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Dancing to the tune of the far right

Prime Minister David Cameron has chosen the pages of the Sun newspaper to launch a crackdown on immigrants. In what the tabloid calls his “manifesto”, he claims that “frankly this country became a soft touch”.

Whilst saying that immigration has benefited Britain, his words are a clear bid to win back those voters who have been migrating to the anti-immigration, anti-Europe UK Independence party.

The manifesto is Cameron’s attempt to outflank UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who recently met with the Sun’s owner, Rupert Murdoch for the first time. The PM’s attack on welfare for immigrants mimics proposals put forward by UKIP.

Cameron announced that immigrants would no longer receive benefits if they did not find a job after six months. They would only qualify to be on the waiting list (let alone be given) council homes when they have lived in the UK for up to five years. He said they would not be able to receive free treatment in the NHS.

The entire basis for his attack was that immigrants are an overall drain on the UK economy in general and on housing benefits and the health service.

But on BBC Radio 4 this morning, Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), put the record straight. He said that the Institute’s research for the Migration Advisory Committee of the UK Border Agency has shown that migrants “make a substantial net contribution to UK finance”.

This is because migrants are mostly young people who come to the UK to work and who pay taxes, he explained. They are far less of a burden on the welfare state than the average British citizen. The overwhelming part of UK benefits go to older people who need long-term health care. While there obviously were some cases of abuse, “the figures tell us that the people from outside the UK are a miniscule cost to the NHS”.

The NIESR is not the only organisation challenging the increasingly shrill anti-immigration rhetoric. On Saturday, the Bishop of Dudley, David Walker, said the tone of the debate was “wholly disproportionate”. Walker, who has served on the board of the National Housing Federation pricked the “fear” bubble. 

“Public fears around immigration are like fears around crime,” he said.  “They bear little relationship to the actual reality. The true threats to our national wellbeing lie not with those who come to visit or make their lives here but with the increasing gap between the rich and poor among us."

It’s clear that Cameron is dancing to the tune of UKIP and the far right, is using the pages of the right wing press to whip up anti-immigrant sentiment based on a fictional scenario.

His stance, however, still fails to match up to that of Labour. Not long ago, Blairite Dan Hodges noted that Labour leader Ed Miliband “laid out some of the hardest policy lines ever drawn on the issue by a Labour leader”. And Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper's agenda involved “arrest, incarceration and deportation. Not One Nation, but a one-way ticket out of Britain”. She called for greater powers to be given to the UK Borders Agency.

But that very same agency is guilty of repeatedly breaking the law in its attempts to deport those legally seeking leave to remain in the UK.

UKBA’s monstrous behaviour has led to the deaths of a number of asylum seekers whilst in custody (some whilst in the “care” of global security giant G4S), the separation of children from parents, wives from husbands and many other human rights infringements.

The continuing shift to ever more anti-immigration policies is a bankrupt racist attempt by all the main political parties to make immigrants into scapegoats as the economic crisis deepens. Former immigration lawyer Francis Webber’s call for “a braver alternative vision” in her new book Borderline Justice is spot on. It can help to inspire the development of a new constitution for the 21st century.

Corinna Lotz
A World to Win Secretary
25 March 2013

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Your Say

Stuart says:

Capitalism has always blamed immigrants for its ills. In the 19th century it was the Irish, in the 1960/70's immigrants from the West Indies or Asia, now its Eastern Europeans! This is to deflect people from the real reasons for the failures of capitalism. The NHS is failing because there are too many immigrants not because it is underfunded & is in the process of being converted into profit centres. Immigrants are taking jobs not that global capitalism is destroying jobs to create a compliant workforce etc.

We need to smash the myths being created by the racist right & expose their class basis.

Jonathan Murray-Lacey says:

Isolation, as drawn attention to by Ruhul Anam, and the drawn out legal process included, is a weapon of war, not just class war – as must be noted in regards to Camp Delta – 'freedom' is always relative, of course, but this is a paced and planned campaign - and only the raising of issues, only the organising in communities, and link these together, to support and break the isolation can move matters forward.

