Letter: Labouring under an illusion

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The Independent Online
Sir: I find it irresponsible that Bernie Grant and Linda Bellos can call for state funding for voluntary repatriation (Letters, 7 October). They are not only conceding that the right was correct all along, but they are throwing in the towel and concluding that it is impossible to fight racism.

Mr Grant and Ms Bellos would be correct to conclude that their lifelong project of getting a party such as Labour to fight racism has failed. But don't drag us down with you.

The reason their project has failed is because the Labour Party has always adapted to or, even worse, promoted racist ideas. In common with all the mainsteam parties, Labour accepts that the British come first, which inevitably means immigrants and black people come second.

Back in 1968, when Kenyan Asians started to come into the country as British citizens, the Labour Party rushed the Commonwealth Act through Parliament within eight days. This removed their British status and hence any right of entry. This can only be seen as a concession to the sentiment behind Enoch Powell's controversial 'rivers of blood' speech at the time.

In 1978, Labour introduced virginity tests at Heathrow for Asian brides entering the country, to check their 'marital status'. In 1992, the Labour Party responded to the Tories' Asylum Bill by producing a 'fairer' one of their own. But the implicit message was the same: that immigrants are somehow responsible for Britain's economic problems.

It is important to recognise that Labour can only concede to racism, because it is so desperate to be seen as a respectable party-in- waiting. In today's climate, that means being more nationalistic, not less. It is only because Mr Grant and Ms Bellos have in the past had illusions in Labour fighting racism that they have reached such a jaded and cynical conclusion today.

Yours faithfully,

MARK BUTLER

National Organiser

Workers Against Racism

London, E1

8 October

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