The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 4th April 2008
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PLAY THE RACE CARD
by Daphne Liddle
THE HOUSE 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
“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
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
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
Brown for his part is no friend of the workers – native born or
immigrant. Those who benefit economically most from immigration are the
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.
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
“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
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
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
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
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