Home Office ‘Go home’ vans were ‘unacceptable’, says study: First Survey Results published in The Voice

by Bart Chan

GOVERNMENT PILOT scheme vans brandishing the slogan “Go home or face arrest” is an “unacceptable” message for an immigration campaign, according to results of an independent survey recently carried out.

The controversial van campaign, that saw the vehicles driven through London boroughs for a week at the end of July, generated significant criticism from widespread and diverse quarters, including Doreen Lawrence, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, MP David Lammy, Business Secretary Vince Cable, the Unite union, and civil rights group Liberty.

The study confirmed the concerns of public figures were shared at a grassroots level, with 74 per cent of community respondents saying the “Go home” phrase was not acceptable, while 63 per cent did not agree with the van campaign.

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Fighting anti-immigrant racism in the UK by Chitra Nagarajan for The F-Word

Intense debate and action on immigration is a recurring theme in British politics. Hostility towards immigrants has always been a feature of British society but it seems to have particularly intensified recently. In June, Theresa May introduced a refundable £3,000 bond for visa applicants from countries seen as at high risk of overstaying. In July, a government van campaign seemed to take its lead from far right groups, warning that people should ‘go home or face arrest’ if in the country illegally. The most recent furore has centred around spot-checks of people at underground stations that seem to be targeting only black people. This is hardly news to some of us as it has been happening for some time, but the news of the racial profiling in particular has led to it being picked up by the media and many speaking out against the practice…

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Racism and the Politics of Privilege: New Left Project article by John Holmwood

Jake Wallis Simons, a Features writer for the Telegraph, is exercised by prejudice directed against Etonians. A photo-shopped picture of the UK Home Office’s controversial ‘Go Home or Face Arrest’ publicity vans, with the new slogan ‘Fuck off back to Eton’. Simons felt the parody was ‘an expression of hatred and prejudice’ arguing this slogan had traction from ‘primal class hatred’.

Even if we temporarily put on hold the not-insignificant issues that ‘Go Home’ is a rather stronger expression of hatred, directed at much more vulnerable people than Etonians, from the UK government no-less, there is still a huge problem with this analysis. Simons may cry class hatred, but seems to miss the fact that class hatred is already being enacted on the British people at large, from upper echelons downwards. Eton isn’t the victim here, by a long way.

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Go Home Campaign Victory for Migrants: Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London Press Release, 12th August 2013

RAMFEL is delighted that the Government has finally recognised that it should have consulted and engaged directly with individuals and organisations representing the needs and concerns of immigrants in the UK about the ‘Go Home’ campaign and the use of vans saying ‘Go Home or Face Arrest’ on the streets of London.

The Government’s failure to do so and the subsequent ‘immigration spot checks’ have caused much distress and upset to a cross section of communities locally and nationally. The fact that the campaign has also been commented on extensively in the international media, also suggests that this has tarnished the UK’s long standing reputation as a tolerant and welcoming society.

We welcome the Government’s commitment to engaging more broadly and taking on board the views of those directly affected by their policies. We will be making sure that they are true to their word by scrutinising and advocating for ‘fairness’ across a cross section of government proposals and policies as they impact on migrant communities.

Rita Chadha, CEO of RAMFEL, the organisation supporting two service user migrants to bring the case, said ‘Informed and effective policy is always made when Governments listen to the reactions of communities. Whilst immigration will no doubt remain a hotly contested issue until the next election, we are glad that the Government has finally recognised that fair policy making requires the views of all sections of the community to be heard, including those that it directly impacts upon. We remain vigilant to the possibility of other attacks and policies that increasingly view immigration only as a negative, encourage miscommunication between local communities, and seek to create divisions within British society. Our message to government is ‘we’re watching you’’

RAMFEL is the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London. We provide free legal advice and a wide range of support services to asylum seekers, migrants, refugees and Black, Asian and Minority individuals and communities across London. We have a long history of campaigning on local and national issues related to equality and immigration matters.
In July 2013, the UK Home Office introduced a campaign called ‘Go Home’. The campaign targeted six areas of London with two vans, with large billboards with the message ‘Go Home or Face Arrest’. The billboards were allegedly targeting those who were ‘illegal’ or undocumented in the UK. The following week there was also an intensification of immigration spot checks at major transport hubs in the capital. The Go Home Campaign is part of a Government campaign that has caused a national outcry, and infuriated a cross section of communities.

RAMFEL has supported two of it’s services users via Deighton, Pierce, Glynn to issue legal proceedings against the Home Office for a failure to consult and breach of the Equality Act 2010. Whilst the direct legal costs of the action are paid for, we are seeking funding to help with the associated campaigning and public education work needed now up and down the country.

