A CASE brought before the Supreme Court yesterday spotlights the extent to which British capitalism inflicts not just indignity but the denial of the most basic human rights on the poor and low paid.
The case involves a law brought in by the previous Tory-led coalition government in 2012 which lays down the minimum amount a UK citizen must earn before they can bring a non-EU spouse and any children without British citizenship into the country to live.
According to this reactionary legislation a British citizen with a foreign wife or husband must earn more than £18,600 a year before they can enter Britain and stay. If the couple have children who are not a registered as UK citizens, then the pay minimum increases to £22,400 for one child and an extra £2,400 for each subsequent child.
Any income by the spouse without UK citizenship is not counted. It means that British citizens in full-time employment on the minimum wage are denied the right to live with their families in Britain.
The effect of this law is devastating on the right of every worker, no matter how low paid, to have a family life in which children can be united with both parents – a basic human right that in any civilized society would be available to everyone.
According to the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, an estimated 15,000 children in the UK are currently growing up without one parent as a direct result of these financial requirements.
Saira Grant, Chief Executive of the council, said: ‘Children are being forced to grow up in “broken homes” with serious consequences for their emotional and mental health. The impact on children seems to be an unintended consequence of these rules but one that cannot and must not be ignored. The government is failing in its legal obligation to treat the best interests of children as a primary consideration when implementing rules and policies.’
She went on: ‘The minimum income threshold is effectively saying to all those people “you are too poor to fall in love with a non-EU person and still remain in Britain. You have to choose between remaining with your partner or being exiled from your country.” If the income of the foreign partner was taken into account in the financial calculation, this would greatly help many families who are currently torn apart to meet the rules and allow them to be together.’
In fact the Tories have absolutely no interest or concern about the family life or mental health of the children of low paid workers. While they are quite happy to welcome every exiled Russian oligarch or Saudi feudal prince into Britain – and even turn the capital into an exclusive ghetto for the filthy rich with working class families driven out – they don’t give a damn about the working class.
This was made clear in the government’s response to the case being brought in the courts which challenges this pernicious minimum income visa law. The Home Office has issued a statement saying that it was determined that ‘family life must not be established here at the taxpayers’ expense. The level of the minimum income threshold reflects the income at which a British family generally ceases to be able to access income-related benefits’.
However, it’s perfectly acceptable for British capitalism to spend countless billions of taxpayers’ money blowing up innocent men, women and children across the Middle East and North Africa. Fully acceptable to spend trillions of pounds of taxpayers’ money bailing the banking system out of bankruptcy and ensuring that these financial parasites can continue to lord it over the rest of society, but when it comes to the low paid – well ‘let them suffer’ is the mantra of the Tories.
Whatever judgement is delivered by the High Court in this case, the fact remains that capitalism stands indicted as a backward, decaying system that cannot and will not sustain even the most fundamental rights of workers and their families. The time has come to put it down and advance humanity to a socialist society.