From a former member involved this year.
“In solidarity with those who have shared their accounts of MFJ involvement, here is mine….
I became involved in the organising side of MFJ a year ago, trying to organise in Bristol for a Yarl’s Wood demo.
At some point late last year, I was asked to be one of their “young leaders” in Bristol. Among other things, I remember them saying stuff like “Bristol is ready…” or “it’s time for Bristol” which resonates very closely to the blogs that have been published recently.
I was working with an amazing activist from Zimbabwe and we we’re trying to connect with other groups in Bristol. I was told on the phone not to let this other person get in the way of the real political message. And that I should take control.
When I said I felt uncomfortable/ that it was inappropriate for me as a non-migrant to initiate organizing in a migrant led group, I was asked to come to London to talk about my politics with MFJ. This was phrased as if they were concerned about me when, in retrospect, I think they really they wanted to convince me to change my approach, which again speaks to the manipulation that the blogs revealed.
I met with one of the “leadership” at their home in their bedroom for about 4 hours to learn about their politics. They told me about the IRL and explained their approach to organizing. They gave me a big book of trot literature to read and read some out to me. They said that theirs was the best way as it was the only way that really worked.
They encouraged me to basically tell my life story (which I so badly regret now!!). Somehow, within minutes of me disclosing information about my mental health, they concluded that I wasn’t “strong enough” and it would be “too hard” for me to organise without them, the leadership, in Bristol. They told me to move to London from Bristol to be more involved.
When I tried to express my unease with white ppl being at the forefront, they shut me down immediately and said it was ridiculous. They encouraged me to cut ties with other groups and critiqued all other forms of organising very heavily.
I was told that MFJ has only recently started working with migrants. They said it was against their rules to have romance with any one else in the movement.
As the blog says, the decisions do seem to be made by the very centralised committee. In the WhatsApp group, asylum seeker members are often shut down or spoken over. They do seem to choose to only support actions that will specifically get their message out. One example is that I asked if they could come down to Bristol for support when the fash came last month and heard nothing. But they then paid for 3 members to get the train to freshers fair to recruit ppl. This kind of thing has happened time and time again.
I have been stepping back from MFJ gradually for a while, and to hear that someone has been treated the way the blog describes, seals the deal. It has all been quite shocking and rattling, but I am optimistic that we can do better and continue to organise to fight the racist sexist classist immigration system in this country, in a transparent and anti-opressive way.
These systems have to end. Before I had been led to believe that MFJ were the only organisation capable of delivering this change, but they are not.
Receiving that email from MFJ flatly denying all allegations made my blood run cold.
It took me right back to Kids Company in 2014, when I tried to report gross malpractice, and I was told it would hurt the clients; it would be selfish to come forward; maybe I imagined what happened; and I felt like I was losing my mind.
It reminded me of every time I challenge members of the SWP on their history of rape apology, and they aggressively deny the allegations and accuse me of “creating divisions on the left”.
I’m so disappointed, if not surprised, by how MFJ have responded. But I’m also so relieved to see so many groups publicly supporting those who have spoken out, whilst simultaneously throwing energy into building for the Yarl’s Wood Demo autonomously.
I am hopeful that other groups on the left will follow suit and hold the leadership of MFJ to account. It’s all of our responsibility.
People just don’t lie about this shit. Don’t regret not speaking up.”