Notes from the front of 18-04-2018

Immigration into Britain benefits the population

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in its recent ‘World Economic Outlook’ report, has warned Britain, alongside the US and Japan, that it is risking being overwhelmed by its ageing population.

The IMF report points out that over the next few decades adults of a working age will need to support twice as many elderly people than they do now.

The IMF is urging advanced economies like Britain to offset this demographic shift with increased immigration and it suggests that borders need to be opened up and more migrant workers welcomed.

These suggestions run contrary to the anti-immigration stand of Britain’s ruling Tory Party, which repeatedly pledges that it will lower immigration – a signature campaign of the current Prime Minister Theresa May. Labour’s right wing also makes concessions to the Tories in this area of policy.

Anti-immigrant propaganda, alongside Islamophobia, has been the central focus for mobilising a reactionary electoral bloc. The issue dominated the EU Leave campaign and has been a focus of UKIP and Tory election campaigns.

These reactionary campaigns run counter to the interests of the population. Contrary to the myths, immigration is in fact a positive contributor to the economy and people’s living standards.

The bigotry of the Tories and their Brexit vote has led to a weakening of the British economy. Following the Brexit vote the number of EU workers has fallen, which has adversely affected a number of sectors, from manufacturing through to health care.

To reverse the damage and prepare for the future, Britain needs a Corbyn-led government willing to take advantage of the benefits of immigration.

Fighting against the Tories ‘hostile environment’

As Tory Home Secretary in 2012 ,Theresa May set out to make Britain ‘a really hostile environment for illegal immigrants.’ During her six years as Home Secretary, she introduced over seven immigration bills and 45,000 changes to the immigration rules. These included requirements that people have documentation to work, rent a property or access benefits including healthcare.

The Tories’ campaigns against immigrants helped fuel the rise of far and populist right and then laid the basis for the Leave vote in June 2016. Each campaign whipped up racist reaction which has encouraged racist violence.

A genuine ‘hostile environment’ has been created, for all immigrants, and the numbers of immigrants coming to Britain has declined since the Brexit vote.

The hostility experienced by Windrush generation is a current focus of attention. Thousands of people who have lived in the UK for decades – arriving as children during the first wave of Commonwealth immigration 70 years ago – have faced the threat of deportation, lost livelihoods and denial of access to public services.

Previously, under the 1971 Immigration Act, all Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK were given indefinite leave to remain. There was no need for them to have paperwork to remain and have access to services and the Home Office says that in 2010 it destroyed the proof of their arrival – the landing cards that Commonwealth migrants had filled out.

But the Tories changed all that, and introduced the requirement that immigrants prove they are in the UK legally, despite such proof being destroyed by the government. As Diane Abbott, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said: ‘The treatment of “Windrush Generation” of migrants who came from the Caribbean is scandalous. ….. They have been here decades, worked and paid taxes, set down roots and created families of their own. This is their home. …. But the Government is treating them as illegal aliens. They are denied the free NHS care they are entitled to or even threatened with deportation. This must stop.’

Labour had no immigration pledge mugs at the 2017 election. Under Corbyn the policies are improving and Labour has become an ally of those fighting to eliminate the hostile environment introduced by the Tories.