Socialist Party documents

British Perspectives: a Socialist Party congress 2012 document


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Immigration and the far right

43. As the crisis has intensified, the issue of immigration has come to the fore once more. One report asserted that 'immigration', particularly from Eastern Europe, has had an effect on employment, particularly impacting on youth unemployment.

The Daily Mirror claimed in November that 160,000 British workers could not find employment between 2005 and 2010 because of the 700,000 non-European migrants who came to the UK.

Yet the government, using the same report, concluded that it did not. This highlights the hypocritical and duplicitous approach of the capitalists and their government towards the whole issue of immigration, where propaganda that is highly antagonistic to immigration, asylum seekers and refugees is combined with supporting the super-exploitation of migrant workers.

44. In order to maximise their profits, the capitalist class seeks to push wages down to their lowest possible level by increasing the competition between workers for jobs.

They pit the unemployed against those in work, private sector against public sector, young against old.

They need a plentiful supply of cheap unorganised labour, in order to drive down wages, and have tried in the recent period to use immigration to achieve their aims.

This does not mean they are keen to make migrant workers welcome in Britain: they combine extremely repressive measures against many immigrants from the neo-colonial world with a conscious attempt to use super-exploited immigrant workers to lower wages in a 'race to the bottom'.

Irrespective of statistics which are churned out by the government and its opponents the reality is that most working class people currently believe that immigration has a serious impact on employment, housing, etc.

This view is also held by some immigrants who came to Britain in the past and now have roots here and who openly oppose further immigration into Britain.

These views are whipped up by the right-wing capitalist press. At the same time the failure of the majority of the trade union movement to lead an effective struggle against the deliberate attempt to divide workers in a 'race to the bottom' means that there is no mass voice countering propaganda of the right wing press.

45. We have to explain that capitalist society is of course responsible for shortages in housing, education and other services, and for the conflicts that arise from this.

Recent immigration has impacted seriously, through low wages and a race to the bottom, increased pressure on housing, schools, etc.

We cannot, like other organisations, simply put forward as a slogan 'open borders'. We refer comrades to the British Perspectives resolution adopted at last year's congress which also deals with these issues.

But neither can we support the arguments of the far right who wish to introduce repressive measures to reduce and prevent immigration.

No wall, no barriers - in a globalised world - can seriously prevent immigration to the advanced industrial countries of those who are determined to achieve the lifestyle and the living standards in the 'West'.

We therefore have to fight for a policy which can best unite the working class in dealing with the consequences of immigration.

This involves fighting for a living wage. It also means fighting for decent housing for all through a crash building programme and for an open and an equitable allocation of resources in education and housing, based on need.

We are against the repressive measures for holding immigrants in detention centres, particularly the way it is applied against children.

We have a proud record, which we must continue to develop, of opposing repressive measures against asylum seekers, and demanding equal pay and conditions for migrant workers.

46. The far right up to now has not been a major problem in Britain, and is currently fragmented and struggling to overcome internal infighting and the long-running crisis of the BNP.

But that will not last forever. The existence of mass unemployment means a whole layer of young people are in danger of becoming lumpenised.

They can then be seduced by the far right, particularly by the EDL or a similar formation, combining populist agitation aimed at angry working class youth with racist or other divisive ideas, and far right elements attempting to build a street-fighting force which has the potential to be used against workers and youth in struggle.

There is also major potential for the growth of far right populism in the electoral field, including from parties like UKIP, as the economic and political crisis in the euro zone develops.

47. France is a terrible warning. Marine Le Pen of the National Front presently stands at over 20% in the opinion polls.

It is not excluded that she could even beat Sarkozy in the first round of the presidential elections.

She has quite skilfully and demagogically attacked the trade union leadership for its lack of 'militancy'.

At the same time, she has distanced herself from the paramilitary-type methods of the fascists and neo-fascists.

She has appealed, with some success, to workers in the north of France in particular who have suffered the most from the crisis following deindustrialisation.

48. The EDL and its supporters in Britain have not reached this level of support. But if the left fails in the stormy period opening up then it is not excluded that, for the first time in the post-1945 period, the far-right could become a serious force in Britain.

Only by digging roots in working-class areas - by involving the unemployed youth in particular in struggle as well as in discussion and debate, tying them to the labour movement by opening the doors of the trade unions - will we be able to save them from this dead-end.

The socialist left will have opportunities before the far right can win these layers of young people.

It is crucial in our work on Youth Fight for Jobs that some time is devoted to educating young people on the character of the far right, to steel them against their policies and weld them to the labour movement.

We must stay alert to new developments as the shifting, unstable formations of far-right politics seek new points of support and try out new tactics.

Our ongoing analysis of the character of the far right will be a crucial weapon for workers and young people in the volatile period ahead.


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