Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cameron: I'll cut immigration, not bankers' bonuses

So, earlier this week you may have noticed that Cameron had supported a campaign with the stated aim of stopping the UK population from reaching 70 million. This is a specifically anti-immigrant campaign, following Lord Carey's divine intervention in the nation's affairs, which ran thus:

"The sheer numbers of migrants ... threaten the very ethos or DNA of our nation.... Democratic institutions such as the monarchy, Parliament, the judiciary, the Church of England, our free press and the BBC ... support the liberal democratic values of the nation. Some groups of migrants, however, are ambivalent about or even hostile to such institutions. The proposed antiwar Islamist march in Wootton Bassett is a clear example of the difficulties extremists pose to British society."

Yes, he did include the monarchy and the C of E among Britain's democratic institutions. Yes, he did invoke DNA in a very palpable instance of dog-collar-whistling. And yes, hearing said high-pitched trill, Cameron barked. Cameron's reasoning doesn't invoke 'British values', but a supposed threat to public services which makes immigration caps necessary. Cameron, like the former Prime Minister of whom he is emulous, is not as stupid as he is intellectually insubstantial. He may not trouble himself too much about theory - the latter being equivalent to ideology, itself a short step to baggage, which is something no careerist can afford to be laden with. One travels light when going up the greasy pole. But he is, I think, reasonably perceptive, and it would have occurred to him that immigrants will provide the taxes and employees to build up public services as much as they are likely to use them. This is especially important to bear in mind when we are constantly told that the working population is not growing enough to support the taxes and national insurance necessary to maintain a decent public pension.

Moreover, as Socialist Worker points out this week, the reference to immigration is an extraordinary red herring. Most of the projected population growth is due to births, and the real "pressure" on public services in the coming years will be from the cuts intended by both parties, though with predictably greater gusto from the Tories:

Cameron also made his starkest statement yet about his cuts plans this week.

Asked if he wanted to make more cuts or make the cuts earlier, he replied, “It’s both, and one leads to the other. We think it should start now.

“We would have an emergency budget within 50 days. It would start to do some of those things.”

Meanwhile, John Redwood, Cameron’s economic adviser, wants cuts too – cuts to the taxes of the rich.

He said, “Tax cuts must be cuts in taxes on enterprise. Cut the higher rate of income tax, cut the corporation tax rate.”

You remember John Redwood. He is the Thatcherite windbag who asked John Major out for a fight and couldn't take him. He has been orbiting the moon ever since, but now seems to have been called to earth by Cameron to help craft the Conservative Party's pitch to big business - the ruling class, in more accurate terms - in advance of the coming election. You think New Labour kisses your arse?, he seems to say. Well, we can spit-shine it too. So, an important lesson for the coming elections. Attacks on immigration are almost invariably an opening shot in a class battle. Those who intend to attack the working class must first divide the working class. Start by singling out immigrants, then move on to public sector workers, trade unionists, welfare recipients, and any other likely target of invective from the steaming shit-sewer of the scum British press. Then tell everyone that focusing on class is petty and juvenile, and beneath the conduct of responsible statesmen. This is why fighting racism and fascism, defeating it in the streets and challenging it in the media, is not separable from class issues nor from the matter of resisting the recession. It is a vital aspect of securing a minimum of working class unity in the coming, highly volatile, period.