Socialist Worker

Labour and Tories both play the race card

by John Rees, Respect national secretary
Issue No. 1938

Cartoon by Tim Sanders

Cartoon by Tim Sanders

There was an item on the news at the weekend where a reporter went out on the streets and read out quotes from Labour on immigration. The reporter asked people, “Which political party said this?” Every single person thought it was the Tories. This is Labour’s strategy on every single issue — welfare, trade unions, war. They’re in the business of winning elections by out-Torying the Tories. But this whole argument on immigration is based on a lie. Every economic study shows that immigrants put far more into the economy in taxes and labour than they take in benefits.

These scare stories happen over and over again. It happened with the Irish in the 19th century, Jews in the 20th century, Afro-Caribbeans after the Second World War. And every time the scare stories are proven false.

In Respect we believe that immigrants have a right to come to this country. At a time when we’re being told we have to work five years longer to fund pensions, it seems clear that the labour force needs more people.

Every time a Labour or Tory politician mouths this kind of racist nonsense, somewhere, outside a pub or down a back street, a black or Asian person pays for it — with broken bones, bruises, or even their life.

Discrimination of this sort is used to divide workers from each other. The only people who gain are the right wing. It’s clear that working people no longer have a voice in mainstream politics in this country. It is precisely for this reason that Respect was formed.

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