[Marxism] Immigration and Asylum in Britain

Nigel Irritable nigel_irritable at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 19 09:22:09 MST 2004

Calvin wrote on immigration in Britain:
> The SWP people have simply been calling for total 
> open borders and no immigration controls.

Of course the SWP voted down their long-held position
on this at the recent Respect Unity Coalition launch
conference, arguing that it wouldn't be understood by
the mass of the working class. COnsistency was never
their strong point.

> At the same time, the Socialist Party has seemed to
> suggest that racism comes from poverty. This is not
> the case, as the major successes of 
> the BNP in very recent years have been in middle
> class areas

These would be such middle class enclaves as Burnley,
Oldham, Stoke and Sunderland?

The main growth of the BNP has been in a small number
of former industrial towns in the North and Midlands.
With very few exceptions we are talking about a vote
that is coming from elements within the working class.
These towns are at the tail end of a process of
de-industrialisation and the party which once
represented workers in those areas, Labour, no longer
makes even the slightest pretence of being concerned
with their interests. In these very grim conditions
the BNP are trying to fill a political vacuum by
posing as the party of the "white working class" and
blaming the areas problems on asians or asylum

I have heard some, for the most part members of the
SWP, argue the pleasant fantasy that the BNP's vote is
from the middle class. This delusion is a consequence
of trying to see what is happening in Britain as a
replay of 1930's fascism rather than trying to
actually examine the world as it is.

Even in Scotland, where the BNP have little in the way
of organisation thanks to the efforts of Scottish
Militant Labour and Anti-Fascist Action to smash it
many years ago, the same kind of factors are at work.
The best example is in the events around Sighthill
some years ago. A large number of asylum seekers were
dumped simultaneously into one of the most run down
council estates in Scotland. No additional resources
were provided to take the strain on the already very
poor local services. Racism rose quickly and
eventually an asylum seekers was murdered.

The SSP was able to partially cut across the rise in
tensions by launching a campaign called "Sighthill
United Against Poverty and Racism". The aim was to
turn the anger of both local workers and asylum
seekers against the Council that was screwing all of
them and to demand additional resources for the area.
This culminated in a large march of both locals and
new arrivals down to the city centre.

The Socialist Party has recently published a lengthy
article outlining our views on how to combat
anti-immigrant sentiment in Britain. In my, biased,
view it is the best approach on offer and is well
worth reading. It is available online at:


Is mise le meas
Brian Cahill

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