For weeks now, journalists and TV crews have been camped night and day outside Calais reporting on the “mass invasion” of the Channel Tunnel by “hordes” of migrants. The Tories and the right-wing press have whipped up a hysterical campaign against migrants to distract from their attacks on workers in Britain.
The British press traditionally refer to July and August as being “the silly season”. The reasoning is that since nothing is happening and everybody is on holiday, it is necessary during these long summer months to make up and push stories how ever “silly” they might be, just to fill column inches. In recent years, of course, these months have been far from quiet with events like the London riots, the Gaza crisis, and this year the Corbyn campaign.
This large amount of actual real news now available to the press, however, has not stopped them from joining the Tories in inflating one issue in particular out of all proportion. That issue is the so-called migrant “crisis”. For weeks now, journalists and TV crews have been camped night and day outside Calais reporting on the “mass invasion” of the Channel Tunnel by “hordes” of migrants. Lorries are being stacked up on British motorways as checks are carried out, causing major disruption to transport. Even the government’s ominous sounding Cobra Committee has been meeting to see what can be done.
Any ordinary person seeing all this would be forgiven for thinking that Britain is facing a mass invasion and we will all be murdered in our beds. Any connection to reality has long since been lost.
If all this wasn’t enough, senior Tories have been resorting to using the sort of hysterical language that has, up to now, been the property of UKIP and other far-right groups. So we hear David Cameron going on about a “swarm” of migrants hitting Britain and Philip Hammond jumping in with talk about migrants as “marauders” threatening western civilisation itself.
Escaping a life of misery
Naturally all of this has been lapped up by a reactionary Tory press eager to exploit migrants as scapegoats for every problem under the sun. Underpinning all this ranting is the government’s argument that migrants are purely “economic” in their motivation, just seeking to come here for the money.
The problem is that the facts simply do not confirm any of this. Far from being simply “economic” migrants, the truth is that most migrants are fleeing from appalling war zones such as Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan. The Guardian newspaper has calculated that around 70% of migrants fall into the status of being, even by the strict terms applied by the European Union, asylum seekers. Of course the Tory government does not wish this to become clear, as it undermines their strategy of de-humanising migrants. So they are a referred to as being a “swarm”, rather than as desperate people trying to escape the horrors that western imperialism started in the first place by waging wars and intervening in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Other “facts” do not add up in the reportage of this situation. The Guardian, again, has noted that, far from 100,000 “surging” into Calais, only between 2,000 and 5,000 have actually made it to the town so far. The press have tried to ignore this by inflating figures through the reporting of each incursion into the Tunnel as a separate case, rather than the repeated efforts to enter by the same small number of people each night.
The right-wing press have also sought to present the UK as being a target for migration and as being at the centre of this manufactured crisis. In reality only 25,870 have sought asylum status in the UK since 2014, compared to 97,275 in Germany and 78,500 in France (again, according to The Guardian). Indeed the Refugee Council has reported that refugee numbers for Britain have fallen by 76,439 since 2011. So Britain is not at the centre of any crisis whatsoever.
The real crisis is capitalism
So what we have here is a racist, reactionary “crisis” that has been whipped up and crudely distorted by Westminster politicians and big business newspapers to create a diversion – a focal point for people to blame all their problems on. Far better, they argue, for the electorate to blame faceless migrants than to blame the real source of their problems: the capitalist system and the Tory government that represents the real parasites in society – the capitalist class of the bosses and bankers.
This cynical manipulation is a reflection of a society in decay. We are indeed seeing a severe crisis; but it is a humanitarian one: people forced out of their homes in fear of their lives, travelling vast distances in terrible conditions and risking both life and limb in search of a better future. Instead of being offered an escape from their nightmare they are being treated like animals; worse, in fact. Even those who are able to gain entry as asylum seekers are forced to exist in penury on just £36.95, with no right to work. The cost in human misery is clear to see.
All migrants should be welcomed without question. Border controls and immigration restrictions reflect a system that is rotten to the core, designed to divide people and set them against one another; to distract people from the real cause of scarcity in society: the capitalist system and its insatiable thirst for profit. Such immigration controls should have no place in a civilised society – and that is why we need socialism.
Contrary to what the establishment says, there are more than enough resources to go around; and under a socialist plan of production, these resources – including jobs, homes, and decent public services – could be provided to everyone, with room to spare.
Capitalism worldwide has created the conditions that force millions of people to migrant away from war, disease and poverty in search of a place to just exist and live. This same system is then unwilling to provide any such hope for these people – all people, in fact, apart from the rich and powerful. This truth alone demonstrates the need to fight for socialism as the only alternative to this barbarism.