The production and distribution of advice and information to those directly affected by the ‘Go Home’ campaign, with clear and easy to understand information on their rights and responsibilities.

A programme of public education to explain to people the reality of modern day immigration, which will include, leaflets, adverts in newspapers, videos and documentaries. Production of information and teaching packs for schools. Production of information and resource packs for migrant community organisations to help challenge the ‘Go Home’ and similar campaigns locally within their own communities.
The Impact: This has been remarked by some as a turning point in the UK Immigration story, people have described ‘Go Home’ as very Unbritish.

We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to show that the debate on immigration no longer needs to be neither negative or toxic.

If you or your branch can help then please contact Rita or Lucy on 0208 478 4513 or email

‘Go Home’ Campaign: a public meeting on supporting immigrants in London

The Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London (RAMFEL), the Migrants Rights Network (MRN), Bhatt Murphy and Deighton Pierce Glynn have joined forces to run a series of workshops across London to support migrant and refugee community organisations, activists and interested individuals to campaign against the ‘Go Home’ campaign and the summer of attacks on immigrants.

These short two hour sessions will

  • provide an update on what has happened
  • explain the rights of those targeted by immigration checks and stop and search
  • explain what groups and individuals can do to campaign on a local and national level, (including how to lobby elected members and decision makers to make sure anti immigration activity is monitored in your local area)
  • how to respond to the current various national consultations that will affect migrants

See for further details

‘How the Government is creating a climate of fear for migrants and ethnic minorities’ Emma Jackson and Naaz Rashid for CLASS online

Immigration has always been a topic arousing passionate debate. Yet, recently, Home Office tactics for countering irregular immigration have hardened and become increasingly politicised. On 3 July, 2013, a tweet was sent from the official UK Home Office account which read ‘There will be no hiding place for illegal immigrants with the new #ImmigrationBill.’ Attached to this message was a photo of police officers putting a faceless brown-skinned man into the back of a police van. Later that month, adverts reading ‘In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest’ were mounted onto the back of a van and driven around a selection of London boroughs with large migrant heritage populations. This was followed by an intensification of immigration checks, targeting tube stations in poor, mixed urban areas, which according to Doreen Lawrence and eyewitness accounts have involved racial profiling and intimidation. Meanwhile, the Home Office Twitter feed intensified its Orwellian-sounding immigration stance, reporting the arrest of suspected visa over-stayers and naming them as “immigration offenders”. According to John Scott QC, the use of the term ‘immigration offenders’, prejudices legal proceedings as it presumes those arrested are guilty.

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Open Letter to The Guardian

This letter was published in The Guardian on 6th August 2013.

If you agree with it, please also sign this petition.

We are writing to express our concern about recent Government initiatives against irregular immigration (“Immigration spot checks not racist, says Home Office“, 3 August). The most recent of these include the ‘Go Home’ van campaign, which echoes the National Front graffiti slogans in the 1970s, and the immigration raids on tube stations in poor, mixed urban areas, which according to Doreen Lawrence and eyewitness accounts have involved racial profiling. Proposals to require tourists from six Asian and African countries to pay a £3000 bond; to charge non-EU migrants for healthcare; and to require private landlords to check the immigration status of prospective tenants also open the door to a great deal of discrimination and abuse. These initiatives, combined with their promotion through inflammatory language on Twitter, represent an increasing politicisation of Home Office policy, where fears about immigration are exploited for a hoped-for electoral gain, whilst creating a climate of fear for migrants and people of colour.

We condemn and demand the withdrawal of these ill-thought-out and reactionary initiatives. We believe that they may incite racism and intolerance within our communities and reverse the progress that has been made by previous generations towards equality. It is with great urgency that we ask the government to review its approach to immigration policy. We also call on others to join us in this condemnation of current government policy.

