Labour pledges to abolish immigration detention centres in historic conference vote

Labour Party conference immigration vote
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The Labour Party has passed a historic vote on immigration policy at its party conference in Brighton. The second-to-last vote on 25 September included a commitment to “close all detention centres”, “reject any immigration system based on incomes” or a person’s “utility to business”, and “scrap all Hostile Environment measures”.

The Canary was in attendance at the moment conference passed the vote to massive cheers and claps from across the hall.

A break from from Labour’s “very awful record”

Joanna Gowers, a delegate for Finchley and Golders Green CLP, called the vote “the most radical immigration policy we all have ever had as a Labour movement”. Gowers, who has supported homeless people as part of her work, told The Canary that the new rules will help reduce homelessness by ensuring all residents have “recourse to public funds”.

Umaar Kazmi, a Rushcliffe CLP delegate, told The Canary he was:

Glad that it received such overwhelming support from Constituency Labour Party delegates and from trade union delegates. The Labour Party has a very awful record when it comes to immigration. We’re much better than the Conservatives, but under Tony Blair’s New Labour in particular we were responsible for the originator of the Hostile Environment. With our anti-terror laws… we pushed Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-migrant policies and [Labour politicians] were initially the people talking about reducing immigration.

He continued:i

So to have gone from that position, which was quite authoritarian under New Labour under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, … to a position where we are saying ‘actually, we will close down detention centres, protect free movement, we will open our borders to asylum seekers and other people’… It’s actually where the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn should have been in 2015. It’s disappointing it took this long to get here; but now that we are at this point, that’s something we can really be proud off.

Read on...

“It’s been helpful for some political parties to direct the anger of the population towards immigration”

Sabina Arthur, a Hastings and Rye CLP delegate, told The Canary:

I was very proud to see a unanimous vote from the Labour Party for such a great bill. I think it signifies that the Hostile Environment will be over with the Labour Party [in power]; that we welcome immigration and we see the value of it; and that we welcome immigrants in this country.

She said:

I think people have been sold a lie for a very long time. It’s been very helpful for some political parties to direct the anger of the population towards immigration. So we have to go out there on the doorstep and make the argument for immigration, and show people how it benefits our country, how the NHS wouldn’t be what it is without immigrants.

The answer is to support strong labour regulation, not the targeting of immigrants

Howard Beckett, a union delegate and assistant general secretary for legal affairs for Unite the Union, told The Canary that “immigration has not caused anything other than good in this country”. And he said:

Migrants deserve the future that they are fighting for… They are people like you and I – deserving of a good future. And of course, trade unions will always back migrants and always look to represent them and always look to represent their cause. 

Beckett said the UK needs “labour regulation” and the law must:

allow trade unions to be in the work place, allow trade unions to represent migrants and to represent indigenous labourers, so it becomes an argument about the rate [of pay] for the job and not bosses allowed to use endless labour pools to drive the rate for the job down.

He said:

Trade unions want to represent everybody regardless of what their colour [is], where they’re from, what their background is. It’s workers that we represent. It’s labour market representation. Companies should be made to have labour representation in the work place and then we will sort out the rate for the job, not greedy bosses.

‘Striking a blow’ against racism and cuts to public services

Rick Gaehl, a Totnes CLP delegate, said the vote:

strikes a blow against the rising tide in racism and xenophobia that we’ve seen in this country, especially since the Brexit referendum.

Sue Walsh, a CLP delegate for Chichester CLP, told The Canary that she’d “seen the devastating effects that have occurred on the NHS – just since the [Brexit] vote”.

Walsh, a staff nurse and Unison rep who is due to retire next year, said:

Large portions of our EU staff have left. Can you blame them? Why would you want to stay where people tell you you’re not wanted? People now are starting to complain on the [hospital] ward, and they say ‘why haven’t you got enough nurses, why haven’t you got enough doctors?’ And I’m going ‘well, it depends on did you vote Tory. If you voted Tory, you voted for us to be in this situation now’.

On the whole, Walsh was optimistic about what she saw as ‘increased democracy’ within the Labour Party.

Claud Hendrickson, a Leeds North East CLP delegate, called the unanimous vote “fantastic”, saying:

Being of the Windrush generation, immigration is crucial. We are still struggling with immigration issues after 70 years for the Windrush generation.

The Composite 20 vote on immigration

Labour will include in its manifesto pledges to:

  • Oppose the current Tory immigration legislation and any curbing of rights.
  • Campaign for free movement, equality, and rights for migrants.
  • Reject any immigration system based on incomes, migrants’ utility to business, and number caps/targets.
  • Close all detention centres.
  • Ensure unconditional right to family reunion.
  • Maintain and extend free movement rights.
  • End “No recourse to public funds” policies.
  • Scrap all Hostile Environment measures, use of landlords and public service providers as border guards, and restrictions on migrants’ NHS access.
  • Actively challenge anti-immigration narratives.
  • Extend equal rights to vote to all UK residents.

