Not so fast!

Not so fast!

The High Court has ruled that the Government’s plan to send refugees to Rwanda with a one-way ticket, is legal. Suella Braverman is claiming this as a victory but there is a sting in the tail of the ruling, which I have not yet read in full. The decision is reported by the BBC who quote Braverman as vowing to continue and Yvette Cooper who called the policy "unworkable, extortionate and deeply damaging", but not immoral nor criticising the hostile environment; she leaves it to Alison Thewliss, the SNP's home affairs spokesperson. PCS & Care4Calais plan to appeal, so we’ll see and of course there remains the ECtHR injunction to consider. Although the desire to manipulate international law with respect to immigration (and labour) law is bi-partisan. There's more overleaf ...

The Empire strikes back, Labour & Immigration 2022.

The Empire strikes back, Labour & Immigration 2022.

This is a reaction to Kier Starmer’s speech to the CBI where he said, “But our common goal must be to help the British economy off its immigration dependency to start investing more in training workers who are already here.” History repeats itself; I remember that Enoch Powell told his supporters to vote Labour to stop the EU, but then neither Wilson nor the 70’s left, were pandering to racism. This time, the difference is that Labour are courting that vote.

I can no longer forgive this sort of language, pouring over the text of speeches looking for good news is something I promised to stop during Ed Miliband’s leadership. It’s a language designed for the headlines he wants. It’s part of the speech where he is mainly talking about training, and training provided by business. There is absolutely no need to use this language.

This article looks at Zoe Gardner & Jonathan Portes’ reactions and I note that, this approach was trialled by Rachel Reeves in a Sky interview, immediately after Labour Party Conference.

My disgust and anger led to me proposing and winning a motion at my Constituency Labour Party and Union branch. The article quotes the motion and publicises my speech notes. I conclude, by looking at Yvette Cooper’s conference speech and note that neither Cooper, nor Starmer made any promises on the hostile environment.

Attempting to differentiate from the Tories on competence will fail both in winning the election and making things better. Labour needs to offer hope and needs a movement to sustain it through the inevitable push backs that will occur. Pandering to racism won’t do that. I say more overleaf.

Trebles all round!

Trebles all round!

This week, the Labour front bench, in a trinity of acts, supported the autumn statement and thus austerity in principle, criticised Tory immigration policy on the grounds of competence and repeated their promise to not join the EU, its single market, or adopt the EU’s freedom of movement in the next parliament (if they win).

The inconvenient truth is that the UK economy needs unskilled EU workers to do the work, It’s not the net fiscal impact that’s the issue. We have a massive labour shortage, we need migrants to do the work, it’s about the output. It’s not all highly skilled work as we define it either, it’s hospitality, agriculture, and health care. And today we define highly skilled as highly paid; even if only the highly skilled were desirable, they are not synonymous.

I have thought long and hard to find a way of compromising with those who want to pander to racists on free movement, and I can’t find a way of doing it while solving both the macro-economic problems and remaining true to our internationalist principles. All this “control immigration” or a fair “points based” immigration policy which involves stopping people is just pandering to racism.

Differentiating from the Tories on competence is morally vacant.

Accepting the debt fetishism at the heart of the Tories “New Economic Policy” is also morally vacant, and self defeating, you can’t cut your way to growth and austerity causes poverty, homelessness and is killing the NHS. Labour’s next manifesto and government must offer hope. They will lose votes from Corbyn’s voting coalition, and as far as I can see it’s deliberate.

You’d think they’d learn that voters always have somewhere else to go! Some demographics, historically Labour voters, are choosing to vote Tory.  …

Reeves and Immigration

There I am sitting in my living room, considering that maybe Starmer and Reeves domestic policy promises weren’t so bad, playing with my phone when a clip from Sky News comes on with Rachel Reeves, saying that the problem with the Tory immigration policy is there aren’t enough deportations. This is the moral sink that competing on competence takes you. Labour’s Conference Policy at lab19 and lab21 is clear and based on an anti-racist, internationally legally compliant, rights based, compassionate, and humane approach. We must do better than this.  …

No person is illegal!

No person is illegal!

I attended the AGM of the LCFM over the weekend, here are my notes. I attended breakouts on organising in the Unions to oppose the illegal aspects of the hostile environment, this was led by a spokesperson from PCS, we in the GMB have things to learn from them and a second session on ending detention centres.

The final session was addressed by Ben Smoke, one of the Stansted 15, Ana O from the LCFM NC, and Nadia Whittome MP. My highlights from this were learning that the S15 were prosecuted for Terrorism and yet the final court disposition .stated there was no case to answer. Free movement is about the rights of people when they get here, in particular in the work place but also of course under the hostile environment in the housing market, banking services and health services. The anti-raids network is an effective anti-racist anti deportation movement, Labour is no longer part of this. And from Nadia’s speech I am reminded that Govt’s need movements to keep them on the straight and narrow, when they’re awful they can oppose, and when they’re friendly they can ensure that countervailing pressures are in place so they are not blown of course.,

There's more overleaf ....

