Wednesday, 13 July 2016


Report by Leo Garib:

I attended a Stand Up to Racism meeting last night in Brixton. It was called to rally support for their demonstration on Saturday and to soothe people with the line, 'Keep Calm and Keep Protesting' because everything will be fine. Stand Up to Racism back Brexit, by the way.

My eyes rolled when I saw the panel - all white except for one young black face who insisted the Brexit vote isn't really so important. In the audience of 80, there were ... 2 black faces. And this is in Brixton!

After hearing that the rise in racist attacks since Brexit is "only a spike" and that racism has always been here, it's really no worse that before, I pointed out that the rise is 400%, according to police, and in reality much more; that Brexit was a racist vote which brought all the intrinsic racism in British society to the top; that Corbyn had disgracefully called for Article 50 to be triggered; that fascism is on the rise in Europe and here; that we should refuse to abandon millions of non-white and migrant workers.

One after the other the panel stood up to condemn me: Brexit was a "howl for justice" from voters, not a racist vote (Momentum member in the audience); I was "too pessimistic" (an ASLEF rep); the EU will stop us re-nationalising the railways and austerity is the most important thing, not fascism (Tosh Macdonald, ASLEF president); "I refuse to believe 73% in Doncaster who voted Brexit are racist" (Macdonald, Aslef) - even though they cheerily voted with Ukip and the BNP; racism has always been here, it's no worse than before (a Polish worker on the panel).

Topping it all was the darling of Momentum, Lambeth Cllr Rachel Heywood (sporting a Momentum badge after standing up to library cuts). She said, Brexit "may be a good thing" because racism has always been here and now we can "lance the boil" by bringing it into the open.

Plenty of chatter from the nearly all-white audience about library cuts, a (very good) speech from a junior doctor about the NHS), and lots of interventions about how really great it was that Corbyn was on the ballot (I groaned inwardly). But not a word about the tradition in Brixton of organising to battle racism.

There were even shouts of dissent when I pointed out it was just down the road that the black community had fought openly National Front police. Louder shouts when I said we don't have to accept Brexit. It seems that in the happy-clappy world of Momentum, Stand up to Racism, the People's Assembly and one or two unions, we just need to 'Keep Calm and Carry On', it's all going to plan

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