Stand up for fairness, or be divided for good

By Ian Hodson, National President, BFAWU.

The only people responsible for the hardship and division that currently exists within our communities are the Conservatives. No amount of immigrant-bashing can hide the real truth that Tory ideology continues to drive people in this country into total despair.

Since 2010, the Tories have redistributed wealth from the poorest to the wealthiest. Whilst doing this, they have set out to destroy any rights that have been won by working people in order to ensure that power remains in the hands of the few, rather than the many.

Contrary to what Theresa May might say in speeches, this will continue on her watch. This unelected Prime Minister spent six years at David Cameron’s side as Home Secretary and during that time, she proudly sent out ‘ad-vans’ telling illegal migrants to “go home”.

Is it therefore any real surprise that she is now calling for employers to declare how many foreign workers the employ?

Her colleagues were no better. Education Secretary Justine Greening made a particularly unconvincing case for grammar schools; a system that will deny quality education for children from low income families.

Not to worry though; if you lose out in the 11+ exams, Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon will be there to help. He talked about setting up army cadet centres at state schools, which means that if all else fails, you can sign up to be cannon fodder. Worryingly, we are already hearing about schools sending home letters to parents asking them to declare the nationality of their children.

In terms of the NHS, the good news just kept on coming. Jeremy Hunt, still in situ because no-one else would touch his job with a ten-foot barge-pole, basically told non-British doctors to go home; but not until they’ve trained their replacement ‘native’ doctors first.

Oh, and if you leave the country to work abroad before then, you’ll be fined. There was no strategy to deal with the widening gulf in pay between Executives and those on the front-line and no announcement on re-instating nurse bursaries. Just lots of hollow praise for ‘hard-working’ staff and a bit of immigrant bashing.

For all her fashion sense, I don’t think Theresa May would be able to find a blouse with a big enough collar to hide her brass-neck. To hear her trumpeting about “British jobs for British workers”, whilst outsourcing the building of Trident to French companies was laughable enough, but the fact that she was once happy to employ a Brazilian cleaner when she was Home Secretary smacks of sheer hypocrisy.

This woman also has the gall to praise those in the armed forces, whilst her government turns its back on them when they return home from service with mental and physical ailments, forcing them to rely on charity, whilst facing insecurity for the privilege.

The final insult was her proclamation of how unfair it was that working people on low incomes had disproportionately faced austerity, rather than the wealthy. She was part of the government that sat on the front benches in the House of Commons, cheering and back-slapping George Osborne after every devastating budget statement. If she’s now admitting that this austerity was unfair, she should at least have the good grace to apologise for supporting it.

The bottom line is that local council budgets aren’t being cut because of immigrants. The number of foodbanks in operation has nothing to do with immigrants. Immigrants are not to blame for the number of homeless people sleeping on the streets of our towns and cities. The NHS isn’t in crisis because of immigrants. The cancer of zero- hours contracts in the labour market isn’t because of immigrants. All of this is down to one thing and one thing only. Political choices.

The Conservatives have always been masters of political engineering and divide and rule. It’s what they do best. The Tories exist to serve those at the top of society and they achieve it by getting you to blame your neighbour, or the person who looks different to you for your misery.

All this is underpinned by a right-wing media, owned in the most part by wealthy, tax-avoiding non-doms, who ensure that scorn is placed on those who cannot defend themselves and make sacrificial lambs of them, in order to distract you from what is really going on.

They tell us to blame the unemployed, the disabled, public sector workers, Trade Unions and immigrants for the state the country is in and time and again, people fall for it and still end up questioning why their lives continue to stink, whilst looking for another demographic to blame for their plight.

We, as a nation are facing a genuine and very real crisis. The vision currently on offer for this country and being trumpeted by the media, is the one that we fought against and resisted during World War II.

Do we really want our children to be taught that anyone who isn’t ‘British’ is somehow inferior? Do we want them to grow up, looking down their noses and being suspicious of ‘foreigners’? Do we want a culture of hate and scapegoating that will more than likely result in working-class people on low incomes being blamed for their own poverty? Do we want to live in a country where your entitlement to good education and healthcare depends on how much you can afford to pay?

It really doesn't have to be this way. We are better than this. We are intelligent enough to open our eyes and see what is really happening to our society. Unless we decide to use our collective power to stand up for fairness and equality, I fear that we will be divided for good and our voice will be lost forever. Believe me, that is exactly what they want and we need to stop them in their tracks. Now.