As a weapon of class war it has many sharp edges – a crude and violent, violating weapon, and feeds the right wing press with their agenda. UKIP leader Nigel Farage moves from small references, and blanket support from Russian Television – for their purposes – to curdle the cultural blood, each issue raised in this blog touches many individual lives, sensual lives, the removing of kids, brought out by Ruhul is a multiple issue, it aches the soul: reach inside deeply, reach out and organise. And send cards to those in Belmarsh – send this blog into all in such condition you know of. For what the internet doesn't give to those who have access denied, is what art and culture gives: others personal pain. 'Drowning not waiving'

As our shared experiences mount, a forum and Assemblies driven for by AWTW and many others unconsciously, and consciously - and moved towards by others whether 'wishing' to or not as the only response possible - including bringing the legal process under the auspices of Assemblies - there is work to be done.

Ruhul Anam says:

Such is the corruption of UKBA, keeping 1000 prisoner after sentence in Detention but in prison bed space as UKBA have doubled their bed space in prison, which financially also suit them very much as prison space is much cheaper then detention place.

I'm currently visiting a detainee in HMP belmarsh who is been kept in there for nearly 2 years, which is not acceptable, although he is not from Nigeria, UKBA officer have signed his name on travel document application to get Nigerian TD, when complaint UKBA appologised and stated ,officer involved in forging detainees signature have resigned. Assume to be that is the end...

Im now out of detention after 4 yrs 2 months of unlawful detention, during this time Ive lost my kids as they are currently local authorities care. Now Im fighting to get contact with my kids via court proceeding...

I been offered 70k for unlawful detention, no amount of money will undo what UKBA have done to me and my KIDS and family as they continues to miss me... Im still missing....Im still living in memory....

Only time will tell what future holds.

Ramlah M Nanyonga says:

In my opinion people need to get over immigration because its here to stay unfortunately! People migrated from Jesus's days long ago for different reasons, i think the best discussion should be - how to support immigrants settle in and benefit the economy.

Fiona says:

But will the few sensible voices like those of Jonathan Portes and David Walker be listened to or even properly heard as they're drowned out by the popular and right wing media and cheered by the likes of UKIP? Then again after new health regulations begin to be applied after 1st April decreasing amounts of us will be able to access NHS care at all, national and non-national alike. Maybe then it will be realised just how much of the same boat the majority of us are in.

Dennis M Sullivan says:

Interesting parallel to USA, where immigrants are often scapegoats blamed fo unemployment snd crime. Blaming the other for one's own problems is lamentably all too common.

Rada Daniell says:

Cameron is steering xenophobia with the loud support from the Labour ‘opposition’. Most of his right wing racist policies Cameron is thundering about, have been introduced ages ago without much opposition form the sleeping UK public. I worked in the NHS for over a decade and I have a firsthand experience of both GPs and hospitals acting like outposts of the UK Border Agency and asking people to produce passports as a proof of their NHS entitlement. This was inspite of the facts that they had no right to ask for the passports, and that there was nothing in the passports which at that time (this was five years ago – not sure if this has changed), indicated NHS entitlement or the lack of it.

Not everybody was asked for the passport though. The decision was made by the receptionists or their bosses, based on whether a person looked or sounded foreign.

A friend who works in the Ambulance Service tells me that nowadays they ask people while they are rushed to the hospital about their entitlement!

Jonathan Murray-Lacey says:

They treat the 'flotsam and jetsam', our ebbs, our flows, of the migration of our brothers, cousins, sisters and grandmothers - and ourselves: as a tap to be turned on and off at will.

One of the greatest developments of the 20th century - the NHS built , on the blood in each of their wars to end all wars - they forget the class war is not over 'till the fat lady gets NHS treatment (actually they don't forget - it haunts them in a continuous bad dream). Which gives us our true Enoch Powell moment - the minister who brought in 'West Indian' teachers - to sweep the streets, and - clean the NHS - well now we are closing into our 'rivers of blood moment' - as well as their wish for 'no dogs, no blacks and no Irish'.

And knitting the NHS together - as I recently experienced - is a multicoloured, blended and multiplying, multi-culture circus of talent - and lying in the beds - those who built it. But let us not forget - as to a moment of hostage to the Sun - or tori (Irish for thief) not to follow the agenda - but set it: our scalpels & maggots, at their gangrene.

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