Race to the bottom

(Apologies for the shoddy nature of this post, I knocked it up in about fifteen minutes.)

[Monday]

If anyone was in doubt that New Labour is an racist pro-imperialist party…

Industry minister, Margaret Hodge, has intervened in Labour’s deputy leadership campaign to call for a points-system which would shift council housing allocation away from a need basis. This essentially racist suggestion was immediately approved by Hazel Blears, chair of Labour, who is running for the deputy leadership.

It should be noted that the leadership of the Labour party dismissed the platform of John McDonnell as “hard left” but have no qualms about opening a debate on the far right policies of the BNP. New Labour politicians would rather legitimise the hate politics of a bunch of racists than have an open debate on their own policies.

As always this call was made because something should be done to deter white working class people from voting for the fascist BNP. The effect of denying housing to migrants – even if they are in need – will be to legitimise the racism of the BNP, rather than debunk their scape-goating of immigrants and ethnic minorities.

The social housing shortage is not caused by immigration; it’s caused by the neo-liberal policies of the Labour government. There has been no increase in social housing stock in recent years; in fact the reverse has happened under New Labour, with a concerted effort to privatise council housing. The soaring cost of private housing is due to second home-ownership and the increase in buy-to-let purchases.

The reformist solutions are clear: allow councils to invest in more publicly-owned housing and introduce a tax on second-homes. But New Labour has no interest in reforming capitalism to benefit workers; rather it enthusiastically serves the interests of the ruling class.

Though both Labour and the Tories problematise immigration, they would not dream of limiting the import of labour. At the last election, the Confederation of British Industry warned the parties against considering a limit on immigration – the bosses get more profit out of migrants than “indigenous” workers. Labour is going to introduce a points system for migrants which will make it easier for skilled and professional workers to gain entry.

Any attempt to introduce a points system in housing should be strongly resisted. If there can be denial on the basis of nationality, then there can be denial on other grounds. The government has given councils the power to evict families if a member of the household is convicted of a crime, perhaps having a criminal record will go against you getting council housing in future?

Two other deputy leadership candidates – Jon Crudas and Peter Hain – have rejected the call to switch from provision on basis of need, but I have a feeling that their view will not win out. New Labour will stoop to any low to win the approval of the capitalist class.

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