Refugees in Calais, credit: Paul Mattsson (uploaded 13/04/2016)
Refugees in Calais, credit: Paul Mattsson (uploaded 13/04/2016)

Isai Marijerla, Socialist Party Black and Asian members group

Another day, another crisis accelerated by this Tory government. This time it’s migrants and refugees abandoned and used as scapegoats by the Tory government of the rich.

The inhumane treatment of migrants in the Manston processing centre in Kent has been in the spotlight. The facility was set up in February this year by the government, under pressure to deal with the migrant crisis. It was meant to hold up to 1,600 migrants, for a maximum of 48 hours before their asylum case is heard. But the facility now holds about 4,000 people, for up to 32 days.

The independent border inspector David Neal told MPs that he had been left speechless by the ‘really dangerous’ situation at Manston, which is dangerously overcrowded with disease spreading. The conditions have worsened since his visit, a further 700 migrants have been moved into the facility following the firebomb attack on an immigration centre in Dover.

Home secretary Suella Braverman already had a reputation for being hostile to migrants after her brief time in the role previously under Liz Truss, before getting sacked for breaching the ministerial code. Her stated ‘dream’ remains seeing a flight take asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Now back in post under Sunak, with her job under threat again, she is ratcheting up her divisive anti-migrant rhetoric, describing migrants, many fleeing war and repression, as “the invasion on our southern coast”.

The Tories will use anti-immigration feeling as a tool to stir division in communities for their own political gain – blaming the people in these facilities for a lack of housing and the strain on public services their policies have caused – whatever the consequences.

By fuelling division, Braverman is increasing the confidence of far-right racist extremists to carry out anti-migrant attacks, like the petrol bomb attack on the migrant centre in Dover.

It is clear that Labour won’t be much different to the Tories. In fact, according to Labour shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, the problem is that there has been a lack of deportation during “12 years of Tory failure”. Labour leader Keir Starmer has made it clear that further cutbacks would be in store under a Labour government, not the investment in public services and council housing that is needed.

We say that immediate action needs to be taken to solve the urgent crisis in Manston migrant centre. The 238,306 long-term empty homes in England, the vast majority owned by profiteering companies, could be used to house all those in need. There is a mountain of wealth concentrated in the hands of a just few individuals. We say take the wealth of the 1% to provide a decent public services and a decent standard of living for all.


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