Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Peak Nasty Party

The Guardian's Lucy Mangan perhaps summed it up best, in a response to Priti Patel: "You and your party are a piece of fucking work, lady. A piece of fucking work."

Of all the incomprehensibly grotesque things the Tories have done since getting back into power in 2010, little can rank as highly as the decision to push through their Immigration Bill at a time of national crisis when supposedly "low-skilled" immigrants are among those literally putting their lives on the line so that the country can continue to function. To do so - and, moreover, to crow about it - at the same time as designating them key workers and urging the public to clap for carers working in an NHS starved of funds by the Tories themselves is the absolute height of obscene hypocrisy.

The term "low-skilled" should be consigned to the bin - it simply means "low-paid", but is used as a crude means of discriminating between "good immigrants" and "bad immigrants". What matters is merely what they have to "offer" - which, in the Tories' language, is purely financial. The implication, of course, is that immigrants sponge off the state, taking more from the country than they give back - a myth that bears no relation to the facts, and one that has been fundamentally exposed by the current crisis, in which thousands of immigrants are proving critical in propping up our economy. The only justification for continuing to pursue the Immigration Bill, it seems, is small-minded and self-sabotaging xenophobia.

The impacts of the bill will be devastating and wide ranging (for instance, it constitutes another savage blow to the head for the UK's live music industry at a time when it's already on its knees). Patel's claim that "We're ending free movement to open Britain up to the world" is absurd Orwellian rhetoric of the highest order - by removing the freedom of EU citizens to move here and also of UK citizens to move to the EU, the Tories are cutting us off. It's the whole Brexit project in a nutshell: mistaking pathetic, jingoistic insularity for proud independence.

If there's a glimmer of hope, it's that the move may be out of step with public opinion. In a recent poll conducted for the thinktank British Future and King's College London's Policy Institute, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed agreed that "the coronavirus has made me value the role of 'low-skilled' workers, in essential services such as care homes, transport and shops, more than before" - with only 9 per cent disagreeing. Perhaps even traditional Tory voters are finally waking up to their bullshit and ready to give them the boot when the opportunity next arises.

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