Anti-immigration election campaigning, extremism and the need to fight back

Anti-immigration election campaigning, extremism and the need to fight back

Fortnightly Bulletin

Written by: IRR News Team

5 – 19 March 2024

Over the last weeks, we have witnessed stronger and extreme anti-immigration policies mooted across Europe. In Portugal the far-right Chega party distributed leaflets campaigning against ‘uncontrolled Islamic Immigration’ in the lead up to its general election; Finland passed temporary legislation to allow border guards to block asylum seekers crossing from Russia; and both Germany and the European Commission are pushing for more ‘offshoring’ of asylum seekers. All this as the UK sees significant actions against the government’s controversial flagship Rwanda scheme.

A week after the union representing civil servants threatened the Home Office with legal action over its Rwanda scheme, the House of Lords again delayed the government’s controversial flagship legislation, proposing 5 amendments to the Bill. But the government is determined to push through the legislation which is a key component of its ‘stop the boats’ narrative. As the campaigning for the 2024 election hots up anti-immigration rhetoric will only increase, and, sadly, with no moral high ground from opposition parties. Labour announced its hard-line approach to immigration with a 1,000-strong ‘returns and enforcement unit’. Our campaigns and fights have to hot up too.

A fight that is all the more important as, this week’s calendar reveals the intensification of anti-Palestinian racism; with a new definition of extremism in the teeth of warnings from counter-terror experts, former home secretaries and archbishops about not politicising the issue; a large police mobilisation against a small pro-Palestine demo at Battersea power station which had finished by the time the vans arrived; the arrest of Socialist Labour group members on racial harassment charges for hissing at a Newham councillor; and, reportedly, a warning to civil servants by HMRC that donating to Medical Aid for Palestinians is ‘contrary to civil service values’. Meanwhile, a High Court case revealed that every single visa application from Gaza since 7 October has been refused.

We live in decidedly hardening times. And hence it is with great sadness that we report of the sudden death of one of Europe’s staunchest anti-racist campaigners, our friend Biplab Basu in Berlin on 14 March, aged 72. Biplab and his (late) wife Anjuli Gupta Basu, arrived in Berlin in the 1970s from West Bengal and set up the Anti-Racist Initiative. Biplab went on to co-found the now highly influential organisation Reachout, campaigning against police, right-wing and racist violence. His passing is a great loss to the movement for justice.

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.