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Labour's politics of the gutter

Say no to Bigotry - Back Respect


NEW LABOUR’S campaign in the Hodge Hill parliamentary by-election will send shivers down the spine of anyone on the left. Labour has issued a barrage of bigoted, right wing leaflets.

“Labour is on your side—the Lib Dems are on the side of failed asylum seekers,” says one.

“We have taken tough action against those who abuse the system as a cover for economic migration.

“While Labour were tough the Lib Dems were wimps—they tried to stop us taking away benefits from failed asylum seekers and they voted against plans to speed up deportations.”

A second leaflet says, “Lib Dem MPs voted against Labour’s Asylum and Immigration Bill. Lib Dem MPs said failed asylum seekers should continue to receive state benefits.”

All of Labour’s leaflets carry a St George flag next to the slogan “Labour—on your side”.

Labour are pandering to racism and trying to scapegoat the most vulnerable people in society for the problems Labour’s own neglect has caused in Birmingham and across the country.

But that’s not all. Labour also wants to make law and order central to their campaign.

Long gone are promises to improve health, education or housing.

Instead, their candidate, Liam Byrne, has put creating “yob-free zones” at the heart of his propaganda. “It’s time to get tough on the yobs,” he declares in one leaflet.

Byrne invites people to phone his special “Smash the gangs” hotline to report behaviour they don’t like.

In another leaflet, Byrne is pictured brandishing a placard with the slogan “Smash teen gangs”.

But it’s not just teenagers he’s declared war on—it’s children as young as 11 years old. He claims one group of 11 year olds “were bringing the neighbourhood down, causing damage, assaulting and harassing people.”

“I saw them myself hanging around outside shops and on street corners, and sometimes near cashpoints or parks intimidating people.”

The idea of young people hanging around parks is offensive to Byrne.

“I’m launching a campaign to reclaim the streets for ordinary decent people,” Byrne rants. “The Liberals Democrats…talk about ‘rights’ for the youths and not taking any action until they’ve committed a crime.

“What nonsense—it’s too late by then… Only Labour has the guts to deal with teen gangs.”

Byrne boasts that he will allow police to disperse groups of young people and accompany anyone under the age of 16 home after 9pm. And “if they disobey the new rules”, he will see that they are locked up.

Another leaflet argues that, if the Lib Dems win, 16 year olds will be allowed to “buy and appear in hardcore porn”, cocaine would be “sold over the counter in local shops” and guns will be easier to get hold of.

Labour’s right wing vitriol might almost be enough to make you vote for the Lib Dems—but they too have been caught out pandering to racism.

The Lib Dems have printed two election leaflets. They are identical except for the main photograph.

One of them shows Lib Dem candidate Nicola Davies and Charles Kennedy surrounded by a large mixed-race crowd.

The other shows just Davies and Kennedy. One black person who does make it into the shot has his face covered by a large caption.

Local activists believe that the second, ethnically cleansed version of the leaflet was designed for mainly white areas of the constituency.


Article information

News
Sat 10 Jul 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1909
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