At a time when New Labour and the Tories are competing to display the most virulent hostility towards asylum and immigration rights, you might expect the left to be united in its opposition to this reactionary filth.
Unfortunately, you’d be disappointed. Writing in the Morning Star on 12 February, George Galloway not only denounced the idea of open borders but endorsed the “points system” for immigration recently mooted by various ruling-class politicians.
Feeling comfortable in his natural Stalinist habitat, Galloway lets the mask slip and abandons even the customary nod towards working-class politics. “Every country”, he writes, “must have control of its own borders – no one serious is advocating the scrapping of immigration controls”. Good to know what he thinks of his allies in the SWP, whose “What we stand for” column still raises the demand for freedom of immigration, but who no longer talk about it publicly, since they are not in the slightest bit serious about their politics.
Furthermore, he believes “we should publish an economic-social-demographic plan for population growth based on a points system and our own needs”.
Whose needs would those be? The needs of the British working class, which can only be met by building an international and internationalist workers’ movement that fights for, among other things, labour to move as freely across borders as capital does now?
The needs of a classless nation to maintain its integrity and prevent the collapse of its infrastructure and public services?
Or the needs of the bourgeoisie to expand cheap sources of labour while maintaining ideological control through nationalism and chauvinism?
The first is incompatible with Galloway’s meaning and the second is a mirage, leaving only the third possibility.
In an attempt to give an internationalist flavour to this nationalist tripe, Galloway argues that “the scrapping of immigration controls” would mean “urging all the most accomplished and determined people to leave the poor countries of the world and come to the richest [making] the poor countries even poorer and the rich countries richer.”
This reveals an awful lot about Galloway’s world view, in which the abolition of poverty relies not on democratic planning and social provision for need, but on the talents of the “accomplished and determined”. In any case, it is currently the most “accomplished” (ie the richest) from the “poor world” who are able to come to Britain relatively freely, while not even the most “most determined” of the poor (eg, those willing to risk death on the wheels of aeroplanes or in cargo crates) are guaranteed the same right.
People should be free to live, work and make their lives wherever they choose. And the Morning Star article also tells us something more fundamental about Galloway’s politics. This is someone who is willing to pander to communal and religious chauvinism in the alleged cause of supporting oppressed minority communities in Britain. He leads an organisation which freely accuses those who oppose this political collapse of Islamophobia and racism.
Yet when it comes to a serious issue of anti-racism, he passes the baton to Blair and Howard.
It is likely that Galloway will try to play all this down as he fights for votes in the East End of London in the general election — we should not let him.