Morning Star: Cynical attacks on the peace movement are fuelling brazen racism

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https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/cynical-attacks-peace-movement-are-fuelling-brazen-racism

People take part in a Palestine Solidarity Campaign rally outside the Houses of Parliament, London, as MPs debate calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, February 21, 2024

Braverman is continuing her bid to ban peace marches even though the demand for a Gaza ceasefire commands majority support in Britain and indeed right across the world, where Britain and the US stood shamefully isolated this month as the only countries not to support a ceasefire resolution at the UN security council.

Lee Anderson, in the guise of moderating Braverman’s claim (“I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country”) actually took it a step further (“they’ve got control of [Sadiq] Khan… He’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.”)

Leftwingers will be incredulous at the implication that peace demonstrators are Khan’s “mates” — the London mayor is no socialist and enthusiastically joined in the character assassination of Jeremy Corbyn when he led Labour.

But Anderson’s subtext is clear: Palestinians are Muslims (not all are, of course, but nuance is not Anderson’s strong point), people marching for justice for Palestinians must therefore be controlled by Muslims, the big marches in London haven’t been banned, and this must be because its mayor is a Muslim.

This is incendiary stuff. So rattled are British authorities that they have repeatedly misrepresented Palestine solidarity demos: the attempt to ban the huge Armistice Day demo rested on a baseless assertion it posed a threat to the Cenotaph (which the fascist thugs riled up by Braverman’s propaganda actually did).

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/cynical-attacks-peace-movement-are-fuelling-brazen-racism

Continue ReadingMorning Star: Cynical attacks on the peace movement are fuelling brazen racism

Tories’ ‘toxic racism and Islamophobia’ risks fuelling more hate on the streets

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https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/tories-toxic-racism-and-islamophobia-risks-fuelling-more-hate-on-the-streets

Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference, 2024 CPAC, at the National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, February 22, 2024

CAMPAIGNERS have called on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to withdraw the whip from Suella Braverman and Liz Truss, warning that their propagation of “toxic racism and Islamophobia” could fuel far-right hatred on the streets.

The demands came after the Tory whip was removed from Lee Anderson after he made Islamophobic comments to GB News about London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Mr Sunak removed the whip, but only after Mr Anderson failed to apologise for his comments.

Mr Anderson’s comments were soon followed by an article in the Daily Telegraph by former home secretary Suella Braverman.

She wrote: “The Islamists, the extremists and the anti-semites are in charge.”

Across the Atlantic, former Prime Minister Liz Truss attempted to drum up new support by attending the far-right Conservative Political Action Conference.

While a guest on War Room, the podcast of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, she said that “a radical Islamic party” could win the Rochdale by-election.

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/tories-toxic-racism-and-islamophobia-risks-fuelling-more-hate-on-the-streets

Continue ReadingTories’ ‘toxic racism and Islamophobia’ risks fuelling more hate on the streets

When far-right ideas become mainstream, it’s people of colour who suffer

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Original article by Shabna Begum republished from Open Democracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.

The Tories and Labour competing over hardline immigration policies only helps to mainstream far-right ideas

Rishi Sunak conducts a press conference in December 2023  | James Manning (WPA Pool)/Getty Images

Standing at a lectern with the familiar slogan, “STOP THE BOATS”, Rishi Sunak evoked the “will of the people” as the so-called Rwanda Bill made its fractious passage through the Commons last week.

The prime minister’s summoning of “the people” to push through an inhumane and unpopular policy smacks of the misuse of populism that we have come to associate with this government. The insistence that stopping people seeking asylum is “an urgent national issue” deliberately ignores that the priority issues for the British public remain the cost of living and the NHS.

We have seen both main political parties eagerly trading punches for the prize of who can appear most punitive on blocking people seeking asylum. Not only does this stale consensus manufacture a sense of crisis that is a distortion of public opinion, but it also pretends it has nothing to do with racism. And yet whether it’s warning about a “hurricane” or “invasion” of migrants and the failures of multiculturalism, or condemning Britain’s “immigration dependency”, the messaging relies on innuendo and euphemism that stoke racial tensions.

The Runnymede Trust, where I am the interim co-CEO, has today published a report warning of the dangers of this rotten politics that helps mainstream far-right, racist political ideas. Political debate on immigration, based on racialised ideas of who is welcome and who belongs, has become the norm. Whether directly or indirectly, historic and contemporary migration policies are predicated on the exclusion of people of colour. As exemplified by the Windrush scandal, this cheap politics has a high cost – and it is people of colour, regardless of their citizenship status, who bear the ugly consequences.

