Today, tens of thousands of people will join demonstrations across the country to protest the official state visit of Donald Trump. It seems only fitting that Theresa May’s disastrous tenure as Prime Minister would end on this note – one in which the government continues to ignore the voices of citizens across the country.
Last year, I helped to organise the rally in Trafalgar Square, and gave a speech reminding people that many of the terrible policies we associate with Trump can also be found much closer to home. Six Guatemalan children are reported to have died so far during his tenure attempting to cross the US Border to seek sanctuary, while thousands more have been separated from their parents. Meanwhile, at home, Fortress Europe and the Hostile Environment have made it similarly difficult for refugees and asylum seekers to find safety in the UK. Governments regularly go to extreme lengths, such as deploying the army and stripping British nationals of their citizenship, to display their opposition to immigration. This stance leads to deaths not only in places like the Mediterranean but in the UK too, as vulnerable people trapped for years in detention centres increasingly take their own lives.
The parallels between our own Tory government and Trump’s administration do not stop there. Legislation which dangerously restricts access to reproductive healthcare in US States like Alabama, pushed through by prominent Trump supporters and emboldened by his Supreme Court nominee, mirrors the draconian policies pregnant people in the north of Ireland are forced to endure at the behest of the Tories’ coalition partners in the DUP. Donald Trump’s so-called ‘Deal of the Century,’ which seeks to disappear the Palestinian people and dismantle their collective rights, finds support in our own foreign policy: Jeremy Hunt recently voted against motions criticising Israel at the United Nations Human Rights Forum.
So, as we march this evening at the carnival of resistance, our demands for change cannot end at Trump’s visit; we must use the momentum of the demonstration to unite activists on both sides of the pond, sharing tactics and lessons so we can push for progressive change. In many ways, the time for this kind of collective international organising has never been more ripe; Green New Deal movements are gaining strength on both sides of the Atlantic, and increasing numbers of young people are going on strike to demand climate justice from their legislators. The growth of trade union activism, especially among younger workers, is encouraging. While students continue their sit-in against ICE being deployed on campus at Johns Hopkins University in the US, students at Goldsmiths enter the 84th Day of their own anti-racist occupation.
As we watch minister after minister announce entry into the farcical Tory leadership contest, we must remember that the destructive policies of this government and those of the Trump administration are two sides of the same coin. The Muslim Ban operates within the same global context of state-sanctioned Islamophobia as the Prevent programme does.
The problems we face are global, and our response must be too. Boris, Trump, Bolton, May and Javid will continue to stoke the flames of division and play the politics of hatred. To defeat them we need a truly radical politics of justice, care and compassion that fight for the oppressed and win us a world we want to live in.
And to all the Muslims celebrating Eid today – Eid Mubarak, see you on the streets!