Report from NoBorders gathering

On Saturday 16th February sixty No Borders activists came together in Manchester to discuss the future of the network. The gathering was called by Manchester No Borders, and groups from Brighton, Bristol, Newcastle, Oxford, Liverpool, London, Cardiff, Birmingham and many more came for a weekend of discussions, planning and hanging out with other No Borders activists.

Saturday began with a discussion about the identity of No Borders. What is No Borders, can we agree on a cohesive identity for the network? The discussion drew out some ideological conflicts within the network, but one thing that everyone agreed on was the importance of an ‘anticapitalist' emphasis within No Borders. But what does this mean? How does capitalism relate to borders? This debate kept going for most of the first morning and in various conversations throughout the weekend, there was definitely a sense that this needed to be pursued and that it was at the top of the agenda (literally-pushing the pre-planned agenda into oblivion!) for many activists in the No Borders network.

After a morning of theoretical discussions we began to discuss tactics. In small groups people discussed the potential conflict between small-scale more achievable actions against migration management and solidarity campaigns on the one hand, and the networks broader goals on the other. Is there a conflict? What should we focus our energies on as a network? This discussion fed in nicely to the next point on the agenda- who/what should be our target? A few key targets were pulled out of this discussion: snatch squads/dawn raids/forced removals, detentions centres, housing, airlines involved in deportations, G4S, reporting centres.

Manchester, as a new group, had called this gathering to see if there was a network out there, the energy and excitement we were met with suggested, yes, there definitely is. On Sunday it emerged that there was alot of energy to decide on a national, network wide, campaign. Groups presented the pros and cons of their respective campaigns, the urgency, locality, accessibility and feasibility (in terms of action opportunities) were discussed and the final decision, with only one stand aside, was that two working groups would begin planning two national campaigns, one targeting snatch squads/forced removals and the other targeting airlines involved in deportations. The snatch squad campaign will target local security forces involved in the arrest of asylum seekers/refugees/migrants from their homes in the early hours of the morning. The campaign targeting airlines, following on from the success of XL airline, which recently halted their involvement in deportations after a similar campaign, will target high profile airlines such a Virgin.

There was a lot of energy for groups to act together under the No Borders banner and feedback from local groups suggested that the knowledge and expertise available to the network will contribute to a lively and informed campaign.

The next gathering is planned for September 2008 in Newcastle. www.noborders.org.uk.

Posted byManchester No Borders at 4:56 AM