Farage should have the grace to shut up, since few have done more to legitimise racism and fascism in British politics than he has — particularly following the disgusting anti-refugee poster his party unveiled last week.

But it seems a forlorn hope that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s injunction — “we all have a responsibility in this House and beyond not to whip up hatred or sow division” — will be remembered for long.

Cox’s shocking death has led many to question the aggressive and scaremongering tone of political debate, and the finger has been pointed at this week’s referendum on EU membership.

The rise of the far right is, however, not restricted to Britain.

In France Front National leader Marine Le Pen regularly tops the polls. In Austria the far-right Freedom Party came within a whisker of winning the presidency last month. Fascists are far stronger in a number of European countries than they are in Britain — in Greece, in the Netherlands, in Hungary.

So this is not about Brexit.

It has been argued that the referendum has allowed racist prejudices to be expressed more openly than before, especially in the form of anti-immigrant poison spewed forth by the right wing of the Leave campaign.

But this drum has been beaten for years by both main parties.

Labour has had Gordon Brown’s “British jobs for British workers” and that god-awful “controls on immigration” mug Ed Balls once hoped to toast a 2015 election victory with.

The Tories have predictably been far worse, despatching “go home or face arrest” lorries in the coalition years and wallowing in the worst anti-immigrant sentiment since.

It goes right to the top: it was Prime Minister David Cameron who dismissed desperate refugees as “a bunch of migrants” and a “swarm.”

Similarly, Cameron was up to his neck in the revolting Tory campaign for London mayor, railing about Sadiq Khan sharing platforms with extremists and conniving at every hint that Khan was somehow a terror threat, which reached a low when the Daily Mail illustrated an article about the dangers of voting Labour with an image of the July 7 2005 bombings.

The Tory implication that electing a Muslim was tantamount to electing a terrorist was deliberate, and encouraged the repulsive gesture of Britain First’s Paul Golding, who turned his back on the newly elected mayor as the results were announced.

Cameron is probably free of such prejudice himself. Since Khan’s election he has had no problem in sharing platforms with the man he so recently reviled as dangerous.

But what may be a political game to the old Etonian in Downing Street has real consequences for real people.

If fascism is on the march across Europe, causes can be identified. A broken economic system traps tens of millions in unemployment, drives down wages and pensions and beggars public services from London in the west to Athens in the east.

Corbyn is right to insist that we must direct our anger against austerity for these problems, not immigrants. And he is right to point out that the policies of both the British government and the EU have brought us to this pass.

Neither a Remain nor a Leave vote will change either. Whatever happens on Thursday, the left must reunite to take the fight to the fascists and stamp racism out wherever it is found — and we must end the austerity nightmare putting the boot into workers across the continent.

Amid Dark Political Times We Need Unity Like Never Before

We must not listen to the racists and hatemongers trying to scare us senseless into voting to leave the EU, writes DAVE PRENTIS

THIS week Unison meets in Brighton for our annual conference, in a week that will define our country for a generation.

But we meet at a sad time — a dark time — for our movement and our communities. The murder of Jo Cox last week has cast a dark shadow over the country.

Jo was a young vibrant woman who stood for everything we believe in. A dedicated MP, a campaigner and a Unison member — but so much more than that — a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother. There are no words to describe her family’s loss.

Unison will never forget Jo and all she achieved. Everything she stood for — kindness, tolerance, and respect for others — all values that represent the best of our movement. Because, in Jo’s words, we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.

Unfortunately, there are those who seek to divide us for their own ends.

No sensible, thoughtful person could deny that there are arguments both for and against being part of
Europe, but the likes of Nigel Farage are not making those arguments.

Instead their cries and lies, smears, fears and rabid xenophobia amount to a noxious brew of anti-foreigner, anti-immigrant sentiment.

In years gone by these ugly sentiments would have been limited to the sewer of the far-right fringe, but now Farage and his ilk have unleashed them upon the mainstream.

An ugly public mood has been stirred up against people who have come to this country for a better life, to work hard and to help keep our NHS and our other public services going.

So when Farage unveiled his racist poster last week — which looked for all the world like the nazi propaganda of yesteryear — Unison reported him to the Metropolitan Police for inciting racial hatred.

I’ve seen plenty of campaigns in my time, but this was a new low, a descent into the gutter, and one that is all about scaring people senseless into voting Leave.

Leaving Europe could also hit working people hard in their pockets — especially those in the public sector.

People working in our NHS, town halls and schools have yet to see their wages recover following the last economic downturn. If Britain votes to leave, the upheaval the economy would go through could herald a whole new round of pay pain.

Pensions too are likely to be hit hard. The value of shares has already been affected as the stock market wobbles in fear of a possible Brexit vote. And every time the value of shares falls so do the value of workers’ pension pots and the incomes of pensioners.

Nor should we risk our NHS with a vote to leave Europe. Leaving would see the British economy embark on a damaging post-Brexit rollercoaster ride, one that would mean huge cuts to public spending. The NHS would be a big loser.

Hospital trusts and ambulance services are already struggling to recruit enough nurses and paramedics. Without European health workers, the NHS would be in a much worse state. We must not risk one of our most cherished national institutions with a Leave vote.

Yet whatever the result tomorrow, the Tories will be putting aside their differences and working together once again in the interests of their class — hitting the poorest in our society, over and over again.

So we must stand together too like never before. For what is right, not for what is easy.

So we’ll be standing by Jeremy Corbyn and offering him our full support — and I want to see every Labour MP work with Jeremy, giving him the chance he has earned to build a different kind of politics.

And we all know Britain desperately needs to see politics done differently, in a way that puts people and our public services first. That’s why Unison will never support renewing Trident nuclear weapons, and that’s why we will fight councils cutting our jobs and services. And that includes Labour councils, like Durham and Derby, slashing the wages of teaching assistants.

There are so many reasons that this government should be sent packing. But that can only happen under a united, winning Labour Party. One that can effect real change, one that gives working people a voice in Parliament, and one that can beat this government.

When the dust settles this week, that must be our aim.

Dave Prentis is general secretary of Unison.

Isolation From Europe Is No Way To Face The Issues Of The Present Or The Future

Morning Star in Features

All on the left know the EU is a flawed institution – which is why we need to be part of it, to make it more democratic and transparent, says IAN LAVERY

TO MILLIONS of voters the debate about the future of our country has become overly dominated by two privileged right-wing cliques.

Each led by out-of-touch former Bullingdon Boy rivals, both cabals see the future of our country in very similar terms, two very Tory Britains — one inside and one outside the EU.

Until very recently, the media has allowed the debate over Britain’s place in the European Union to be hijacked by a Tory civil war.

The debate has been seized upon by Boris Johnson, the darling of the Tory right who seeks to replace
David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party, and a ragtag bunch of right-wing zealots.
These vicious ideologues have built their political careers on right-wing politics that would see institutions cherished by the British people swept away in their free-market utopia.

They now advocate spending a seriously misleading EU membership fee on everything from healthcare to farms and regional subsidies, depending on who they are speaking to.

This has been a debate built upon a disgusting deception being perpetrated on the British people.

The sight of Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Gove and Priti Patel, among others, advocating increases in public spending, while voting for, presiding over and enthusiastically championing the exact opposite, is enough to make your skin crawl.

Are we really to believe that on leaving the EU, an institution that enshrines protection against people like these, that these extremists would abandon their lifelong beliefs and in the glow of so-called independence bestow new-found riches on the British people?

Or is it more likely that these sickening opportunists are using the likes of the NHS as the crumb of cheese on the Brexiteer mousetrap ready to snap the necks of the very people who need it most?

Even the Tory former prime minister John Major, hardly a militant himself, described the NHS in the hands of the Tory Brexiteers as being as safe as a pet hamster with a hungry python.

The relentless drive to focus the debate on the topic of immigration has seen it at its worst.

This is a referendum on our membership of the EU, not on the positives or negatives of migration, and the Leave campaign’s move in this direction is a cynical and calculated ploy.

A withdrawal from the EU will not settle the immigration debate that this country so badly needs.

For too long we have been quiet on immigration and Britain is badly in need of a sensible debate on the issue. However, it cannot and should not be left to a racist media and those seeking to supplant David Cameron with their Establishment clown to hold it.

We need to consider the positives and negatives on communities in Britain and across Europe.

We must also consider the global nature of the push and pull factors on movement of people.

To do this I firmly believe the answers lie in more co-operation across the continent and discussing how sensibly to tackle this global issue, not trying to pull up the drawbridge and pretend everything will go away.

Those who champion Brexit are no friends of working people and we should not let them con us into pushing Boris Johnson into Downing Street on the back of the referendum.

The golden-locked Establishment embarrassment has already been endorsed by Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

Farage himself only left the Tory Party over Europe. Could a Johnson-led party see this highly divisive figure welcomed back with open arms, given safe passage into Westminster and a place at the top table?

The impact of Brexit on working people should not be underestimated. An unfettered, Johnson-led, Conservative government with no European protection would be a disaster.

Let us be clear — we should not place the future of our country in the hands of these right-wing rogues.

There can be no denying that the European Union is in need of fundamental changes.

Citizens of the 28 member states need to feel like they have a say in the institution and the power to affect its decision-making process.

The organisation needs to become more democratic, more transparent and operated more in the interests of the working class than the bosses.

For all of its flaws, the EU is still good for Britain and north-east England, home of my constituency.

It protects our rights both at work and as consumers. It creates jobs and growth with access to the world’s largest single market.

It keeps us safe, bringing criminals to justice and fostering peace and stability. It improves our environment.

This is the most turbulent of times, with crises on a continental and global scale.

