Stand up to racism and fascism this Saturday

The TUC is giving its full backing to the March 22 demo against racism and fascism.

Mohammed Taj is president of the TUC

The TUC is giving its full backing to the March 22 demo against racism and fascism.

The political climate in Britain and elsewhere is increasingly toxic. As the economic crisis is ongoing for the overwhelming majority of the population we have seen the growth of all sorts of reactionary prejudices, the scapegoating of immigrants for the crisis, a rise in the far-right and fascists and a growing tide of hostility to Muslims.

There is a long tradition in Britain of politicians harking back to a make-believe era when there were no ethnic minorities and no immigrants. The truth is that there have been successive waves of immigrants to this country who have all enriched it both economically and culturally.

This goes back to the Jews fleeing persecution, the Huguenots seeking freedom and the Irish fleeing starvation. All have made a huge contribution to British society.

This is true right up to the present day, with migrants from the Caribbean being followed by others from the subcontinent and Eastern European immigrants. They come for work, for more opportunity and to support themselves and their families. It is a complete myth they come here for benefits. In reality, if the level of benefits was the attraction, there are many other countries in Europe with far higher levels of social security than Britain.

This is not the only myth about immigration. The government has been suppressing its own report on the impact of migration because it does not support the falsehoods that have become stock-in-trade for so many politicians. Immigrants provide a net benefit to the whole of society – in terms of both prosperity and the impact on government finances. Immigrants create jobs, they don’t take them.

There is growing inequality in Britain. But it is not caused by immigration.

We in the TUC campaign vigorously for better public services, including housing and the NHS. We argue that Britain needs a pay rise. It is the failure to invest in affordable homes, the cuts to public services and the NHS that are lowering the standard of living. It is employers (including the government) who are holding down wages.

These problems have nothing to do with immigration and everything to do with economic and social policies which are failing the bulk of the population.

But rather than confront these problems honestly, we have a sustained campaign to blame immigrants for all these problems. Inevitably this has a spillover effect into a rising hostility to most ethnic minorities in Britain, even to Britons who have been here for generations.

That is why we in the TUC are proud to be supporting the Stand Up Against Racism and Fascism demo this Saturday (March 22). We reject scapegoating and the racists who want to divide us. We will stand up to racism and fascism. Come and join us.

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