Archive article from The Socialist Issue 378
Howard's desperate, hypocritical policy
TORY PARTY leader Michael Howard's full-page advert in last week's Sunday Telegraph was an attempt to make immigration the main issue in the general election. This is a very dangerous tactic, certain to increase racism and tensions and encourage the far-right.
Ironically what Howard is calling for on asylum and immigration is very similar to the policies New Labour is already implementing, or has argued for.
Howard's words may strike a chord with people concerned about the issue, particularly as establishment politicians and the mainstream media have been pushing the idea for years that migration and asylum are responsible for the mounting economic and social problems we suffer.
Millions of working-class and middle-class people in Britain want a government that supports their interests, secure work and a living wage, pensions that don't mean poverty and properly funded public services that work.
But big business, and their political representatives in the main three parties, are not prepared to sacrifice their profits and power to allow this. Instead, Howard wants the debate to centre on migration, to try and shore up his party's core vote and avoid humiliation at the general election.
The main parties all fail to attack the real roots of the refugee crisis: the wars, repression and dictatorships which forced almost ten million people last year to live outside their home countries and another seven million to be displaced within their countries. In fact the three main parties are part of the problem. We need a real alternative - a party that fights for our interests.
IT IS rank hypocrisy for Michael Howard to complain about the number of refugees seeking asylum in Britain, given his part in the role that the Tory government played in supporting dictatorships in their home countries.
Until recently one of the main groups claiming asylum in the UK have been Iraqis. Between 1991 and 2002, 36,482 Iraqis sought asylum from Saddam Hussein's brutal dictatorship in Britain (still less than 10% of the 368,500 Iraqi refugees in the world in 2003).
The number of refugees fleeing Iraq was a direct result of Britain's Tory government allowing Saddam to crush popular rebellions in Iraq during the 1980s and 1990s to stay in power.
Between 1980 and 1990 the Tory government, wanting an Iraqi regime that was friendly to UK big business, gave Saddam £3.5 billion worth of trade credits.
This economic support was vital in freeing up resources for the Iraqi war machine to be used against Iran and against the Iraqi population.
When the Kurds in the North began an uprising against Saddam at the end of the 1991 UN-backed war on Iraq the Tory government, like the US government, deliberately stood aside while the dictatorship crushed it. They then supported the cruel sanctions regime which killed well over a million Iraqis while leaving Saddam in power.
The Tories, and all big business parties, will always put profits before people's lives.