Letter to Keir Starmer: defend all migrants and refugees

Another Europe NC Members have written to Keir Starmer expressing grave concern at his comments on migrant Channel crossings.

25th November 2021

Dear Keir,

Your comments on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme (Friday 19 November) in relation to the situation of people crossing the Channel in an attempt to reach the UK are of grave concern to all those who seek the protection of the rights of refugees and migrants. 

It was deeply disappointing to hear you, as Leader of the Labour Party, mirror the dehumanising language of the Conservative Home Secretary Priti Patel. Instead of highlighting the cruelty of the government’s border control policies, or dispelling dangerous myths about people arriving in the UK, you made it clear that your main concern about the governments’ approach was that it was failing to be as tough on migrants as it had said it would be.

You won the Labour leadership in no small part due to your work as a defender and promoter of human rights. Your leadership campaign included an unequivocal commitment to putting “human rights at the heart of foreign policy” and making the U.K. “a force for international justice”.

Labour members, voters and the country as a whole should expect a leader of the opposition – who is a human rights lawyer – to challenge the reactionary and xenophobic stance of a government which is deliberately undermining the recognised principles of international human rights. 

As thousands of desperate people remain deliberately trapped at the Polish/Belarusian border and others drown crossing the Channel, you should be making the case for safe and legal routes for those claiming asylum – in Europe and in the UK. You should be exposing the human rights violations of pushbacks at sea, demanding that the U.K. fulfill its legal and moral obligations and supports other countries to do the same. 

Instead, in criticising the government only for its failure to implement its regressive policies with sufficient vigour, you have further entrenched the idea that migrants themselves are a problem – and not the governments’ callous and cruel approach to migration policy. This same position has been repeated over recent days by the Shadow Home Secretary. 

Aping and encouraging the worst aspects of Conservative far-right populism will do little to promote Labour’s electoral chances whilst it will cause further damage and division in our society. 

Yours faithfully,

Laura Parker, Labour International CLP & Another Europe is Possible NC

Nick Dearden, Another Europe Is Possible NC 

Luke Cooper, co-founder, Another Europe Is Possible

Shaista Aziz, Labour councillor for Oxford City Council

Mary Kaldor, Professor of Global Governance, LSE

Hilary Wainwright, co-editor Red Pepper

Glyn Ford, Former MEP 

Julie Ward, Former MEP

Niccolo Milanese, co-founder European Alternatives

Cat Villiers, Film Producer & Another Europe is Possible NC

Zoe Williams, Guardian journalist and co-host of the Another Europe Podcast

Alex Fernandes, Another Europe is Possible NC

Alena Ivanova, Another Europe is Possible Campaigns Officer

Dave Levy, Another Europe is Possible NC

Ana Oppenheim, Another Europe is Possible NC

Peter Radcliffe, Another Europe is Possible NC 

Seema Syeda, Another Europe is Possible Communications and Campaigns Officer

Tom Walker, Another Europe is Possible NC


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