• theleftberlin

The “Drowned and the Saved”

Why Migrant & Refugee Lives Matter in the UK


by Floyd Codlin

Refugees crossing the Mediterranean, Photo: Mstyslav Chernov / cropped from original / licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

As racist politicians attempt to fan the flames of prejudice and hatred, refugees need our complete solidarity, argues Floyd Codlin.


Over the last few months, Nigel Farage, the leader of the racist Brexit Party, has been a one-man border patrol, up and down the coast of Southern England, taking photos and videos of flimsy rubber dinghies coming into shore with refugees. It’s then been thrown like gobbets of red raw, meat to his eager atavistic, 3rd Reich wannabe mob on social media.


The majority of UK citizens might not be racist, but its institutions most certainly are, as BLM, Diane Abbot, Dawn Butler, the black Met Police inspector, the 20,000+ black youths stopped and searched over last four months for example, can testify to. As a further illustration, because of other safer routes being closed off, a 16 year old, Sudanese boy drowned on August 19th 2020, in the channel. The news was greeted with taunts and jeers by racists online.


Furthermore in Kent, someone who took the language of hostility to its logical conclusion beat up a refugee. Nathalie Elphicke condemned the attack and Farage claimed to express sympathy for the Sudanese boy. But we are not taken in as this is the logic of their politics.


The Tory Home Secretary, Julia Hartley-Brewer, Brendan O’Neil, Tom Slater and Paul ‘Blood and Soil’ Embery all decided they wanted a piece of the grifting, racist publicity pie. Once again refugees and migrants are being used as canon fodder by the above so as to rescue the Tory party from its role in the coming recession, the mishandling of the pandemic, and the exam fiasco.


Mainstream broadcasters such as Sky and BBC news reporters on boats have blandly filmed refugees bailing out their sinking dinghies without offering any sort of help. Many of those in the boats are fleeing Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Sudan, etc., countries of which British imperialism has got a historically bloody record and which it continues to play a role in destabilising.  What does it say about their terror and fear of imperialism abroad, and the terrible conditions they must have lived under - that making the long, dangerous journey here to the land of the “hostile environment” is preferable.


Some points to bear in mind:


1 The UK takes in only 0.2% of refugees, and the UK is the 5th wealthiest country in the world

2 There are thousands of unused empty houses in London alone, it is simply not true that “we cannot take them all in”

3 Nor is it true that they’re “here to steal our jobs and benefits”, given migrants and refugees are not allowed to work or study until their claims have been assessed

4 They are given per person/family (dependent upon whether they are single or not) a subsistence benefit of between £35-£44 per week


Workers have no country, indeed they have a world to win. As anti-racists and ant-fascists we stand unequivocally with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, there is no distinction to be made if no human is illegal. For us our battle cry is and shall ever be “all migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are welcome here”.


In demanding the closure of ALL detention centres we also demand the end of immigration controls and the end to scapegoating of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. We mourn all of those who’ve drowned as a result of Bigoted Britain and fortress Europe and we hold out our arms in welcome to those who have been saved.

Trotsky said on Aug 7th 1920,

“the British Socialist who fails to support by all possible means the uprisings in Ireland, Egypt and India against the London plutocracy – such a socialist deserves to be branded with infamy, if not with a bullet”

This article first appeared on the Counterfire Website. Reproduced with the author's permission.