Socialist Worker

These are the real parasites

Issue No. 1694

Witch-hunt against refugees is a smokescreen

These are the real parasites

POLITICIANS AND most of the press want working people to blame asylum seekers for the housing crisis in Britain, and for the lack of decent services, benefits or jobs. There is indeed a small group of scroungers bleeding the country of wealth, living off the backs of ordinary people. It is not refugees, but the tiny layer of the filthy rich who do no work, pay little tax and own vast amounts of land and wealth-and get ever richer simply by virtue of being rich already.

Just 1,000 of these people have �146 billion between them, more than the combined cost of the NHS and welfare benefits in Britain. These people have seen their wealth grow under New Labour. They got �31 billion richer just in the last 12 months. They enjoy a luxury lifestyle and flit between homes in countries across the globe. Borders and immigration rules are no problem for the rich or for the wealth they control.

They stash their wealth in tax havens so as little as possible of it goes towards helping pay for health and welfare services for ordinary people. And while papers like the Sun and Mail scream about refugees pouring into an overcrowded country a handful of the rich own vast areas of land across Britain.

  • The Duke of Beaufort, worth around �100 million, has 52,000 acres in Gloucestershire.
  • The Duke of Northumberland, worth �250 million, runs the family estate covering 120,000 acres in Northumberland, has 3,000 acres in Surrey, and the 200 acre Dryburgh estate in Scotland.
  • Sir Euan Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe, worth �140 million, has 1,550 acres in Birmingham, as well as his 4,000 acres and estate in Hampshire.
  • Mary Czernin, eldest daughter of the late Lord Howard De Walden, worth �300 million, has 100 acres around London's prized Harley Street.
  • The Earl of Cadogan, worth �840 million, has 100 acres in London's exclusive Chelsea area.
  • Earl of Inveagh, worth �600 million, has 28,000 acres in Suffolk. His money comes from the Guinness family fortune.

THE DUKE of Westminster is the second richest man in Britain. He is worth over �3,700 million, and owns 300 acres of some of the most valuable land in London's Mayfair and Belgravia. He also has an 11,500 acre estate in Cheshire, and forest and shooting estates in Scotland and Lancashire.

TORY PARTY treasurer Michael Ashcroft, who was recently given a peerage, is worth at least �1,000 million. He made huge sums of money basing his security business in Bermuda and has vast amounts of wealth in, and influence over, the government of the Central American country of Belize.

BARCLAYS BANK chairman Peter Middleton got �1.76 million last year. The company's chief executive-Matthew Barrett, annual salary �850,000-is set to get a bonus of least �30 million. They have sacked thousands of bank workers and closed 172 high street branches.

LADY GRANTCHESTER is the head of the Moores family which owns the Littlewoods football pools and retailing group. She inherited her wealth from her super-rich father, Sir John Moores, and is worth �1,300 million, making her the joint twelfth richest person in the country.

PETER CRUDDAS is a financial speculator who gambles on currencies and shares on the internet. He is worth �500 million and very happy with life. "I am only 46 and don't want to retire. I drive a Bentley, play golf twice a week and can't think of anything I need."

RUPERT MURDOCH, whose Sun newspaper has been leading the witch-hunt against refugees, has a personal wealth of �4,000 million spread round the world. He flits between bits of his media empire across the globe, and has dodged �1,400 million in tax on his profits in Britain since 1988.

VISCOUNT ROTHERMERE is the joint twelfth richest person in Britain, worth �1,300 million. He is head of the family which owns the anti-refugee Daily Mail. His father loved Britain so much that he dodged paying taxes by spending only 80 days a year here, living it up in Paris and New York instead.


Rich are welcome here REFUGEES WHO flee countries devastated by war and poverty are branded as economic migrants and "bogus asylum seekers". But there is no storm of protest over the rich who come to Britain to build up huge stocks of wealth.

  • BRITAIN'S RICHEST man, Hans Rausing, left Sweden to escape paying higher taxes there. He now lives in the home counties where he farms deer and collects vintage cars. His fortune of over �4.4 billion-that's �4,400 million, came from the family firm, Tetra Laval.
  • SWISS FINANCIER Urs Schwarzenbach gathered his �500 million wealth through gambling on the foreign exchange markets. He has an estate in Scotland and a mansion in Oxfordshire. He went to court last year to win the right to land his helicopter on the Oxford estate.
  • FRENCH ENTREPRENEUR Philippe Foriel-Destezet has built up a fortune worth �1.5 billion through the world's largest employment agency, Adecco. The business includes the Alfred Marks agency. Bosses often employ agency workers on contracts with fewer rights, lower pay and worse conditions than permanent staff.
  • US MILLIONAIRE Fred Koch has a mansion in Surrey worth �25 million that he has never slept a night in since he bought it 14 years ago. He got his money from his father's oil business. He is worth �406 million.

...and they want you to scapegoat people like this victim of brutal persecution

"ZAHRA" IS from a left wing Kurdish family and fled Iraq in 1996. She is now living on the breadline in east London.

