About 10,000 people took part in the Stand Up to Racism and Fascism protest in London last Saturday. Over 1,000 protested in Glasgow and up to 700 in Cardiff.
The Stand up to racism and fascism event to mark UN anti-racism day was organized by the TUC and Unite Against Fascism. Among the sea of banners there was CARJ (Catholic Association for Racial Justice) migrants groups, Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football, the Woodcraft Folk, the Filipino Domestic Workers Association, trade unions, and Roma and Irish Travelers groups.
Speakers included Pax Christi vice president Bruce Kent, Farooq Farad from Muslim Council of Britain, Labor MPs Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn, and Gloria Mills from Unison.
The overall message was one of solidarity against the racist ferment in the media, with repeated attacks on the promotion of the anti-migrant message of UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
In his address, Bruce Kent described UKIP as an example of “the worst of British political life.” He claimed the party had fed on that same arrogant spirit that made Britain a nuclear power. “It’s a we’re British and don’t want other people here attitude,” said Bruce, who recalled when he had his prostate operation, how he had an Egyptian doctor and African nurse. “It is possible to live together in peace and harmony on this planet.”
The co-coordinator of the Catholic Association for Racial Justice (CARJ) Rosie Bairwal said UKIP doesn’t promote good community relations and are opposed to multiculturalism. “They don’t appreciate the contribution that migrants make to our country. Their damaging narrative is often about demonetization rather than promoting good community relations,” said Rosie, who stressed how important it is that faith communities show support for action like the demonstration.“It is important that faith communities show their support for this demonstration and a strong determination to challenge all forms of racism and discrimination.”
CARJ are concerned about the negative narrative there is around migrants, which it claims is based on fear. “This demonstration is important because it is about the positive contribution that migrants make to our society,” said Rosie, who also criticized the lack of political leadership on the issue. The political debate has been reduced to which party can cut immigration by the largest amount, no party is making out the argument for the positive value of immigration.
Rosie suggested that had Britain not been the recipient of EU migrants from the Eastern European accession countries since 2004 the economic position would be a lot worse now. The positive economic impact of migrants coming to the UK, where they often to not use the public services which their taxes have paid to provide is rarely mentioned.
A study by University College London that looked at the fiscal impact of the migration of recent eastern European migration found that migrants contributed 37% more in taxes than the cost of the public services they consumed.
A research report for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills found that from 2011 the estimated the value to the UK economy of international students at over £14 billion per year.