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Unity over Division

Unite campaigns to challenge the rise of the far-right
Ryan Fletcher, Thursday, January 23rd, 2020


In recent years the far right has remerged in Britain and across the Europe.

 

Far right political parties and groups are trying to gain a foothold in communities across the country.

 

They are using people’s unhappiness at the loss of services and affordable housing to try to divide our communities and set neighbour against neighbour.

 

It is not coincide that this has coincided with a disturbing increase in hate crime.

 

In the 12 months to October 2019, the number of hate crimes in England and Wales more than doubled since 2013government figures show.

 

The majority of offences were racially motivated increasing by 11 per cent to 78,991, with police forces also recorded a significant rise in crimes committed against people because of their sexuality.

 

In response to the rise in the far right, Unite launched its Unity over Division campaign last year.

 

Challenge the far right’s narrative

The campaign is aimed at equipping officers and activists with the counter arguments to challenge the far right’s narrative, including myths around immigration and migration in Britain, the welfare state, NHS, education and women’s rights.

 

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said, “In Britain today we are governed by a Tory leader who thinks nothing of using offensive and derogatory language to describe people or situations.

 

“We face a possible no deal Brexit which is likely to throw the economy into chaos, all this on the back of almost ten years of relentless austerity which has made ordinary people tighten their belts and suffer cuts in services, whilst the top 10 per cent in terms of wealth, have seen that wealth massively increase.”

 

Turner explained that rising inequality and divisive rhetoric from politicians who should know better has provided those intent on spreading far-right narratives an opportunity to do so – a situation reflected in the increase in hate crimes.

 

“We have seen a huge rise in homophobic, racial and religious attacks on our streets and many migrant workers suffer verbal abuse at work every day. The NHS in exit interviews of migrant staff leaving the service stated that a key factor was abuse from patients and constant taunts of ‘go back home’,” Turner said.  

 

“This is unacceptable in 2019 in the fifth richest nation in the world. We need to bring unity where there is division and this campaign focuses on how to tackle the messages of hate when they surface in our workplaces and communities.

 

As a union, Unite is uniquely placed to communicate with its 1.3mmembers and reach thousands of leaders who are able to influence the political debates that are going on in workplaces across the nations.

 

The campaign’s aim is reach 12,000 Unite activists a year with Unitover Division training and education materials.

 

A number of conferences and committee briefings were held across the country last year, with more events planned this year.

 

Turner added, “Fascism doesn’t start with concentration camps, but that is where it ends up. We need to talk to our fellow workers, our friends and family, to explain that it is not migrant workers who are attacking their wages, terms and conditions, but exploitative bosses.

 

“We have a duty as trade unionists to stand for equality and challenge those who would attack our values of fairness, decency and dignity in and out of the workplace.”

 

Interested in holding a Unity over Division education programme in your region, sector, branch or local community? Email the campaign here for more information: Unity@unitetheunion.org

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