By Nicky Dempsey
The new coalition government in Britain has begun a process of attacking working class living standards through public spending cuts, slashing public services and reducing public sector pay, jobs and pensions. Meanwhile one of the dominant themes of the Labour leadership campaign is not an attack on this reactionary economic policy but a wholly ill-informed debate on immigration.
By blaming immigrants for the consequences of New Labour’s own economic failures, and completely distorting the real reasons for its defeat, two purposes are served. One is to forestall any proper debate about that defeat; the other is to set up immigrants in general, but especially poorer Eastern European and black and Asian immigrants, as the culprits within the widespread discontent about economic policy. For now, this is a narrative being created almost entirely by some of Labour’s leaders. But, as unrest grows at the consequences of the new government’s policies, it will no doubt be gratefully seized on to further channel working class anger towards reactionary rather than progressive solutions.