Kirklees recently shot into the news due to an apparently racist attack on a young refugee. The attacker even got support from Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka ‘Tommy Robinson’). But now, the West Yorkshire borough is fighting back against the far right. And as thousands of people prepared to rally against Yaxley-Lennon and his supporters in London, Labour’s Diane Abbott joined Kirklees anti-racists in sticking two fingers up at people pushing hatred and division.
Increasing racism echoes a toxic media narrative
We’re seeing a rise in racism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia. So let’s remember the tragic death of Jo Cox… Let’s remember much more recently the very horrible incident with the Syrian young person that was tortured – water-boarded. What has this country come to where we are torturing young people because they are a different faith or a different colour?
She then insisted:
There are too many frightening incidents of blatant racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism. And often, it finds an echo in the mainstream press. I have had appalling things tweeted at me, and online. But it echoes a narrative in the mainstream press that says that anybody who wants to stand up for communities is somehow a dangerous extremist.
She also said:
if we can’t show solidarity with each other, then there is no hope.
— Diane Abbott (@HackneyAbbott) December 8, 2018
Thank you @JaneAitchison you have been so incredibly supportive along w/ @HackneyAbbott @NavPMishra @Yasmine_Dar
It is very difficult to speakout about racism but having principled socialist like you standing alongside makes the fight for a equal society more achievable #Kirklees pic.twitter.com/t4nUZSyMgN
— Fazila Loonat #GTTO (@FazilaLoonat_) December 10, 2018
Great turnout #Batley 2 celebrating diversity & community activists standing up to @AntiRacismDay solidarity w/ @FazilaLoonat_ thanks @HackneyAbbott @NavPMishra @Yasmine_Dar @cllrjakhtar @JaneAitchison @PeoplesMomentum @MomentumLeeds @CWUnews @GMB_union @unitetheunion #Yorkshire pic.twitter.com/MxZAQdsJyu
— Cllr Asghar khan (@asgharlab) December 9, 2018
How Tory austerity and rising racism coincided
Abbott also made an important link, highlighting that:
In the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2008, we have seen a steady rise in racism and xenophobia.
And this fits in with what others have insisted: that the recent rise of the far right is largely down to growing frustration in the wake of the 2007/8 capitalist crisis and the neoliberal austerity that has followed. In the UK, for example, the ruling Conservative Party chose to push the failed and extremist dogma of neoliberalism onto the country from 2010 onwards. Studies have since shown that the areas which austerity hit the hardest mirrored the areas that voted Brexit in 2016 – highlighting the anti-establishment frustration that government policies fostered.
As academics have also explained, the far right has been able to exploit the anger of some people hit hard by austerity and direct it into the scapegoating of minority communities – and usually immigrants.
As Abbott pointed out:
In the run-up to the last general election, I had more racist tweets and online racism than all the other women MPs put together.
And she called for solidarity, saying:
people sometimes say to me ‘oh, you must be strong’. No one is that strong – and sometimes it does get to you. So it’s really important that we show solidarity with each other.
We have the power to stop it
As Abbott insisted in Batley, we need to unite and oppose all forms of discrimination. But we also need to take power back from the neoliberal extremists in government. Because fighting racism means fighting the economic injustice and inequality which help to fuel its growth too. And that’s never going to happen under a Conservative-led government.
Featured image via Flickr
- Read more about the far-right from Hate Watch, and support Hope not Hate.
- In honour of Jo Cox, help fund refugee support organisations such as Help Refugees UK or Citizens UK.
- Fight against the root causes of today’s problems – austerity, cuts, exploitation, and inequality – and join a union, activist group, and/or political party to make sure your voice is heard.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?