Jeremy Corbyn is the visionary leader who could transform not just this country, but the world. I genuinely, strongly believe that. He could be PM 48 hours from now, if only he embraced Brexit, stopped pandering to guardianistas, and faced up to the concerns of the real working class.
I am a card-carrying paid-up member of Labour, and I admit to only joining it when Corbyn first ran for leader – that’s because I was always so far left, that Blairite Labour was too conservative for me. So I am no isolationist and no racist. Yet, I am also an immigration lawyer, and — importantly — an immigrant in this country, as well as have extensive experience living as an immigrant in others, for instance the US. So I know what the law actually is, both in relation to EU and non-EU immigration, as well as what the actual experience of both of these groups is in the UK, because I work with both of them daily.
The big misunderstanding
The party, until last week, babbled mostly nonsense on immigration, that was not moored in any reference grid of reality, and that babble gets propagated by the likes of Owen Jones, whom I used to admire, angers me. It was like a massive party-wide loss of IQ had taken place, no one can be bothered any longer to find out at least a fact or two, before they put pen to paper.
Labour’s so-called “alternative Brexit plan”, paddled by Owen Jones, of whom I was until that moment a huge fan, was not really a plan at all — in fact it was a recap embodiment of what got us into trouble with electorate in the first place: ignorance of actual immigration issues. So, Keir Starmer was telling us , Free Movement will end but will still be free for those with a job offer? How, pray is this principally different from the EU Free Movement that applies now? Someone has got to have told the Brexit shadow secretary, that the existing Free movement ain’t actually FREE and is already subject to being economically active. Despite the typical daily hysteria in the Guardian, the Free Movement today is exactly that already – a Free movement of WORKERS. Workers. People with a job. Everyone else — up to 90 days, unless they are rich eg not requiring any public funds and not accessing the NHS.
That’s what is ALREADY IS AND ALWAYS WAS, notwithstanding the troves of now-hysterical Guardian-backed mostly western Europeans, who apparently haven’t got the memo ever, and are now very upset no one had told them (and the idea that they have moved to a foreign country and conditions may actually be attached to their residence here, did not occur to them, despite their (celebrated by Guardian) multiple degree qualifications, high salaries, and English fluency). What were we supposed to do, write “ EU citizens, read the Directive 2004/38” on buses? None of them had evidently ever splashed £50 on a legal consultation either, and most certainly none of them had tried to move into one of their own countries, which would immediately demand registration and proof of Treaty rights at every turn — it was mostly the decision by the Blair government to completely forgo any mandatory registration of EU citizens or checks on their economic activities, apparently in fear of deluge of extra admin work for then-BIA that will require vast additional resources.
People who voted Brexit did so because that was insufficient, in their minds, to safeguard their neighbourhoods from cultural change and their jobs from wage damping. That insufficiency had always little to do with how Free movement was devised, and much to do with how it operated in reality after EU enlargement, due to inequality between Western and Eastern European economies (leading to busing in of factory and agricultural workers from those countries who are then kept here in despicable modern slavery conditions), and rather shrewd well-organised methods of bypassing various rules quickly developed in newly transplanted eastern European communities (such as reporting of fake self-employment activities to claim tax credits, or concealment of property owned overseas for council housing and housing benefit purposes)..
The real concerns of Labour’s once core support group – the actual working class, the blue collar voters – are around those issues. They are not racists — in fact most of them have always readily embraced the black and Asian communities long-existing in their hometowns. Why? Because people form countries in Asia and the Middle East, historically, have always had to hold themselves to higher standard, which had a lot to do with need to comply with normal immigration rules. Rules change, but they were always there and they were (unlike Free Movement rules) enforced, even if shoddily — but it was always vital to do everything in one’s power to comply, and most members of those communities have always done that. Rule abidance among 1st generation immigrants, coupled with some humility of arriving in a new land that has its own rules, and having most often made the biggest decision of one’s life to do that, is what gave the Asian and Black communities the respect of the indigenous population — and, the fact that most of them either speak English on arrival, or have made earnest and proud efforts to learn it here.
