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. …

No to offshoring!!

No to offshoring!!

Boris Johnson and Priti Patel have finally pressed the button on their plans to ‘offshore’ asylum processing, Labour’s Yvette Cooper, labels this shameful, unworkable, unethical & extortionate. The Independent reports on previous countries attempts to ‘offshore’ refugee reception their failure, cost and disgraceful conditions applied to people who have done nothing wrong. It also seems the Government plan to use the military instead of Border Force. This is truly outrageous.

Labour Campaign for Free Movement have called for a demo outside the Home Office tonight.

No to Offshoring Demo 14/4/22
No to Offshoring

And some campaigning comrades, have started a petition,  Stop Priti Patel’s offshore refugee camps – Ripples

And then there’s those who think it’s a dead cat to distract from the partygate fines.  …

The end of fortress Europa?

The end of fortress Europa?

This is a commentary on the CoFoE proposals on ‘Migration’. CoFoE is the European Union's hybrid citizen's panel on the future policies and structure of the Union. Migration is often the issue where racism within the state and population expresses itself most strongly. Debate has become very polarised. If you’re interested, in the issue, you’ll remember the stories and pictures of the Greek refugee camps, and deaths in the Med and in the Channel together with the EU’s payments to Turkey, and the prosecution [ also here ] of rescue ship captains by Italy. Let’s hope this is the opportunity to bury “Fortress Europa”. .... for more, "Read More" ...

Ukraine, war & Britain

Ukraine, war & Britain

I wrote a piece two days ago, focusing on what UK  citizens and residents of good will should do about the war in Ukraine but feel I need to clarify.

I congratulate the Ukrainian people and their armed forces for the defence they have put up. It proves to me that the UK, because that is what I know , was fooled by the hybrid war conducted by Russia who weakened the UK’s will to resist its imperial adventures and defend its own democracy. Russia funded the Brexit campaign and much of the Tory Party; Brexit is a massive weakening of the European self defence capability as we can see by the EU’s speed in responding to the Russian invasion compared with the UK’s pedestrian pace. Russia’s propaganda presented us with a view as to the invincibility and overwhelming numeric superiority of the Russian Army.  This imbued in some British people, including me, a moral cowardice. This cowardice, equivalent to appeasement in the 30’s will have been reinforced by the moral subversion of NATO due to its US led adventurism in the Middle East.

NATO is the only alliance that can act but to call it a great achievement is hubristic and sectarian overstatement. Today’s NATO is not the same organisation as it was thirty years ago. The need for NATO will be proven if Sweden and Finland seek to join but all its fans need to recognise that the US is not the reliable and generous ally it once was. Trump explicitly questioned the US commitment to Article 5 and Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was not agreed by NATO.

The Ukrainian state is not pretty, it has the 3rd worst record in front of the European Court of Human Rights, and is judged by the EIU democracy index as a Hybrid State. In terms of both metrics the Russian record is worse. NATO member Turkey is the second most frequent breacher of the ECHR. But the Russian invasion is a war crime which it seems will now be investigated by the ICC. Good!

Throughout this we must not forget the brave Russians who are expressing their opposition to the war.

At home, a government that speaks for me must

  • Implement effective sanctions
  • Set up effective and generous refugee acceptance programmes
  • Purge itself of Russian funded corruption
  • Develop a defence policy that defends us against real threats not fake ones.

I would add that we should rejoin the EU but that will not happen until it ceases to be a partisan issue, however this will take much less than 50 years. …

Sometimes ministers go to gaol.

I am astonished to read that Inger Støjberg, an ex-Danish immigration minister has been sent to prison for breaching migrant’s human rights. This followed a European Court of Human Rights ruling. I look forward to one of many cases against Priti Patel going to Strasbourg, for instance, this and this on her illegal and inhumane instructions on push back of refugees crossing the channel or her failures in progressing Windrush compensation or her discriminatory behaviour towards pre-settled EU citizen residents. She should be worried although her mate Dominc Raab has an answer. Neuter the ECtHR. …

More racism from the Nationality & Borders Bill

The nationality and borders bill has been rightly criticised for demonising refugees and asylum seekers, the Acts last year have given the police immunity from prosecution for illegal acts, but I have just discovered, by looking at the New Statesman, that it plans to increase the powers of the Home Secretary to remove the citizenship rights, rendering them stateless,of people she believes have a claim on citizenship of a second state. It is one of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, not to be stateless. The ‘Statesman, rather dramatically suggests 6 million people could be in jeopardy.

In the article in the ‘Statesman, the show more button works.  …