Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Socialist Party: For Ending the Free Movement of Labour to the UK.

with 14 comments

Image result for pro-europe demonstration trafalgar square left unity tendance coatesy

Capitalist pro-EU demonstrators.

The Socialist Party writes,

The EU referendum result was a massive rejection of the capitalist establishment but voting Leave was not a vote for a governmental alternative. Now Jeremy Corbyn has the opportunity to use his Labour leadership re-election campaign to rally both Leave and Remain voters behind a programme for a socialist and internationalist break with the EU bosses’ club, argues CLIVE HEEMSKERK.

The Party is exultant.

‘Project Fear’ lost (project hysteria about Johnny foreigners won…).

The main forces of British and international capitalism did everything they could to secure a vote in June’s referendum to keep Britain in the EU. President Obama made a carefully choreographed state visit. The IMF co-ordinated the release of doom-laden reports with the chancellor George Osborne.

And then there was the shameful joint campaigning of right-wing Labour Party and trade union leaders with David Cameron and other representatives of big business.

A propaganda tsunami of fear was unleashed to try and intimidate the working class to vote in favour of the EU bosses’ club.

But to no avail. Pimco investment company analysts mournfully commented that the vote was “part of a wider, more global, backlash against the establishment, rising inequality and globalisation” (The Guardian, 28 June).

No mention of, er, Jeremy Corbyn’s position in favour of Remain..

The article is full of a lot of tiresome self-justification, and statistics that minimise the Labour voters’ support for Remain, not to mention that of the overwhelming majority of young people, (“Just two out of five people aged 65 and over backed staying in. In contrast, 75% of voters aged 18 to 24 plumped for Remain). They apparently do not see it as a problem that, as the Mirror put it,  “Labour’s heartlands united with Tory shires” to vote Leave.

Accepting the present state of class consciousness – on this basis we could equally claim that the Tory shires were also voting “against the capitalist establishment” – is not a socialist standpoint.

Instead the so-called Lexit camp offered ‘understanding’ about fears about being swamped’ by migrants, and a cart-load of clichés about ‘Brussels’ links to big business, as if Westminster is not bound and foot to Capital.

We can also recall straightforward lies blaming the reform of the Code du Travail in France on the EU and the idea that Brexit would halt the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP),  when it’s been EU countries, and not the UK that have scuppered it for the moment.

The result was that during the Referendum campaign the Lexiters sided with the ‘sovereigntists’ who imagine that leaving the EU would ‘restore’ power to Parliament, and indeed the Nation.

In other words they stood on the same side as the most reactionary sections of Capital and the bourgeoisie, the Tory Right and the ‘populist’ nationalist-racists of UKIP.

If they are not always as honest as their virulently nationalist French allies, the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID), about this, the strategy of the Socialist Party, like the SWP, the Morning Star and Counterfire, ties class politics to national sovereignty and erodes the internationalist basis of a common European left.


Trotskyist POID pro-Brexit Rally in Paris May 2016 backed by Socialist Party, Morning Star, Steve Hedley, Alex Gordon, Lexit campaign, and Co.

It is the task of the left to fight, not adapt to, the  carnival of reaction that took place during and is continuing after the Referendum.

But no doubt the Socialist Party would have found class reasons to ‘understand’ those in the Victorian proletariat who celebrated the 1900 ending of the siege of Mafeking and this joyous meeting of toffs and East Enders.

Image result for siege of mafeking celebrations in London

To these high-minded people, all capitalist politicians are to blame for nationalist campaigns that feed on racism (“All capitalist politicians, defending a system based on the exploitation of the majority by a small minority, to some degree rest on nationalism – with racism as its most virulent expression – to maintain a social base for capitalist rule”) . It’s never the ideology of others, who have no minds of their own. So they, the capitalist lot, are all to blame…

No doubt from the front page of the Daily Express, UKIP, to…the Liberal Democrats….


The Socialist would no doubt dislike this UKIP poster.

Instead the Socialist Party has a position of the problem – but also opposed to the free movement of labour.

Or to put it less indirectly: migrant labour and ‘foreigners’.

This is a real sticking point.

In the negotiations that are taking place, the Socialist Party lays down a few ‘principles’, apparently socialist and ‘trade unionist’,  on the topic.

They state,

The socialist and trade union movement from its earliest days has never supported the ‘free movement of goods, services and capital’ – or labour – as a point of principle but instead has always striven for the greatest possible degree of workers’ control, the highest form of which, of course, would be a democratic socialist society with a planned economy.

It is why, for example, the unions have historically fought for the closed shop, whereby only union members can be employed in a particular workplace, a very concrete form of ‘border control’ not supported by the capitalists.

