The Socialist Unity Network

When the racists aren't racist enough.

Dave Landau

Hughes is outBeverley Hughes, the Immigration Officer who has just resigned, was no friend to immigrants and asylum seekers.  She accelerated deportations.  She pushed proposals to get rid of legal aid in asylum and immigration cases, getting rid of most levels of appeals against asylum refusals, taking to health care for asylum seekers (other unsettled migrants had this taken away back in 1982), the threat of taking children of asylum seekers into care and so forth.  Socialists and anti-racists would have been happy to have forced her resignation. 

However, her resignation was a victory for the Tories, the racists, the bigots and the fascists.  Why did they go for her?  The Government's immigration policy is contradictory.  It is based on two limbs, both equally deplorable, but often in conflict.  On the one hand the Government wants to treat migrants as disposable units of production, a reserve pool of labour with insecure or uncertain immigration status and no rights.  On the other hand they want to appease the fascists and the far right and to appeal to basest racists attitudes so as not to loose votes in elections.  However much was dishonesty or incompetence or dishonesty on Hughes' part over the last few weeks, it was this contradiction that caught her out.  The whistleblowers, the racist media and the Tories thought they could make hay over the entry of migrants from Eastern Europe - which flowed from the first limb of Government policy.  So they did with great success.

This raises key issues for socialists and anti-racists, and in particular Respect.  Respect's position on immigration is "The defence of the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. Opposition to the European Union's Fortress Europe policies."  This is not a policy on immigration controls and it does not deal with the questions raised over the Hughes' resignation.  Migrants from Bulgaria and Romania are not asylum seekers.  This is not about Fortress Europe, it is about the movement of labour in Europe.  Respect will be asked questions about this in the run up to the elections in 10th June.  What should Respect say?

Respect should be clearly against Immigration Controls and for No Borders.  Respect should fight for equal rights for all regardless of immigration status and fight for the unions to make sure that it organises and represents all workers regardless of status.  Workers in the caring professions are being asked to carry out immigration controls by Hughes and her predecessors.  We must fight for the unions to organise defiance of these orders.  NO ONE IS ILLEGAL.

The tragedy of the Chinese workers in Morecambe earlier this year highlights how essential these demands are.  At its conference, Respect shied away from adopting these principles.  But events have shown that the current demands are inadequate.  It appears that George Galloway, at least has understood this.  On Friday night at the launch of Redbridge and Havering Respect he said

"Equality for all immigrants: legal and illegal; asylum seekers and refugees.  Equality for everybody".


April 2004