Keir Starmer wants Labour to be a party known for hostility to refugees Picture: Keir Starmer on Flickr

Keir Starmer wants to prove his Labour Party is more trustworthy for the ruling class than the Tories, especially when it comes to overseeing Britain’s racist border regime. Some 2,188 people crossed the English Channel in the first week of September, and Starmer sees the racist reaction to that as an opportunity.

He wants to “bring order to the border” to win back the voters it lost to the Tories in 2019. The Labour leader was set to meet officials from Europol—the European Union’s law enforcement organisation—on Wednesday.

On the agenda was Labour’s proposals to limit Channel crossings by “tackling smuggling gangs”. Starmer will then fly to Montreal, Canada, on Friday. Here he will argue that the left can make headway by further restricting immigration.

One Labour source told The Sunday Times newspaper, “If you want to solve the problem, the thing to do is smash the gangs. Instead, the government focuses on all these noisy issues. It’s constant gimmicks.”

But the real enemy isn’t the smuggling gangs—it’s those that erect borders that keep people out. Smugglers are small-time criminals that rely on border regimes to profit. They can only function because there are limited legal routes into “Fortress Europe” and Britain.

The solution to the deadly ­crossings is to open the borders.

Rishi Sunak’s government has made “stopping the boats” one of its top ­priorities. Despite making refugees’ lives miserable, from trapping them on deadly prison ships and keeping them in camps, the number of ­crossings is still rising. That’s because people fleeing war, climate change, poverty and persecution are desperate to reach safety.

Starmer wants to capitalise on this misery—and make good the Tories’ promises to stop people crossing the Channel. He has pledged to redirect the money for the Tories’ Rwanda deportation scheme to the National Crime Agency and fund a specialist unit to work with cross-border officials.

Labour would also send elite officers to work with border officials of “upstream” counties to disrupt people smuggling. And hire more caseworkers to clear the backlog of pending initial decisions, now at 175,000.

All of this will add credibility to the racist idea that migrants are a “problem” that needs to be managed.  And it opens to door to further attacks on camps and hotels that house refugees.

Starmer says at Labour’s ­conference in October he will set out “hope” for Britain and “reassurance” over Labour’s efforts to reduce the crossings. But this “hope” isn’t in the interest of ordinary people, or those trying to reach safety in Britain.

The Labour leaders’ attempts to out-do the Tories shows how low he will stoop to reach power—and prove to the bosses he is a safe pair of hands.

Join Tory conference fight

The Tories are holding their annual conference in Manchester from Sunday 1 October—and Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) has called a national demonstration against them. The People’s Assembly has also called a protest on the day. Assemble 12 noon, Oxford Road, near Manchester Museum.

On Saturday 21 October SUTR is holding its annual conference, entitled “Resisting the rise of racism and fascism”. Meeting in central London and online, the conference will discuss the Tories’ policies and how anti‑racists are fighting back. It will also discuss against new racist laws affecting migrants, black people, Muslims and Gypsy, Roma and Travellers.

For tickets and full information about the SUTR conference, go to

Scottish protest is a success

SUTR and the Scottish TUC’s anti-racist trade union conference last Saturday saw 50 trade unionists discussing fighting the far right and racism in the workplace. Activists pledged to support the Sheku Bayoh justice campaign and mobilise for another day of action outside a refugee hotel in Erskine on Sunday.


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