  1. Kirsten Forkert, Birmingham City University
  2. Gurminder K Bhambra, University of Warwick
  3. Hannah Jones, Open University
  4. Lord Meghnad Desai
  5. Ken Livingstone
  6. Salma Yaqoob
  7. Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party
  8. Isabella Sankey, Policy Director, Liberty
  9. Ojeaku NwabuzoThe Runnymede Trust
  10. Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion
  11. Diana Holland, Assistant General Secretary, Unite
  12. Robert Sparks| Partner |Fisher Meredith LLP
  13. Maxine Peake, actress
  14. Owen Jones, author and journalist
  15. Alison Pickup, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers
  16. Robert Beckford, Canterbury Christ Church University, film-maker
  17. Nell Dunn, Playwright and author
  18. Dave Garratt, Chief Executive, Refugee Action
  19. Daniel Corradi Stevens, International Students Officer, NUS
  20. Rick Muir, Labour councillor, London Borough of Hackney
  21. Charlie Burnett, Christian Khan Solicitors
  22. Anna Thwaites, Partner, Hodge Jones & Allen LLP
  23. Caoilfhionn Gallagher, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers
  24. Chris Topping, Partner, Broudie, Jackson, Cantor
  25. Priyamvada Gopal, University of Cambridge
  26. Caroline Criado-Perez, The Women’s Room
  27. John Holmwood, University of Nottingham, President of the British Sociological Association
  28. Celia Clarke, Director, Bail for Immigration Detainees
  29. Chetan Bhatt, Director, Centre for the Study of Human Rights, LSE
  30. Nira Yuval-Davis, Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging, UEL
  31. Anna Mazzola, Associate, Public Law & Human Rights
  32. Emma Lindley, Royal Society of the Arts
  33. Don Flynn, Migrants Rights Network
  34. Angela Last, Central St Martins
  35. Lara Pawson, writer and journalist
  36. Selma Dabbagh, writer
  37. Jude Bunting, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers
  38. Chez Cotton, Partner, Head Police Misconduct Dept, Bindmans LLP
  39. Gwawr Thomas, Barrister, 1 Mitre Court Buildings
  40. Maya Sikand | Barrister | Garden Court Chambers
  41. Ben Gidley, University of Oxford
  42. Yasmin Gunarathnam, Goldsmiths, University of London
  43. Rita Chadha, Refugee and Migrant Forum East London
  44. Chitra Nagarajan, Black Feminists
  45. Gargi Bhattacharyya, University of East London
  46. Rosemary Kidd , Chair of the Churches Refugee Network
  47. Sukhwant Dhaliwal, Goldsmiths, University of London
  48. Emma Jackson, University of Glasgow
  49. Bronwen Jones, Barrister, Tooks Chambers
  50. Steve Garner, Aston University
  51. Beverly Woodburn, UNITE
  52. Ian Manborde, Ruskin College
  53. Andy Danford, University of the West of England
  54. Justine Roland Cal, artist and art therapist
  55. Satnam Virdee, University of Glasgow
  56. Hazel Conley, Queen Mary University of London
  57. Andreas Bieler, University of Nottingham
  58. Brendan McGeever, University of Glasgow
  59. Mark Cresswell, Durham University
  60. Les Levidow,Open University
  61. Des Freedman,  Goldsmiths, University of London
  62. Peter Conlin, Academica Sinica (Taiwan)
  63. Peter Waterman, University of the Hague (retired)
  64. Miguel Martinez Lucio, University of Manchester
  65. Rachel Cohen, City University
  66. Anamik Saha, University of Leeds
  67. Marj Mayo, Goldsmiths, University of London
  68. Ian Fitzgerald, University of Northumbria
  69. Puck de Raadt, Churches Refugee Network
  70. Justin Cruickshank, University of Birmingham
  71. Karim Murji, Open University
  72. John Narayan, University of Warwick
  73. Daniel Orrells, University of Warwick
  74. Aaron Winter, University of Abertay
  75. Alexandra M. Kokoli, Robert Gordon University
  76. Alice Mah, University of Warwick
  77. Colin Stephen, Coventry University
  78. Paul Kirby, University of Sussex
  79. Debra Benita Shaw, University of East London
  80. Kate Hardy, University of Leeds
  81. Rick F J Jones, University of Leeds
  82. Jo Littler, City University
  83. Katherine Champion, University of Glasgow
  84. Kate Sang, Heriot Watt University
  85. Carl Mallett University of Warwick
  86. Leila Whitley, Goldsmiths, University of London
