Today is International Cheap Disposable Migrant Labour Day, the 12th anniversary of Britain’s Labour Government – New Labour under Blair – opening the floodgates to unrestricted immigration from three former Warsaw Pact countries (one of which had already split in two), three former Soviet Republics and one former part of Yugoslavia (or part of former Yugoslavia, if you prefer). It is strange that those so keen on multinational political unions overlook the fragmentation of Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Some multinational political unions are obviously ‘good’, others ‘bad’, the ‘good’ ones being those that provide unscrupulous employers with the largest possible pool of cheap disposable migrant labour; that provide affluent householders in the host nations with the opportunity to hire immigrant tradespeople at the lowest possible prices; that provide so much demand for rented accommodation that landlords can charge what they want. Hurrah for the Labour Party. Hurrah for the European Union.
Now you might think, hang on a minute, surely the Labour Party would be concerned that too high a rate of inward migration might just put downward pressure on the working-class that it once claimed to represent? Not at all, for under Blair and his spinmeister Peter Mandelson, any pretensions of Labour being ‘working-class’ were washed away, except when it became necessary to hold on to ‘safe’ seats such as Hartlepool. Mandelson was appointed Labour’s Director of Communications by Blair’s predecessor but one, Neil Kinnock, who like Mandelson has a left-wing background, of which he divested himself to become an EU Commissioner and a wealthy one at that (aren’t they all?) Labour’s support among the working-class had already declined along with the trade unions and through the rise of self-employed, Sun-reading, Thatcher-voting, ‘white van man’, many of whom bought into the Tories’ property-driven boom-bust of 1987-92 and paid the price for it, by over-leveraging themselves and getting their homes repossessed.
So as the working-class had adopted Thatcherism, why shouldn’t the Labour Party go even further, to out-Tory the Tories, to pursue an ideology of Social Darwinism, the survival of the fittest and get rid of any elements of patriotic paternalism? Those who support competition shouldn’t complain about that being from overseas. The problem is that plenty of the working-class didn’t adopt Thatcherism and not just those in the former mining communities; millions stayed loyal to Labour principles and misguidedly voted for a Labour Party, whose leadership had abandoned them. Millions of others, the low-skilled, the unskilled or the potentially talented but just dirt poor, got left behind by Thatcherism. But even Thatcherism offered some hope for the last group. In Thatcher’s Britain, all students had their fees paid by their local authority and those from a low-income background were eligible to receive a susbistence-level maintenance grant, which was enough to pay for rent, bills and food. The Blair regime soon put a stop to all that malarkey.
The legacy of this disgusting policy of the Blair regime, implemented within a year of taking office, is the disenfranchisement of a generation from higher education; and hence the chance to improve their economic prospects by upskilling themselves. Concomitant with this, manufacturing industry continued to decline under Blair and received little support, except where it became politically expedient to do so. Labour’s legacy was rampant house price inflation between 1999 and 2003, which moderated but continued to grow during the following five years, with the encouragement of buy-to-let, which priced that same generation out of housing. New Labour’s New Landlords must have rubbed their greedy hands with glee in 2004, knowing that unrestricted immigration would keep them in business; and better than that, they’d receive housing benefit from the government to pay for the cost of their low-income tenants. Overall, Labour’s legacy was to shit on the indigenous working-class, removing all hope from them for a better life.
It should be no surprise therefore that when Labour needs to rely on the indigenous working-class, which were once the mainstay of its support, that support is now lacking. Labour failed to regain office last year precisely because of this. It lost a few million votes to UKIP, a party led by and still largely personified by a former commodities broker from ‘The City’ who was a Thatcherite Tory. The ‘Kippers played the ‘left-wing’ card very well, but they didn’t really need to. It doesn’t need to be explained to those who are too young to remember when Thatcher was in office that the Labour Party doesn’t care about them. Labour has become the party which was happy to bail out the debts of its merchant banker friends, with Alistair Darling, former Chancellor of the Exchequer and former MP for Edinburgh Central & South West, who is one of the leaders of the ‘Remain’ lobby, being the person responsible. The Labour Party supports the single European labour market (with immigration from outside the EU where ‘needed’ by its corporate benefactors).
Surely Jeremy Corbyn, as an ally of the late Tony Benn, must oppose this? Unfortunately not, Corbyn recently claimed that the immigration that Britain – and mainly England at that – has experienced since EU enlargement, isn’t enough. Although he refuses to campaign with David Cameron, it is clear that Corbyn is singing from the same pro-EU songsheet. His middle-class preparatory and grammar school background is not as privileged as that of Cameron or Blair, but it is clear that Corbyn has never had to compete at the bottom of the economic pile for council housing or shop work. That he has sold out is therefore unfortunately unsurprising. By contrast, Frank Field, MP for Birkenhead, who was one of those that nominated Corbyn for the Labour Party leadership, is part of an honourable minority of Labour MP’s who do understand the impact that the increased economic competition, due to EU enlargement, has had on the indigenous working-class. He is a man of social conscience in an otherwise overwhelmingly rotten Labour Party.