These require solutions that are bigger than Britain alone. Isolation from the rest of Europe is no way to face the issues of the present or the future, and would bring no solution either for ourselves or for our partners across the globe.

We are faced with an aggressive world of corporations free to move across the world in their own interests.

Leaving Europe would make worse not strengthen the position of workers affected by globalisation and countries crippled by aggressive tax avoidance.

We are faced with severe weather fuelled by climate change that threatens life for millions across the globe. Leaving Europe would reduce Britain’s influence and worsen the situation.

The rise of the far right across Europe, including here at home, is a worrying development in modern times. Leaving Europe will only foster hatred and worsen this.

We cannot let the future of our country, our continent and our world be put at risk by a Ukip-Tory desire to wind back the clock to a golden age that only ever existed in their imaginations.

We need to remain in Europe. To take our place at the top table and to build a progressive alliance across the continent to rebuild the EU in the interests of working people.

As a trade unionist and former miner, I am reminded of many of the colliery lodge banners in this debate.

The old slogans promoting co-operation, socialism and internationalism. But most one sticks out more than all: “The past we inherit, the future we build.” Vote Remain.

Ian Lavery is shadow minister for trade unions and MP for Wansbeck.

The Toxic Racist Discussion On Immigration Must Stop Now

Morning Star

Rising racism in austerity Britain needs to be addressed or the far right will only gain strength to commit further atrocities, writes SABBY DHALU

THE nation is still reeling from the brutal murder of Jo Cox MP. This attack was shocking in a number of ways.

Cox was the first female MP in Britain to be murdered, and on the streets in broad daylight.

There is an increasing level of misogyny in hate crimes. The majority of anti-Muslim hate crimes are against women. Now a female Labour MP has been targeted and killed.

The lack of mainstream media coverage of fascism and terrorism and how the toxic and racist debate on immigration has turned the clocks back decades on race relations is also shocking.

The police are following right-wing extremism as a priority line of inquiry. In many ways Cox’s murder was similar to that of Lee Rigby in 2013. Indeed the charges of murder and possession of a firearm are also similar.

There is a well of evidence that indicates tackling terrorism arising from fascism needs to be taken just as seriously as terrorism from Isis-type currents.

Since 1999 we have seen nail bomb attacks in London by David Copeland, the murder of Mohammed Saleem and bombing of mosques in the West Midlands by Pavlo Lapshyn in 2013 and now the murder of Jo Cox MP.

In 2010 Terrance Gavan, who was linked to the British National Party (BNP), was sentenced to 11 years for possessing the largest cache of explosives and weapons ever by an individual. Gavan lived in Batley.

Cox’s constituency of Batley and Spen has a history of fascist elements, with support for the BNP along with English Defence League (EDL) and Britain First demonstrations. But it also has a history of defeating fascism with its diversity and unity.

In Europe there were the Anders Breivik attacks in Norway in 2011. And two weeks ago a French far-right activist was detained in Ukraine on suspicion of planning terrorist attacks on mosques and synagogues in France during Euro 2016.

Yet Isis-type terrorist attacks create far more hysteria than attacks by fascist terrorists. Why the double standards?

The answer lies in the government’s austerity agenda. While it decimates living standards, creating a heightened fear of Muslims, immigrants and refugees is a convenient distraction and scapegoat.

An equivalent campaign against the Islamophobia and racist hate of far-right groups would expose their own use of similar rhetoric to shore up their political position and deflect hostility away from the impact of attacks on living standards.

Alongside a campaign against fascism, racism and hatred, the centre left and left must stand for improving the living standards of a population badly hit by austerity.

Jo Cox’s husband Brendan wrote that mainstream politicians “in most cases are clueless on how to deal with the public debate. Petrified by the rise of the populists, they try to neuter them by taking their ground and aping their rhetoric. Far from closing down the debates, these steps legitimise their views, reinforce their frames and pull the debate further to the extremes (Sarkozy and the continuing rise of Front National is a case in point).”

He’s right. This toxic racist discussion on immigration must stop now. Campaigners are reporting some of the most openly racist statements on the doorstep that were thought to be confined to the dustbin of history. Hate crimes are up, as is racist vitriol.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis has rightly pointed out that Nigel Farage’s “Breaking Point” poster must be investigated for inciting racial hatred.

Britain First should also be investigated for its “Kill them all” slogans on demonstrations and its campaign of hate against Britain’s mosques.

In the darkness we must show light. Let us never forget Jo Cox who in her maiden speech said: “Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration, be it of Irish Catholics across the constituency or of Muslims from Gujarat in India or from Pakistan, principally from Kashmir.

“While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”

As we mark Refugee Week this week, let us also remember her words supporting Alf Dubs’s parliamentary amendments on taking child refugees: “Those children have been exposed to things no child should ever witness and I know I would risk life and limb to get my two precious babies out of that hellhole.” Let us reach out the hand of humanity and do more to help refugees.

Sabby Dhalu is Unite Against Fascism joint secretary.

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