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Migrant women and children

Photo: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters

With the focus of hatred aimed at migrants the elite culprits of society's problems hide behind racism

The general election saw a fresh round of scapegoating directed against migrants to the UK. Labour’s risible ‘control immigration’ mug and stone tablet were rightly mocked. But conceding the argument on immigration to the chancers of Ukip has only strengthened prejudice.

There is nothing sinister or unusual about migration. As Russell Brand says, a migrant is simply someone who used to be somewhere else. After all, this is an island. Everyone here is related to an immigrant at some point.

Recent scaremongering over migrants from Eastern Europe is racist. It is racist in the same way that it was racist to scapegoat Asians arriving in the 1970s, or Afro-Caribbeans before them, or Jews and Irish before them.

The facts on migration speak for themselves. How could the NHS continue to function without the work of migrant nurses, doctors, and cleaners?

Recent migrants make a huge tax contribution. They are mainly young and looking for work. As a result, far fewer migrants claim benefits than is typical in the rest of the population.

Researchers at University College London estimate that recent migrants paid £20bn more in taxes between 2001 and 2011 than they took as benefits or public services.

There is no evidence of migrants pushing up unemployment. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research found that there is no link between unemployment and migration since 2002. This is because migrants move to where there is work, not to where there isn’t. And researchers have found no clear link between migration and falling wages. Wages have been low in recent years because trade unions are weak, but bosses are greedy. Profits are at record levels even as wages have fallen.

Divide and rule

By shifting blame for low wages and insecure work onto migrants, the real culprits are let off the hook. Divide and rule is the aim.

The appalling scenes in the Mediterranean, where over 1,700 people have drowned already this year, are the result of this callous policy. And racism against migrants helps clear the wayfor racism against other minorities. Recorded attacks on Muslims, for example, are up 70% in London over the last year.

If we want to see people in this country betteroff, we need to target their real enemies. Theyare to be found at the top of society, not the bottom. Migrants and residents face a commonenemy – the bosses, and their government. If we want to beat this enemy, we need to stand together. That means working and campaigning alongside migrants, and fighting racism wherever it appears.

This article first appeared in Counterfire's new free paper. Contact us for copies to distribute in your area.

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