It’s not a new immigration policy we need, but a new capitalism

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I've known Neal Lawson, who founded the genuinely left of centre (unlike many that claim that title) think tank Compass for several years now.

I'm getting the impression that Neal is getting very fed up with Labour. His piece on immigration in the Guardian today includes a wholly appropriate dismissal of New Labour strategy on a wide range of issues, including immigration. I'd recommend reading it all, but I think the concluding paragraphs too important not to share and trust the Guardian will forgive me when doing so:

So what can Labour do? Start with a core belief and act on it pragmatically to win the country over. The core belief is: Labour has to be a party of solidarity, and "the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all". Therefore Labour has to be a party based on internationalism — not just what is good for Britain but what is good for people wherever they were lucky, or not, to be born. From this fundamental belief in the equality of all of us as human beings, we need to develop a political strategy that takes us from where we are to where we need to be.

Analysis of the electorate's view of immigration, by the anti-racism campaigners Searchlight, the thinktank British Future and others, shows there is a majority for sanity and solidarity out there, which could be coalesced. A quarter of the population are hardline anti-immigrant — some of them racist. But another quarter, essentially Guardian and Economist readers, support multiculturalism. The remaining 50% are up for grabs, but can be won over.

It will take courage. But Labour must say that people come before profits, that we must build houses, invest in schools and provide well-paid jobs through a proper green new deal and a living wage. The party must also spell out the truth, that migrants claim less in benefits than the rest of us. And that planned, well-managed immigration can continue to make Britain a brilliant place to live.

The alternative is false hopes based on false solutions — which may help Labour win a few battles, but it will lose the war. We now know that if we don't regulate capitalism, then we always end up regulating people to force them to fit the requirements of the market.

The problem is not immigration but free-market capitalism, which uproots people from their homes and encourages the best to leave. That denies us the tax base to invest properly in people and places. It's not a new immigration policy we need, but a new capitalism.


There's an outline in my book, The Courageous State.