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Blunkett's White Paper Reinforces Racism
THE GOVERNMENT'S new white paper on nationality, immigration and asylum is yet another attack on refugees' rights and a step backwards in the fight to cut across racism and division in Britain.
It is an attempt by New Labour to alter immigration controls to help British big business attract workers from abroad. But at the same time, in order not to be undercut by the Tories, and in some areas the far-right, it gives in to racist pressure and proposes further attacks on the right to asylum.
The riots in northern England exposed the depth of racial segregation that exists in some parts of Britain. They also reflected the burning frustration and anger about poverty and unemployment that exists amongst the working class in all communities and in particular the anger felt amongst Asian youth towards racist policing tactics.
The riots and the increased votes for the British National Party (BNP) sent shock waves through the establishment. Yet the new white paper "Secure Borders, Safe Haven - integration with diversity in modern Britain", despite its soothing name, will only reinforce and strengthen racism while New Labour's economic policies further entrench poverty, deteriorating social conditions and alienation.
The measures in the white paper aimed at attracting skilled foreign workers and unskilled or semi-skilled short-term or seasonal workers are an attempt by New Labour to adapt current immigration controls in the interests of big business.
Partly they are attempting to compensate for three decades of cuts in education and industry that have caused a huge skills shortage in Britain.
The white paper proposes reduced rights of appeal for asylum-seekers, compulsory ID cards, increased visa restrictions and a 40% increase in "secure removals centre" places.
In reality, proposals for a new citizenship pledge and compulsory tests on the English language and "knowledge about British society" are extra immigration controls, added to try and block poor people from poorer countries being able to settle in Britain.
Instead of threatening migrants entering Britain, the government should provide English classes free for all those that need them, as well as investing in jobs and social spending to improve people's living conditions.
The Socialist Party opposes the white paper. We fight to defend the right of asylum for all those fleeing persecution and the right of families to be reunited when the immigration process has separated them.
New Labour are more interested in serving the interests of big business and kow-towing to the tabloids' racist propaganda, then they are in the right of asylum.
The Socialist Party is fighting for a system where all applicants should have the right to a full and democratic hearing and the right to appeal if their case is rejected. The right of appeal should be to an elected tribunal that includes representatives of trade unions, community organisations, and welfare and legal rights organisations.
Divide and rule
Hampered by their pro-big business policies New Labour will never find a way to solve the contradictions of capitalist society.
The enormous wealth that exists alongside widespread poverty; the need for stability and social peace alongside big business's need to divide and rule in order to exploit human beings for profit - these problems can only be solved by ending class society.
Socialists need to fight for better jobs, wages and conditions for all, including migrant workers, to help cut across the divisions capitalism creates to destroy working-class unity.
While money flows around the world unchecked, the people that create this wealth are only allowed to move from country to country in the interests of profits. While big business rules, the problems of racism, poverty and exploitation will always exist.
The only way to solve these problems is to fight for a democratic, socialist society run for the needs of all not the profits of the few.
In The Socialist 15 February 2002: