Socialist Worker

Why we welcome refugees

Issue No. 1835

THE MOST right wing and privileged forces in society are trying to create hysteria over people fleeing persecution to come to this country. They are even trying to turn the death of a policeman in Manchester into a campaign against asylum seekers. The logic is barking. The fact that the three suspects arrested at the Manchester house had claimed asylum says nothing about the overwhelming majority of asylum seekers.

There are a tiny number of Irish people in Britain who support the Republican splinter groups that want to continue armed struggle in Northern Ireland. Does that mean we should lock up or kick out the hundreds of thousands of Irish people who live here? Of course not. Dr Harold Shipman murdered possibly hundreds of his patients. Should we routinely round up GPs?

Does the fact that serial killer Fred West was a builder mean we should fear for our lives when we get someone in to do repairs? Yet papers like the Sun, Mail and Express are calling for action against ALL asylum seekers purely because they are asylum seekers. Many of those papers are also pushing for war and policies abroad that will create more refugees.

The biggest single group of asylum seekers coming to Britain are from Iraq. The next biggest is from Zimbabwe. The Tories and papers such as the Sun, Mail and Express constantly tell us what tyrants Saddam Hussein and Robert Mugabe are.

But when people try to flee those tyrants, the same politicians and papers say we should send them back. These are not the only inconvenient facts the refugee-bashers ignore. Socialist Worker answers the lies, gives you the facts and says refugees are welcome here.

1. Britain is not overcrowded

THERE ARE nearly 60 million people in Britain and the birth rate is falling. The number of refugees expected to apply to come here this year is about 0.17 percent of the population. Britain ranks seventh among the 15 countries of the European Union in terms of asylum applications. There are 753,188 empty homes in Britain, according to the government's Empty Homes Agency. The refugee-bashers say nothing about ending that housing scandal. Instead the Sun attacks the government for not selling off more council houses.

2. Immigrants contribute to society in Britain

MOST ASYLUM seekers and immigrants are in their twenties and thirties. They are less likely to need medical care than the very young or elderly. Immigrant workers contribute £2.5 billion a year to the economy. The refugee-bashers bang on about asylum seekers claiming benefits. Asylum seekers are NOT ALLOWED to work until they get refugee status. Most of them have much-needed skills.

This is because they often come from the educated layers in their home countries who are more likely to be able to get out. But they are not allowed to contribute to society in Britain. Instead they are put on just 70 percent of the level of income support, which is already below the poverty line.

A single adult gets just £37.77 a week. The government has just withdrawn all benefits from asylum seekers who do not fill in a complicated application form the moment they enter the country.

3. New Labour has not been 'soft on asylum' it has caved in to the refugee-bashers

HOME SECRETARY David Blunkett is concentrating asylum seekers in 'centres' in order to appease the anti-refugee brigade. That's why the government has ordered a private firm to buy up buildings like a disused former agricultural college in Lincolnshire. These are not 'luxury' flats.

The government is spending money on the equivalent of B&B accommodation because it wants to isolate asylum seekers rather than let them integrate into local communities. It also wants to lock up more asylum seekers in detention camps. London has the most asylum seekers in Britain. The city is also the most integrated.

Dumping asylum seekers in rural areas is creating a breeding ground for the racists. It allows bigoted local politicians, such as Tory leader of Kent county council Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, to target groups of asylum seekers as scapegoats. He claims to represent the interests of ordinary people.

But he is clinging on to the antiquated grammar school system which means that 80 percent of Kent's children are labelled failures at the age of 11. Scandalously some Labour MPs, such as Sittingbourne's David Wyatt, are joining in the hysteria over asylum. Every concession Labour politicians have made to the asylum-bashers has only fuelled a racist hysteria.

4. This witch-hunt will boost racism

THE RIGHT wing papers claim that by raising 'genuine concerns' they are undercutting the racists. Home secretary David Blunkett says that too. But his nasty anti-refugee measures have only encouraged the likes of the Daily Mail to attack him for not going far enough.

Further to the right still stand the Nazi British National Party. The bile in the press is music to their ears. BNP fuhrer, Cambridge-educated toff Griffin, says the 'asylum issue legitimises us'. He also says he wants 'an all white Britain'.

The hysteria against asylum seekers will mean more racist murders like that of black teenager Stephen Lawrence. Liberal scaremongering? Well, decrepit Tory Norman Tebbit revelled last weekend when he wrote in a refugee-bashing article that Enoch Powell's 'prophesies will come to pass'.

Powell incited race riots in 1968 by claiming immigration into Britain would lead to 'rivers of blood'. He was not ranting about asylum seekers only, but calling for the deportation of ALL black people.

Racist thugs don't distinguish between asylum seekers and black people who were born here. Everyone who genuinely opposes racism should combat the lies about asylum seekers.

Who's behind the witch-hunt?

JUST LOOK at the people who are spewing out lies about asylum and immigration.

  • The Sun-owned by billionaire Rupert Murdoch. He has homes in five countries and moves money round the world so he pays less than a penny per pound in tax.

  • The Daily Mail-owned by the toff Rothermere family. The paper's 'ultimate holding company' is registered in Bermuda-the Caribbean island tax haven. Its editor, Paul Dacre, was paid £830,000 last year. What does he know about the concerns of ordinary people?

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    Article information

    Sat 25 Jan 2003, 00:00 GMT
    Issue No. 1835
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