The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 4th April 2008

Billy Bragg tunes up to take on the  fascists

Welcome To Our Weekly Digest Edition

Please feel free to use this material provided the New Worker is informed and credited.



by Daphne Liddle

of Lords Economic Committee last week astonished many by issuing a report that claimed immigration from non-European Union countries makes no discernible contribution to Britain’s economy.

 This is in contradiction to official evidence published this week showing that immigration has benefited every British citizen by an average of £30 a year.

 The Lords’ committee was chaired by former Tory Cabinet minister Lord Wakeham and included former Tory Chancellors Lord Lawson and Lord Lamont. The report said that competition from immigrants has had a negative impact on the low paid and training for young workers in Britain, and has contributed to high house prices.

 The committee called for a limit on immigration from outside the EU. Wakeham said: “Immigration from the EU cannot be controlled and the UK must continue to honour its human rights obligations towards asylum seekers.

 “So controls on immigration from outside the EU is the most appropriate way to achieve a level of immigration that really does meet the UK’s economic needs.”

 Prime Minister Brown retaliated the next day, rejecting the findings of the Lords committee. He claimed that immigration from outside the EU is very beneficial because his government restricts it only to the highly qualified.

 But the timing of the Lords’ report – in the run-up to the local elections, when the neo-Nazi British National Party is seeking to make gains – raises a lot of questions.

The Lords’ committee used statistics from the pressure group Migration Watch that has an agenda to reduce immigration and one leading member who is known as a eugenicist. It is an organisation that is praised and recommended by openly racist organisations.

 What the Lords have done is to draw attention to the built-in Tory predominance in that House and its inherent undemocratic nature and we are left wondering what it contribution makes to Britain’s economy.

 Perhaps the Lords are concerned about recent Government proposals for constitutional reforms concerning that House and are playing the race card in an effort to undermine Labour prospects in the coming elections, hoping the electorate will mistake the Lords for an independent unbiased authority and give credence to anti-immigrant scaremongering.

 Certainly the worst of the tabloid press have already used the Lords’ report for another round of immigrant bashing.

 A few years ago former Tory leader Michael Howard played the race card in the run up to an election and lost support because of it. Perhaps this is a tactic to play the card again without Cameron having to get his own hands dirty in the process.

 Cameron is trying to present an image of the perfectly behaved, bland, “nice guy” but in his youth he was briefly a member of the Federation of Conservative Students – an organisation so notoriously extreme right-wing that Thatcher had to order Norman Tebitt to close it down.

 Brown for his part is no friend of the workers – native born or immigrant. Those who benefit economically most from immigration are the tight-fisted employers.

Brown claims that immigrants do the work that British workers do not want to do. That is not true, workers born here would be happy to do the work if the wages and conditions were good enough to secure a home and raise a family. This is why the trade unions have the right approach in setting out to recruit immigrant workers, to unite native and immigrant workers to gain better wages and conditions for all.
on balance

Responding to the Lords’ claims TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The TUC has always said that on balance immigration has been good for the economy and good for society. Without the contribution of migrant workers important parts of public services and the private economy would collapse.

 “This does not mean that there have been no problems associated with recent patterns of migration, but the solution is to deal with these issues, rather than abuse migrant workers.

 “Where public services are under strain, then there should be more investment, given the extra tax revenue generated from migrant workers.

 “The Lords’ committee is absolutely right to endorse the TUC view that unscrupulous employers have used the availability of migrant workers to abuse employment standards such as the minimum wage. The Government should act on the committee’s recommendation to crack down on these bad bosses and agencies who use migrant workers to undermine decent secure jobs.”

 Immigrants make a far greater contribution to Britain than the House of Lords – which is long past its limit of usefulness and should be abolished.



Narrowing the gap?

THE TORY LEAD dropped three points in the opinion polls this month with Labour up one and the Liberal Democrats unchanged. But this is cold comfort for Labour because the latest poll still leaves the Tories ahead with 38 per cent, seven points ahead of Labour with only four weeks to go for the regional and local elections in May. But in most parts of Britain Labour’s campaign is moribund. The New Labour leadership persists in trying to court the mythical “hard-working family” with third-rate appeals to patriotism and a platform that barely goes beyond reminding people of the dark days of Thatcher and Major.

While there can be no doubt that working people would be far worse off if the Tories were back in the saddle it is equally true this cuts little ice with younger voters who weren’t around when Labour was last in office in the 1970s and were just kids during the Thatcher era.

North of the border Labour has had to change tack following the Scottish National Party (SNP) victory in last year’s Scottish parliamentary elections. Now Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander conjures up the memory of  Keir Hardie, John Wheatley and Clement Attlee and tells us she’s a “socialist” whose party will reward “hard work against unearned income” and remain in tune with the aspirations of  “Scottish families”. But what is this “socialism” and what are these “aspirations”.

 Well according to Scottish Labour’s new pamphlet New Directions, Scottish Labour stands for  the “progressive values of justice, equality, and community” while the hopes and dreams of Scottish families are apparently  “second home ownership, two cars in the driveway, a nice garden, two  foreign holidays a year, and leisure systems in the home such as sound, cinema, and gym equipment” which, it is implied, a new Scottish Labour government will somehow deliver. This is in a country where 910,000 people live in poverty (18 per cent of the Scottish population) including 240,000 children (23 per cent of all Scottish children). No wonder the SNP dismissed her speech as “Wendy in Wonderland”.

In the capital at least Labour is campaigning on the streets in the runup to the May poll. Ken Livingstone certainly has got a fight on his hands, trailing 10 points behind Boris Johnson, if the polls are to be believed, which would give the Tories City Hall regardless of which way the second-preference votes go. But Livingstone and Labour are mobilising support for the policies that have improved the lives of many Londoners over the past eight years.

In fact the only alternative to the Tories, who are the chosen party of the ruling class, is Labour. But class collaboration is not the only alternative for the Labour Party. Labour’s mass membership lies with trade union affiliates and the party still relies on the trade union movement for most of its funds.

And as long as the link with the organised working class remains the prospect for change exists. Labour cannot be “reclaimed” by trying to build alternative electoral slates like George Galloway’s Respect or the dozen or so other left social-democratic and revisionist platforms that scrabble for the protest vote at every election. Nor can it be revived by simply calling on the rank-and-file, where they exist, to stay and fight the right wing.

The key is to strengthen the campaign of the Labour Representation Committee, to unite left Labour MPs, unions, constituency Labour Parties, socialist groups and communist movements like the NCP to strengthen the trade union link and restore Labour Party democracy, the role of conference, local parties and activists in the policy making process. That’s the only way Brown & Co can be defeated. That’s the only way to mobilise mass working class support to keep the Tories out. 

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