Racism, poverty and cuts

britains racist imigration laws

Two significant reports on race equality were published in October 2017: the government's first release of data from a Race Disparity Audit, which combines data from a wide range of central government departments; and the Runnymede Trust's Intersecting Inequalities: The impact of austerity on Black and Minority Ethnic women in the UK. TOM VICKERS reports.

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British immigration controls after Brexit

eu migrants

At the start of September a Home Office document containing proposals for immigration policy following Brexit was leaked. Hiding behind apparent public concern about unrestricted migration, the document sets out a plan for greater control.

The hostility of large sections of the British population to migrants has been actively promoted by the ruling class; yet it also creates problems for them. Key sectors of the economy rely on low-waged migrant labour, but anti-migrant hostility has been used by the ruling class to justify restrictions on migrants’ rights; this in turn enables more intense exploitation and undermines resistance to austerity and wage cuts. Brexit has brought these contradictions to a head.

The report attempts to manage these contradictions by striking ‘the right balance between the economic growth that immigration can generate and its social impacts’, and ‘a balance between economic growth and immigration control by ensuring that economic migrants really are the brightest and best, and that family migrants are capable of integrating’. The government is seeking to make the most of Brexit to further restrict the rights of working class migrants, increase lab­our discipline and further fine-tune immigration to the needs of capital. As the report states: ‘It is not a question of stopping EU migration. Rather, it is a question of ending the position where we are unable to exercise controls, because free movement rights can be exercised at the discretion of the migrant.’

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Exploited workers, racist rhetoric: immigration does not cut wages

fight racism4

Political comment by the Editorial Board of FRFI on the review of the report Brexit and the impact of immigration on the UK

The Editorial Board of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! feels it necessary to draw out an important political point that the article below does not make explicit. Racism is the form that national oppression takes in an imperialist nation. That is why the RCG opposes all British immigration controls. It has always been our position that in an imperialist country, immigration restrictions must necessarily be racist. This applies both to claims for asylum and to the ‘management’ of ‘economic migration’. The RCG does not accept the political framework of the report reviewed below. Such studies often disagree with one another, because so many factors influence outcomes at particular times, in particular sectors, and for particular grades of workers. But communists have a fundamentally different starting point: we do not ask whether the existence of one group of workers is good or bad for another group of workers, but how we can defend the interests of the working class as a whole. The article below has utilised the framework of the report in order to show that immigration does not undercut the wages of the British-born working class. This is insufficient: whatever the conclusion of this study, it does not affect the essential communist standpoint on racism and immigration.

31 October 2017

Exploited workers, racist rhetoric: immigration does not cut wages

The myth that low-paid migrants are to blame for falling wages and unemployment is very popular. However, a new report by the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE, Brexit and the Impact of Immigration on the UK, examines empirical data on the impact of EU migration on wages, unemployment and service provision. Its findings contradict racist ruling class rhetoric: deteriorating living standards are entirely the consequence of the unending crisis of capitalism. Seamus Padraíc and Matt Glass report.

The report shows there is no correlation between levels of EU migration and falling wages. Median wages for British-born citizens grew from the late 1990s until the global financial crash. This coincided with a period of sustained growth in EU migration. Wages since the crisis, however, have fallen by around 10%. When examining different wage levels in all 201 local authorities, the report again finds no correlation between EU migration and the wages of the British-born.

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Corbyn and co fall in line with the racist status quo

corbyn and co

Throughout the election campaign the immigration policy of the Labour Party has been dictated by the need to square the demands of British capitalism for migrant labour with appeals to racist sections of the electorate who would prefer migrants were excluded from Britain completely.

The final version of the Labour manifesto included a ‘tougher’ approach to immigration, with the addition of a pledge to ‘control’ immigration and a statement that action is needed to prevent migrant workers undercutting the wages of British citizens. There is little evidence that migration actually reduces wages of British workers.

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No vote for racists

britains racist imigration laws

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 257 May/June 2017 Election Special

[The] figures prove that last year we deported someone every eight minutes – and we got our priorities straight.’ – Liam Byrne, Labour Immigration Minister, 2008

When last in government, between 1997 and 2010, Labour:

• Passed six repressive immigration acts;

• Introduced a Points Based System for non-EU migrants, with differential rights that privileged largely white migrants from other imperialist countries;

• Exploited migrant labour from Eastern Europe, placing restrictions on access to benefits and on where migrants could work;

• Created a forced dispersal system for asylum seekers, often housing them in appalling conditions, removing their right to work and placing them on a separate welfare system with poverty level benefits;

• Expanded immigration detention to over 3,000 places;

• Deported tens of thousands of people, many to war zones that were the direct result of British interventions, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

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