Demonstrators at TUC March and rally
i
Paul Box/TUC

The far-right is mobilising – trade unions must rally to defeat them

Author
Published date
26 Feb 2019
Unions should draw on their heritage of resisting racism and fascism in order to counter the rise of the far-right.

The last few years have seen a spike in racist attacks and far-right activity across the UK.

Far-right activists have been mobilising in our streets, often seeking recruits in communities which have suffered years of neglect, under-funding and de-industrialisation.

But they do not represent working people in Britain.

Trade unionists seek to represent the interests of all workers – whether Black, brown or white – and we will resist the far-right wherever they attempt to sow division and hatred. 

Far-right ideas are seeping into the mainstream

The far-right isn’t just made up of fringe groups and thugs marching on the street.

Their ideas have infiltrated the political mainstream – UKIP and the Tories have become the acceptable face of xenophobia, spurred on by much of the tabloid media, which blames migrants and refugees for Britain’s ills.

The Tories’ ‘Hostile Environment’ has had a devastating impact on people who have made their homes in the UK.

People such as the Windrush Generation, who have been treated shamefully by the government, despite having lived and worked in this country almost their whole lives.

Far-right ideas are spreading across the world

And it’s not just in the UK where the far-right is trying to spread its hateful message.

Far-right ideas are becoming popular across Europe, and in many other parts of the world.

In countries like France, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Greece, the far-right is exploiting the fears of workers who face economic insecurity and an uncertain future.

In Brazil, the far-right government is seeking to roll back the gains made by Black, indigenous and LGBT people.

While in the US, Trump is seeking to divide Americans by scapegoating migrants heading to the US in search of a better life.

It’s not migrants who are to blame

We don’t accept the narrative that it’s migrants, refugees, Eastern Europeans or Muslims who are to blame for Britain’s problems.

We believe responsibility lies with the Tory government, which is slashing public services, not investing in Britain’s housing, and overseeing a brutal austerity programme that is hurting working people.

We believe responsibility lies with big companies, who set up shop in the UK, but are too greedy to pay their fare share.

And we believe bosses must be held to account for constantly seeking out cheap labour, while pitting workers against each other.

The role of trade unions in resisting the far-right

As in the 1930s, when fascism spread across Europe and sought to scapegoat minorities in the face of economic crisis, the far-right must be resisted wherever it tries to take root.

The trade union movement has a proud history of resisting racism and fascism.

In the 1930s, workers from across Europe volunteered to fight the fascists in Spain and defend the ideals of the Spanish republic.

In the 1936, workers – including dockers, railway workers and Irish and Jewish migrants – united to stop Oswald Moseley’s blackshirts marching through the East End during the Battle of Cable Street.

And in the 1980's, trade unions played a pivotal role in calling for an end to the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

In all those struggles, trade unionists understood that racism is an attempt by the powerful to divide workers, while they oversee an economy that only benefits those at the top.

Today, trade unions must draw on this heritage of resistance to racism and fascism and remember the core message at the heart of the work we do: unity and justice for all workers – regardless of race, nationality or religion.

Join us in saying no to the far-right at Stand Up To Racism on 16 March.