These toxic anti-migrant policies are coupled with a sustained assault on our democratic infrastructure. In 2022, the government passed the Elections Act, which made it a requirement that voters present ID at polling stations. There was strong opposition about the impact on people of colour. The first UK elections to use them – the May 2023 local elections – confirmed these fears. The Electoral Commission reported about 14,000 people were turned away, and that people of colour and disabled people were most likely to be impacted. The commission predicts 800,000 people could be blocked from voting at the next general election – an incredible price to pay when there were just six cases of voter fraud in 2019.

And then of course there’s attacks on the right to protest. Last year’s Public Order Act introduced new and expanded stop and search powers in relation to protest-related ‘offences’. The United Nations Human Rights Commissioner was unequivocal that these powers were “disproportionate criminal sanctions on people organising or taking part in peaceful protests”. The Runnymede Trust, alongside many others, opposed the law, highlighting increased police powers would, as with all stop and search powers, be disproportionately used against people of colour, particularly Black men.

It’s not just legislation, but also through rhetoric that politicians have persistently attacked the right to protest. Indeed, former home secretary Suella Braverman labelled pro-Palestine marches “hate marches” and compared them with wicked vexation to Black Lives Matter protests – both causes which have high levels of support among communities of colour.

And dare I even mention the ‘culture war’ and the injuries it has inflicted on the strength of civil society? In recent years we have seen the vilification of organisations across the arts, heritage, charity sector and our higher education spaces. The targets have often been those that have dared to embark on progressive racial justice work, who have been demonised with the absurd inversion of the term ‘woke’.

Whether it is through stacking boards with hand-picked ideologues, threatening funding sources, or personalised attacks on individuals, the government has led and encouraged unprecedented attacks on civil society institutions and created a chilling culture of fear, intimidation and self-censorship.

The fact it is the likes of Braverman and her replacement James Cleverly – ministers of colour – who have designed and executed these policies, shows diversity at the top does not protect against racist impact, nor does it mean people in those positions won’t have divergent or indeed opposing political interests to those with whom they may share some points of affinity.

The politics of representation may prioritise superficial visibility, but we mustn’t forget people in positions of power have always designed and inflicted policies that have harmed those they are deemed to share some interest with.

As we prepare for the 2024 general election, we must act to stop the rot of our democracy. Pandering to far-right politics by creating a crisis around small boats and invoking the “will of the people” to implement punitive and racist policies while ignoring the needs of the very people they invoke is unacceptable. On every count, it is people of colour that lose.

Original article by Shabna Begum republished from Open Democracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.

Continue ReadingWhen far-right ideas become mainstream, it’s people of colour who suffer

Supreme court rules Rwanda plan unlawful: a legal expert explains the judgment, and what happens next

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The Rwanda deal was signed when Priti Patel was home secretary. Rwanda visit April 14, 2022. Image: UK Home Office.
The Rwanda deal was signed when Priti Patel was home secretary. Rwanda visit April 14, 2022. Image: UK Home Office.

Before publishing this article unaltered, I draw your attention to these excerpts:

It is important to note that the supreme court’s decision is not a comment on the political viability of the Rwanda plan, or on the concept of offshoring asylum processes generally. The ruling focused only on the legal principle of non-refoulement, and determined that in this respect, Rwanda is not a “safe third country” to send asylum seekers.



This ruling is likely to revive discussion about the UK leaving the European convention on human rights (ECHR), which holds the UK to the non-refoulement obligation. Some Conservatives, including the former home secretary Suella Braverman, have argued that leaving the convention would make it easier to pass stronger immigration laws.

But while handing down the supreme court judgment, Lord Reed emphasised that there are obligations towards asylum seekers that go beyond the ECHR. The duty of non-refoulement is part of many other international conventions, and domestic law as well. In other words, exiting the ECHR would not automatically make the Rwanda plan lawful or easier to implement.

So it would appear that UK is not going to be sending refugees to Rwanda despite Rishi Sunak and Conservative claims that it will.

Supreme court rules Rwanda plan unlawful: a legal expert explains the judgment, and what happens next

Devyani Prabhat, University of Bristol

The UK supreme court has unanimously ruled that the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful.

