SPEAKING on the BBC Newsnight programme on Wednesday, a former head of the Civil Service, Sir Bob Kerslake, damned the Tories and Theresa May in particular as having set out to create a climate so hostile to immigrant workers that it was regarded by some ministers as ‘almost reminiscent of Nazi Germany’.
Kerslake knows what he is talking about. He was senior official at the Department for Communities and Local Government until 2014, right at the heart of the government bureaucracy charged with carrying out the racist immigration policies introduced by the then Tory PM David Cameron and enthusiastically pursued by his Home Secretary – Theresa May.
Sarah Teather, who was a LibDem minister for children and families in the Tory-led coalition government at the time, revealed as far back as 2013 that an internal working group on immigration set up under May was initially named the ‘hostile environment working group’ – the name was only changed after objections from the LibDems.
Every public service under the Tory 2014 Immigration Act, introduced by May, was to become an agent of policing every foreign-born worker and their families and reporting back on them to the state. Work checks, school registration, hospital and GP appointments, bank accounts and credit record were just some of the tasks that became impossible without jumping through the hoops set up by the Tories to weed out anyone suspected of not being 100% ‘British’.
This whole racist campaign to drive immigrant workers out of the country has been brought to the light of day by the treatment of the ‘Windrush Generation’ – those workers from the Caribbean and their descendants welcomed to Britain at the end of World War II to rebuild the country.
An estimated 50,000 of them face the risk of deportation if they never properly formalised their residency status or don’t have all the documents to prove it. Just to make things even more difficult for these workers, their original boarding cards that could have proved their legal status were destroyed in 2010.
Like a rat caught in a trap, May is desperately trying to wriggle out of any responsibility. All her grovelling apologies to those who have been threatened with deportation, held illegally in custody or in at least one case denied life-saving free treatment on the NHS, have centred around it all being a mistake, nothing to do with her and her policy of creating a hostile environment and ‘deport first – appeal later’ regime.
According to May, it’s all the fault of the present Home Secretary, the hapless Amber Rudd who is being set up as a useful scapegoat. This became clear on Wednesday when May blatantly lied to Parliament claiming the boarding cards had been destroyed in 2009 under the last Labour government.
She was immediately contradicted by the Home Office who stated unequivocally that they were destroyed in 2010 presumably on the instructions of May. Lying to Parliament is the gravest sin an MP, let alone the Prime Minister, could commit and should immediately result in resignation.
But May has no intention of resigning; she is clinging to power as head of a minority Tory government and is determined to see through her attacks on the working class. The reign of terror she unleashed against immigrant workers stands alongside her attempts to impose a reign of terror on the entire working class through smashing wages, cutting off benefits, the systematic privatisation of the NHS and Welfare State and inflict mass poverty on every worker in the country.
In this war against workers, the Tories consciously used racism in a desperate attempt to split the working class and divert the tide of hatred against May and her government. The enemy of the working class is not migrant workers or asylum seekers but this Tory government and the bankrupt capitalist system it serves.
The working class must unite to demand that as May won’t resign she and her government must be brought down. The TUC must organise a general strike to kick them out and go forward to a workers government that will open its doors and welcome all workers from across the world to help build a socialist society.