Year 2000 No. 50, March 17, 2000

State’s Campaign against Asylum-Seekers Is Racist and Directed against the Rights of All

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index : Discuss

State’s Campaign against Asylum-Seekers Is Racist and Directed against the Rights of All

Discussion Page Takes Step Forward

Correspondence:
People of Greenwich Continue Fight against Cuts in Healthcare

Professor Warns of Grave Concerns over Criminal Justice Bill

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State’s Campaign against Asylum-Seekers Is Racist and Directed against the Rights of All

The campaign whipped up by the government and the monopoly-controlled media against "asylum-seekers" is a racist campaign organised by the state. It is a component part of the growing anti-social offensive and is directed against the rights of all the people. In particular, they are an attempt to create a hysterical climate in preparation for the implementation of the measures of the Immigration and Asylum Act, as well as being linked with other anti-social measures such as a "crack down" on "welfare cheats" and the "black economy", "zero tolerance" against truancy, the creation of a "two-tier" criminal justice system, and other such measures. It is part of a broad attack on the rights of all with the aim of pushing through the anti-social offensive.

It should be noted that it is the Labour government which is actually spearheading this policy of discrimination and persecution, which is seeking to criminalise various collectives of society, create diversions from the people actually taking action to sort out the problems of society, and violate the principle that all have rights by virtue of being human, and in particular that every resident in the country has specific rights on that account and that society has a duty of care to that person. The Labour government is promoting that their should be a hierarchy of rights, and that to enjoy the status of a resident of Britain is a privilege which can be bestowed arbitrarily by the government if people behave themselves.

The racist campaign of the government and the monopoly controlled media against "asylum-seekers" is consistent with the whole history of racism and colonialism of the British state. It is a continuation of its racist citizenship and immigration laws. Far from breaking with this infamous tradition the Labour government is shamelessly taking it further. The campaign must be fought against on the basis that an injury to one is an injury to all.

Also to be condemned is the attempt to paint the people themselves as the ones who are racist and anti-immigrant, that they are the ones who are taking a stand of "not in my back yard", of opposed to immigrants "living next door". The state itself is blatantly promoting this propaganda and only the most backward are being organised to respond. At the same time, the government and the media are promoting that there is a large-scale crisis of asylum-seekers. The same forces are saying that Britain is a "soft-touch" for "bogus" asylum-seekers with the same aim.

This vicious campaign is steeped in 19th century conceptions of colonialism and imperialism, of racial superiority and inferiority, of "tolerance", and "white man’s burden" characteristic of the most backward British chauvinism. It must be vigorously opposed.

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Discussion Page Takes Step Forward

Yesterday two further contributions were posted to the Discussion Page on the subject, "What does it mean to be progressive?", contributions 15 and 16. These follow the posting of contribution 14, which suggested that now might be the time to take stock of the discussion, and these two most recent postings could be said to be a response to this suggestion.

Previously, the way the Discussion Page was developing gave the impression that the readers of WDIE were of the opinion that developing discussion was a matter for others to be concerned with, and that discussion was not a matter of ideologising, based on theory and world outlook, analysing and going into the bases and implications of an argument. Not for the first time, we had begun to wonder whether the readers wanted discussion, at least not in this form. But with these postings, it appears that the Discussion Page has taken a step forward.

One of the key ways they do is, is by the recognition that there is a link between carrying forward the discussion and the offensive to establish an organisation, an appropriate social form by which to contribute to opening up the path to the progress of society. To overcome the blocks to transforming society, both consciousness and organisation are needed, deeds have to be consistent with words, a new coherence is needed to advance to a new and modern society, the thinking and actions of the individual have to take place within the context of the work of the collective.

We shall see whether other readers wish to take the discussion forward and give their views and advance the argument, in order to further open the space for progress and enlightenment.

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Correspondence:

People of Greenwich Continue Fight against Cuts in Healthcare

On March 2, members of the Hands Off Greenwich NHS Campaign recently had a meeting with two local Labour MPs, Nick Raynsford and John Austin, in the House of Commons. They expressed the Campaign’s concern about the deterioration of healthcare in the Greenwich and surrounding areas of South East London.

The Campaign members showed a video made by Declan Gassney of University College, London, which demonstrated that the overall effect of the Government backed Private Finance Initiative (PFI) was to reduce, not increase the net amount of money going to healthcare. The Campaign members illustrated this with the concrete examples of the proposed closure of the Greenwich District Hospital and the selling off of the Woodlands nurses home in Vanbrugh Hill. They argued that the effect of PFI, in using private companies as a method of funding, is to actually increase NHS Trust costs, as all supposed savings on service costs are absorbed by the PFI capital costs as the Trusts have to pay "availability and capital charges" to the private companies. Thus a supposed "saving" of, for example, £8 million operating costs has to be seen in the light of a PFI "availability payment" of £11 million. Not only this, but after the leases expire, typically after 20-30 years, the properties would go to the companies concerned and would cease to be NHS property. The overall result of this, of course, is that far less money goes to actual healthcare, and the only people who gain are the private companies.

The two Labour MPs were not impressed by this argument. They simply backed the Government's PFI line, one even cynically saying words to the effect that "what does this all matter as long as new hospitals are built", and cut short the discussion with the excuse that they "had another meeting to attend".

A few days later at a public forum organised by Greenwich Council to discuss local problems, an elderly member of the Greenwich Campaign again raised the issue of cutbacks in healthcare in the area, highlighting in particular those for the elderly. She very forthrightly criticised the adverse effects of PFI including the selling off of the Woodlands student nurses hostel. The young chairman of the meeting tried to cut short what she was saying several times, in a very brusque and arrogant manner having no regard for her age, nor for the very important and relevant things she had to say. He finally said that the question of healthcare in the area was a "political" matter for the government and that she should address her remarks to her MP! Thus the policies of a Labour government are not relevant topics for discussion at a Labour council meeting, even when these policies have a direct effect on the local community! Similarly, at a meeting of the Arsenal Patients' Forum in Woolwich on February 16, the issue of overall lack of government funding for the NHS both nationally and locally raised by an ordinary local resident was dismissed by the chair of the meeting as being "a political issue" and not relevant to the meeting.

All this illustrates very clearly not only the Labour government's wholesale backing of big business at the expense of the wellbeing of the people, but also the extent to which it is determined that ordinary people are not to have any say whatsoever in life and death issues affecting their lives.

Reader from South East London

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Professor Warns of Grave Concerns over Criminal Justice Bill

Professor Lee Bridges, of the Legal Research Institute at the University of Warwick, has warned that there are grave concerns over the possible effects of the proposals of the Criminal Justice (Mode of Trial) (No. 2) Bill.

In an article for the magazine Statewatch, Professor Bridges said that a study of Home Office figures revealed that because magistrates courts had higher conviction rates, around 3,000 people who under the current system opted for a Crown Court trial and were cleared could find themselves victims of miscarriages of justice and be convicted by magistrates. In the article, he says: "Either the Home Office believes that many acquittals at Crown Court are unjustified, or the Government is willing to accept several thousand potential miscarriages of justice a the price of its planned reforms." Professor Bridges writes that the model put forward by ministers to defend the proposals which were rejected by the House of Lords is so flawed that the estimated cost savings – put at more than £100 million – are "simply incredible".

Professor Bridges says that if defendants’ right to choose that their case should be heard in Crown Court was to be taken away, so should magistrates’ right to send a case they have heard to Crown Court for sentencing on the grounds that they did not have the power to impose a stiff enough sentence.

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