Another fine hole!

Another fine hole!

So it appears that Sir Keir Starmer is going to return to his comfort zone on immigration. Ruling out that a Labour Government, led by him, will agree a freedom of movement of workers with the EU, except of course, Eire, Malta and Cyprus, although given some of his comments in the Union, he may well be willing to sacrifice the UK/Eire Common Travel Area.

I don’t know how many times I and others need to say this. We need foreigners, particularly young foreigners to come to this country to work and pay taxes. If they don’t come, the work doesn’t get done, which is one reason there’s a labour shortage. The search for a ‘fair immigration’ policy that restricts incoming workers is like looking for a chimera. We now have an earnings limit that means that teachers and nurses cannot enter the country to work. It’s an economic act of self harm and panders to racism.

Starmer isn’t very good at economics and this is trolling his base. He assumes they have nowhere else to go; the last people to think this were wrong and he is too. …

GMB agrees to “Oppose Refugee deportation to Rwanda”

My branch proposed an Emergency Motion on the Rwanda deportations, here is the debate, sorry about the sound,

and here are the words,

EM2. Oppose Refugee deportation to Rwanda

Congress notes that on the 14th April, Priti Patel announced that the UK and Rwanda would sign a deal allowing the UK government to send unprocessed immigrants to Rwanda. On the 10th April,  the High Court refused an application to stop the Govt’s planned removal of people seeking asylum by offshoring them to Rwanda despite the UN warning the Home Office off the likely illegality. This decision was unsuccessfully appealed on Monday 13th June 2022.

The move to offshore those seeking asylum is racist , breaches human rights and our international duties to welcome refugees which are embedded in  treaty commitments.

We instruct the CEC to raise awareness of the High Court’s decision on 10.6.22 ensuring our members working in detention centres and work ancillary to the detention centres are informed of the justice and rights of those in their care.

Congress agrees to support the actions of any members in the detention centres and other impacted businesses if they choose to refuse to perform work effecting the deportations

Congress calls on GMB sponsored MPs to campaign to reverse this programme, and for the Labour Party to oppose any parliamentary resolutions enabling this programme. They must recognise that many/most of the transportees are unprocessed asylum seekers fleeing threats of death and war.

London Central General

The CEC issued a qualification which is important to understand the position of the Union.  …

Education and Immigration

Education and Immigration

The Govt renewed its list of universities which act as gateways to the High Potential Individual Visa route; graduates from approved top universities can apply to enter the UK. The list is published on the Govt web site; there’s been much comment this time round that there are no African Universities on the list but then there are no Latin American Universities nor Asian Universities apart from the pacific rim.  The Govt claim to have used two other lists to construct their list; I have examined the QS index, partly because it’s easy to find and partly because I have looked at it before albeit nearly 13 years ago.

What’s startling is the number of PacRim countries now in the top 50, in 2007, there were very few, in 2021, there are many more. This should not be a surprise as the purpose of the QS index was to allow the Chinese state to plan its university programmes to support their investment led growth plans. We should also note that the QS index is/was biased towards English speaking universities.

Top 60 Universities by Region according to QS

There are no Latin American Universities in the Top 50, nor any African. The only Asian universities in this list are on the Pacific Rim, so none from the Indian subcontinent. The top Indian university is the Bombay Institute of Technology (177) and the top African university is the University of Capetown (226). The European figures (15) include 8 from the UK, and two from France, Switzerland and the Netherlands and one from Germany; the last figure surprises me, I would have thought they’d have more, but it could be as a result of the index methodology, although Switzerland has two institutes in the top 50. China has more in the top 60, than the UK and the EU. The HMG list includes the Karolinska Institute of Sweden, which I cannot find on the QS Index, but it claims 7th. The HMG List includes two US universities not in the top 60, but they claim to have sourced their list from multiple sources.

I would need to think harder about the impact of this route to entry to the country; the focus on the top 60 is clearly discriminatory as is most of the UK’s immigration law. This has even been confirmed by a leaked Home Office report. I predict someone is going to get into a lot of trouble for letting those words stay in the report!

The big and most important conclusion from examining these lists is that China is catching up, it has nine universities in the top 57, of which four are in Hong Kong. We can also note that the EU’s footprint in the top 50 is far lower than it once was as it was overly reliant on the UK’s universities.

Here’s my spreadsheet which contains my versions of the two tables, and several pivot tables and charts. …

CoFoE’s final word on Migration

CoFoE’s final word on Migration

I was invited to speak at the Young European Federalists rally/conference as a representative of AEIP and CTOE. I spoke about CoFoE’s proposals on Migration, and the need for a generous and inclusive citizenship definitions.

The context

Migration is an issue of some controversy as we well know in the UK. It is one of the few policy areas where racism is seen as a legitimate policy design goal. For the EU there are two countervailing political forces, both having some age now. The EU or its predecessor was founded as a response to the 2nd World War and its consequent movements of people primarily as refugees or asylum seekers. The second is the massive post-colonial legacies held by so many of the member states many of which are ex-empires, although some seem to have recovered from these influences more rapidly than others. I said at the meeting that I’d be happy to learn from others about their colonial pasts, but the list is longer than the obvious.

