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Fresh Tory bill means new attacks on migrants

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As top Tories ramp up scapegoating of migrants, Labour must oppose racism, says Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue 2595
A new Love Music Hate Racism mural by graffiti artist Snub23 was unveiled in Shoreditch, east London, this week
A new Love Music Hate Racism mural by graffiti artist Snub23 was unveiled in Shoreditch, east London, this week (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The Tories are rushing to create new racist laws. Under pressure from a group of cabinet ministers, home secretary Amber Rudd could soon bring forward an Immigration Bill.

It would end freedom of movement after Brexit in May 2019 and subject European Union (EU) migrants in Britain to a harsher immigration regime.

The Tories are whipping up racism against migrants to deflect working class people’s anger at the government, bosses and austerity.

They blame migrants for low pay, lack of housing and the NHS crisis when the real culprits are cuts and the tax-dodging rich.

Valerie is the joint BAME officer for the Islington North Constituency Labour Party. She slammed the Tories for peddling “lies used to scapegoat so people will forget the real socio-economic causes”.


“It’s the Tories and their bleeding cuts. Migration has helped the community,” she told Socialist Worker.

“We have to stand in solidarity with people who are not being given their rights about where they can live and where they can move.”

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Labour’s left wing leadership has stood up against the Tories’ racist scapegoating. It’s significant that shadow home secretary Diane Abbott will speak at the Stand Up To Racism demonstration in London on Saturday.

But Jeremy Corbyn is under pressure from the Labour right to give in to lies about immigration.

And, regrettably, some Labour left wingers and union leaders buy into the argument that migrants undermine wages, terms and conditions.

Corbyn’s speech at the Scottish Labour conference last weekend gave ground to those dangerous arguments.

He said that Labour would stop employers being “able to import cheap agency labour to undercut existing pay and conditions”.

But it isn’t migrants who lower pay. Successive studies show that immigration has marginal or no impact on wages.

And migrant workers have been part of fights to push up wages, including Unite union members at Barts Health NHS Trust and Fawley Oil Refinery.

Concessions to the right’s immigration myths divide the working class and weaken its ability to fight over issues such as pay.


Labour right wingers opportunistically jumped on Corbyn’s speech. Some ridiculously claimed that his views were like those of former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

The Blairites’ real aim is to defend the EU’s single market because it forces free market policies such as privatisation onto member states.

Its rules block nationalisation, such as a return to a wholly publicly owned rail network.

And Labour right wingers are no defenders of migrants’ rights. Labour Campaign for the Single Market’s founding document boasts that it’s possible to curtail free movement within the single market.

The real dividing line is not between people who voted Leave and Remain. It is between those who want to fight for workers and migrants’ rights and those wedded to failed free market policies.

We have to fight for a socialist and anti-racist vision of Brexit, and oppose the Tories’ racist and nationalist one. And that means defending freedom of movement and rejecting the single market.

Say no to all immigration controls and fight racism

Politicians and bosses scaremongered last week about the potential for tailbacks and food shortages in Calais if there are customs checks after Brexit.

They implored Theresa May and the European Union (EU) to keep the border open—for capital and profits.

And the Financial Times newspaper highlighted demands to keep freedom of movement—for thoroughbred race horses.

The same bosses who are vexed about free movement of capital and horses don’t give a damn about refugees trapped at Britain’s border in Calais.

Around 1,500 refugees are locked out by fences and barbed wire paid for by the British government.

Many refugees in Calais have fled the West’s wars only to risk death in the Mediterranean because of the EU’s Fortress Europe policy.


Director Sue Clayton was part of a judicial review at the High Court over ZS, an Afghan child in Calais. The Tories rejected ZS’s application under the Dubs Amendment to allow in child refugees, which they subsequently dumped altogether. 

“In the last few years refugee has become a dirty word,” Sue told Socialist Worker.

“Every refugee is supposed to be a criminal, an Isis member. The press has made sure that every refugee is seen as an enemy of the state. 

“We have got to change the whole narrative. It’s not just about these children, it’s about the whole way Europe thinks it can pull up a fence and forget about the rest of the world.”

The only solution is to open the border. Immigration controls have not existed for the majority of human history and are designed to drive a racist wedge among working class people.

The first controls were brought in by the Tories in 1905 targeting Jewish people fleeing persecution in eastern Europe.

Socialist Worker fights to scrap all immigration controls and for a world without borders.

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