  87. Vaughan Jones, Praxis Community Projects
  88. David Madden, LSE
  89. Mahmoona Shah, Bradford College
  90. Alberto Toscano, Goldsmiths, University of London
  91. Laleh Khalili, SOAS
  92. Robbie Shilliam, Queen Mary University of London
  93. Alex Rhys-Taylor, Goldsmiths, University of London
  94. Hilde Stephansen, Open University
  95. Naaz Rashid, LSE
  96. Alison Rooke, Goldsmiths, University of London
  97. Helen Kim, LSE
  98. Tom Henri, Goldsmiths, University of London
  99. John Clarke, Open University
  100. Shamik Dutta, Bhatt Murphy Solicitors
  101. Janet Newman, Open University
  102. Malcolm James, City University
  103. Srila Roy, University of Nottingham
  104. Ben Rogaly, University of Sussex
  105. Brenna Bhandar, SOAS, University of London
  106. Nadje Al-Ali, SOAS, University  of London
  107. Navtej Purewal, University of Manchester
  108. Virinder Kalra, University of Manchester
  109. Victoria Redclift, University of Manchester
  110. Gwen Jones, photographer
  111. Nicky Roy
  112. Emily Hyett
  113. Rashné Limki, Black Feminists
  114. Kiri Kankhwende, Black Feminists
  115. Lola Okolosie, Black Feminists
  116. Samantha Asumadu, Media Diversity UK
  117. Miranda Armstrong, Black Feminists
  118. La Toyah McAllister-Jones, Black Feminists
  119. Mariam Motamedi-Fraser, Goldsmiths, University of London
  120. Aisha K. Gill, University of Roehampton
  121. Gina Heathcote, SOAS, University of London
  122. Clare Hemmings, Gender Institute, London School of Economics
  123. Gholam Khiabany, Sussex University
  124. Dave O’Brien, City University
  125. Liz Moor, Goldsmiths, University of London
  126. Nigel Clark, Lancaster University
  127. Tariq Jazeel, Sheffield University
  128. Michaela Benson, University of York
  129. Dom Hinde, University of Edinburgh
  130. Alexander Smith, University of Warwick
  131. Estelle du Boulay, Newham Monitoring Project
  132. William Davies, University of Warwick
  133. James Meadway, SOAS, University of London
  134. Danat Valizade, University of Leeds
  135. Vicky Blake, University of Leeds
  136. Matt Fuller, Goldsmiths, University of London
  137. Lynne Pettinger, University of Essex
  138. Andrew Goffey, University of Nottingham
  139. Eva Giraud, University of Nottingham
  140. Ewen Speed, University of Essex
  141. Pritam Singh, Oxford Brookes University.
  142. Sian Moore, University of the West of England
  143. Roger McKenzie, Assistant General Secretary of UNISON
  144. Jane Lane, National Children’s Bureau
  145. Ritu Mahendru, South Asian Sexual Health (SASH) Forum
  146. Paul Stewart, University of Strathclyde
  147. Katy Proctor, Glasgow Caledonian University
  148. Laura Piacentini, Strathclyde University
  149. Vicky Margree, Brighton University
  150. Dieuwertje Dyi Huijg, University of Manchester
  151. Roger Burrows, Goldsmiths, University of London
  152. Simon Parker, University of York
  153. Vic Seidler, Goldsmiths, University of London
  154. Sarah Burton, Glasgow University
  155. Jo Grady, University of Leicester
  156. Jennifer Birks, University of Nottingham
  157. Roiyah Saltus, University of South Wales
  158. Isaac Marrero-Guillamón, Goldsmiths, University of London
  159. Suzanne Hall, LSE
  160. Susan Kelly, Goldsmiths, University of London
  161. Christian Fuchs, University of Westminster
  162. Steve Jefferys, London Metropolitan University
  163. Irene Gedalof, London Metropolitan University
  164. Blake Morrison, Goldsmiths, University of London
  165. Kathryn Yusoff, Queen Mary, University of London
  166. Mark R D Johnson, De Montfort & Warwick Universities
  167. Emma Uprichard, Warwick University
  168. Raggi Kotak, 1 Pump Court
  169. Gurpreet Virdee (Central Services & Development Director) Women and Girls Network
  170. Sonia Mehta, South Asian Women’s Creative Collective
  171. Naseem Shah, NHS Bradford CCG
  172. Poulomi Desai: Usurp Art Gallery & Studios
  173. Sasha Bhat, Bradford
  174. Sonia McKay, London Metropolitan University
  175. Geetanjali Gangoli, University of Bristol
  176. Sara Ahmed, Goldsmiths, University of London
  177. Max Farrar, Leeds Metropolitan University (emeritus)
  178. Alana Lentin, University of Western Sydney
