Belfast – Bristol: Same Struggle - Same Enemy

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 4, May/June 1980

‘It was like a scene from Belfast without the bombs' (Daily Mail 3 April)

‘But the youngsters feel they have little to lose, even if they do get caught. Respect for authority, represented by the institutions of white society — particularly the police — is at rock bottom. These people have virtually no stake in the community, do suffer continual police suspicion about their activities, and are sufficiently discriminated against, both at work and leisure, to feel trapped by their black skins.... In some ways there are parallels with Ulster, where also few listened until it was too late, and where also there has grown up a generation of alienated youngsters within a minority population.' (Observer 6/4/80)

‘These are things that we have regarded with horror when they happen in Ulster. We never dreamed that in the England of 1980 we could have ‘no-go' areas like those of Londonderry. It must never, never happen again.’ (Sun 5/4/80)

Rarely has there been such a collective letting of cats out of bags by the ruling class. For one brief instant the uprising in St Pauls shook the truth from them—that what happened in St Pauls had no better parallel than the struggle in Ireland.

What a wonderful admission. For the Black people of Britain know very well what happened in St Pauls — an uprising of the racially oppressed against their enemy —the British State, its racist police force and the symbols of wealth and power — banks, post offices and government offices. Black people and all anti-imperialists in Britain felt a surge of joy at the defeat of the police in Bristol. And now the ruling class tells us that what happened in St Paul's is like ... what is happening in Ireland, ‘like a scene from Belfast', has 'parallels with Ulster' etc, etc.

You must pardon us if we smile. Your panic has driven you to drop a danger. For ten years you have told us that the struggle in Ireland is a terrorist struggle, waged by gangsters, psychopaths, criminals and assorted baby-eaters; that it is not a political struggle and that those who fight are not driven by political ends but criminal ones. Now — by accident — you come close to telling us the truth: that the struggle of black people terrifies you precisely because like the Irish struggle it is waged by the oppressed against the rich and powerful and first and foremost against the protector of the rich and powerful —the British imperialist state.

The instincts of the British ruling class rarely lead them astray. After all, they have been perfected over centuries of plunder and exploitation. Their instinctive and panic stricken connection between the Irish struggle and the black struggle is well justified. There are more than the superficial 'parallels' and 'similarities' the ruling class noticed. The reality is that the two struggles are one because they have one and the same goal—the overthrow of the British imperialist state.

Irish people, and black people know the reality of British imperialism. They have no illusions in British democracy — for them it has always meant the same: high unemployment, the worst schools, the worst homes and constant and repeated harassment, torture and brutality at the hands of the British state. What difference that in Ireland it is the khaki-clad terrorists of the British army who do the dirty work, while in St Paul's, Chapeltown, Moss-Side and Hornsey it is the thugs in blue?

The Irish people have fought British imperialism for generations. The present phase of the struggle began as a movement for civil rights. When the nationalist population fought back against the discrimination they suffered in housing, employment and social services, that struggle met the full might of the sectarian police force of the 6-county statelet. When that force proved inadequate to the task of bludgeoning the nationalist population to its knees, then the British state intervened openly and directly by sending in its troops.

From that time the struggle became an open anti-imperialist war led by the IRA with the aim of driving British imperialism out of Ireland as the pre-condition for achieving the demands and aspirations of the Irish people. The whole armed might of the British state has failed to defeat the IRA. Far from it, the IRA has grown in strength and support and has literally fought British imperialism to a standstill in the face of an unprecedented campaign of terror and torture by the British state.

No wonder the uprising in St Paul's has terrified the ruling class. For now they have cause for nightmares, not only about being defeated and being driven out of Ireland, but also about a growing revolutionary struggle led by black people here in the heart of the monster itself.

Let them fear well! For they have created a section of the working class in Britain whose racial oppression means that they have nothing to lose. The struggle of the black people as has most recently been shown by St Pauls will inevitably have the same anti-imperialist character as the Irish struggle.

Because they face a common enemy — the British state — the black people in Britain and the Irish people in Ireland will inevitably extend their hands in friendship and unity in struggle. The IRA has already recognised this fact:

‘Among the black minorities in England there is a kind of parallel repression in the way that the police repress them. I am sure there would be sympathy there for us' (An Phoblacht)

And the black vanguard in Britain has also recognised this fact and has been active in urging support for the struggle of the Irish people. Thus the Asian Youth Movement Bradford calls unequivocally for 'Victory to the IRA'.

This is the path forward that makes the ruling class tremble. These two struggles united — the Irish struggle to defeat British imperialism in Ireland and the revolutionary struggle led by black people to plunge the sword into its very heart here in Britain.

Let the ruling class tremble for the recognition of the unity of the struggle is spreading. It was summed up by a black youth in St Pauls. He said:

'All the oppressed and sufferers are IRA'.

From Bristol to Belfast the message is clear: Smash the British State!

Maxine Williams


In Scotland a 25 year old man was imprisoned for 6 months after having been charged with a breach of the peace. His offence? He had too openly displayed his joy at the demise of Lord Mountbatten by banging on the roof of a bus and singing: ‘Ee aye addio Uncle Dickie's dead'.

Sherriff Archibald Bell, sentencing him to 6 months said:

'The provocative nature of the utterances attributed to you might in other circumstances have had more serious consequences.'

A man with an Irish name decided to go and watch the proceeding at the Old Bailey. He was unaware that on that day the appeal of the people who were framed for the Woolwich and Guildford pub bombings was being heard.

Seeing those in the queue for the courtroom undergoing body searches and being asked to produce documents he became afraid that his Irish name would mark him out for special treatment and therefore decided to go and watch a different trial. The police then arrested both him and his two friends under the PTA.

The Asian Youth Movement, Bradford organised a national meeting of black groups and individuals to discuss the Black Freedom March. A plain blue van was stationed outside the hall and used to photograph the delegates attending the meeting. When the occupants of the van were challenged no less than 15 police cars arrived, making it clear that the whole affair was a political spying operation by the police.


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