We are witnessing a frightening new upsurge in fascist activity in the recent period – declaring itself in Telford with a series of mobilisations by Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley Lennon) and now, taking a further violent turn in Merseyside, spearheaded by a fascist outfit called Patriotic Alternative with other events planned in Newquay and Rotherham. The theme is a toxic cocktail of anti-migrant, concern about sexual harassment especially of young people and homelessness. Mostly focussing on migrants and refugees in hotels it fits neatly into the Government’s Rwanda Plan; “look what happens if we put people in hotels – we have to get them out of the country for the sake of good community relations”.
How do the elements of the cocktail work together?
There is a huge problem of sexual harassment, rape and sexual predatory behaviour not being dealt with. Victims/survivors are not believed and only a tiny fraction of reported cases are successfully prosecuted. This is a problem across the piece not about immigration. A tiny corner of the problem is grooming gangs and a slice of these are ‘foreigners’. And migrants are more likely to be targets for sexual abuse and trafficking than the rest of the population. No, this is a failure of policing and is likely to get worse precisely because the lack of effective action leads to people being less likely to report incidents and so on in a vicious circle, not helped of course, by predator police officers.
This follows a historical pattern. Every time a new group of migrants come into the country there is campaign stirred up about them being sexual predators, going right back to the 19th century against Jews.
Shelter, having a home, is a human right for everyone regardless of your nationality, Homeless is not being caused by immigration. The underlying problem is that property is not providing homes but is used for commercial gain and profits. This is manifested in things like impossible rent levels and places being left deliberately empty. These can be combated through things like rent caps, bringing properties into public ownership and building council houses. Need Not Greed. And what can make this happen? Unity of the working class not the divisions that the Government and the fascists are creating.
A twist to this was a demonstration last Saturday against Drag Queen Story Hour at Tate Britain art gallery in London last Saturday. About 30 came to this demonstration again put on by Patriotic Alternative and were opposed by about 100 anti-fascists from Stand Up To Racism and other trans and LGBTQ+ activists. The Drag Queen Story Hour involves drag queens reading stories, some having positive LGBTQ+ characters. For the demonstrators this was “sexualising our children” and somehow, therefore, akin to paedophilia or something like that. If dressing up is sexualising children, then goodness, it started in the first few weeks a child’s life, what with pinks and blues, trousers and dresses.
The left and all progressive forces need to work together against the fascists – both at the level of stopping PA and similar organisations actually spreading their poison, but also at the level of the community – challenging the cocktail of emotional as well as intellectual mis-connections and building solidarity in our communities against the false unity around the flags of race and nation, campaigning for the criminal justice system to address the real problems of sexual harassment and for decent housing for all, for LGBTQ+ rights and for migrants rights.
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