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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 March 2000

Government starves public services and blames refugees:

Build unity against Labour attacks

WHEREVER YOU look in the media, from TV news to the smallest local paper, there are negative stories about asylum seekers.

By Naomi Byron

The hatred poured out against asylum seekers today starkly contrasts with media coverage of the Kosovar Albanian refugees only a year ago. Then even the Daily Mail publicly demanded that the government allow tens of thousands of refugees into Britain.

Why the change? Has the worldwide refugee crisis suddenly been solved and so the only people applying for asylum are frauds? Has there been a halt in "ethnic cleansing", war, environmental disasters and repression?

Working-class people are increasingly angry and frustrated at New Labour's continued betrayal of their interests. The government could use their 10 billion budget surplus to raise living standards for the poorest.

Instead, aided by the media, they spread lies that asylum seekers are taking money that they would have otherwise spent on public services.

Cuts in social spending by New Labour are down to their pro-big business agenda - this is what lies behind council tax increases.

The housing crisis has been caused by government spending cuts of 3 billion a year since the 1970s not by the relatively small numbers of asylum seekers to this country.

The bill for asylum seekers 18 months ago was only 0.5 billion. This would make little difference to public spending elsewhere compared to the 10 billion handed over to big business in corporation tax cuts.

New Labour's immigration policies encourage people to feel they can get away with openly racist views.

Barry Hearn, chairman of Leyton Orient football club, said on a Radio 5 Live phone-in that it was "disgraceful that we let all these people into the country. It's about time we started looking after ourselves. I wouldn't have one of them in."

Hearn only made one exception - boxers like 'Prince' Naseem Hamed, who he promotes, would be welcome "because they make me money".

If there are fraudulent asylum claims it is because it has been made virtually impossible for genuine refugees to gain asylum. Only 7% of asylum applications processed in February this year were accepted. A new detention centre specifically for refugees has been opened up near Cambridge.

Thousands more traumatised and desperate refugees will be imprisoned in conditions not much different from those of convicted criminals but without being given any reason for their detention, any date for release or right of appeal.

We are all angry at the failure of the government to represent our interests. But we need to argue against their attempts to exploit tensions between asylum seekers and the existing population.

We need unity to fight for proper public services available to everyone and against divisive and racist immigration laws.

"FROM EACH according to ability, to each according to need" - this is how Karl Marx characterised the way a socialist economy will work. But far from being preposterous or utopian, as the supporters of capitalism argue, such a vision of socialism is a practical and realisable alternative to the horrors of the market system. PETE DICKENSON explains.

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In The Socialist 24 March 2000:

Fight every Job Loss

Government starves public services and blames refugees

How a socialist planned economy could work

Nationalise Rover

When Cuddly Ken was Red Ken


 

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