date: 22 April 2010
embargo: 00.01hrs Friday 23 April 2010
Several hundred black and asian trade unionists will be heading to Merseyside for the 2010 TUC Black Workers' Conference this weekend and three days of lively debate on a key range of topical issues from the impact of future cuts in public spending to the dangers posed by the rise of extremist political parties.
Addressing the conference later today (Friday), TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O'Grady will warn that when even progressive politicians talk tough on immigration, there is a danger that this panders to the worst instincts of the right wing media and plays into the hands of the racists and right-wing extremists.
As part of her speech to the conference, Frances O'Grady will say: 'The Far Right poses a real threat to the cohesion of Britain's many diverse communities, with organisations like the BNP seeking to profit from both economic uncertainty and public disillusionment at mainstream politics.
'Politicians who play the race card should hang their heads in shame. The recession wasn't caused by workers born in India, Somalia or Poland coming to Britain in search of a better life. It was caused by bankers in the City and on Wall Street in pursuit of their own greed.
'In this climate racist attacks continue to take place. This week a new report from the Institute of Race Relations - released to coincide with the 17th anniversary of the death of black teenager Stephen Lawrence who was murdered on the streets of South East London by racist thugs - showed that black and asian minicab drivers, shop workers and takeaway owners face the highest risk of violence.
'And only last year in this very building, Gee Walker gave an enormously dignified address to Congress about the murder of her son Anthony, killed in a racially motivated attack in Liverpool five years ago.
'Meanwhile Nick Griffin is contesting the parliamentary constituency of Dagenham in the coming General Election and hoping to become the first fascist MP in the House of Commons in living memory. Similarly in the local elections also taking place on 6 May, the BNP is banking on taking control of the borough of Barking and Dagenham and becoming the largest party on Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
'Against this backdrop, it's the duty of every one of us to try to stop the hate-mongers in their tracks, to mobilise against the racists in our workplaces and our communities, and to alert our colleagues, friends and neighbours to the threat to democracy and community relations that is posed by the Far Right.
'The message is simple, people must use their vote and use it wisely because the BNP's biggest friend is apathy. Just as in last year's European elections when the BNP won two seats, not voting means someone else's vote counts double, and that person could be voting for the BNP.
'From Dagenham to Dudley, Stoke to Sunderland, Barnsley to Burnley, we must make sure voters say no to the BNP, no to fascism, and no to the politics of hate.'
The 2010 TUC Black Workers' Conference takes place in the BT Convention Centre in Liverpool from 2pm on Friday 23 April. The debates will conclude at lunchtime on Sunday. Other speakers over the three days include TUC President Dougie Rooney and Rob Berkeley, the director of the Runnymede Trust.
Motions submitted for debate in Liverpool cover a wide range of issues including the impact that large cuts in public spending might have upon black workers, the discrimination faced by many black and Asian jobseekers, and how to encourage the media and legal professions to become more representative of the many diverse communities in the UK.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
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Issued: 23 April, 2010