  179. Melissa Fernández, Birkbeck/LSE
  180. Seema Rooshka
  181. Amanda Sackur, UCU
  182. Nina Wakeford, Goldsmiths College
  183. Katy Proctor, Glasgow Caledonian University
  184. Laura Piacentini, Strathclyde University
  185. Dom Hinde, University of Edinburgh
  186. Joe Deville, Goldsmiths, University of London
  187. Nandita Dogra
  188. William Gould, University of Leeds
  189. Tessa Jackson, Queen Mary, University of London
  190. Sally Hines, University of Leeds
  191. Rowland Atkinson, University of York
  192. Anisa Mustafa, University of Nottingham
  193. Carlos Moreno Leguizamon, Greenwich University
  194. Avtar Brah, Birkbeck College, London
  195. Dom Anderson, NUS Vice President Society and Citizenship
  196. Colum McGuire, NUS Vice President Welfare
  197. Debaleena Dasgupta, Solicitor, Birnberg Peirce & Partners
  198. Camilla Graham Wood, Solicitor and Committee Member of Young Legal Aid Lawyers
  199. Natalie Sedacca,  Hodge Jones & Allen LLP
  200. Rachel Waller, Solicitor,  Fisher Meredith LLP
  201. Harriett Wistrich, Solicitor, Birnberg Peirce & Partners
  202. Rachel Taylor, Solicitor, Police and Prison Law
  203. Rachel Francis, Young Legal Aid Lawyers committee member
  204. Jessica Dickason-Mitra, 1 Mitre Court Buildings
  205. Bridget Anderson, board member KALAYAAN
  206. Emma Collins, Solicitor, GT Stewart Solicitors & Advocates
  207. Sophie Naftalin, Bhatt Murphy
  208. Cris McCurley: international family law Partner, Ben Hoare Bell LLP
  209. Kemi Spector, Bhatt Murphy
  210. Renata Burns, Paralegal, GT Stewart Solicitors & Advocates
  211. Jed Pennington, Bhatt Murphy
  212. Jocelyn Cockburn, Partner, Hodge, Jones and Allen
  213. Maria O’Connell, Matthew Gold and Company Limited, Solicitors
  214. Saoirse Kerrigan, Trainee Solicitor, Fisher Meredith LLP
  215. Deena Blacking, Young Legal Aid Lawyers member
  216. Lana Adamou, Solicitor Fisher Meredith LLP
  217. Margaret Finch, Solicitor/Director, TRP Solicitors Limited
  218. John R Campbell, School of Oriental & African Studies
  219. Polly Lane | Solicitor | Fisher Meredith LLP
  220. James Mehigan, Tooks Chambers
  221. John Grayson, Independent Researcher, vice chair SYMAAG (South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group)
  222. Laura Woodhouse, The F-Word
  223. Intimaria Tindall-Binz, Black Feminists
  224. Cathy Gallagher, Public Sector, Legal Services Consultant
  225. Gus Silverman | Solicitor, Fisher Meredith LLP
  226. Theresa Mikuriya, University of Kent
  227. Hannah Lewis, University of Leeds
  228. Lucy Mayblin, University of Sheffield
  229. Michael Farrelly, University of Hull
  230. Nirmal Puwar, Goldsmiths College
  231. Rebecca Pickering, Kenworthy’s Chambers
  232. Nasar Meer, Northumbria University
  233. Jerome Phelps, Detention Action
  234. Gina Savanhu, Kadmos Consultants
  235. Samir Abugideiri, Kadmos Consultants,
  236. Helena Sheizon, Kadmos Consultants
  237. Hilton von Herbert, Hackney Community Law Centre
  238. Tim Barnden, Wesley Gryk Solicitors
  239. Diana Neslen, Chair Redbridge Equalities and Community Council
  240. Sanjay Sharma, Brunel University
  241. Claudia Bernard, Goldsmiths, University of London
  242. Annabelle Jacques
  243. Kirsteen Paton, University of Leeds
  244. Tracey Jensen, Newcastle University
  245. Nicholas Sagovsky, Roehampton University
  246. Kalpana Wilson, Gender Institute, LSE
  247. Sarbjit Johal, South Asia Solidarity Group
  248. Amrit Wilson, Freedom Without Fear Platform
  249. Jean Peters, Peng Collective, Berlin
  250. Stefan Szczelkun, University of Westminster
  251. Harshad Keval, Canterbury Christ Church University
  252. Tim Barnden, Wesley Gryk LLP
  253. Lyn Luces, Solicitor
  254. Mira Vogel
  255. Lena Wånggren, University of Edinburgh
  256. Tim Butler, KCL
  257. Georgie Wemyss, University of East London
  258. Owen Parker, University of Sheffield
  259. Rashmi Varma, University of Warwick
  260. Alejandro Colas, Birkbeck College
  261. Maud Anne Bracke, University of Glasgow
  262. Adam Kaasa, LSE
  263. Anupama Ranawana, University of Aberdeen
  264. Nazek Ramadan, Migrant Voice
  265. Meena Patel, Southall Black Sisters