Socialist Worker

Ex-Ford's worker: 'This is a recipe for divide and rule'

Issue No. 2137

Berlyne Hamilton is a retired car worker who used to work at the Ford plant in Dagenham, east London. He spoke to Socialist Worker about his experience there as a shop steward.

“The slogan ‘British jobs for British workers’ is a dangerous one and not one I will ever support,” he said.

“It is a recipe for divide and rule – and it reminds me of some dark times in the 1970s.

“I worked at Ford Dagenham back then. Racists in the car plant used that same slogan to attack Asians who were coming into the workforce.

“The same people had previously tried to prevent people from the Caribbean, like myself, from getting decent jobs in the car industry.

“One result of this was that cleaners at the plant, who earned very low wages, were almost exclusively African.

“As a shop steward, I spent much of my life arguing and fighting against this kind of discrimination.

“Today I worry that this slogan will appeal to unemployed people and encourage them to blame the recession on ‘foreigners’.

“I don’t think that Gordon Brown understood what damage he was doing when he used it.”

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