Scrolling through my Facebook wall today and reading my messages, I can see that many of you feel demoralised, beaten, and dejected. The analyses of the vote will continue to come in and be hotly debated for the next weeks, as will the actual fall out of the vote, but a few things are clear already.
Firstly, the immediate and urgent task ahead should be crystal clear for all of us to see. We need a broad, unified, and confident movement that fights xenophobia and racism in society. We need students, workers, trade unions, and civil society organisations to come together and fight for a UK which welcomes migrants, closes detention centres, and halts deportations.
Politicians in both campaigns threw up outrageous racism, both before and during the campaign
The UK was complicit in drowning migrants in the Mediterranean and sending people ‘back’ to their deaths before the referendum and will undoubtedly continue to do so after it. It should be clear to all of us that international students and migrant rights are non-negotiable for our movement and that we will mount all the necessary resistance to defend them. We need to come together and build a powerful counter movement in society, which takes on the government and its racist policies.
Secondly, we also need to address the deepening social and economic inequality in this country. Unemployment, poverty, state violence, and slashed welfare services are a reality which has plagued working class and Black communities for way too long. Given people’s lives right now, it should come as no surprise that arguments about the economy did not convince people to remain.
Their neighbourhoods, local economies, and livelihoods have been devastated for too long by the same people who suddenly told them that they cared in the last few months. Austerity must be defeated. Inequality has to end. We all know this yet feel powerless to make it happen. I hope that we can make a pledge right now that the student movement will be at the heart of fighting for exactly this in the year to come. The upcoming reforms in education are an attempt by the government to entrench inequality and private interests further in Further and Higher Education. We should start by defeating it, while recognising that the tasks we face go well beyond education alone.
Finally, this is a moment of unity in action despite the many disagreements we have had and will continue to have. The idea that those who argued for a left vote for exit are responsible either for the outcome of the referendum or the deep racism this campaign relied on is unrealistic.
Both campaigns were led by politicians who have waged unrelenting war on poor, Black, and migrant communities. Politicians in both campaigns threw up outrageous racism, both before and during the campaign. We now need to come together and take them on.
However you voted yesterday, now is the time to hit the streets, organise in your colleges, universities, workplaces, and communities for more solidarity with migrants and greater resistance to the government.
If you are in London, make every effort to go to the ‘Defend Migrants’ Rights’ demonstration tonight at 6pm in Altab Ali Park. If you aren’t, why not organise a similar initiative locally?
As always, the struggle continues.
This was originally posted on Facebook, republished here with permission.