From the archive: Immigrants are not the problem
Cheap-work conservatives don’t like human rights: for the principle of human rights, universal and indivisible, stands against the cheap-work conservative need to exploit, use, and abuse everyone less wealthy than they are or than they aspire to be.
It shouldn’t surprise us that so many cheap-work conservative MPs – of all parties – made greedy use of the MP expenses system, and regarded transparency and control of the system as a new tyranny.
Cheap-labor conservatives support every coercive and oppressive function of government, but call it “tyranny” if government does something for you – using their money, for Chrissake. Even here, cheap-labor conservatives are complete hypocrites.
We live in a country where unemployment is at 7.7% after the Department of Work and Pensions has massaged the figures to exclude unemployed people on mandatory government training schemes, and anyone sanctioned of their benefits. Foodbanks across the UK saw a surge in need during the school holidays, as families struggled to feed their children without the benefit of a free school lunch. Even by the DWP’s massaged figures, there are 2.39 million people out of work.
None of this has anything to do with immigration. Mere arithmetic will tell you this: the latest official figures show net migration rising to 176,000 – and while this may not include illegal immigrants, the idea that the ONS has underestimated the figures by some huge factor that would account for a million or so people out of work, is clearly absurd. Right-wing pressure groups like Migration Watch talking of “50,000 Romanians” are deliberately, nonsensically scaremongering. 50,000 Romanians would be about .4% of their population between 15 and 54. (That may not sound like much, but in 2012, the net migration rate for Romania was -0.12 per thousand: the UK’s was 2.57.. The random scaremongering of “50,000″ supposes that the Romanian emigration rate would triple, and every single one of the new emigrants would head for the UK: the equivalent in the UK would be if every single one of the 149,000 British citizens who emigrated were all leaving for the same country.)
Students who stay in the UK for long-term (longer than 12 months) study, are counted in the ONS figures as immigrants rather than tourists. They are also the easiest target for David Cameron’s fear-of-foreigners campaign to get net immigration down to below 100,000 by the time he leaves office in 2015 – no matter the billions this creeping racism will cost the UK economy.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), in Britain Wants You (Why the UK Should Commit to Increasing International Student Numbers) says
the government has pledged to cut ‘net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. International students remaining in the UK for longer than 12 months are officially counted as migrants in government statistics, and as a result, international students have become a prime target for efforts to reduce overall migrant numbers’.
Labour’s version of scaremongering about immigration numbers is to accept the cheap-work conservative premise that immigration is a problem, and to take this as a starting point to argue that there should be tighter controls to prevent employers using immigrants to cut wages. Standing up for the principle of a living wage and for enforcement of employers being legally obliged to pay a living wage is a good – Labour does little enough of that – but not by accepting the cheap-work conservative racism that the problem is too many immigrants.
We have millions of people out of work. Millions more required to work in part-time low-income jobs because employers are empowered by benefit sanctions and persecution of unemployed people. We have Labour’s shadow ministers accepting the principle that benefits should be cut and people threatened with destitution. This is our problem – not a couple of hundred thousand people who come to the UK to study and to work. Making “immigration” the problem is a useful distraction from the real issues of unemployment, NHS privatisation, greedy out-of-touch politicians – in the same style as making Muslims appear a “problem”.
When the Tories attempted to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998, replacing it with their own limited substitute, one of the human rights they sought to remove was the right of anyone in the UK to appeal deportation.
Article 22: No person who is not a British citizen may rely on any Article in this Schedule to delay, hinder or avoid deportation or other removal from the United Kingdom.
They wanted the right to be able to declare any tourist or business traveller or student, any immigrant or legal resident – whether from the EU or elsewhere – a threat: and on the mere basis of so declaring, to have that person expelled from the UK without any legal right to challenge or delay their expulsion.
This matters not only for asylum seekers and refugees, but everyone – everyone in the UK who enjoys the right of peaceful travel and migration to other countries, everyone who rejects the idea that justice is something to be parcelled out by ethnic profiling.
No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or dispossessed, or outlawed, or banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him, nor send upon him, except by the legal judgement of his peers or by the law of the land.
To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny, or delay right or justice.
All merchants shall be safe and secure in going out from England and coming into England and in remaining and going through England, as well by land as by water, for buying and selling, free from all evil tolls, by the ancient and rightful customs, except in time of war, and if they are of a land at war with us; and if such are found in our land at the beginning of war, they shall be attached without injury to their bodies or goods, until it shall be known from us or from our principal justiciar in what way the merchants of our land are treated who shall be then found in the country which is at war with us; and if ours are safe there, the others shall be safe in our land.
Courtesy of Jane Carnall at Edinburgh Eye
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