UK Tory government launches fascistic campaign against asylum seekers

The British government has launched a fascistic campaign against migrants and refugees.

On Tuesday, the first 15 migrants were forced onto the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland Port, Dorset, which is in all essentials a floating prison. The barge is set to stay in the port for at least 18 months. Designed for 222 people, it will house up to 506 asylum seekers in tiny rooms while their claims are considered.

A view of the Bibby Stockholm prison ship, set to hold up to 500 asylum seekers, at Portland Port in Dorset, England, July 21, 2023 [AP Photo/Andrew Matthews]

The conditions onboard the barge—which the Fire Brigades Union has condemned as a fire-risk—were summed up by one of the asylum seekers, an Afghan, whose country was destroyed by the 2001 US-UK-led invasion and 20 years of conflict since.

Speaking to the BBC, he said, “Our room is small, we can’t even put clothes in the closet for one person. It’s like a prison here—the sound of locks and security checks makes it feel like I’m entering Alcatraz. It’s terrible they’re wanting to house 500 people here. My roommate panicked in the middle of the night and felt like he was drowning. There are people among us who have been given heavy drugs for depression by the doctor here.”

The first asylum seekers were sent onboard in a filthy political atmosphere, akin to Nazi Germany, with TV news outlets hosting live coverage from the port and right-wing news media denouncing migrants.

The offensive was led by the Deputy Chairman of the ruling Conservative Party Lee Anderson, who told the rabidly anti-immigrant Daily Express, “If they don’t like barges then they should f**k off back to France.”

The Express reported, “The comment reflects mounting frustration at the way leftwing charities and lawyers are trying to game the system to block any control of the migrant crisis in the UK …It emerged earlier today that the leftwing charity Care4Calais… was involved in trying to stop 500 migrants from being housed on the giant barge, Bibby Stockholm, docked on the south coast.”

The Daily Mail, under a headline, “We’re scared of WATER so you can’t put us on the migrant barge: Leftie lawyers help block transfer of 20 asylum seekers onto Bibby Stockholm,” reported that the transfers of 20 migrants onto the barge were ‘cancelled’ on Monday after legal challenges from representatives of Care4Calais claimed the Home Office had not conducted any suitability screening. The charity’s CEO Steve Smith has since revealed that some of the asylum seekers it supported didn’t board the vessel yesterday due to ‘mental health concerns’, some of which arose from being ‘traumatised by seeing their friends drown at sea’”

Justice Secretary Alexander John Gervase Chalk, KC, welcomed Anderson’s “robust” intervention, claiming he had expressed “the righteous indignation of the British people.” The Prime Minister’s office said the justice secretary was speaking for the government in backing Anderson.

On LBC Radio’s Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Chalk said of the recently established Professional Enablers Taskforce made up of civil servants, law enforcement officers and regulatory bodies, “It’s really intended to massively step up our ability to bring rogue lawyers to account.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman, a sociopath who has declared it her “obsession” and “dream” to deport migrants to Rwanda, took up the theme in  the Daily Mail, threatening, “Crooked immigration lawyers must be rooted out and brought to justice … we know that some are lying to help illegal migrants game the system… The British people want us to put an end to illegal migration—I am determined to crack down on these immoral lawyers and stop the boats.”

The rant concluded with the threat, “These conmen make it far harder to remove people who have no right to be here—and they must face the full force of the law. I want to see the worst offenders in jail and we have the laws in place to bring them to justice.”

In “opposing” Anderson’s statement, Labour’s main gripe was over his use of obscene language. London Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted “Language matters.” But Labour’s immigration policy in office would differ barely a jot from the Tories.

Labour has already declared that in government they would keep the barges in use as detention centres, and other anti-immigration infrastructure. Its policy was outlined by Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed, who said bundling asylum seekers onto barges was “too little too late”. The “buck stops” with the Conservatives, as they had “sat idly by for 13 years while illegal migration has spun out of control. Now, weak as ever, they are setting up a talking shop instead of cracking down on those who abuse our immigration system.”

Anderson himself was a long-time Labour member and councillor for the party. Formerly a miner in the Nottinghamshire coalfield, from which the Thatcher government mounted a mass scabbing operation in the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike with the creation of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers, he was elected for Labour onto Ashfield District Council election in 2015. He quit Labour to join the Tories in 2018, complaining that it had “been taken over by the hard-left” under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

From there he was rapidly elevated into the Tory leadership, earning the nickname the “Red Wall Rottweiler” and winning a former Labour-supporting constituency which backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum, Mansfield, in the 2019 general electionafter another right-wing Labourite, Gloria De Piero, stood down.

Both Anderson (paid £100,000 on top of his MPs salary) and De Piero have presented slots on the right-wing GB News. His vicious attack on asylum seekers has earned him the derogatory nickname, “Pound Shop Powell”, a reference to Enoch Powell, who whipped up racism in the 1960s with his notorious “Rivers of Blood” speech.

On Tuesday, Anderson was a guest on the GB News show of the former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who has campaigned for years for the very policies Anderson is now championing in the Tory Party.

The filthy campaign waged by the Tories, with Labour’s backing, only reveals that the programme and personnel in both parties are interchangeable. The war on refugees is not just an incidental element of their programme but is based on mobilising the most backward elements of society against the most desperate and vulnerable, as the spearhead of an assault against the entire working class.

If the Tories want to make the legal defence by lawyers of migrants a criminal offense, then the criminalisation of anti-racist protests will not be far behind.

The Illegal Migration Bill enabling the removal of refugees to a third country became an Act of Parliament on July 20, on the same day as the  forcing workers to continue working during industrial action in “essential services” became law. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak boasted, “We are getting on with the job and today passed new laws which will play an important part in our efforts to stop the boats, support businesses to grow and allow the public to access essential services in the face of disruption.”

This is the agenda of the ruling class throughout the continent, with governments, including those in Italy and the Netherlands, queuing up to ape Britain’s anti-immigration policies.

The Tories are involved in ongoing discussions to deport—under the Illegal Migration Act—anyone who arrives in a small vessel either to Rwanda or 4,000 miles away to the volcanic rock in the southern Atlantic, the Ascension Islands. Among other “third countries” being lined up as deportation destinations are at least five African states including Niger—a poverty-stricken nation which faces the imminent threat of a catastrophic war with its neighbours!