Targeting immigrant workers is becoming the number one priority for governments from Italy, to Switzerland and Britain. In Italy, Romanian and other foreign nationals have had their shanty homes in Rome torn down and been rounded up for deportation after an emergency presidential decree. The fact that the measures contravene EU laws are simply ignored by the authorities. In Britain, New Labour is announcing yet another immigration bill to add to the one already going through Parliament, while new so-called anti-terror measures also included in its legislative programme are directly aimed at the Muslim community in this country.
Playing the racist, nationalist card is a sign that governments have no policies for tackling the issues generated by the movement of people in search of work and a future and instead cynically manipulate public opinion in search of few grubby votes. The way it works is quite simple. New Labour promotes flexible, cheap labour as the basis of a “competitive” economy but turns a blind eye to the social consequences. Local authorities struggle to provide sufficient housing and education for newcomers without additional financial support from central government, which doesn’t even keep proper statistics. Racists then use the tensions that arise to stir up hatred of foreigners in general. So the government brings in another piece of anti-immigrant legislation, stoking up the atmosphere still further.
The tone was set as soon as Gordon Brown took over as prime minister. He pronounced that there would be “British jobs for British workers”, even though this is totally unworkable and is also against EU law. Then at his party’s charade of a conference, Brown used the term British or Britishness over 80 times against a backdrop of Union Jacks. So while the country’s banking system falls apart, Brown’s priority is to bring in a new measure that will require people from outside the EU to pass an English test before being allowed to live and work in Britain.
As Tara Mukherjee, president of the Confederation of Indian Organisations, said it would mean that people from English-speaking countries, which are predominantly white, would have no difficulty in passing the tests, while those from non-English speaking countries, which are predominantly non-white, will be disadvantaged. In other words, it’s a racist bill. Rhian Beynon, of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, also attacked the new language test requirements: "It already seems bizarre and discriminatory to non-Europeans, particularly to those from countries where English is spoken, that they should meet an English language requirement to enter, work and settle here while nationals of countries such as Poland and Italy do not."
Connected to the isolation of foreign, non-white nationals is the proposal to extend the time that terror suspects can be detained without charge from 28 days to probably double that. No surprise then that the day before the announcement, up pops Jonathan Evans, the head of the spy agency MI5, to claim that there are hundreds of terror plots under way in Britain. This is part of the softening up process to force the detention plans through Parliament and make the Muslim community even more of a target than it already is. Who need the far-right British National Party when you’ve got New Labour-MI5 running the state?
AWTW communications editor