Thursday, March 08, 2007

Naked xenophobia

Which British politician said this?

"It is unfair that foreigners come to this country and steal our benefits, steal our services like the NHS and undermine the minimum wage by working."

From the sound of it, you'd think it was some shaven-headed racist thug from the British National Party. You'd only be half right - the speaker was in fact John Reid, the UK's Home Secretary. The British government has now fully adopted the language of racists and xenophobes in its efforts to prove itself "tough on immigration". So much for the values of the British Labour Party...


I can only hope that by stealing he meant illegal immigrants or maybe wealthy immigrants that are not entitled to benefits or NHS and by undermining the minimum wage he meant working for less than the minimum wage (as opposed to just 'working').


Posted by Anonymous : 3/08/2007 06:27:00 PM

"So much for the values of the British Labour Party"

Which one's in particular?

An effective minimum wage - nope - he's opposing foreigners undermining that. An effective NHS - nope - he's opposing foreigners undermining that too.

I'm not saying it's at all a good policy, but to what BLP values is it fundamentally contradictory?

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 3/08/2007 06:31:00 PM

Scapegoating of immigrants is well within the mainstream...the trend is quite predictable.I've been following it on the blogs for a while --ignorant bloggers spouting talk about their countries and neighbourhoods being "invaded" by criminal (usually brown), immigrants.

Immigrant-bashing is *the* classic racial wedge issue, and one that will hurt the BLP more than it will help them.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/08/2007 07:13:00 PM

Reid is talking about illegal immigrants. Froth all you want to but the BLP is not anti-immigration. One wonders why the need to misrepresent things and why the need to conflate the centre left with the extreme right.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/08/2007 07:30:00 PM


I never thought I'd say this, but here's something in The Independent I agree with:

There is indeed a problem with respect to migrant workers and their access to housing, healthcare and employment in Britain. But it is precisely the opposite to the one identified by the Home Secretary. As a report by the Von Hugel Institute pointed out yesterday, most overseas workers in Britain are, in fact, grossly exploited by employers. Far from "stealing" British jobs, they are filling gaps in our economy and being paid a pittance for doing so. If the Home Secretary is truly concerned about gangmasters undercutting the minimum wage by employing unregistered workers, he could help by giving asylum seekers the right to work while their claims are being processed by his inefficient department. The vast majority would be glad of a chance to pay taxes, rather than live on benefits.

The Home Secretary also neglected to mention yesterday that migrant workers tend to be crammed into the worst housing. And far from milking the NHS, they are less likely to come forward for treatment when they need it. Ill-health and poverty are common among migrant groups. The Government should be looking at ways to help them, not to make their lives "ever more uncomfortable and constrained" as Dr Reid put it yesterday. The UK is the only major EU economy that failed to mention migrants in its national anti-poverty strategy recently submitted to the European Commission. So much for "soft touch" Britain.

Now, Dr. Reid might want to break with the tradition of this Government and stop being an incompetent minister lurching from crisis to crisis caused by an incompetent department. And if he's feeling especially brave, he might try to make it "ever more uncomfortable and constrained" for the Britons who profit from the black economy being driven by over-stayers and illegal immigrants.

Then again, I guess that might strike a little to close to home for some of the Blair Babes and Brownies. Better to trot out the rhetoric that stinks of a bad impersonation of Enoch Powell astride a river of blood.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 3/10/2007 02:02:00 AM

But by working for below the minimum wage it holds down the wages of other groups in society.

Pretty much the same thing happens in the US with illegals.

Why pay a someone minimum wage when you can pay less.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/10/2007 11:51:00 AM