Socialist Worker

Politicians should be in the dock too

Issue No. 1738

Lorry driver Perry Wacker and a Chinese interpreter are on trial for the manslaughter of 58 young Chinese immigrants. Others should be in the dock alongside them-starting with Tony Blair, Jack Straw, William Hague and the major newspaper owners. The 58 people suffocated in the lorry they had been smuggled aboard on a ferry arriving in Dover.

Two of the victims escaped death. They have described how the others gasped for air and screamed for help. They told the court that the lorry's air vent had been closed to reduce any noise that might alert the police. The victims were so desperate to escape China's poverty and human rights abuses that they committed themselves to pay a fee equivalent to ten years wages for their journey.

The ruthless people who profit from trafficking refugees may be directly responsible for the killing of these 58 young people.

But the New Labour government signed their death warrant. It has toughened up the Tory laws on asylum and immigration. These laws force desperate people to try and get into Britain by illegal means, as New Labour has closed off all 'legal' means of entry. The laws are also racist. They have always been used primarily against black and Asian people. Tory leader William Hague wants to see these laws made even more harsh. He spoke last week of Britain becoming a 'foreign land', and attacked asylum seekers. His party has no chance in the forthcoming election, but he wants to drag the debate into the gutter.

The major newspapers have also fuelled the climate by their racist scapegoating of refugees and asylum seekers. This can only mean more deaths like those at Dover-and the politicians and press will be to blame.

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Sat 10 Mar 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1738
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