Sunday, 11 December 2016

A Mug's Game – Andy Burnham and Immigration

Controls on Immigration
A Greater Manchester perspective? 
So out of the blue, as part of the campaign to be elected Mayor of Greater Manchester, comes a report that ‘The free movement of people within the European Union has made British streets unsafe’.
And that “The status quo – full free movement – was defeated at the ballot box and therefore not an option. We need to make the argument for an immigration system that allows for greater control, reduce the numbers coming here, but does so in a fair way.”
The UKIP policy on immigration bases itself on fairness [1] . But these quotes are not from UKIP, they are from the Labour Party candidate Andy Burnham [2].
My first reaction was a less polite version of ‘Goodness me’, but a quick google search shows Burnham has been back and forth on the issue over time [3].
From his leadership campaign against Jeremy Corbyn last year he said "What I would say as shadow home secretary is that from here we need to review how freedom of movement works in practice and look at some of those issues that Jeremy Corbyn has raised in this campaign. Issues like, pressures on public services, because often its the more deprived communities that have to absorb that pressure without extra funding. That can't be right," he said. "It also can't be right that people can be brought in from other countries when their employment is still in their country of origin and then employed here to undercut wages - there needs to be a review." [4]
Typical right wing positioning is to put deprivation and immigration next to each other in an argument and let the public make the association. So to make the argument on ‘pressures on public services’, its ‘freedom of movement’ that’s the issue more than cuts and austerity. Not that those services have been cut to the bone but that they need ‘extra funding’ because of the ‘freedom of movement’.
So let me place Andy Burnham, UKIP, Tories, xenophobia, and racism next to each other but not make any association.
Its painful that I can’t write a positive response to this position from the Labour candidate.
My family are immigrants, my friends are. My neighbours, colleagues, my children’s friends, the people I buy from, the people I read.
And it’s a choice. What starting point do you take on what the people of Greater Manchester think?
Burnham says “The 700,000 people in Greater Manchester who voted to leave – many of them lifelong Labour voters – voted for change on immigration. I am quite clear about that and that has to be our starting point in this debate.” [5]
Well mine is “600,000 people in Greater Manchester are living in extreme poverty, they voted to change this so how do we get them out of it” [6]
This immigration language is an insult and we don’t need or want it in Greater Manchester.
As far as I’m concerned, Andy can pack his bags and his ‘Controls on Immigration mug’ and go back to Westminster where he belongs.


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