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Andrew Price

Young Socialists fight racialism

(June 1976)

From Militant, No. 310, 25 June 1976, p. 12.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Labour Party Young Socialists have swung into action to counter racialists and have won a tremendous response from immigrant workers and wide sections of the labour movement. They have set an example for the labour movement nationally how to defeat racialist propaganda and build support for the movement.

The last two weeks had seen the development of activities by anti-immigrant groups in the city. On Friday June 19th the Anti-Immigration League organised a meeting in Cardiff to be addressed by Lady Birdwood and Sadie Relph.

A picket of the meeting was organised which was supported by the Cardiff Trades Council. Given the shortage of time the picket was a great success. Two hundred pickets lined the street outside the hall, and only 15 turned up for the racialist meeting which was switched to the home of the organiser!

Unfortunately the efforts of the labour movement in the city to fight racialism have been hindered by a very negative attitude by certain officials in the movement. Emrys Jones, the Welsh Regional Organiser for the Labour Party, appealed twice through the press to Labour Party members in the area to stay away from the picket!

On Saturday June 20th Cardiff North West, Cardiff South and Cardiff North LPYS branches organised a meeting against racialism. On learning about this meeting Jones circulated the 3 Constituency Labour Parties, claiming that such a meeting was likely to worsen race relations in the city and that in his opinion the CLPs should not give permission for the LYPS branches to hold this meeting!

On Friday June 19th the 3 CLPs met and discussed Jones’ letter. To their great credit Cardiff North and Cardiff North West CLPs ignored Jones’ advice and gave support to the meeting.

Unfortunately due to a strong appeal from James Callaghan (the local MP) and a very obstructive attitude from the chair in refusing to allow a full discussion on the issue Cardiff South East GMC vote not to support the meeting.

On Sunday June 20th the immigrant community gave the best possible reply to Emrys Jones. Around 100 people crowded into the meeting, literally squashed into every corner of the room. Over half the meeting was composed of immigrant workers, with practically every immigrant group represented.

The first speaker was Henry Newbury, himself an Asian and a member of Cardiff West CLP and the AUEW, described the life of an Asian immigrant in Britain. In a fighting contribution Henry produced statistics which utterly refuted the poisonous propaganda of the racialists. He pointed the way forward for the movement in calling for unity between black and white workers on a socialist programme.

Paul Copping (Cardiff North LPYS and LPYS Welsh Regional Committee) in an excellent speech showed how racialism was a tool of the ruling class to create divisions amongst the working class. Paul echoed Henry’s arguments that in no sense could immigrants be held responsible for the shortages of jobs, low wages, lack of housing etc. Paul called for a campaign against racialism aimed at striking at the very root of the disease.

The lively discussion that followed was led by the immigrant comrades. Practically every immigrant speaker supported the arguments of the platform.

More significantly they all pledged full support and full involvement of their groups in the co-ordinating committee set up by the LPYS against racialism in the city.

This fantastic response showed the willingness of the immigrant workers to struggle alongside their white brothers against injustice and to involve themselves in a real socialist campaign.

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Last updated: 6 November 2016