It is the sudden arrival of tens of thousands of people, however white and christian, that are unaware rules exist, form closed communities entirely reliant on languages not understood by locals — many having not learned any English at all through many of their years here – that irk the working class. Middle-class Guardian readers seem to think of the “EU immigration” as French and German citizen architects and vice presidents of banks, and there are some of those. But these are all in London, where, coincidentally, people did not vote for Brexit, either.
In the land of traditional core support for Labour, voters would still support it on economy — trust me, I live north of M25, in real England — no one likes the Cons! They don’t – but we lost most of my working-class neighbours during the painful stretch from Bigotgate to Brexit, in which we spectacularly failed to support them because we were too scared of The Guardian, and we are now losing them to the Maybot, because we have, so far, shown no respect for their identity crisis even after the Referendum.
During the snap election, in the first stage when the manifesto was devised, the party was caught unawares, confused and divided. The result is, Immigration is barely mentioned at all. Sure, Corbyn has done his absolute best to promote the economic and social policies, which are Labour’s strongest policies, as well as defend his pacifist record. I applaud him and admire for the leadership he finally started showing in the last couple of weeks.
But do we think the rest of the once-passive-Labour voters in the blue collar economy sectors, are going to just forget about their immigration concerns? People are fed up being talked down to — free uni tuition is nice, but there are numerous barriers on the way to uni for many of those families, and in fact concerns of student or maintenance loan repayment are middle class concerns, because vast numbers of people around this country do not, and will not, be making anywhere near repayment thresholds. And they largely contribute that to job market competition and skills undermining due to EU low-skilled immigration.
The manifesto, like a strangled squeak, along some very general words, mentions really only one, and for that cryptic, immigration policy — one that very noticeably has nothing to do with the EU: abolition of financial requirements for spouse visas “in favour of a no recourse to public funds condition”. Sure, financial requirements were introduced in 2012 and are unpopular — but they are also reasonably low, and at part with those existing in many other countries. After all it is not just the public funds, it is infrastructure, education, medicine, even if not free. The United States also has a financial requirement, although there the ways in which it can be met are wider — for one, value of property can be considered, without having to sell it. But that’s beside the point.
What idiot wrote that? Has anyone read it? We already have the NO PUBLIC FUNDS provision, we always had it, and it’s in addition to the financial requirement we vow to abolish “in favour of it”. EVERY IMMIGRANT in this country knows it, you don’t need me, you don’t need a barrister, you could literally grab anyone here on a spouse visa and they’d tell you. What happened to the very basic fact checking? Presenting basic well-known fact as a revelation or a novel idea, is not only stupid, it’s condescending and tells immigrants and their British family members one thing: Labour hasn’t got a single person who cared enough to find out ANYTHING about how immigration actually works.
I am guessing Corbyn didn’t want to have immigration in at all, but guardianista londoner MPs, besieged by constituents unable to meet the financial requirements, have “heard something about it”.
The other policy circulated around manifesto time was actually sane — in fact a perfectly good placeholder explanation for post-EU immigration system — which was however belittled by the media as nonsense, and of course, as such, was quickly abandoned. The idea is very simple — we already have a non-EU immigration system for all categories, including skilled workers, so we will just use it for everyone, including those from the EU — and, revive Labour’s old creation — unused Tier 3 for low-skilled agricultural workers — to solve the famous problem of that proverbial strawberry farmer in Kent by bringing the same EU workers, except vetted and registered, to preclude them being kept in slavery conditions, to do just that. The US does this with Mexicans and it WORKS. This was finally, in the absence of a grand plan, a reasonable explanation that should have been widely given — but alas, it wasn’t.
[The Force] Corbyn awakens – but is it too little, too late on immigration to get our voters back?
In the last two weeks, during The Great But Belated Revival, Jeremy appears to have awakened SOMEWHAT on immigration — clearly someone had gotten through to him on point that this is still something on people’s minds, after all.
He had then started to tell people that, inevitably, on Brexit, the Free Movement will end and immigration will fall by itself. Golden words — but is that. Again, enough? Sure, it is nice that maybe the more astute of Labour’s former voters will now deduce that he is not one of those crazies who want to keep the Free Movement anyway — thank you! But why can’t he just say that?
Saying that “inevitably” Free Movement will end and numbers will go down, is like saying that Earth will go around the Sun once a year and turn on its axis 365 times. How about taking some credit? THAT is what people want to hear — WE will make sure those things will happen!