"I COME from a political family. We were fighting for independence and freedom. We have paid a high price. My sister, who lived in the north, was killed when Saddam Hussein gassed the town of Halabja. She left a daughter who I am looking after now. My uncles, my grandfather, my grandmother, they all died at Halabja. When the 1991 Gulf War started we became very active. We thought that everything would be OK. But we found out it was just a big game for America and they left us to be repressed. In 1996 my husband was arrested. I was arrested. I don't want to talk about my time in detention. I decided to leave through Turkey, using smugglers to get me through. We gave them US$6,000 to get us out. By the time we arrived at Heathrow the children were in high fever. When we arrived we thought that all the fear that we had been living under would disappear and that we would be given refuge. But that didn't happen. While I was in the airport I had an asthma attack. Someone in the airport took me to hospital. They then sent me to social services. They sent me by taxi to a hostel in Westminster. But it was 5pm and they refused to open the door. The taxi driver then took me to the police. It was winter. My two year old child was freezing and I was tired. I had no money. I spent the whole night without food. Immigration officials questioned me. I had the feeling that, if they could, they would have sent me back. I collapsed and was taken to hospital. They then sent me to a hostel in Newham, east London. It was damp. There was no central heating. I spent all day in the local library just to keep warm. My asthma was getting worse. I wanted to die. I told the doctors, "Just take care of my child." It was then that they decided to help me. They gave me the house I am in now. I managed to contact my family back in Iraq. They had all been put into detention. In 1998 I got asylum status and sent a message to my remaining children to leave. They were smuggled out. My father and brother, who had helped them escape were arrested and tortured to death. I wish someone could understand the suffering of the Kurdish people. The immigration authorities in Britain look at you as if you are nothing. Even now the nightmare hasn't stopped. For three months last year five of us were living on �64 a week. The fridge was empty. We had a little bread and no meat. The government don't like refugees. We escaped from fear, but this government rebuilds that fear."


Tory Party backed by scroungers

THE TORIES have been whipping up a racist campaign of scapegoating asylum seekers. But they count many of the super-rich scroungers amongst their leading supporters.

  • MULTI-MILLIONAIRE Irvine Laidlaw gave the Tories �200,000 for their disastrous election campaign to Scottish Parliament. Laidlaw's �300 million fortune comes from running the Institute for International Research, the world's largest conference organiser. The firm is based in the tax haven of Bermuda. Laidlaw dodges taxes further by spending most of his time on his yacht sailing around Florida and Monaco. He is now building a new 182 foot yacht and owns an executive jet.
  • ARCHIE NORMAN, Tory MP for Tunbridge Wells, made his fortune as chief executive of the Asda supermarket chain before its sell off to the US retail giant Wal-Mart. Norman made �10 million when he left Asda to become the Tories' shadow environment minister.
  • MICHAEL HESELTINE, who presided over the pit closures in 1992, has massed a �230 million fortune through his publishing empire, Haymarket.

THIS �20 million mansion in Holland Park, west London, gives you a glimpse of the type of homes the super-rich live in. It boasts "a library, big drawing room, quite a lot of bathrooms each with a fireplace. There are also a dozen or so bedrooms, and all the usual rooms for the latest generation of servants." In the grounds are gardens and an Eton Fives court-a game posh people play. The area has planning permission for a covered swimming pool with a gym and private cinema. It was designed for the Debenham department store family. The property is now owned by Charlotte Townshend, whose wealth is around �80 million. She also owns a 15,000 acre estate in Dorset.


Immigration is not the problem

What we think

PRESS TALK of "floods" and "tides" of immigrants has no basis in reality. It is language designed to be alarmist and scaremongering. The media claim people casually decide to come to this country in search of "the good life", of easy to come by homes and benefits. Neither homes nor benefits are easy to get for refugees.

But people do not leave their homes in the first place, and the country where they grew up, without a very strong reason. During the 1950s it was possible to emigrate to Australia from Britain for just �10. But millions of people did not sell up and move. Pensioners do not rush off to live in Sweden, though the state pension is far greater there than here.

Today there is little difference between the number of people coming into the country and the number leaving. In 1997 the total inflow of people into the country was 285,000. In the same year another 225,000 people left the country. Many of those who do migrate to Britain are forced to do so by extreme circumstances.

War and economic crisis are the two major causes of population movements. Imagine having your house burnt down, or seeing family members, neighbours and friends killed. Wouldn't you flee? Economic crisis also has terrible effects. A billion people across the globe survive on just a dollar a day. Crisis can mean their food supply is all but eliminated, their ability to find any kind of livelihood destroyed.

But the root cause of their problems is not natural. They result, above all, from the pumping out of debt repayments to feed the appetites of the bankers. Why should people hit in this way be denied the ability to move while multinational corporations are allowed to rove across the globe? There is a population problem. But it is the opposite of that talked about in the press.

There will be a crisis across advanced countries if there is no further immigration. Britain will only be able to keep its population stable if 88,000 people immigrate every year. Britain and other advanced industrial countries have been built by the contributions of successive generations of immigrants. Immigrants are not responsible for housing shortages, for job cuts or for the state of the NHS.

The Tories and the owners of the press know it. But they hope to deflect the anger and bitterness in society away from the strong and powerful towards the weak and vulnerable. That's why everyone who wants to live in a better, fairer society must stand up and resist the scapegoating of refugees and say, "They are welcome here."


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Sat 29 Apr 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1694
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