It was noticeable that Labour Party deputy leader candidate Jon Cruddas was almost the only politician to address the recent demonstration by immigrant workers in London, organised by the “Strangers into Citizens” campaign, that seeks to give a path to citizenship for those without legal immigration status.
On Jon’s website there is a very interesting essay that he recently published on the subject of migration.
It is a substantivce argument, and one worth reading in full. It is interesting that he attributes part of the success of the BNP to the fact that "New Labour has quite consciously removed class as an economic or political category."
The following are some extracts:
JON CRUDDAS WRITES:
Race, Class and Migration: Tackling the Far Right
Over the last few years, many of our communities have experienced extraordinary rates of change – primarily driven by mass migration, changing patterns in the demand for labour and the dynamics of the housing market. The policy issues thrown up by these forces have been diffi cult for the state to comprehend; not least because many of the people affected by the changes do not show up in the census and therefore do not exist for the purposes of public policy making.
Moreover, the communities undergoing these rapid demographic changes are often the most poorly equipped to do so, and maintain high levels of poverty, social immobility and poor public services. Poorer, low-cost housing areas, primarily in urban settings, are taking the strain in managing migration flows. The impact of migration on the labour and housing markets has triggered tensions and threatened community cohesion. In particular communities, the local population grows at a faster rate than the state's refinancing of public services, as decisions on funding are based on an out-of date formula for resource allocation.
Yet the configuration of the electoral system pushes politicians into dangerous territory when addressing race and migration. The preferences and the prejudices of the swing voter in the marginal constituency retain a disproportionate influence within our political system. As such, the modern politician seeks to neutralise – or triangulate around – difficult political terrain. There is no better example of this terrain than the current debates around race and demographic change.
Those negatively affected by migration perceive government efforts to tackle immigration as being woefully inadequate, as the issues which concern them are not sufficiently reported in the media and therefore are not commonly understood. This underreporting, combined with the strain placed on existing services by the recent expansion in migration, has led to disillusionment and caused voters to seek populist answers.
One of the key factors behind the emergence of the extreme right is this breach between the formal state perception of the borough and the day to day dynamics at work within the locality. The incremental investment in public services by the state on the basis of out of date population statistics cannot begin to deal with concerns that demographic change is occurring whilst resources are becoming scarcer.
Therefore, this has helped to form the perception that these changes are actually reducing the social wage. This perception could be expressed in terms of growing health inequalities, or reduced access to social housing or even declining hourly wage rates as the dynamic of migration triggers a race to the bottom of working conditions. As such, issues of resource allocation are seen by many as issues of race - which becomes the prism through which, for example, health, housing and wage inequalities are viewed. The most acute politicisation of resources concerns housing. Yet it is considered to be driven by race rather than systematic failure to provide low rent social housing units. It is here that the issue of working class disenfranchisement comes into play. New Labour has quite consciously removed class as an economic or political category.
It has specifically calibrated a science of political organisation – and indeed an ideology – to camp out in middle England with unarguable electoral successes. Yet the question remains as to whether the policy mix developed to dominate a specific part of the British electoral map actually compounds problems in other communities with different histories and contemporary economic and social profiles. It is not just about social housing, although this is the most concrete manifestation of the core problem. It is about the ability of the state to anticipate and invest in the poor urban communities that take the strain of rapid demographic change.