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Neil Davidson

Stop Labour’s racist attacks on migrants

(26 February 2008)

From Letters, Socialist Worker, No. 2090, 26 February 2008.
Copied with thanks from the Socialist Worker Website.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Gordon Brown’s plans to make migrants “earn” their right to British citizenship are not only hypocritical and racist to the core – they threaten all working people, whether they were born in Britain or not.

Immigration minister Liam Byrne claims consultations show British people want newcomers to “pay their taxes like the rest of us”.

Why then did the government retreat in the face of business pressure from making millionaire “non-doms” do precisely that?

Why do they resist any attempt to make the rich pay their way?

Migrants who are likely to make more use of public services will be made to pay more to apply for citizenship.

However, those likely to make less use of them – the majority, since they tend to be young and healthy – will not have their contributions reduced. And why stop at migrants? If level of public service use is to be used as a criteria for setting fees, then why not use it to determine contributions from people already living in Britain?

If migrants have to demonstrate their willingness to “integrate” by working or doing voluntary work, how long before the long-term unemployed are treated in the same way?

Byrne says his consultations show that Britain is not “a nation of Alf Garnetts”, but this is exactly what the government thinks of us.

First we have a racist and xenophobic media playing on people’s ignorance and despair to create a storm of hatred and suspicion.

Then the government finds it convenient to “listen” to the people on this issue, in a way it never did over, say, the war in Iraq or the renationalisation of the railways.

We can best answer this by defending the rights of migrants and by supporting, not non-existent “British” values, but the international values of solidarity and anti-racism.


Neil Davidson
West Calder, Scotland

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