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Asylum - Labour and Tories up the stakes
THE SECOND week of the general election has seen the parties descend into further Americanisation of political campaigning. Despite the spat between the parties over tax and spend, voters are in reality unable to put a Rizla paper between them in their enthusiastic support for big business.
Desperate to make headway in the election, Hague's Tories have tried to put clear blue water between them and Labour over social issues like law and order and asylum.
Like in the US, where politicians compete to see how many people in death row they can execute, Tories and Labour have been competing in a Dutch auction to see who has the most repressive policies in both asylum and crime.
Rather than address the real complexity of both issues, Hague and Widdecombe say they will lock up all asylum seekers, regardless of the individual's circumstances, in specially built, barbaric detention centres. Straw says he will impose an arbitrary quota which will see tens of thousands of refugees forcefully ejected without any right to appeal.
Waiting in the wings is David Blunkett, rumoured as being lined up to be Home Secretary after the general election. Newspaper leaks say he has been specifically instructed to get tough with asylum seekers.
All of these approaches, which have been sharply condemned across the board, will not resolve the issues surrounding asylum seekers, nor will they address the growing anxieties that these politicians have whipped up. Recent opinion polls have shown contradictory findings about asylum seekers' plight. But the continual playing of the race card by the Tories, which Labour pander to and union leaders leave unchallenged, has given increasing succour to those raising racist ideas about asylum seekers.
None of the Westminster parties will address the real issues of job security, housing, social conditions and the state of local and national public services that lead to working-class people's anxieties and possible prejudices. It is only the socialist candidates who will argue and fight for a massive increase in public spending to improve working-class people's lives and undercut any growing prejudices.
And it is through advancing a socialist programme to end the inequalities fostered by capitalism, that refugees and asylum seekers will be provided with a humane and secure solution to the problems they face.
In The Socialist 25 May 2001: