By Isabel Ringrose
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Immigration is not a problem, the billionaires and bosses are

The enemy of working class people travels by private jet, not migrant dinghy
Issue 2857
Protesters on the march in London holding a Stand Up To Racism banner which reads no to racism, refugees welcome opposing Torie racism

Around 10,000 protesters joined the Stand Up To Racism march through London in March (Picture: Guy Smallman)

 The Tories and Labour are competing over who is toughest on migrants. The only winners from their racist rivalry are billionaires, bankers and bosses—the real culprits behind low pay, rocketing energy bills, crap jobs and a crumbling NHS.

The losers are workers—wherever they were born—who the Tories want to divide while hammering their living standards.

Rishi Sunak claimed “the numbers are too high” on Thursday, as Office for National Statistics figures showed net migration rose to 606,000 in 2022. It’s a 20 percent increase. The day before Labour leader Keir Starmer said the Tories had “lost control of immigration”.

The Tories and Labour—and the mainstream media—present immigration as a “problem” that has to be “managed”. Politicians claim there aren’t not enough homes, schools or hospitals to accommodate rising numbers of people.

But the real reason there are not enough houses and hospitals is because of over ten years of Tory cuts and austerity. There’s money for war, tax cuts for the rich and payouts and bailouts to private companies, but not for ordinary people. The Sunday Times Rich List showed Britain’s 171 billionaires are £31 billion richer than last year.

On Wednesday shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the Tories “have no plan and no grip on immigration”. “Ministers have completely failed to tackle skills shortages, especially in health and social care, or to get people back into work after Covid,” she said.

Migrants don’t cause the skills shortage in the NHS and social care. They sustain the health service and care for elderly people while enduring crap conditions. There is a huge staffing crisis in both sectors—it’s a crisis caused by poverty pay, overwork, and privatisation that leaches money out of services.

Yet the Tories refuse health workers a pay rise after years of real-terms cuts. Labour, too, has refused to promise inflation-busting pay increased—and not backed the strikes.

And, beyond the NHS and social care, it’s the bosses who drive down our pay. One major study in March found, “Immigration is not one of the major factors that shape low-wage workers’ prospects in the labour market.” 

Work visas increased from 162,588 to 345,451 in the year ending March 2023.On Wednesday Starmer said Labour would get rid of a rule that allows bosses to recruit migrant workers on 20 percent less than what they usually pay. “The reason they are issuing so many visas is labour and skills shortages. And the reason there are shortages is the low-wage Tory economy,” Starmer said.

But Starmer offers no solutions to the low-wage economy. His whole leadership has been about trying to prove to the bosses and super-rich that he’s no threat to their wealth and power.

The row over visas points to capitalism’s contradictory relationship with immigration. On the one hand, bosses rely on migrant labour. At the same time, they rely on racism and division to keep workers fighting among themselves.

That’s why Sunak both pushes vicious ant-refugee and anti-migrant racism, while wanting migrants to fill shortages in fruit picking and lorry driving. So the Tories manufacture a false division between “good” and “bad” migrants, which allows them to exploit migrant labour and push division.

Our enemies are the Tories, the bosses and those who support the system—not those coming to Britain in search of work, a better life or simply somewhere better to live.

What do the figures show?

Long-term immigration, stays of longer than 12 months, was at 1.2 million while emigration was 557,000.

In total 925,000 non-EU nationals, 151,000 EU nationals and 88,000 British nationals came to Britain.

The figures show that 114,000 long-term arrivals last year were from Ukraine, and 52,000 from Hong Kong. These two visa schemes—plus the failed Afghan schemes—are the only legal routes into Britain for refugees.

Despite the right’s scaremongering of a wave of “illegals” breaking into Britain, just one in 12 non-EU migrants were asylum seekers.

And over a quarter of those crossing the Channel are from Afghanistan. It debunks the Tories’ lies that people coming to Britain are criminals from safe countries. A lack of safe and legal routes causes dangerous crossings.

Incoming overseas students and their dependents also increased by 76 percent from 354,900 in 2018 to 626,600 in 2022. That’s why on Monday home secretary Suella Braverman brought in new limits on international students bringing family members.

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