[noborders-brum] ARC strategy document

phunkee at aktivix.org phunkee at aktivix.org
Tue Apr 18 22:02:16 UTC 2006

Quoting Shiar <shiar at riseup.net>:

> phunkee wrote:
> > Hi,
> >
> > Here's a 'strategy document' from Birmingham's Anti-Racist Campaign that
> > I've
> > been asked to pass on.
> >
> Where is it? Nothing is attached I' afraid!
> -- 
> Shiar

Oops looks like this list doesn't accept attachments, so here it is:

How to decide on strategy for ARC?

A few thoughts after the last ARC strategy meeting.
Lets try and shortcut another lengthy meeting by getting some agreements by
email. So responses to this email please.

Government Strategy
I think the main dilemma re deciding on ARC’s way forward is how we read the
government’s strategy towards AS&R.

We seem to have 2 conflicting view points. One that says that the Government is
likely to respond to pressure and grant an amnesty for asylum. This follows the
economic logic of the IPPR report that Kevin has circulated. The other that
says the Government is about to get much tougher on deportations i.e.,
responding to the right wing racist press and, let’s face it, popular opinion
(encouraged by the press). 

The argument forcefully put at the March ARC strategy meeting was that things
are going to get very tough for AS&R and that we needed to prepare for
defensive campaigns to protect peoples’ rights and that we therefore could not
ourselves devote all our resources to a national march or amnesty campaign,
though we all thought this was really important to do—and we might be able to
do this at some point in the future through the actions we now decide to engage

It could be argued that big European business interests now have their pool of
cheap labour within fortress Europe—Poland, Lithuania etc—so the economic
usefulness of further ‘illegal immigration’ (or new asylum seekers who, because
of government policies, have no alternative but to work illegally)—is likely to
be coming to an end. This does not mean that the ‘illegal’ pool of workers
already here is no longer useful to capital. I suspect the fact that they are
illegal is the main economic attraction that has allowed them to stay as they
are subject to super exploitation under slave labour conditions within Fortress
Europe. Neither they nor, importantly, their employers, pay any tax on their
labour and they therefore receive no health and safety benefits.  They are also
difficult to organise because they aren’t legally recognised, as we know. Yet
without this army of illegal labour, our food supply would collapse, our office
floors would not get cleaned, our care homes would be inoperable.

I find it hard to believe that without a massive campaign the Labour party is
really going to concede an amnesty but I would love to be proved wrong. The
Labour Party as the latest Rowntree report on the rise of the far right in
London has described is focussed on winning marginal seats in middle England.
In this context they need to be seen to be tough on immigration however much
they also benefit from the pool of cheap labour underpinning our economy. One
thing is for sure--they are going to clamp down heavily on all new arrivals
with their 9-15 day fast track policies that will effectively boot out the
majority of new arrivals fleeing persecution, repression and poverty. This will
condemn thousands to a very grizzly fate and needs to be an ongoing issue for

ARC Strategy Suggestions
Whichever logic the government follows I believe a central strategy for ARC
should be:
•	to build campaigns that have a primary focus on recruiting new AS&R to our
campaign work 
•	to build strong links with other AS&R campaigns, the trade unions and
progressive forces—in Birmingham and nationally 
•	To build campaigns that politically challenge the right wing agendas that
blame migrants for Britain’s problems and focus on the government policies that
are the real problem 

I think this strategy in the current political environment is a tough nut to
crack but we have made a very good start on this with the socials and the other
activities already organised.

I would argue that we need to build grass roots refugee and asylum seeker
campaigns around the very real issues these communities are facing:
destitution, not being allowed to work, lack of good legal representation,
detention, tagging etc. At the same time politically we should be arguing that
bad housing, poor pay and conditions and rising racism are not the result of
immigration but of government policy. This means, as we have always said in
ARC, building broad based grass root campaigns starting with AS&R and linking
in other progressive forces. This means building from local issues.

I think drawing up a leaflet about what ARC is fighting for and against needs to
be done. Kevin is right that we need to put this under a campaign banner like
Amnesty or several campaign banners.. But we don’t have to do this all at once.
Let’s combine strategising with action. I agreed very strongly with what was
said at the Wednesday meeting re building from the AS&R who are already active
in ARC -Nellie, the Rahimis, Bezhad, Mansur and Mahmoud.

Suggested Actions
What the above were arguing for is regular demonstrations, vigils, street
actions, to mobilise people like the demo we organised outside the home office
in November. I think this is right though I am not sure that Solihull is the
most media useful location and mobilising non AS&R activists weekdays will not
be easy. So maybe we need to alternate demos in Solihull with other

I would argue that a major event of this kind should be the sleep out in refugee
week. We need to seriously build this activity. Publicise it on a much bigger
scale than before try and get support from trade union and other groups. From
this we can then build for other activities. We should develop the
indymedia-discussion activities we have tried for the sleep out before. Maybe
linking with Zirak’s Halabjah play and think about some direct action
afterwards. To do this properly we need to start work on this now.

March on Labour Party conference?
I believe Arash is suggesting that maybe a march to focus on the Labour Party
conference in September is a possibility.  Fine as long as we are sure we have
the resources to do this without detracting from our locally based work. If we
do this we need to be sure we have enough partner organisations to make it a
goer and we need to be aware it’s only worth doing if we have the time and
resources to get round trade union conferences and the like to build support
beforehand. A damp squid march would be worse than no march. My feeling is we
need more discussion on this one but lets get cracking with local stuff now.

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