The Tories love nothing more than to stir up racism and scapegoat immigrants.
Their latest cheap stunt, sending an anti-immigrant message on an ad van touring six London boroughs, has won them pages of publicity.
The poster on the van includes a pair of handcuffs and the message “In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest. Text HOME to 78070 for free advice and help with travel documents.
“We can help you return home voluntarily without fear of arrest or detention.”
This is an attempt by the Tories to look tough. They want to prove to their hardline supporters that they haven’t gone soft from being in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
They also want to stop a haemorrhage of Tory votes to Ukip.
But this is not just about trying to outflank Ukip, who actually denounced the stunt. The Tories also want to expose the other main political parties. Because, whether Lib Dem or Labour, all are united on the issue of immigration.
All want to blame migrants for overstretched services and cuts.
So when Labour denounced the van, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said it was a “cynical stunt from a government that’s not getting the basics right on immigration”.
Labour is desperate not to appear to be soft on immigration. Ed Miliband used a party political broadcast earlier this year to declare that Labour had got it wrong in the past and was now going to show it would be tough on the issue.
He used terms such as “benefit tourism” which have come straight from the vocabulary of the right.
This consensus at the top is based on the assumption that the majority of ordinary people are racist and that stunts and policies attacking immigrants will always be popular.
The divide and rule strategy has intensified since the onset of the crisis. The working poor are encouraged to look down on those relying on benefits.
Those that work in the private sector are told that public sector workers have gold plated pensions.
The most toxic division is racism. And politicians have no qualms about using it to distract from the real issues behind the crisis and the imposition of austerity.
But the outrage the van has generated shows how many people reject the racist filth peddled by politicians about immigration.
Many work and live alongside people from all over the world. They don’t automatically swallow the lies that their neighbours and workmates are the cause of the crisis.
The working class have the potential to build resistance to the politics of divide and rule and racist scapegoating.