Rishi Sunak wants to keep refugees out (Picture: Flickr/ Number 10)

The Tories’ war against migrants drives on. The government this week pushed through its Illegal Migration Bill. The bill stops refugees from claiming asylum if they arrive via the Channel. 

And it intends to speed up the process of removing people to their home country, or to a third country such as Rwanda. Judges have so far blocked the Rwanda plan, but the Tories are pushing another appeal through the courts. They want to play the anti‑immigration card as a appeal to their racist supporters.

Relying on the courts or the House of Lords to stop them is proving a futile. A giant barge, which will be used to imprison some 500 refugees, arrived at Portland, in Dorset, this week. 

The Tories claim the barge is cheaper than housing refugees in hotels—yet the savings amount to less than £10 a day per person. But the barge isn’t about cost—it’s propaganda. The barge is aimed at making refugees feel as unwelcome as possible and keeping them isolated from other people. And, it is there to solidify racist divisions among workers. 

The Labour Party, meanwhile, has proved useless. Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said her party may continue to house refugees waiting for a decision on asylum claims in barges and rundown military barracks. She said Labour wants to see “the backlog cleared” and that it will base its policy around the situation it “inherits” from the Tories.

So Labour wants to “manage” immigration by cutting numbers more efficiently. And by saying so, they play into the idea that immigration is a problem. The racism from the top has led to the protesters in Llanelli, south Wales, trying to block the housing of refugees in a hotel.

But there and elsewhere—including in Dorset—there is opposition to the racists and fascists trying to capitalise on the climate of hate. The Tories and their allies have to put much effort into stirring up racism in order to make the filth stick and to divide people. 

But anti-racist attitudes are the majority. There is an underlying anti-racism that comes from people’s experience—and from generations of campaigning. The trouble is that it doesn’t always feel that way. The way immigration is discussed in the media and by politicians can make people fearful of defending refugees and immigration. 

When given a lead, however, anti-racism can be confidently expressed. The loud minority of bigots must not be allowed to dominate. Otherwise, attacks on refugees, and others, will worsen. Anti-racists have to raise loudly that migrants are welcome—and that the fight against racism is a part of the fight against the Tories.

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