Upholding an earlier decision by the court of appeal, the supreme court found that asylum seekers sent to Rwanda may be at risk of refoulement – being sent back to a country where they may be persecuted, tortured or killed.

The courts cited extensive evidence from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) that Rwanda does not respect the principle of non-refoulement – a legal obligation. The UNHCR’s evidence questioned the ability of Rwandan authorities to fairly assess asylum claims. It also raised concerns about human rights violations by Rwandan authorities, including not respecting non-refoulement with other asylum seekers.

It is important to note that the supreme court’s decision is not a comment on the political viability of the Rwanda plan, or on the concept of offshoring asylum processes generally. The ruling focused only on the legal principle of non-refoulement, and determined that in this respect, Rwanda is not a “safe third country” to send asylum seekers.

The ruling is another blow to the government’s promise to “stop the boats”. And since the Rwanda plan is at the heart of its new Illegal Migration Act, the government will need to reconsider its asylum policies. This is further complicated by Conservative party infighting and the firing of home secretary Suella Braverman, just two days before the ruling.

How did we get here?

For years, the UK government has been seeking to reduce small boat arrivals to the UK. In April 2022, the UK and Rwanda signed an agreement making it possible for the UK to deport some people seeking asylum in Britain to Rwanda, without their cases being heard in the UK. Instead, they would have their cases decided by Rwandan authorities, to be granted (or rejected) asylum in Rwanda.

While the Rwanda plan specifically was found to be unlawful, the government could, in theory, replicate this in other countries so long as they are considered “safe” for asylum seekers.

The government has not yet sent anyone to Rwanda. The first flight was prevented from taking off by the European court of human rights in June 2022, which said that British courts needed to consider all human rights issues before starting deportations.

A UK high court then decided in December 2022 that the Rwanda plan was lawful.


Catch up on our other coverage of the Rwanda plan:

Why UK court ruled Rwanda isn’t a safe place to send refugees – and what this means for the government’s immigration plans

Rwanda deportations: what is the European Court of Human Rights, and why did it stop the UK flight from taking off?

Suella Braverman is wrong about the UN refugee convention being ‘not fit for purpose’ – here’s why

The government passed a major immigration law last year – so why is it trying to pass another one?

‘A toxic policy with little returns’ – lessons for the UK-Rwanda deal from Australia and the US


Ten asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Sudan and Albania challenged the high court ruling, with the support of the charity Asylum Aid. Their claim was about whether Rwanda meets the legal threshold for being a safe country for asylum seekers.

The court of appeal said it was not and that asylum seekers risked being sent back to their home countries (where they could face persecution), when in fact they may have a good claim for asylum.

The government has since passed the Illegal Migration Act. The law now states that all asylum seekers arriving irregularly (for example, in small boats) must be removed to a safe third country. But now that the Rwanda deal has been ruled unlawful, there are no other countries that have said they would take asylum seekers from the UK.

What happens next?

Former Home Secretary Suella 'Sue-Ellen' Braverman
Former Home Secretary Suella ‘Sue-Ellen’ Braverman continued with the Rwanda policy.

It is clear that the government’s asylum policies will need rethinking. Should another country now be designated as a safe country and different arrangements put in place, these will probably be subject to further legal challenges, including in the European court of human rights and in British courts.

This ruling is likely to revive discussion about the UK leaving the European convention on human rights (ECHR), which holds the UK to the non-refoulement obligation. Some Conservatives, including the former home secretary Suella Braverman, have argued that leaving the convention would make it easier to pass stronger immigration laws.

But while handing down the supreme court judgment, Lord Reed emphasised that there are obligations towards asylum seekers that go beyond the ECHR. The duty of non-refoulement is part of many other international conventions, and domestic law as well. In other words, exiting the ECHR would not automatically make the Rwanda plan lawful or easier to implement.

The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has said that he is working on a new treaty with Rwanda and is prepared to change domestic laws to “do whatever it takes to stop the boats”.

The UK is not the only country to attempt to off-shore asylum processing. Germany and Italy have recently been considering finding new safe third countries to accept asylum seekers as well.

