Socialist Worker

David Cameron talks tough in racist bid to head off Ukip rivals

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2432

David Cameron has clashed with European leaders over capping immigration

David Cameron has clashed with European leaders over capping immigration (Pic: World Economic Forum)

David Cameron’s speech on immigration last week talked about the need for “firm control”, but represented a change in tack for the Tories. 

He promised benefit cuts instead of the suggested “emergency brake” on immigration. 

A University College London report on immigration during the past 20 years showed that people do not travel to Britain to live on benefits. 

But Cameron is targeting benefits because looking tough on migrants suits his racist argument. 

This will mean misery for a number of vulnerable migrants. But since most come to work, not claim unemployment benefit, it shows he has retreated from capping numbers. 

The Tories want to argue two contradictory things—that migrants come to live on benefits and to steal “our” jobs. 

He claimed that people who oppose immigration controls “are those who have no direct experience of the impact of high levels of migration.

“They have never waited on a social housing list or found that their child’s classroom is overcrowded or felt that their community has changed too fast.”

But these are problems created by austerity, not migration.


He is trying to head off the success of Ukip—a party that grew out of his own government’s scapegoating of immigrants to deflect responsibility for the crisis. 

Yet this message will only strengthen the racists. His real agenda for all workers is made clear in a call for further cuts to benefits. 

“The problem has also been too many British people without the incentive to work, because they can get a better income living on benefits,” he said. 

The Tories talk about cutting access to benefits for people in work. 

But in-work benefits are in fact a business subsidy, which lets firms get away with paying poverty pay.

The Tories have been forced to step back from a planned cap on immigration due to frictions with European Union (EU) governments. 

The EU is a bosses’ club that wants to manage the labour supply across the region. 

But leaders, such as German Tory Angela Merkel, are happy to see workers’ benefits cut.

The number of eastern European migrants has fallen as the number of jobs has gone down since the crisis began in 2008 

This has meant that students have become the largest group of “long term” migrants in recent years. International students coming to study for three years are classified as immigrants, even though the majority leave at the end of their course. 

The government is reluctant to reduce university numbers because tuition fees generate large revenues. 

Labour’s response to Cameron’s speech was to say that it had already put forward “much longer” periods before workers from other countries could receive benefits.

Socialist Worker has always argued that it’s impossible to have immigration controls that aren’t racist. We have to oppose all of them. 

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