Racists have scored a victory in Llanelli. The government last week announced that it would not use the town’s Stradey Park Hotel to house asylum seekers.
That comes after a vicious campaign against migrants that culminated in the hotel being set on fire and local politicians being threatened with violence. The decision will be celebrated by those who have been dividing the community, including fascists.
And it sends a message to racists elsewhere that setting up a “Camp Hate” and rallying round it is the way to win.
But the racist victory actually began when local council politicians—and some on the far left—legitimised hotel protests by pointing to alleged “justified concerns”. Talk of “not enough services” and “inappropriate settings” gave the racists vital cover.
Shamefully, some socialists even marched alongside the campaigners to demand that refugees not be housed there. They wrongly believed the protests were not racist. But it was always about racism. It’s no accident that the far right trope of “men of fighting age coming here” was heard so often.
The only way to stop such vile hatred of migrants is to stand up strong and say, “refugees are welcome here”. A very brave minority of people in Llanelli did just that. But most of the labour movement instead sought sanctuary in calls for “unity”—but without mentioning refugees.
Of course, we all want unity, but it can’t be achieved by ignoring racist divisions—we must take these head on. The price of not doing so is that unity becomes an empty slogan. And, while it is good that trade unions today have strong anti‑racist positions, they must be put into practice.
If those words about standing up to racism are merely policy, rather than a call to act, then they are worthless.
A key lesson is that no matter what you think of the suitability of hotels as dispersal centres, or the lack of local services, your starting point must be defending the rights of refugees. Anything other will hand victory to the racists—and make them more confident in the next town they target.
Starmer offers unions nothing
At Labour Party conference last week, Christina McAnea the general secretary of my Unison union, told the Financial Times newspaper, “I don’t think he has been too timid. I think Keir’s got a laser focus on trying to win the next election”. I think she was wrong to give Starmer such backing. He talked about the working class but said nothing about how we’ve suffered the longest cuts in living standards since the Napoleonic Wars.
Although we have seen a revival in strike action, public sector unions have settled for below-inflation pay rises. Where is Labour’s commitment to tax the rich to fund above inflation pay rises? Where are the pledges to fix the recruitment and retention crisis in the NHS? And where is the promise to reverse the 50 percent cuts to council budgets since 2010?
Workers need much more than Starmer’s timid offerings. A future Labour government says it will scrap some of the Tories anti-union laws. Before the 1997 election Tony Blair made similar promises. His government quickly narrowed this down.
Starmer is promising even less—and will ditch even these very limited pledges. His government’s laser focus will be on pandering to the rich.
Your SNP article helped me join the socialists
While reading the article Why I left the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) to join the socialists (Socialist Worker, 11 October) I realised I had a lot of similarities with the people interviewed. Maryam Hally’s thoughts particularly resonated with me, especially the part about becoming “politically homeless” after becoming disillusioned by the SNP.
After finishing the article I made the decision to join the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). I already feel a renewed sense of purpose. Both parties share a commitment to social justice.
But after a lot of research, I believe that the SWP presents a more comprehensive and transformative vision for achieving these goals. Its emphasis on workers’ rights, grassroots organising, and collective action resonates deeply with my belief in the power of solidarity.
Tories put patients at risk with Covid rule
Are the Tories going to let Covid rip through hospitals this winter? They have quietly changed the rules so that health workers can no longer order a free Covid test online, unless they work in a hospice. That means nurses must buy their own tests if they can’t get one from work. And that’s putting patients in danger.
I work on a cancer treatment ward where patients often have weakened immune systems and are very vulnerable to infection. Our rule has always been no coughs or sore throats on the ward. And we’ve sent colleagues home if they started to feel unwell. That’s what you do if you want to keep patients safe.
But the government’s policy is undermining us. And its pushing some NHS bosses to go further. Last week in Shropshire, managers told staff they “should not be testing for Covid” because that could “result in having to remain at home for longer than their symptoms persist”.
That’s a shocking breach of patient trust—and the price we all pay for Tory negligence.
Just a thought…
When law is a cruel joke
I’m sad to see some on the left telling the Palestinian resistance group Hamas that it must abide by international law. Really? Palestinian people must be a bit confused by this concept of “international law”.
When Israel breaks the law by using white phosphorus chemical weapons, nothing is done. When it illegally demolishes Palestinian homes to build settlements, there is no punishment. And where were the international lawyers when fledgling Israel ethnically cleansed an entire population?
International law is not some humanitarian consensus—it is just another part of the imperialist game.
There’s no crime spree
Is there really a new epidemic of violent shoplifting, as much of the media obsessively claim? They talk of organised criminal gangs coming in and grabbing stuff, and then running out. Come on, isn’t the truth that there are now a lot of quite ordinary people that can’t afford the basics—and who are driven to desperate measures?
Rather than clamping down, I’d hold the door open for them.
Put cricket in bad light
In football there’s quite rightly a lot of talk about big money coming from dodgy businessmen and regimes. One would hope the same criticism would be hurled at cricket.
Today I’m listening to Pakistan v India playing in Ahmedabad. Only one thing, apart from an Indian victory, will spoil my day—that the game is being played in the “Narendra Modi Stadium”.
That man, the current prime minister, presided over a massacre of Muslims in Gujarat when chief minister in 2002.
Dr Hassan Ismail