1st April 2017
By Hugh Lanning
The wave of hatred that is sweeping Britain blames migrants for a wide range of social ills. We should not pander to anti-immigrant sentiment in a race we cannot win and should never want to,” says the founding statement of the Alliance for Free Movement.
For years Labour accepted austerity for fear of losing electoral credibility; now, it seems, we are doing the same on immigration. In going along with the myths, Labour is seeking an unholy grail it will never find - the ‘progressive anti-immigration policy’ that will win back Labour’s traditional votes. Immigration is a real issue that has to be confronted, but not by accepting the lies which have made it so toxic.
Lie No.1 is that immigration is the cause of the problems many people face. The real danger here is that we will be exposed by Lie No.2. If immigration is not the cause, then stopping it will not solve the problems. Lie No.3 is that we can stop immigration - we might drive migration underground into the hands of criminals, but we won’t stop it.
Lie No.4 is that we want to stop migration and don’t need it. As the Brexit negotiations unwind, it will become clear that we do need migration, as we have an aging, under-skilled population. But what is being proposed is a selective immigration policy - if you are white, rich or skilled, that’s fine. If not, we still might want you, but we don’t want to give you rights to remain. Lie No.5 is that migration is a bad thing. In fact migration is an essential factor in our heritage and history. It has enabled us to become a rich, multicultural country and is essential for our future prosperity, too.
The key to tackling public perceptions of immigration is developing a communitybased approach which improves both migrant experiences and the lives of host communities - making the best of all parts of the community, neither isolation nor forced integration. There is a natural integration that flows from working, whether you are a migrant or not. If you are unemployed and poor you are isolated, whatever your colour or religion.
Migration is not a short-term or temporary event, but needs long-term solutions. We must invest in work-based solutions - training and upskilling for all who need it, ESOL courses, skill centres, Sure Start and care provision. This will only happen if everyone is given the chance to earn a legitimate living and treated as productive residents who will contribute to the economy.
It is not enough to describe the general effects of migration - positive or negative - at the macro level, it needs to be honestly set out locally as well. There should be a community needs analysis that looks at skills, jobs, taxes, population, housing and the environment. This would define the public service and investment needs for the community. Then - constituency by constituency - Labour would be able to set out the issues and answers based on real community needs, not just fears and prejudices.
Having identified the needs, Labour should advocate the required investment to ensure there are resources to match. If done with community involvement, we can build progressive local alliances to fight for common aims: public service investment; public, affordable housing in the regions of fast growth; skills training to fill skills gaps; and protecting workers’ rights.
We have a choice: building an island fortress or investing to make migration safe and secure for migrants and communities alike. Border controls should be rights-based, about security, crime and customs control with staffing to match.
However, the main investment should be in strengthening all those enforcement agencies involved in regulating the rights of people at work. Rather than trying to ‘catch’ individuals at the border we should invest in creating safe workplaces, ensuring employers comply with employment rights and implementing properly the law concerning health and safety, minimum wage, tax and national insurance, gangmasters and people trafficking.
Economist Jonathan Portes says as a result of Brexit, “we will probably be poorer.” His point is that it is wrong to believe we are somehow ‘trading off’ the economic benefits of the Single Market against the downsides of free movement. Restricting trade, capital flows and immigration - reducing the openness of the UK economy - all have negative economic impacts. “If we want to make an economic success of Brexit, that will mean making openness - to migration as much as trade - a priority in our policies with respect to both the EU and the rest of the world”, he explains.
Freedom of movement is not the problem - it is part of the solution in or out of Europe. We should defend and extend migrant rights, not take them away.
By Ian Hodson It’s great news that a mainstream political party has recognised the importance of taking positive action to raise pay. Since 2008, politicians from all parties along with many in the media, have pushed the narrative that society will somehow improve by imposing austerity and blaming minority groups for the state of the country’s finances. Sadly, many have fallen for this deception and the ‘look over there’ politics that has rose to prominence since the Conservatives returned to power in 2010. [continue...]
Folkestone United – coming together to support migrants Bridget Chapman, Folkestone United, reports [continue...]
No Witch-Hunts In The GMB, Reinstate Keith Henderson (The Online Petition) Keith Henderson Essex LRC member and former Regional Organiser of the GMB Union was dismissed from the GMB last December, Keith has always believed that the real reason for his dismissal was because of his socialist beliefs and the manifestation of his beliefs. [continue...]
The LRC is supporting a broad alliance of campaign groups and trade unions against the proposals in the Welfare Reform Bill (currently before Parliament) and putting forward our alternative based on social justice and welfare for all. [continue...]
Across the country working people are losing their jobs and their homes. Meanwhile the bankers who plunged us into this crisis have been bailed out with billions of pounds of our money. It’s time to fight back. Their Crisis Not Ours! is the LRC’s campaign to bring together workers, pensioners, the unemployed, students, those facing repossession and all those suffering because of an economic crisis that has been imposed on us. The campaign is supporting the demands of the People’s Charter. [continue...]
Rail bosses are using the recession as an excuse to attack jobs and conditions and cut back on services and essential rail works, and hike rail fares - as LEAP research suggested they would. Thousands of jobs are being threatened or have been lost. At the same time rail fat cats are raking in big profits and bonuses on the back of the most expensive fares in Europe. Make no mistake: as the recession worsens so will the attack on rail workers and rail services. [continue...]
The campaign calling on the Government to abandon its plans for privatisation of Royal Mail. The Government has introduced the Postal Services Bill to part-privatise the Royal Mail. With our affiliate union CWU we are fighting to Keep the Post Public! [continue...]
The campaign to demand the Government funds improvements to all existing council housing, and to start building first class council homes to address housing need. For more information see Defend Council Housing website. [continue...]
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