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Don’t let their hard right turn divide us

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An anti-racist movement can confront the Tories' bigotry and those they inspire
Issue 2855

Prime minister, Rishi Sunak (Picture Simon Dawson/No 10 Downing Street)

The Tories are tearing themselves apart over who can be hardest on refugees and migrants. On Tuesday Rishi Sunak headed to Iceland for a Council of Europe summit to call for all states to help “stop the boats”.

He demanded reform of the European Court of Human Rights so that the Tories’ vile plans to expel people to Rwanda can’t be blocked by the courts. 

The day before home secretary Suella Braverman unleashed her own attacks on refugees at the National Conservatism conference. She recycled the false claims about migrants “taking our jobs and houses” that are used by every racist.

“It’s not xenophobic to say that mass and rapid migration is unsustainable in terms of housing supply, public services and community relations. Nor is it bigoted to say that too many people come here illegally and claim asylum, and we have insufficient accommodation for them,” said Braverman.

And she went further by adding that although halting cross-Channel migrants “is rightly our priority, we must not lose sight of the importance of controlling legal migration too.”

The conference heard denunciations of “cultural Marxism”, demands for “native” people to have more children, and slurs against trans people. Braverman attacked an “unexamined drive towards multiculturalism”. She said, “We cannot have immigration without integration.”

The Tories’ new racist onslaught comes after their decimation at the local elections earlier this month, where they lost over 1,000 councillors. Their instinct is to ramp up scapegoating to win back lost voters.

And Braverman is also positioning herself for a possible new leadership challenge after the next general election. She said Britain would not need foreign workers if the ones already in Britain weren’t so lazy and could be pushed into fruit picking and similar agricultural or exhausting manual labour sectors where there are shortages.

The Tory splits—with the home secretary and prime minister effectively denouncing each other—will worsen as figures on overall migration are set to be released next week. In the year leading to June 2022 net migration hit 504,000. Updated figures to last December are expected to show it has risen sharply.

The Tory assault on migrants will face opposition from sections of the Tories’ traditional backers—big business. Capitalism needs migration because its profits are dependent on there being a ready supply of skilled workers to exploit. But it also needs the racism that results from immigration controls to keep working people divided.

There’s no real opposition from Labour leader Keir Starmer. He has accused the Tories of having “completely lost control” over immigration. This will only challenge the Tories to push further rightwards. “We need a managed approach, and we haven’t had that,” Starmer said. Echoing Sunak, he added, “It seems like the system is broken.”

Labour repeatedly calls for the Tories to move harder and faster against refugees. The migration and asylum system is broken—but not for the reasons Sunak or Starmer suggest.

It’s not migrants who take jobs and homes and cut pay. It’s the bosses and the politicians who back profits before people’s lives. 

Capital moves around the world at the touch of a screen. Why can’t workers? Blame the billionaires, not people fleeing poverty and repression or looking for a better life. 

As the Tories fight over who can be the most racist, it is vital both they, and the groups they inspire, face continued opposition. The politicians’ words stir up far right groups and fascists to target refugees, migrants and black people on the streets and in their homes.

  • Stand Up To Racism Scotland, together with the Scottish TUC, has called a national demonstration to push the far right back. Sunday 21 May, 11am. Assemble outside the Muthu Hotel, Erskine PA8 6AN

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