Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attacked the Tories’ immigration policies in a speech to the CWU union conference in Bournemouth on Monday. And he said Labour would welcome migrants.
He also called on workers to join the TUC union federation demonstration in May, and to canvas for Labour in the local elections.
Later in the conference delegates backed affiliation to Momentum.
Corbyn slammed Theresa May for trying to create the “hostile environment” for undocumented migrants that has seen people from Britain’s former colonies face deportation.
He said, “The Windrush scandal and those sickening ‘Go Home’ vans show up the Tory government’s patriotic posturing as a sham.
“We need to end the Conservatives’ constant pandering to a rich elite at the top in an attempt to divide the rest of us.”
It came a day after delegates at the conference passed unanimously two motions slamming to Tories over the Windrush scandal, but rejected a motion defending freedom of movement.
Speakers used Corbyn’s previous promises to end freedom of movement. They suggested that migration undercuts wages—a dangerous idea that divides workers. Corbyn made his own appeal to patriotism with a promise to make St George’s Day a national holiday.
He said if Labour had wins the next election “we would all be on the beach celebrating St George’s Day today”.
Corbyn called on workers to join the TUC’s New Deal for Workers demonstration on Saturday 12 May.
“I hope to see as many of you as possible on the 12 May,” he said. “It’s a really important opportunity for as many people as possible to come together to show that the current way our economy and society is being run simply isn’t working.” Corbyn also put strong emphasis on campaigning and canvassing for Labour in the local elections.
“Our positive message for radical change only gets heard when party and union activists deliver leaflets, knock on doors and talk to and listen to people,” he said.
After Corbyn spoke, CWU general secretary Dave Ward said that with Corbyn as leader, the union’s support for Labour is “the strongest it’s ever been.” He added, “We’re going to deliver that election victory.”
But it will take much more than a Labour success in the elections to end austerity.
And it won’t be enough to wait for the next general election and a possible Labour government.
There has to be a fight now. The Tories’ crisis gets deeper and deeper—resistance from workers in unions could smash them.
Labour councils have to refuse to implement cuts, causing yet another headache for the Tories. And 12 May has to lead to action if it is to mean anything.
It must be a springboard for union leaders to lead a fight.