Newcastle: standing up to racism?

sutr newcastle

On 17 February, some 600 fascists led by Veterans against Terrorism (VAT) marched through Newcastle city centre. While Newcastle has been a frequent venue for such racist demonstrations over the years, this occasion saw the smallest mobilisation ever of anti-fascist forces, and one which was dominated by reactionary Labour Party politics.

The fascists paraded under a plethora of banners: Football Lads Alliance, People’s Charter,  Gays Against Extremism, Multiracial Alliance Tackling Extremism and Mothers Against Radical Islam And Sharia, mostly fronts for the English Defence League (EDL).

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Tyneside asylum seekers fight overcrowding

Victory! Following public pressure from the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum (MAJF) including FRFI supporters, Newcastle City Council has begun to take legal enforcement action against private housing and construction company JOMAST for breaking overcrowding regulations under section 139 of the Housing Act 2004. Hiding behind outdated housing law, JOMAST expect unrelated same sex adults to share bedrooms and cram multiple families into flats and hostels. Months of consistent protests, collecting testimonies and documenting asylum housing conditions have begun to yield results: several JOMAST residents have now been given their own bedroom after pressure from the campaign led to properties being inspected by Newcastle city council. This victory shows that asylum seekers and their supporters can organise to improve housing conditions.

The Home Office has contracted out the provision of housing for asylum seekers to the notorious G4S, which in turn has subcontracted private company JOMAST in the north east. JOMAST is making a fortune for housing people in run down, overcrowded accommodation. Newcastle City Council passed a policy against forced bedroom sharing in March 2017 but JOMAST ignored this. In response, MAJF rallied at the council in June to highlight the continued practice and demand the policy be enforced. Cabinet member Councillor Kilgour committed the council to 'inspect and if necessary take appropriate action in cases of forced room sharing against the wishes of the occupants'. Taking up this commitment, MAJF has knocked on doors and leafleted drop-in centres and has supported scores of residents to complain, leading to several victories. The campaign is calling on other councils to take similar action.

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Fighting racism in Newcastle

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Far from being a city of sanctuary as the Newcastle Labour council likes to claim, it is a city where

  • immigration raids regularly take place in predominantly migrant-owned businesses, targeting migrant workers with irregular immigration status;

  • asylum seekers frequently have their front doors kicked in during the early hours of the morning to be bundled into immigration vans and then imprisoned or deported;

  • the same asylum seekers are forced to live in privatised, severely overcrowded housing, with leaking ceilings, broken boilers and cookers and bed bug infestation, and are often tagged and put on curfew by the Home Office.

However, this repression has bred resistance, and migrants, asylum seekers and other working class people in Newcastle have joined forces to fight back. They face not just state racism, but the forces of the opportunist left, which in the guise of the SWP censors the views of migrants and seeks to restrict the fight against racism to a shouting match with the EDL.

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North East Events

Contact North East FRFI

078 5834 6276
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North East Events coming up..

We have street actions and political educational meetings in Newcastle every week.

For more information on events in the North East you can also join the FRFI North East e-mail list and the mailing lists of campaigns we are involved in on the following pages:

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Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! North East
Tyneside Community Action Against Racism
Palestine Action Group
Viva Cuba! Rock Around The Blockade

Smash the Bedroom Tax - Mark Moncada Live @ RED, 25/09/13

Save Newcastle Libraries 5 Dec 2012

Solidarity protest for Palestine, Newcastle 8 Jan 2011

Victory to the Intifada - Mark Moncada