We Are Wisbech
The real voice of Wisbech was heard on Saturday when Wisbech, March and District Trades Union Council hosted a meeting of “We are Wisbech” at the Rosmini Centre. The meeting gave representatives from a wide number of community groups the chance to express their opinions about the harmful effects of the anti-immigration demonstration being organised by UKIP. There were people from Trades Unions, the Police, churches, pensioners and residents as well as representatives from the Labour Party and a Conservative councillor. But despite the wide background of all those attending there was a clear consensus that the people of Wisbech and the Fens do not share the anti-immigrant stance of the Wisbech Immigration group and they wanted to counter the myths and lies peddled to stir up division in the community.
The first platform speaker was Gerry Gable form Searchlight, the longest running anti-fascist magazine in the UK. He gave a history of the right wing in East Anglia from the black shirts up until the Infidels and other extremist groups linked to the EDL and BNP. He pointed out that wherever anti –immigration feelings are being aroused these extreme right wing racist groups appear stirring up hatred and violence.
The second speaker was Richard Rose from Cambridge Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism. He used his many years’ experience campaigning against right wing and racist groups to advise about how the anti-immigration feelings that have been stirred up in Wisbech can be countered.
After the speakers the audience raised questions and made points that showed a real passion amongst them in their desire to see the real voice of Wisbech being shown. All were fed up with hearing the same old myths about immigrants being to blame for unemployment, housing shortages and the lack of healthcare and other services. Migrant workers originally came to fill the employment gaps, jobs few local people were keen to do, before the recession and city bankers were to blame for that not immigrants. If British companies keep employing temporary staff via agencies then people keen to work to improve their families lives can hardly be blamed for taking up their offers. Housing shortages can be traced back to the selling off of council houses and the reluctance of the government to invest in new housing stock. Long waiting lists for healthcare and crowded schools are down to a lack of planning and cuts in public services and not the fault of migrants who pay tax and national insurance just like the rest of us and so are entitled to those services.
Martin Field, President of the WMD TUC, who chaired the meeting, said “It is clearly the feeling of the meeting that we don’t consider it necessary to oppose the demonstration itself but the myths and lies and exaggerations that they choose to believe and aim to spread to others.” He continued “When the Police tell us that they fear the anti- immigration feelings stirred up by the demonstration will legitimise more anti –migrant sentiments including leading to more violent assaults , then we know it is not good enough for decent, ordinary people in the area to sit back and do nothing.”
The meeting ended with the setting up of a small committee which will co-ordinate the campaign.