Refugee rights campaign photo Senan
Refugee rights campaign photo Senan

Take wealth off rich

Jobs and homes for all

Josh Asker, Socialist Party national committee

Images of the horrors of war are etched into our memories from weeks of television coverage of the conflict in Ukraine. While thousands of British households have volunteered to offer homes to Ukrainians fleeing the war, Tory Home Secretary Priti Patel has been finalising plans to deport refugees to Rwanda.

As Boris Johnson’s Tories reel from ‘Partygate’ and try to fend off growing anger about the profit-driven cost-of-living crisis, they announce a £1.4 billion scheme to inflict more misery on some of the most vulnerable people.

The plans would see refugees flown 4,000 miles away to wait months to be ‘processed’. Just last year the UK government raised concerns at the UN about “extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and torture” in Rwanda. Now it says the country is “safe and secure… with a track record of supporting asylum seekers”. What of the 12 refugees shot dead by police at a protest over food subsidies in 2018?

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that the principle of the scheme would not stand up to the judgement of god! And even some Tories can see the Rwanda policy is idiotic. Former Tory government minister Andrew Mitchell has suggested the scheme could cost up to £2 million per asylum seeker, making the point that it would be cheaper to put people up in the Ritz. Australia’s equivalent scheme is said to have cost as much as £1.7 million each.

The scheme’s stated aim is to deter migrants from making the perilous journey over the English Channel in boats. But it won’t work, as the Australian scheme hasn’t, and as a since-wound-up agreement between Israel and Rwanda didn’t.

The government probably hopes that the announcement will succeed in apportioning some of the blame for the hardship we all face onto a small number of refugees, rather than the bosses getting rich at our expense. Just as they have tried to blame the cost-of-living crisis on the war in Ukraine.

The Tories can’t be trusted to offer a safe and prosperous future for anyone except super-rich big-business bosses. We fight for a real right to asylum for all those fleeing war and dictatorship. Fully achieving this is linked to the struggle for socialism, taking the wealth off the super-rich to provide well-paid jobs, homes and services for all.

Visas – special treatment for super-rich

In haste, a week before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Home Secretary Priti Patel closed the ‘tier 1 investor visa scheme’. Fears had been growing about Russian oligarchs’ money laundering.

The scheme had been opened by the Labour government in 2008 in order to try to attract foreign investment. It gave foreign people residency and a route to British citizenship in return for at least £2 million investment. In other words, New Labour introduced an utterly discriminatory immigration policy favouring the super-rich, whilst refugees fleeing war and devastation, including those from Iraq and Afghanistan, continued to be denied a legal right of access and appropriate resettlement.

There have been 13,214 tier 1 visas issued (2,581 to Russians) and assuming each visa acquired the minimum investment of £2 million then over 14 years that amounts to £26 billion. It is more likely to have been in excess of £50 billion.

We say, nationalise that wealth. Seize the assets of the oligarchs and the super-rich. Under the democratic control of the working class, it could be used to provide the homes and services we need.

John Merrell, Leicester Socialist Party