Given the technical problem solving nature of CoFoE the proposals need to be judged in the light of scope of the issue. Immigrants are, workers, refugees, family members or students. Counting students as immigrants is a subject of argument. The European economies need migrant workers. If they don’t come, work doesn’t get done. It’s not just the taxes, it’s the output. The domestic demand for migrant labour is demand led, if they are stopped, then the work they seek doesn’t get done. Refugees and asylum seekers are fleeing for their lives, escaping war or oppressive regimes who may be seeking to kill them for their sexuality, or political opinions. Legally and morally we owe refugees a duty of care and should be proud they choose our countries of places of safety. I can’t comment on other countries but the UK has been busy making it hard for its citizens to pass their nationality onto spouses and even to children. It is hard to bring spouse to the UK, i.e. if you want to marry a foreigner, you may have to live in their country.   Students shouldn’t be counted in the immigration numbers.

We have missed one opportunity as I note the EU’s shameful partial response to the UN Global Compact on Immigration, ; it was a missed opportunity to show a united, world leadership on this critical issue. It shows the resistance in the the political leadership in the EU which may be characterised as specific to a limited number of member states but racist popularism is embedded across the Union.

A route for change

The Conference and particular the citizen panels were more progressive than might have been expected and the worst of the proposals from the digital platform were ignored.

There are a couple of proposals on reducing labour market friction which are probably a good idea. There may well be a view that if employers can fill vacancies with local labour then there will be less need to employ immigrants, but I think that effectively this would be marginal.

There is a proposal to increase aid to likely source countries that need it. The debate about aid is also complex; aid must not create dependency and must avoid corruption.

There are proposals on the policing of immigration criminality. When one reads the words, it is clear that human traffickers must be caught and stopped, however, care must be taken to ensure that the EU and its member & neighbour states must not be criminalise the aiding of and rescue of people at sea as has occurred in Italy and been attempted in the UK. This proposal talks of the proper resourcing of Frontex. If immigration is to become an EU competency, then it needs an agency and the common border, Schengen now includes the vast majority of the population of the EU. The strength of this recommendation will have been helped by having Frontex as one of the experts to the citizens panel.

On refugees, there are strong progressive statements, empasising a duty of care and welcome to refugees. It also recognises the duty of solidarity to those countries who bear the brunt of welcoming refugees. It seems there is an EU agency for asylum and there is a need to move on from the Dublin Regime, which was designed to allow refugees some say in where they go, but has become a trap keeping them in the first place they arrive.

There are proposals on integration. This is another complex area of policy as in some decisions requirements to integrate can be posed against the rights to practice one’s culture and the development of a multi-cultural society. The EU should be one of the most sympathetic political entities in recognising the rights of multi-culturalism since it has so many.

At the least

In the UK, our politicians have been getting this wrong, albeit for 20 years, maybe even longer and is one of the reasons the UK voted for Brexit.

We need workers, we must welcome and protect refugees, we must allow people to love who they choose and marry who they choose and then live together. We should welcome students from abroad; they enrich the host nation’s culture and teach the young about the peoples of the world.

We cannot compromise with the racism inherent in anti-migrant policy; it’s the route to disaster.

We i.e. AEIP fear that adopting common standards will lead to a levelling down which is not what’s needed.

In some places in the document the words are unclear in intent and may be misused. I am reminded of the newspeak used by the UK Government in selling its offshore immigration camps to the UK and international public opinion. On aid and border control, the words may be innocuous but there is still time to get it wrong.

We need to ask ourselves, “Motives, motives, motives?”.

The truth is that migration and citizenship are currently split between the EU and the member states. Asking the member states to share the right to define citizenship is a big ask but when looking at the proposals in the Democracy chapter, it’s clear that citizenship needs to be more inclusive; one initiative that deserves support is the ECI “Votes without Borders­” which seeks to ensure that EU Citizens can vote in the EU no matter where they live. This should be supported, but sadly UK citizens, even those resident in the EU cannot sign the petition.

Democracy requires an inclusive view of who is a citizen, which while it’s an argument in the UK and other countries, the famous slogan of the American Revolution, “No taxation without representation” applies here. We can’t welcome people to work, pay taxes and then deny them the vote.

ooOOOoo

There were two questions, one on the accountability of politicians and, the second, asking if the EU can EU protect its citizen’s against an EFTA member.

Politicians can be held to account via the mechanisms of the institutions and by the political parties. The parties are part of civic society but as a member of the Labour Party I recognise that members and voters can’t always hold the politicians to account.

Citizenship of the EU gives its citizen’s the protection of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which can be exercised initially through the member state courts. It also avoids the longer passport control queues. The duty to protect citizens against harassment by a foreign government belongs to the member state. The EU embassies do not offer consulate services. …