First off: Gary Lineker was absolutely right to say what he did about the language used in the Home Office video on government policy on migrants crossing the Channel in small boats. Given the distortions circulating in right-wing media, THIS is what Gary Lineker actually said in his Tweet:
“This is an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used in Germany in the ’30s.”
People who point out that the language being used by the government has common characteristics to the language used by fascists, in their vile dehumanisation of vulnerable people, should not be threatened. Instead, those who use such rhetoric just need to stop using it.
Especially as – despite what Home Secretary Braverman said about the UK being “overwhelmed” – there is NOT a “huge influx.” As Left Unity has said: “Britain is not and has never been destroyed by the ‘invasion’ of ‘aliens’, despite the arrival of groups of migrants being the object of such scary propaganda.”
To get the truth about migration, here’s a useful link: https://leftunity.org/…/03/migration-truth-kit-lu-2023.pdf
What Gary Lineker went on to say was also FACTUALLY correct: the UK takes far FEWER refugees than other European countries. Facts are important in emotive situations like this. Which is precisely why this hard-right Tory government reacts by simply calling for Lineker’s head: because they don’t want anything to weaken their right-wing populist politics.
Further proof that the Tories want to ignore FACTS is provided by Sunak’s ridiculous comment that, for British people, the biggest problem that needs to be solved is the arrival of refugees. Try telling that to the MILLIONS dependent on foodbanks, living in fuel poverty or trying to get treatment in an NHS being deliberately under-funded & understaffed in order to prepare the way for its complete privatisation – ALL as a direct result, not of refugees, but of Tory action/inaction. Something pointed out recently by Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the PCS.
The Tories want to make refugees the ‘biggest’ problem for 2 main reasons: (1) Whipping up fear/hatred of refugees goes down well with their hard-right/far-right political base; (2) If people get fixated on refugees, then the Tories don’t have to fix the economic and social misery their deliberately-chosen policies is imposing on millions of people. IT’S CALLED…DISTRACTION!! They are cynically dehumanising others, just so they can distract attention from their failed economic & social policies. And they are also playing a very dangerous game by pandering to the xenophobia being whipped up by the UK’s small but nasty fascist groups.
Historically, it IS both fair & accurate to describe the government’s language as redolent of the language used by the Nazis – & by the right-wing media who backed them by ‘sharing’ their speeches during the 1930s. As a result, Gary Lineker’s comments have been supported, among others, by Tanja Bueltmann – a professor originally from Germany, where people are very conscious of how the road to the death camps began with…language targeted against minority ‘others.’ https://twitter.com/TanjaBueltmann
As she said: “I have been taught about it all my life—and that it needs to be called out and rejected. It’s a duty to do so, in fact.” Whilst Gary Lineker was NOT saying that the Tories are like the Nazis, or have similar aims, it is nonetheless important to know that the early roots of what the Nazis did lay in the ‘othering’ and dehumanisation of vulnerable and minority groups, using language similar to that being used today by hard-right Tories – and by neo-fascist groups like Britain First & Patriotic Alternative – in relation to refugees. Recent far right riots, in Liverpool & elsewhere, have shown how Tory hate-language is creating & fuelling a dangerous situation.
As Professor Bueltmann said: “We are seeing similar mechanisms of the populist playbook being employed…That is why it is right to call this out and why it is appropriate to make reference to historical developments where not dissimilar techniques eventually fuelled a horrific ideology that led to mass murder. What is history for if not to look back and use the knowledge we have to comment on current events?”
Migration has always been a part of human history – and people migrate for all sorts of reasons. Right now, many of today’s refugees are fleeing the impact of the actions & policies of developed countries like the US & the UK. The illegal wars inflicted on Afghanistan & Iraq have led to economic collapse and civil wars. While, in the Global South, the Climate Emergency is forcing many to leave their countries because of rising sea levels & desertification -and the resulting food shortages.
Two things people in the UK can do right now, to push back against all of this, is to build support for two up-coming demonstrations:
(1) The ‘Resist Racism’ protests that will be taking place in London – and in Glasgow & Cardiff – on Saturday 18 March:
#ResistRacism @AntiRacismDay @The_TUC
Details of transport can be found here: https://standuptoracism.org.uk/transport-to-the-resistracism-demonstrations-18th-march/
(2) Extinction Rebellion’s ‘The Big One’ rally on Friday 21 April, in London: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/the-big-one/
As XR says: “Unite to Survive!”
Allan Todd is a climate and anti-fascist activist; a member of Left Unity’s National Council; and author of Ecosocialism Not Extinction (Resistance Books), Revolutions 1789-1917 (CUP), Trotsky: The Passionate Revolutionary (Pen & Sword), and the forthcoming Che Guevara: The Romantic Revolutionary
Left Unity is active in movements and campaigns across the left, working to create an alternative to the main political parties.
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