Lies about immigration only help the rich

Submitted by Matthew on 15 April, 2010 - 2:07 Author: Jill Mountford, Workers’ Liberty candidate in Peckham and Camberwell

In autumn 2008, people alien in values and way of life to the great majority wrecked our economy.

They were the financiers, the bankers, the bosses, the capitalists, the profiteers, whose competitive scramble for profit caused the economic crisis of 2008.

Now they want us to pay through public service cuts and high unemployment for the huge bailout — £1100 billion in cash, loans, and guarantees, or £18,000 for every child, woman, and man in Britain — which the government had to do for the banks in 2008.

To smooth it through, they’re trying to blame all the problems of joblessness and inadequate public services on... migrant workers!

This lying message, pushed relentlessly every day now by papers like the Mail and the Express, serves only to divide and divert the united working-class fightback we need for jobs and against the coming cuts.

Tory leader David Cameron has tried to win back BNP and UKIP voters by claiming he will cut immigration to 75,000 people a year. Instead of denouncing Cameron, Labour leaders mutter about how “strongly” they will control immigration. Such talk only strengthens the racists of the BNP and the demagogues of UKIP.

On 8 April, the Mail, the Express, and the Sun all recycled an old statistical forgery, first printed in the Sun in December 2008.

“1.7 million new jobs and 98% go to migrants”, headlined the Express. “Labour’s betrayal of British workers: nearly every one of the jobs created by Britain since 1997 has gone to a foreigner”, screeched the Mail.

“Migrant workers take every new job”, claimed the Sun.

Just think. Between 2000 and summer 2008, while immigration was relatively high, the jobless rate remained steady. Unemployment has risen since summer 2008 — at a time when immigration was already falling.

Immigration has been lower since 2006, and emigration has increased since 2007.

Who caused the rise in unemployment since summer 2008? Not migrants, but ruthless cost-cutting bosses, and the crisis that they created.

The "statistics" compared the increase in the number of jobs with the number of migrants. Birth rates in Britain have been below an average of two children per woman, often well below, since 1973, so if there were no immigration the population of working age would be decreasing. Britain depends heavily for its supply of fresh young workers on immigrants - and the rest of us should thank them.

It would be no great surprise, and prove no injustice to British-born workers, if the ridiculous "statistics" of the Mail, the Express, and the Sun, could be twisted to prove that over 100% of the new jobs had been "taken" by "foreigners".

For the Mail, "foreigner" is anyone not born in Britain. It doesn't matter if they have lived here most of their lives, made Britain their home, and contributed much to their community and workplaces.

Equally, for the Mail, someone born in Britain who has spent their whole life siphoning off wealth through exploitation and stashing it in offshore tax havens is "one of us".

And not so long ago the Tory papers were caterwauling that Labour's timid little new taxes on the City would ruin us all by scaring off foreign "investors".

On 10 April, the Mail shouted: "Migrant City's cry for help", saying that schools and health services in Peterborough were under stress.

Because of inadequate funding? Because of semi-privatisation in the health service and the burden of PFI on both schools and hospitals? Didn't the stress compel the Mail at least to say that both Tories and Labour should scrap their plans for public service budget cuts after the election?

No: in the Mail's twisted thinking, all the problems are just "another example of the way immigration issues have been brushed under the carpet". Immigration issues!

The Mail is so twisted that it can't even see that its headline of four days previous, intended as another "immigration" scare story, was an answer to the stuff about Peterborough. That headline was: "Revealed: hospital has staff from 70 countries".

The Express on 12 April: "Strangers in our own country: 'English' pupils are now the minority in 1500 schools throughout the UK".

A short answer to this is to read the publicity which the Greater London Authority is putting out, even now under Tory Boris Johnson as mayor, to boost London in advance of the Olympics.

It praises London's diversity. "More than 300 languages are spoken and one in four Londoners was born outside the UK". The diversity is a good thing, it says. And it's right!

In Australia, a country with plenty of its own problems of racism but a less bigoted attitude to immigration (even among its Tories) than here, it is routine for a school to boost itself to prospective parents by boasting how multicultural it is, by saying for example that a majority or near-majority of its students were born overseas.

Diversity is good, not bad. It requires expansion of services, but brings with it the energy and creativity to provide that expansion - so long as it is not killed off by cuts of the sort that Cameron and Brown propose.

Let's unite working-class people, black and white, British-born and migrant, of all religions and none, against the true "aliens", the gougers and profiteers.

In the election period, the task of getting out that message falls to election campaigns like mine in Camberwell and Peckham, and to the Socialist Campaign to Stop the Tories and Fascists. Join us in the campaigns.

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