[Picture: I Am Incorrigible blog – http://imincorrigible.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/evidence-not-ideology-benefit-tourism-the-problem-only-fruitloops-and-tories-can-see/ – which agrees that benefit tourism is a non issue and distraction from the UK’s real problems.]

Of course we should not.

The article quoted below, by Maya Goodfellow on LabourList, proposes some solid starting-points from which to fight the current fact-free atmosphere of prejudice against people who come to the UK for work, to study, or for any other reason.

This Blog has commented often and forcefully on the subject, pointing out recently that current thinking is schizoid; we happily sell our national assets (like the National Grid’s gas pipelines) to foreign-owned companies who will charge us a fortune, collectively to use our own resource – but we vilify the foreigner who works at the local hospital.

It’s a long, hard struggle to set matters right, and it won’t happen in a day. The first comment on Ms Goodfellow’s article stridently demands that “uncontrolled” immigration (we don’t have uncontrolled immigration) is responsible for:

“Over demand for school places
“Over demand for NHS services and over spending by NHS Trusts
“Over demand for Local Authority services
“Over demand for housing
“Keeping British workers wages low
“Keeping British workers rights at a minimum
“Increased social & cultural costs”

This is, of course, completely wrong. Your Conservative Government is responsible, having rationed school places, local authority services, housing and NHS services, and having underspent on the NHS generally.

The Conservatives have worked hard to keep wages low and are currently working on ending workers’ rights by leaving the European Union, which has excellent laws on this matter – and endeavour which many working people were hoodwinked into supporting.

I have absolutely no idea what the commenter meant by “increased social and cultural costs” but I feel sure that, when I find out, I’ll be able to show this claim is nonsense too.

But the facts are starting to get out. We just need to remind people like Emily Thornberry that it is better to face them than to live in a world of make-believe.

Since the referendum result, there has been a chorus of voices calling on Labour to give up on freedom of movement or abandon “diversity“.

Last Sunday, on the Andrew Marr Show, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry  showed that there was a very real possibility that Labour would, yet again, capitulate to anti-migrant sentiment.

She implied that migration drives down wages, which isn’t supported by the evidence, and said she thought there were too many people coming into this country.

All of these ideas buy into the “us” and “them” message that contributes to a toxic immigration debate at the moment.

Labour should have a national pro-migrant message that’s paired with local campaigning.

They should be in food banks and libraries; supplying services for people abandoned by the government.

In the long term, the party needs to push for better education about race, racism and empire – without challenging widely-accepted stereotypes that foreigners are the problem, or contextualising those ideas, then it will be impossible to erode prejudice.

Source: Maya Goodfellow: Let’s restore some facts to the immigration debate – and then let Labour push back against prejudice | LabourList

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