Feature image via Mohamed Elmaazi

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  • Show Comments
    1. It looks to me that Europeans do not want immigrants in the West since they see them only as a problem?.

      Just reflect on what you guys in the west have done in other countries.

      Think of Africa and the sub-continent in particular. Do you guys really have a reason to complain?. Or are you the elites that always should have it better than anyone else?.

      To be honest, no group of people has damaged the world, other people’s societies more than you in the west.

      The migrants don’t want to integrate or abide by western law. Just because they don´t want to wear nude clothes or at least cloth that can show how big her breast are… so these people failed to integrate. Just because they don’t like free sex, then these people failed again.. what a dirty Bush mind you have!

      The second generation of Muslim migrants is facing a huge challenge because they did not think even for a second before that someone would say, ‘You are not welcome.'”

      Continue to moan about immigration. You want Turkey and India to do business with Britain and you don’t want their citizens in Britain. What a contradiction!

      A cap on immigration from third world countries will be imposed despite cabinet concern that the policy could harm the economy. The school secretary and university minister have raised concerns that the cap could deprive the economy of skilled labour. Baroness Valentine said that the word cap is a very negative word to put out to the global market place.

      One in 33 people on the planet is a migrant in search of dignity, safety, a better future, and sometimes even adventure. With 232 million people living outside their country of birth, this is not a small number. Put together, they would form the fifth most populous nation on earth. International Migrants Day on December 18 is therefore a good time to acknowledge their role in our societies and economies. Rapid demographic changes can also create friction in communities. Some long-time residents resent the change and newcomers feel unwelcome as a result. The Town of Richmond Hill, north of Toronto in Canada, faced this problem when its population doubled to 185,000 within 20 years, and the visible minority population grew to constitute almost half of the town. Outreach to diverse communities soon became a top priority.

      Immigrants, legal or illegal are the creators of Britain new wealth, otherwise, inner cities deprived areas could not get new lease of life. The native Brits regard such areas as ghettoes. Integration is not religious and cultural, it is economic and Muslims are well integrated into British society and at the same time they are proud of their Islamic, linguistic and cultural identities, inspite of discrimination they have been facing in all walks of life. According to UN, 80% of British Muslims feel discriminated. They are less burden on social services. Immigrants made up 8.7% of the population, but accounted for 10.2% of all collected income tax.

      Anyone who arrives from overseas, to work, to pay income tax , national insurance, who wants to contribute to our economy and society should be made very welcome in our country. The vacancies they fill are mostly the jobs that most local people avoid like the plague. A vast majority of economic migrants are ambitious, resourceful, possess, “A Can-Do” attitude and a very strong work ethic. just like the ones who leave the U.K. to make their fortunes in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, The U.S.A.Dubai etc. So the next time we are served in a shop, or restaurant, when we are cared for in a hospital or taking the night bus home, or ask directions from a stranger and,” Shock of Shocks” they turn out NOT to be a White Anglo Saxon native English speaker. Perhaps we can be a little more compassionate, welcoming, considerate and refuse to, “Buy in” to the hysteria that the DM,U.K.I.P and all the other bigots would like to create. It’s funny how British people complain about Europeans. But Europeans are not the ones on benefits. Europeans that come to Britain cannot afford to be on benefits and that is not how they were raised in their countries, that is why they migrate don’t you think??? Otherwise they could sit on benefits in their own countries and still have (most of them) sun all year round! If it wasn’t for foreign workers, Britain would be far worse than it is. Employers have found that foreign workers are prepared to work much harder than the locals so he employs mostly foreigners. This is not to say that the Brits are lazy, but I would say that people who immigrate from their home country do so in order to earn money and therefore they are prepared to work harder. The vast majority work hard, pay their taxes and contribute to the British economy. How are they able to move to the UK and get jobs? Simple – the 2.5 million Britons who are parasites on capitalism and too lazy to get a job. If the Britons who are state scroungers got off their lardy arses and got a job, there’d be no jobs for immigrant workers and they’d go elsewhere. The root of the problem is that state benefits in the UK are too high and people see no economic reason for becoming a decent member of society.

      I have to say that this really can only be a good thing. If they are here for work, then great. These people provide better levels of service and are much more attractive and cosmopolitan. I have to say that I prefer the Mediterranean attitude to life. The Brits with their binge drinking, kebabs, street fighting and vomiting could really learn a thing or two from their new guests. So welcome, one and all. People from foreign countries have a reputation for working for a living, so what’s the problem? It’s people with a culture of thieving and dishonesty that I would baulk at.

      Eight illegal immigrants are better than all those natives who spend all their lives on benefits. They are not illegal because they earn their living by working. They should be allowed to stay in this country. They are not doing anything illegal.

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