But ensuring these measures comply with human rights obligations is complicated. International law requires states to provide sanctuary to those fleeing persecution or risk to their lives. As this ruling shows, the UK is not going to find an easy way out of these obligations.The Conversation

Devyani Prabhat, Professor of Law, University of Bristol

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Continue ReadingSupreme court rules Rwanda plan unlawful: a legal expert explains the judgment, and what happens next

Hundreds of Thousands Join London March to Demand ‘Cease-Fire Now’ in Gaza

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Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

People take part in the National March for Palestine in London on Saturday November 11, 2023.  (Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)

“In our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians,” demonstrators chanted at Saturday’s march, described as one of the largest political protests in U.K. history.

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of London on Saturday to demand an immediate cease-fire in Gaza as Israeli forces ramped up their aerial and ground assault on the Palestinian enclave’s hospitals and other civilian infrastructure, intensifying the territory’s humanitarian crisis.

Described as one of the largest political demonstrations in U.K. history, the march moved ahead despite criticism from British Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Tory Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who suggested earlier in the week that the protest should have been banned by London police given that it coincided with Armistice Day. Braverman accused the police of giving favorable treatment to “pro-Palestinian mobs.”

“I am horrified by the tone, language, and incitement our own government is using to whip up hatred against its own citizens—citizens who are standing up in solidarity with the besieged and bombed citizens of Gaza,” British Army veteran and march participant Nadia Mitchell wrote for OpenDemocracy. “Personally, I cannot think of a more appropriate day to demand a cease-fire than on the day we remember the mother of all cease-fires, to remember and honor those who sacrificed their lives in pursuit of peace and an end to war.”

Some U.K. lawmakers, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Labour MP John McDonnell, joined Saturday’s march alongside hundreds of thousands of peace activists, union members, and people of all faiths.

“In our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians,” demonstrators chanted.

(Photo: Henry Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images)

Reuters reported that “police said far-right groups opposing the march were present in central London in ‘significant numbers,’ leading to skirmishes with officers near the Cenotaph war memorial, close to the Houses of Parliament and in Westminster.”

“Officers in riot gear sought to contain the far-right protesters, some of whom threw bottles at them, and police vehicles sped around the city to respond to reports of tensions in the streets,” the outlet added.

Participants in the mass demonstration, meanwhile, marched from London’s Hyde Park to the U.S. Embassy to protest the Biden administration’s unwavering military and political support for the Israeli government as the death toll in Gaza continues to climb.

The head of the World Health Organization told the United Nations Security Council on Friday that Israel’s bombing and siege are killing one child on average every 10 minutes in Gaza.

“Nowhere and no one is safe,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Mohammed Abu Mughaisib, deputy medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Gaza, toldThe Washington Post on Saturday that hospitals in northern Gaza have become “a graveyard” due to mounting Israeli attacks.

Medical workers at al-Nasr pediatric hospital were forced to leave babies in incubators behind as they evacuated south, Abu Mughaisib said.

“The medical staff evacuated because of the shelling on the pediatric hospital, and they couldn’t save the babies to take them out, so they left five babies alone in the intensive care on the machines and the ventilators,” he told the newspaper. “That’s the situation: leaving babies now alone on the ventilators.”

(Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)

Saturday’s march was organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Stop the War Coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and other advocacy groups.

“We march to call for an end to the indiscriminate bombing of civilians and a #CeasefireNOW,” PSC director Ben Jamal wrote on social media. “We march in respect of the rights of all to live in freedom and with dignity.”

The demonstration is part of a growing international movement supporting a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip as Western leaders, including Sunak and U.S. President Joe Biden, refuse to demand an end to Israel’s siege and relentless bombing campaign.

Earlier this week, as Israeli forces encircled northern Gaza, Biden told reporters that there is “no possibility” of a cease-fire. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly rejected a proposed five-day cease-fire in exchange for the release of some of the hostages held by Hamas.

(Photo: Henry Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images)

Video footage of Saturday’s march shows the streets of central London packed with demonstrators expressing solidarity with the people of Gaza and demanding an end to Israel’s assault, which began after a deadly Hamas-led attack in southern Israel last month.

An estimated 300,000 people took part in Saturday’s march, according to London authorities.

“This footage shows the true will of the British people,” wrote Ahmed Alnaouq, a London-based Palestinian journalist and co-founder of the nonprofit We Are Not Numbers. “Hundreds of thousands are protesting peacefully despite rounds of vicious smear campaigns and intimidation. “All say in one word: CEASE-FIRE NOW!”

Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Continue ReadingHundreds of Thousands Join London March to Demand ‘Cease-Fire Now’ in Gaza

Morning Star: This Armistice Day, we march for peace

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Palestinians inspect the damage following an Israeli airstrike on the El-Remal aera in Gaza City on October 9, 2023. Israel continued to battle Hamas fighters on October 10 and massed tens of thousands of troops and heavy armour around the Gaza Strip after vowing a massive blow over the Palestinian militants' surprise attack. Photo by Naaman Omar apaimages. licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Palestinians inspect the damage following an Israeli airstrike on the El-Remal aera in Gaza City on October 9, 2023. Israel continued to battle Hamas fighters on October 10 and massed tens of thousands of troops and heavy armour around the Gaza Strip after vowing a massive blow over the Palestinian militants’ surprise attack. Photo by Naaman Omar apaimages. licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/armistice-day-we-march-peace

SUELLA BRAVERMAN may have done one thing for the protesters she has tried so hard to silence — ensure tomorrow’s Armistice Day march for peace has been the talk of the country all week.

Organisers believe the London demo will exceed even the half a million marchers of a fortnight ago. In some cities coach companies report having run out of coaches for hire — not something anti-war activists can remember happening since the biggest march in British history, that against war in Iraq, on February 15 2003.

The Home Secretary blusters that the “public expects” the police to crack down on these marches. Actually all polls show large majorities in favour of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, which is precisely what the march demands.

It is not the Tory government with its stated desire that Israel “win” its genocidal assault on the Palestinians, nor the Labour opposition whose leadership continues to back a war in which tanks besiege hospitals and bombers flatten schools, who speak for public opinion. It is the marchers.

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/armistice-day-we-march-peace

Continue ReadingMorning Star: This Armistice Day, we march for peace

Greens reject Home Secretary’s ‘dangerous’ comments and call for massive turn out for ceasefire in Gaza

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Carla Denyer, Cost of Living Crisis protest, Bristol, 2 April 2022
Carla Denyer, Cost of Living Crisis protest, Bristol, 2 April 2022

Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer urged a massive turnout on tomorrow’s pro-ceasefire march, as “the strongest way to send a clear message that people want a ceasefire and have no time for Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s toxic rhetoric.”

She said

“This is a march to call for a ceasefire – an Armistice – that is urgently needed. The Green Party wants to see the unconditional release of hostages and the opening up of humanitarian aid to allow a dialogue about a long-term solution that ends the occupation and offers peace and security to Palestinians and Israelis alike.

“The Home Secretary’s comments are dangerous, inciting division at a time when we need to bring people together.

“Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday are national moments of reflection and must be respected. The organisers of the pro-ceasefire march have been really clear that they have no intention of disrupting Armistice Day events. Indeed, I would say that Armistice Day is a very appropriate moment for people to be calling for a ceasefire – an armistice – so that civilians in Israel and Gaza can be protected.

“The Gaza ceasefire call has the backing of the United Nations, humanitarian aid agencies, three quarters of the British public, and growing numbers of countries, including Ireland and France. Hundreds of thousands have been out on the streets peacefully calling for an end to violence. 

“The Labour leadership needs to do more than stand on the sidelines. I invite them to throw their full support behind the growing call for a ceasefire.”

Continue ReadingGreens reject Home Secretary’s ‘dangerous’ comments and call for massive turn out for ceasefire in Gaza

Suella Braverman still pushing for crackdown on use of tents by homeless

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Image quoting Suella 'Sue-Ellen' Braverman reads ‘Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati’.
Image quoting Suella ‘Sue-Ellen’ Braverman reads ‘Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati’.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-67344806

Home Secretary Suella Braverman is still pushing for restrictions on the use of tents by rough sleepers in England and Wales.

The proposal was not in the King’s Speech setting out the government’s priorities for the year ahead.

But a source close to Mrs Braverman insisted the idea had not been dropped.

Downing Street said it would not speculate on whether the proposal would eventually be included in the Criminal Justice Bill.

The bill – which was in the King’s Speech – includes proposed new powers to tackle “persistent, nuisance, and organised begging”.

It is designed to replace the 1824 Vagrancy Act, which makes begging and rough sleeping a criminal offence in England and Wales.

One senior government source told the BBC the Criminal Justice Bill had been due to start its journey into law on Wednesday, but its introduction in the Commons had been delayed by discussions about whether to include the tents idea.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-67344806

Continue ReadingSuella Braverman still pushing for crackdown on use of tents by homeless