Socialist Worker

Labour’s attacks on immigrants are part of its race to the right

by Judith Orr
Issue No. 2406

Labour MP Diane Abbott has criticised Labours leadership for getting down in the gutter with Ukip

Labour MP Diane Abbott has criticised Labour's leadership for "getting down in the gutter" with Ukip


Many Labour Party politicians have used every opportunity since Ukip’s success in the May elections to declare their anti-immigrant credentials.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls claimed last week that Labour needs to speak “more loudly and clearly” on immigration and Europe. 

Now seven Labour MPs have written an open letter to Ed Miliband demanding he talks tougher on the issue. 

In it they fuel the panic about numbers by referring to two million new national insurance numbers issued to eastern Europeans since 2004.

They also try to appeal to the class instincts of many Labour voters by claiming that immigration is good for the rich and bad for the poor.

They say, “EU open-door immigration policy is having an adverse impact on the very communities that the Labour Party was founded to represent. 

“We believe that the lack of affordable housing, school places, hospital capacity and transport infrastructure to accommodate this influx of people means that poorer people’s living standards have been squeezed.”

This disgraceful attack on immigrants lets the Tories and the bosses off the hook for their attacks on working class people. 

Labour MP Diane Abbott denounced the Labour leadership for “getting down in the gutter” with Ukip.

She said instead of “echoing and confirming the Ukip narrative” Labour should point out that “immigrants do not cause low wages, predatory employers, deregulated labour markets, the rise of zero-hour contracts and proliferating agency workers.”

But the dominant voices in the party are those calling for more immigration controls.  

Labour’s manifesto for the 2015 general election will be written once a policy review by John Cruddas reports. But it’s clear the race to the right on every front will continue. 

Chris Leslie, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said in a speech last week that people are going to be disappointed in a future Labour government.

He told the Institute of Chartered Accountants, “We won’t be able to undo the cuts that have been felt in recent years.”


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