The following piece is submitted by Peter Ford as a contribution towards the development of our policy in this area.
The Workers Party needs to support a migration policy which reflects the anxiety felt among the working class about an influx of migrants which appears to be out of control.
While some of this anxiety is stoked by the racist Right, people are not wrong to worry about undue burdens being placed on local services, about disproportionate herding of migrants into poorer parts of the country, and about the cost of hosting escalating numbers of asylum seekers.
A distinction needs to be made between refugees and migrants. Migrants are always going to be needed in a country like Britain to fill gaps in the labour market e.g. inadequate numbers of trained nurses. There is an issue over immigrants depressing wages but this can be addressed by long term labour reforms in the interest of all, not by immigration quotas.
Refugees, however, that is those claiming asylum, while representing only about 10% of inflow, pose greater immediate challenges in terms of publicly funded absorption.
No-one can doubt that the Tories have given it their best shot to limit the number of asylum seekers. Nothing has worked for long, if at all. The latest wheezes involving Rwanda and boat hotels, even if they worked, would provide only cosmetic relief.
We need to turn the telescope around and look at how our own actions as a relatively powerful Western country are creating the flow of asylum seekers. A glance at the countries of origin of many if not most of the asylum seekers shows that those countries have been subjected to deliberate attempts by the US, EU and Britain to impoverish them with sanctions, often following Western military action against them or use of proxy militias to destabilise them. Countries like Syria, Eritrea, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran are haemorrhaging many of their best young people because of our own imperialist actions. Refugees from Central Africa are often fleeing countries impoverished by French exploitation backed up by military interference often to keep pro-French cliques in power.
A proper policy for a socialist party will focus on removing the spurs to desperate emigration caused by our own actions.
– no more wars of aggression
– lifting all sanctions on developing countries
– no more funding of proxy militias
– removing unfair trading practices which hamper economic development in poorer countries
These straight forward policies would be more effective in practical terms in stemming inducements to leave homes than anything the other parties are proposing. They are easy to implement, are totally under our own control and would save billions of pounds.