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Congress discussion: developing a Q&A on immigration policy

The following piece is submitted by Tim Pendry as a contribution towards the development of our policy in this area.

Workers Party of Britain – Question and Answers on Migration Policy

What drives the Party’s policy on migration?

The Workers Party of Britain considers this to be one of the most difficult issues of our time. We are only at the beginning of a potentially massive shift of populations from the developing world to the developed world caused by decades of failure and greed by existing elites. We need a policy approach that is humane, long term and sustainable.

Where we start from is an analysis of why we are having this surge of people movements, This is essential if we are to find a solution. The main ‘push’ is two-fold – the appalling effects of Western imperial expansion in creating wars and so refugees and the genuine and legitimate demand of millions of people for a better life than the world of exploitation created by unregulated neoliberal globalisation. 

The ‘pull’ is the greed of Western capitalism in demanding cheap labour inputs to drive down wages without raising the funds to invest in social infrastructures such as housing, education and healthcare. Western businesses have been getting a free ride, transferring the costs of migration to the working classes and breaking the back of welfare systems. This is a deliberate strategy by both a conservative Right and a ‘modernising’ centre-left who no longer have any allegiance to community. It is vital that any policy be sustainable for the total population already living in a country and its welfare system.

However, the WPB is wholly mindful of the humanitarian aspects of migration. Its policies are thus centred on two linked sets of concern – ending the wars and petty oppressions that drive people from their homes and dealing with the criminal gangs who exploit the desperation of those pauperised by Western policies on the one hand and, on the other, making our nation so sustainable in its own right that it can maintain a lively and creative multi-ethnic population within a cradle to the grave welfare system that treats all those it is responsible for equally regardless of origin or nature.

WPB’s commitment to anti-imperialism, support for international development and dealing with organized crime is one side of the equation. Better management of fairer border control and heavy investment in our social structure is the other. Both will be centred on national sustainability to preserve our welfare structures, a high wage economy and absolute non-tolerance of discrimination and prejudice.

We want balanced societies and economies not only here in the UK but, as internationalists, across the world. We will fight for the rights of the oppressed wherever they are to be found. The best solution to mass migration is not to create slums and cheap labour for capital but lies in the levelling up of the rest of the world without levelling down our own. This is possible with the best social use of new technologies to be placed in the hands of the people.

Surely as internationalists you favour open borders?

In theory and in the better world we wish to create, of course, we want open borders but we do not live in a socialist world but in a capitalist one. It is run not by us but by the inept political agents of capital. This system has promoted misery, hunger and inequality. It has concentrated the benefits of the system on relatively few people who exploit the labour of even those within their own nations. It is in their interest to suck in the hungry in order to increase the exploitation of the workers immediately around them. This has to stop. The wars and inequity abroad have to stop and domestic exploitation has to stop.

So What Are Your Policies?

We want to take control of migration out of the hands of the business elite that simultaneously seeks to promote cheap labour migration without undertaking the expense of investing in the necessary social infrastructure. We want to put it back into the hands of the people, a people that is, in fact, open-hearted and tolerant to its core. To effect this transition, we need to commit to seven policies:-

  • We will undertake a massive diversion of resources from the military-industrial complex and from NATO to domestic defence and security structures, national social infrastructure and targeted international development
  • We will undertake investment in border security and in fair and equitable visa and citizenship arrangements that discourage organized crime and help the most vulnerable to a new life as well as ensuring that migrations flows are matched to the ability of local communities to absorb new entrants
  • We will make a regular calculation of the sustainable levels of migration with entry directed primarily at the protection of those most placed at harm by the operations of foreign state terrorism and war
  • We will rebuild social infrastructures to match the requirements not just of migrants but of the working class as a whole – housing, schools, healthcare, social care. This will mean a commitment to the full funding of local authorities in their efforts to provide a wide range of high quality services for everyone in the community, including refugees as soon as their status is accepted with follow up fast tracking to citizenship that screens out criminals.
  • We will invest in training for migrants to fill gaps in the provision of services to the wider population as respected members of the working class and in technical skills to support the use of new technologies for all workers rather than be complicit in driving down wage rates.
  • We will divert a significant portion of the funds saved from the excessive scale of the military-industrial and oppressive security structures to development projects that target the most vulnerable populations in the rest of the world.
  • We will challenge global neo-liberalism and global debt and free trade agreements that impoverish overseas working populations while building local middle classes at their expense – for the first time in its history, the UK under the WPB will cease exploiting the world and work with the BRICS to share resources and skills for the betterment of humanity.

We are not short term utopians. Open mass migration strategies without these measures will break society into identity wars and tribalism no matter how much we would like it to be otherwise. We can create a better world where the British Isles gains from a flow of new people in a sustainable way but also one where there is less incentive to move from overseas because we have contributed to the ending of global exploitation and insecurity.

In the long run, the process will balance out, unravelling 500 years of imperialism, to create a more equitable world with fewer opportunities for war, criminality and inequity. Our problem under capitalism is that, when it finally breaks down, it may be Britain that sees flows of population out to the BRICS if we do not have sustainable socialism in place long before then.


2 thoughts on “Congress discussion: developing a Q&A on immigration policy

  1. No one talks of population policy. I recall reports, widely trailed in publications such as Resurgence and the Ecologist in the early 1980’s. which put the optimum sustainable population of the UK in the 45-50 million range, We are now pretty much 50% above that. One small island, many areas of which are now seriously overcrowded and under great stress in service provision, cannot act as a Noah’s Ark to the entire universe. Surely any discussion of this sort must include, at the very outset, a consideration as to what the optimum sustainable population actually is and how that population should be distributed geographically.
    Corporatism … and I make the distinction between corporatism and capitalism … may be able to take the people to the (relative!) prosperity but has developed no mechanism for taking the prosperity to the people. It is, of course, yet another cost externality. Compress incomes aided by cheap labour and dump the costs on the public.

  2. We have to get over this idea that being a socialist means open borders. No socialist state can tolerate open borders. Open borders are a middle class liberal/establishment capitalist pipe dream. Immigration is only a ‘difficult subject’ if you are a middle class liberal. What is a man and what is a woman, isn’t a difficult subject unless you are a middle class liberal. The working classes don’t have ‘difficult subjects’ we plough headlong into any subject…. We don’t have the guilt of the middle classes. We sensibly manage migration and we don’t pretend open borders are ever our dream.

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