After the fascist attack against refugees in Knowsley, Liverpool, you’d expect our toxic home secretary Suella Braverman to play down the fact that it appeared to be intentionally organised by the far-right. Of course, Braverman also isn’t about to acknowledge that she herself enabled the attack.
Tories, cops and the BBC: propping-up fascists in Knowsley
First, Braverman tweeted that:
I condemn the appalling disorder in Knowsley last night. The alleged behaviour of some asylum seekers is never an excuse for violence and intimidation. Thank you to @merseypolice officers for keeping everyone safe.
— Suella Braverman MP (@SuellaBraverman) February 11, 2023
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There are no grounds for Braverman’s claim about refugees’ “behaviour” in Knowsley – except right-wing lies on social media. The Independent reported that chief constable of Merseyside police Serena Kennedy said people had been circulating “rumours and misinformation” on social media about the refugees at the Knowsley hotel. She went further, saying:
Following inquiries, a man in his 20s was arrested on Thursday in another part of the country on suspicion of a public order offence.
A file was submitted to the CPS and on their advice he was released with no further action.
That doesn’t let Kennedy off the hook, though. She previously did the same as Braverman – blaming refugees while intentionally playing down the fact that this was clearly an organised, fascist attack. As the website DuckSoap noted, the BBC did the same, too. DuckSoap wrote that:
In its authorless report the day after (11th February) BBC began by making sure readers were not informed who were the wrongdoers. The sentences below (second and third in the report) were designed to make it ambiguous regarding which group set the van on fire and threw missiles.
“A police van was set on fire after a rally against refugees and a counter-protest by pro-migrant groups took place near the Suites Hotel, Knowsley. Police said missiles were thrown at officers but there were no injuries.”
So, Braverman essentially covered for the far-right by victim-blaming refugees, and the cops did similar. Then the BBC tied the whole, fascist-appeasing mess up with a bow. Not that any of this should be a surprise, given Braverman’s use of racist, far-right language, the BBC‘s historical right-wing coverage of refugees, and the cops being, well, cops.
So, what does Labour do in the face of far-right violence and Tory far-right incitement followed by appeasement? It doubles down on the racist, anti-refugee rhetoric.
Labour: more of the same
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper couldn’t bring herself to show solidarity with the refugees the fascists targeted in Knowsley. Instead, she pointed to social media – not even mentioning Braverman and the Tories’ own far-right rhetoric:
Last night’s violence is reminder of the importance of being vigilant against far right groups using social media to organise violence & threats.
Home Secretary was wrong to dismiss far right activity & extremism this wk. Police must deal with threats wherever they come from
— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) February 11, 2023
Also, Cooper missed out another group of culprits in British society’s continuing racism towards refugees: the corporate media:
Grow a spine pic.twitter.com/NghEDZlQ31
— Paul Blinkhorn (CEO Atlantis Artefact Storage Co) (@R1100GSBlueNose) February 12, 2023
Plus, as people were pointing out, Cooper and her wing of the party have a history of playing into far-right language about refugees. Then, enter deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner to prove that she, too, is willing to sell out in the hope of getting racists and the far-right to vote for her party.
On Good Morning Britain (GMB) on Monday 13 February, Rayner said she agreed with Keir Starmer that the state should tag some asylum seekers – albeit she dressed it up with some sympathetic-sounding platitudes about “supporting” refugees:
Angela Rayner is asked whether she supports the policy of tagging asylum seekers, a policy that Keir Starmer backs. After prevaricating, she eventually says "And yes, if that means we need to tag to see where people are.. then yes we should do that" #GMB pic.twitter.com/8FTe6eireF
— Saul Staniforth (@SaulStaniforth) February 13, 2023
As the Canary previously reported, the Home Office can currently electronically tag refugees, anyway – because Labour introduced the law in 2004. However, the Tories want to expand this law’s use.
Refugees are welcome here. Fascists aren’t.
So, exactly who is standing with refugees? As always, it’s down to communities and groups. For example, anti-fascists are organising ahead of a far-right mobilisation in Cornwall:
💥 ACTION ALERT 💥
REFUGEES WELCOME! CORNWALL IS ANTIFASCIST!
Saturday 25th February, Newquay
Counter the racists! Counter the haters! Counter the far-right!
Following the horrific events in Knowsley, the far-right is mobilising to come to Cornwall. pic.twitter.com/iXistZbwmR
— Cornwall Resists (@resistg7) February 12, 2023
Meanwhile, Care4Calais has been back to Knowsley. The group said in a report that:
The mood was muted. People were naturally disturbed. The most common things we heard were “We just want to be safe” “we haven’t done anything wrong” and “Please, can you help us move to another town?” The saddest thing I heard was a man from Afganistan who said “I wasn’t safe in my country and I’m not safe here.”
However, as the group also noted:
But underlying it all they are trapped in that hotel. They can’t leave. They can’t go to the shop to buy a snack or cigarettes. So many told us they can’t sleep.
The situation is overwhelmingly sad. Every person in that hotel has had to leave their homes and their loved ones behind because of situations that they cannot control and did not ask for. No one does that by choice. We met people from Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Iraq – these are some of the most dangerous places in the world. Their homes have been bombed, villages ransacked. Their children have been persecuted. Some have been horribly tortured. They came here to ask for our help, believing the UK to be a place of sanctuary. And they have been met with hostility and fear.
This is the reality for refugees coming to the UK. Meanwhile, if it walks like a fascist and talks like a fascist – then, it’s probably a fascist, as the organisers of the Knowsley attack clearly were. To say otherwise, while negatively framing refugees, is doing nothing more than appeasing the far-right in the UK.
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