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Why did Tories invent fake “Romanian invasion” story?

Media joins racist scapegoating of migrant workers

Media joins racist scapegoating of migrant workers

By Bernie McAdam

Hard on the heels of the Tories’ new Immigration Bill with its tougher anti-immigrant stance comes a new wave of hysteria surrounding the so called “Romanian invasion”. On 1 January, Romanians and Bulgarians gained the same working rights as other EU citizens, thus making them eligible to migrate to Britain. Guess what? No mass influx has occurred. Indeed, millions had already found jobs in those EU countries that had not excluded them.

UKIP’s Nigel Farage, with his talk of a “Romanian crime wave”, is not the only scaremonger. Philippa Roe, Tory leader of Westminster City Council, has warned that council taxpayers face rising bills from Romanian and Bulgarian immigration. Not only that but Roma have been begging aggressively and “defecating on people’s front doorsteps”.

The Daily Mail, true to its Nazi past, was only too delighted to highlight Roe’s comments. On December 31, it hysterically claimed “tens of thousands of Eastern Europeans expected in UK tomorrow”. The Mail also informs us that Staffordshire police boss Matthew Ellis claims that Romanian criminals were more prolific than those from any other country!

Nervous Labour

Joining in the chorus, Ed Miliband warns that an influx of low skilled workers from Romania and Bulgaria will make life tougher for Britons and some UK nationals will “lose out”. Labour’s reaction to Cameron’s three months block on EU migrants’ access to work benefits from 1 January is no better. Labour complains this should have been done 9 months ago.

At a time when austerity and cutbacks are hammering working class living standards, how convenient for politicians and the media to scapegoat immigrants. As UKIP leads the gallop to the right, the main parties look nervously at their appeal. Labour and Tories are catching up fast. All seem to agree that we have too many immigrants for our own good.

Immigrants not to blame

Why is this very old right wing and racist argument that immigrants are to blame a load of cock and bull? Let us look at the facts. Immigration is not a drag on the economy. It makes a net contribution to the UK economy of £3 billion.

University College London reports that immigrants have made substantial contributions to public finances since 2000 and are actually less liable to claim benefits or live in social housing than native Brits. Those from the European Economic Area (EEA) contributed 34 per cent more in taxes than they received in benefits in the decade up to 2011, while immigrants from outside the EEA contributed 2 per cent more than they received in the same period.

Immigrants overwhelmingly come here to find jobs; most of them are, after all, of working age. There are also those who flee war and disaster, mainly from countries that have traditionally been exploited and pillaged by Western imperialist powers. If they are working here then they should be entitled to all the social services and legal rights of this country. All who live and work in this country should be treated equally.

Immigrants are not a drain on the NHS or any other service. Quite the opposite. The NHS would collapse but for the doctors and nurses from poorer countries. Countries that invested in training up those workers for our benefit! The real enemy of the NHS is a Tory government cutting and privatising our services.

We should also remember that British people emigrate, too! Nearly four and a half million British emigrants have escaped to their top ten destinations in the world, led by Australia with just over a million. Spain, Ireland, France and Germany are the main EU destinations. Those who emigrate from Britain have every right to go where they wish, as have those from abroad who want to come to Britain.

Workers’ unity

Immigration controls should all be scrapped. The borders should be open and people should be free to go where they want. The trade unions should fight for this and should also confront the problem of employers exploiting immigrants for cheap labour. A militant campaign to unionise migrant labour and increase the minimum wage is required. This must be linked to a mass movement of all workers against austerity.

Such a struggle would lay bare the real reason for anti-immigrant hysteria. It is nothing less than a convenient ruse for our rulers to divide and rule. It distracts attention from the attacks that our rulers are making on working people as a whole. There is no national interest above class, workers of all countries, unite!

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