Saturday 27 May 2023

Yes, We Have No Bananas?

Unless there is a specific, stated limit on net migration, then there is no limit on immigration. Rishi Sunak has expressly declined to repeat even the vague target of "tens of thousands" that had long been laughed out, much less has he set a more precise target. As a matter of government policy, Britain now has no immigration control whatever.

Unlike Liz Truss, Sunak understands that all economic arrangements are political choices. But like her, he understands that there cannot be a "free" market in goods, services or capital but not in people, and vice versa. Like her, he is therefore in principle in favour of unrestricted immigration. And now, like her, he has said so.

For all the same reasons, I am not. Whether in goods, services, capital or people, we should import only to fill the gaps in our own production, while we worked to close those gaps. Although some of them will last forever. We are never going to be a mass producer of bananas.

Therefore, everyone working here should have the same rights; of course it should not be permitted to pay migrant labour below the going rate, never mind 20 per cent below it. I am all for giving workers the power to insist that employers pay them more and train them up. Every worker should be in a union, and that should be a proper union, doing what it was supposed to do. Then the undercutting, which is what people rightly dislike, would be impossible.

Britain is a never-ending source of disappointment to the International Right, the immigration that we really could do without. The right-wing thinktank circuit that is forever trying, with brief "success" under Truss, to run Britain, is replete with immigrants. Its hangers on in the right-wing media, a largely foreign-owned world of highly international newsrooms, are the only commentators who might fairly be said to want to turn Britain into somewhere else, although not into a Christian country, which would require immigration beyond anything that had previously been imagined.

They are also very good at invoking the two World Wars, as if they had been there. There are only two people in Britain today who were alive at the end of the First World War, and they were both little girls at the time. Extremely few people have any adult memory of the Second World War, either. But what is incontrovertible is that those who were still fighting it voted overwhelmingly and decisively, not only for everything that the Attlee Government went on to do, but also for a manifesto that included the following:

"The Bank of England with its financial powers must be brought under public ownership, and the operations of the other banks harmonised with industrial needs [my emphasis]."

"Labour believes in land nationalisation and will work towards it."

"We must consolidate in peace the great war-time association of the British Commonwealth with the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. Let it not be forgotten that in the years leading up to the war the Tories were so scared of Russia that they missed the chance to establish a partnership which might well have prevented the war."

They knew what they were fighting for. As do we, because they voted for it. Much of it was dismantled under all three parties during and by membership of Margaret Thatcher's Single Market, but if you do not spontaneously define Britain as the remainder, and supremely as the National Health Service, then you are not culturally British. If you are British at all, then you probably grew up between Darkest Peru and the utterly eccentric world of a 1980s boarding school. A United Ireland now turns on how to keep up the existing welfare spending in Northern Ireland, and especially the sacrosanct NHS. That is the definition of Britishness according to the Unionist electorate. Scottish independence always has turned on that. And it always will.

Yet in England, we face the prospect of Keir Starmer, Rachel Reeves, Wes Streeting and all the rest of them, who opposed the mini-Budget on one measure only, who still think that Trussonomics was basically sound, and who are funded by the companies that already profit from the many failed privatisations, while having their eye on the NHS. They certainly have no intention of encouraging Christian immigration, or the unionisation of migrant workers. They actively fear both, and any restrictionist noises should be heard as expressions of that double fear.

But when I tell you that there is going to be a hung Parliament, then you can take that to the bank. I spent the 2005 Parliament saying that it was psephologically impossible for the Heir to Blair's Conservative Party to win an overall majority. I predicted a hung Parliament on the day that the 2017 General Election was called, and I stuck to that, entirely alone, all the way up to the publication of the exit poll eight long weeks later. And I say again that on the day that Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, I predicted that a General Election between him and Keir Starmer would result in a hung Parliament.

To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.