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Migrants are not the problem, this reactionary Government is – Claudia Webbe MP

“The attacks on the living conditions of the majority of people we have seen are not from refugees fleeing persecution, death & famine. They are from the billionaires who stash their wealth in tax havens & the Tory Government that represents their interests.”

Claudia Webbe MP

Claudia Webbe MP writes on why we must resist Tory divide & rule

We have increasingly seen the Tory government resort to scapegoating in recent weeks, especially with regards to migrants, including refugees attempting to cross the channel.

These now daily attacks from the Tories and their allies in the right-wing media on refugees fleeing famine, war and persecution must not only be opposed by socialists – not least due to the lack of humanity, compassion and dignity they represent – but we must also understand why they are taking place at this particular time.

Why then is this callous Tory government launching a war against migrants in rubber dinghies with no regard to protect human life?

This is classic Tory divide and rule, and the reasons are clear and are political.

This scapegoating is all about distracting public attention (and diverting public anger) from the Government’s mishandling of the Coronavirus, which led us to the worst death rate in Europe, and its failure to take the radical action now necessary to protect as many jobs and livelihoods as possible.

How many people died from Covid-19 was not inevitable. The reason it happened was because the Tory government was ill-prepared in vital areas of public health, including being too late to lockdown, and has consistently refused to put the interests of people and public health before the interests of big business.

The level of deep recession we are starting to experience is also not inevitable.

With regards to the current offensive around people crossing the channel, it is imperative that progressives and anti-racists lay out the facts on this issue, including with regards to why the idea that refugees get an “easy ride” once they reach here is blatantly untrue. The current support for asylum seekers – £37.75 a week – and the ban on their right to work is inhumane.

In so much of the discourse on this issue there has not even been a cursory mention of the legal right for refugees to claim asylum in the UK and the need to meet our international obligations when it comes to welcoming them.

This must change, and we should also not forget that through the reactionary role it plays on the international stage, this Tory Government has contributed to the global refugee crisis.

Indeed, despite the Coronavirus pandemic the UK, is still trading arms and deploying troops in war torn areas like the Yemen from where many refugees flee. The fact that it is often our aggressive wars – or wars fought with weapons sold by us – that forces these people to flee their homelands gives us a special responsibility.

A failure to implement both a global ceasefire and debt cancellation are part of the problem. The UK is a major shareholder and complicit in both, but this could and should end.

We also need to recognise that the deepening global climate emergency, unless averted by urgent action, will mean further crises causing there to be more and more climate refugees around the world.

The attacks on the living conditions of the majority of people we have seen in recent years – with the Tories threatening more in the years to come – are not from refugees fleeing persecution, death and famine. They are from the billionaires who stash their wealth in tax havens, and the Tory Government that represents their interests.

Fearmongering over an invasion of ‘illegal immigrants’ across the Channel must be resisted. And we should always remember that migrants are not the problem, this reactionary Government is.

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