Gary Lineker, Refugees… & the Climate Crisis

The article by Allan Todd discusses Gary Lineker's criticism of the UK government's language on migrants, arguing that it resembles fascist language used to dehumanise vulnerable people. Todd suggests that the Tories are using refugees to distract from their failed economic and social policies and calls for solidarity actions.


Gary Lineker was absolutely right to say what he did about the language used in the Home Office video outlining government policy on migrants crossing the Channel in small boats. Given the distortions circulating in right-wing media, THIS is what Gary Lineker actually said in his tweet:

“This is an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used in Germany in the ’30s.”

gary lineker
Resist Racism – Saturday 18 March

People who point out that the language being used by the government has characteristics in common with the language used by fascists in their vile dehumanisation of vulnerable people should not be threatened. Instead, those who use such rhetoric just need to stop using it.

Despite what Home Secretary Braverman said about the UK being “overwhelmed,”  there is NOT a “huge influx.” As Left Unity has said:

“Britain is not and has never been destroyed by the ‘invasion’ of ‘aliens’, despite the arrival of groups of migrants being the object of such scary propaganda.”

Left Unity

To get the truth about migration, here’s a useful link:

What Gary Lineker went on to say was also FACTUALLY correct: the UK takes far FEWER refugees than other European countries. Facts are important in emotive situations like this. Which is precisely why this hard-right Tory government reacts by simply calling for Lineker’s head: because they don’t want anything to weaken their rightwing populist politics.

Further proof that the Tories want to ignore FACTS is provided by Sunak’s ridiculous comment that, for British people, the biggest problem that needs to be solved is the arrival of refugees. Try telling that to the MILLIONS dependent on food banks, living in fuel poverty, or trying to get treatment in an NHS that is deliberately underfunded and understaffed in order to prepare the way for its complete privatisation. ALL as a direct result, not of refugees, but of Tory action/inaction. Something which was pointed out recently by Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the PCS.

Mark Serwotka: telling it like it is

The Tories want to make refugees the ‘biggest’ problem for two main reasons:

(1) Whipping up fear or hatred of refugees goes down well with their hard-right or far-right political base;

(2) If people get fixated on refugees, then the Tories don’t have to fix the economic and social misery their deliberately chosen policies are imposing on millions of people.

IT’S CALLED…DISTRACTION!! They are cynically dehumanising others, just so they can distract attention from their failed economic and social policies. Furthermore, they are also playing a very dangerous game by pandering to the xenophobia being whipped up by the UK’s small but nasty fascist groups.

Historically, it is both fair and accurate to describe the government’s language as redolent of the language used by the Nazis—and of the right-wing media like the Daily Mail, which backed them by ‘sharing’ their speeches during the 1930s. As a result, Gary Lineker’s comments have been supported, among others, by Tanja Bueltmann, a professor originally from Germany, where people are very conscious of how the road to the death camps began with…language targeted against minority ‘others.’

As she said, “I have been taught about it all my life—and that it needs to be called out and rejected. It’s a duty to do so, in fact.” Whilst Gary Lineker was NOT saying that the Tories are the same as the Nazis or have similar aims, it is nonetheless important to know that the early roots of what the Nazis did lay in the ‘othering’ and dehumanisation of vulnerable and minority groups. They used language similar to that being used today by hard-right Tories and by neo-fascist groups like Britain First and Patriotic Alternative in relation to refugees. Recent far-right riots, in Liverpool and elsewhere, have shown how Tory hate speech is creating and fuelling a dangerous situation.

As Professor Bueltmann said:

“We are seeing similar mechanisms of the populist playbook being employed…That is why it is right to call this out and why it is appropriate to make reference to historical developments where not dissimilar techniques eventually fuelled a horrific ideology that led to mass murder. What is history for if not to look back and use the knowledge we have to comment on current events?”

Building up ‘The Big One’!

Migration has always been a part of human history, and people migrate for all sorts of reasons. Right now, many of today’s refugees are fleeing the impact of the actions and policies of developed countries like the US and the UK. The illegal wars inflicted on Afghanistan and Iraq have led to economic collapse and civil wars. While in the Global South, the climate emergency is forcing many to leave their countries because of rising sea levels, desertification, and the resulting food shortages.

Two things people in the UK can do right now to push back against all of this are to build support for two up-coming demonstrations:

(1) The ‘Resist Racism’ protests that will be taking place in London – and in Glasgow & Cardiff – on Saturday 18 March:

#ResistRacism @AntiRacismDay @The_TUC

Details of transport can be found here:

(2) Extinction Rebellion’s ‘The Big One’ rally on Friday 21 April, in London:

As XR says: “Unite to Survive!”


further reading from a*cr writers

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Allan Todd is a member of ACR’s Council and of Left Unity’s National Council, and an ecosocialist/environmental and anti-fascist activist. He is the author of Revolutions 1789-1917, Ecosocialism not Extinction, and Trotsky: The Passionate Revolutionary – and the forthcoming Che Guevara: The Romantic Revolutionary (out 30 May 2024)

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