He then started mumbling that immigration will be based around family reunion — also good stuff, literally no one is against their neighbour’s Russian wife coming over. Did he maybe the spice it up to make a pledge perhaps to restore immigration for elderly relatives, ridiculously abolished in 2012? No one is against anyone’s 80-year old Grandma, especially since research has shown many times that literally not a single one adult dependent relative had been stuffed in a state/NHS retirement home — we immigrants simply don’t do that. Literally no one in the North East or North West minds at all if my 92-year old war veteran Grandpa, should he be allowed to come over, ride a bus for free once. This was not what people were against, but would elate the guardianistas – but even that wasn’t done.
Last but not least — and indeed even the most welcome, in fact – is Jeremy’s awakening on ACTUAL working class concerns. But literally the first signs of it have only become visible last week — laughable, to be honest, considering he is supposed to be the commie, he had the most support from the affiliated Unions. and of course, a hint of isolationism on the grounds of job security was ALWAYS present in the true socialist left, and even the present-day guardianista spiritual leaders like Michael Moore were not, at their origins, shy of “local jobs for local people “ type rhetoric. I heard Corbyn literally once mention something about local worker displacement in the labour market, which will end with the end of Free Movement — but he sounded like he was ashamed of that future, that will be, surely, most welcome by those ex-Labour voters we now lost.
Corbyn is now mumbling — without any inspiration, I must add – things like, “ending overseas-only recruitment” — which is really code for the real point, but why can he not just explain to voters that we are not talking “recruitment”, we are talking people trafficking and modern day slavery by busload, and Victorian slum conditions? Why are all these opportunities missed to turn real issues into actual vote-winning rhetoric? ANY WHY IS NONE OF THIS IN THE MANIFESTO?
Where is everyone else?
This may sounds like almost a silly question, but where is everyone else? Are Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, and Diane Abbott, who sadly announced her diagnosis — with quite unfortunate timing — just today, the only members of the Labour party?
I saw Keith Vaz on a rally once, i suppose they consider him disgraced — although he is still hugely admired and I haven’t even figured out what had he done that was so wrong – and so they only let him onto racial equality events.
Sure, most Labour MPs are such douchebags that we are better off without them, but there are SOME exceptions. Firstly, Ed Balls can dance and was quite funny on Have I got News for You, which begs the question, why won’t he go around saying “vote Labour”, for a change?
When was the last time anyone seen Andy Burnham? I asked aloud at a recent Labour event “where is Andy Burnham” — in Manchester voices around me answered– well I KNOW, PEOPLE!
Have we lost the all connection with that place? The man was the ONLY working-class icon of te Labour party, as just elected a Mayor of a major city, the city had just experienced its worst tragedy ever, and the number of times Andy Burnham appeared on TV was ZERO. Zero. I have not seen him and I am a news junkie. By contrast, I clearly remember 9/11 making the otherwise abominable Rudy Giuliani something of an electable candidate for President of the World.
I am not even asking about Sadiq Khan, his sudden pretending that he hasn’t got anything to do with Labour at all is just funny. Khan is a Londoner and guardianista hero-elitist. I get that. But Andy Burnham? Where is he on security, worker displacement, after all — social and economic concerns of the working class, whom Tories want to basically eliminate as human beings? Are we really sure Andy Burnham is even still alive?
What happened to left Euroscepticism?
Last but not least, what happened to being sceptical about the EU on the left, because it mistreated and bullied Greece and generally conducts itself as of late in pro-capitalist, mafioso way? Remember us thinking Corbyn was secretly voting Brexit because reportedly he never liked the EU? Well NEITHER DO MOST OF US! What happened to extolling the drawbacks of the EU and te way it treats the little man? Where is Yanis Varoufakis, the international left’s true hero, who — to his credit — does occasionally appear on TV and say something about Corbyn support – but he is a non-voter. This is not what we need him for. What we needed for was, for instance. Labour sponsored seminar on how bad the EU is, with him as chair and Corbyn in attendance, admitting he voted out and explaining his long-harboured reasons for Euroscepticism. If that happened, on Friday he would be PM, we wouldn’t even have to wait and see.
Now, we do.