What is their position on the kind of ‘border control’ they do support.

The organised workers’ movement must take an independent class position on the EU free movement of labour rules that will be raised in the EU negotiations (see box).

Which is?

Here is the negative (Why the Socialist Party opposed the EU.)

What ‘free movement’ exists in the EU is used to allow big business to exploit a cheap supply of labour in a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of low pay, zero-hour contacts and poor employment conditions.

Well there’s nothing here about pan-European efforts to end this ‘race to the bottom’.

Only a very British exit from the system.

We would like a specific answer: is the Socialist Party in favour of a “closed shop” controlling entry for European and other migrant workers entry into the UK?

How will this operate ?

Pre or post-entry?

To the whatabouters we ask: will ending freedom of movement from ‘Fortress  Europe’  mean that you can make a ‘socialist’ Fortress UK?

Migrant labour deserves an answer on how the Socialist Party wishes to regulate their future.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 7, 2016 at 4:49 pm

14 Responses

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  1. And the Stalinists are not far behind or ahead. http://www.communistpartyofireland.ie/sv/07-migration-2.html The article referred to seems to have disappeared.

    Jim Monaghan

    September 7, 2016 at 5:12 pm

  2. The problems with this position – who does the deciding about controlling the labour market – even if we accept the fantasy about a ‘socialist’ system of immigration controls – take about one minute to come up.

    Bu what criteria are people selected and allowed to work in the UK?
    Who does the selecting?
    Is this a kind of ‘socialist’ points system?
    What is the role of the employers?
    Who supervises the system?

    I could continue…

    Andrew Coates

    September 7, 2016 at 5:22 pm

  3. Corbyn is umming and ahing about Freedom of Movement.

    Paul Canning (@pauloCanning)

    September 7, 2016 at 5:45 pm

  4. The list of issues I raise above are only a beginning once you consider the problem in depth.

    Andrew Coates

    September 7, 2016 at 5:47 pm

  5. the problem with the Socialist party is that they imagine that they will be running the immigration system, nay, the state itself in a few years.

    The Socialist newspaper is also rather boring. They are also the most boring of all the various Trotskyite groupuscules, with fake proletarian accents.


    September 7, 2016 at 5:51 pm

  6. Voila.

    Today, the full scale of Labour’s disastrous Brexit policy became clear. Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman was asked several times if the party would support the UK staying in the single market and several times refused to to do. Corbyn wants “full access to the single market in goods and services” but he believes that aspects of it “are damaging to working people”.


    Paul Canning (@pauloCanning)

    September 7, 2016 at 6:10 pm

  7. Have I missed something? Since when have we had “free movement of labour to the UK”? I thought we had “free movement of labour from certain European countries only to the UK”. The SP seems to be suggesting replacing the existing system of discriminatory immigration controls (EU nationals only allowed in freely) with another, rather incoherent one. Whether what they propose would be more or less discriminatory is hard to tell – but ultimately irrelevant.


    September 7, 2016 at 7:37 pm

  8. Is having freedom of movement in the EU is a bad idea?

    Forget the whataboutery, which we could extend across to every country’s immigrations rules in the entire planet – what is wrong with this?

    Andrew Coates

    September 8, 2016 at 11:57 am

  9. Freedom of movement within the EU has certain economic consequences which need to be considered and addressed. One consequence of it in Britain has been to facilitate the casualisation of unskilled industrial work, as factories can buy in agency labour (largely East European) on zero-hours, minimum-wage contracts. This is great for the profits of the capitalists involved, and a better deal than many East Europeans could get at home, but the costs (such as dole for the displaced local workers) are borne by the whole community. At the other end of the continent, there is a significant brain-drain of trained specialists who move west for higher earnings, which represents a loss of skills and intellectual capital for those countries. Like many “freedoms”, freedom of movement can generate greater inequality unless measures are taken to counter those tendencies. And there are other questionable consequences, such as the encouragement of certain inconvenient ethnic minorities in certain Eastern EU states to leave. I’ve met numerous ethnic Russians from the Baltic states who complain that there is nothing for them at home. Freedom of movement is clearly a mixed blessing, with winners and losers. It’s worth considering the interests of the losers. A lot of them voted to leave the EU…


    September 8, 2016 at 1:18 pm

  10. Pointing out some of the difficulties posed to the labour movement by freedom of movement is a quite different matter to positively advocating immigration controls as the SP does, using the spurious comparison of the closed shop!

    I have reblogged Andrews piece at Shiraz: https://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2016/09/08/socialist-party-supports-immigration-controls-and-likens-them-to-the-closed-shop/

    Incidentally, when the SWP’s Joseph Choonera spoke on behalf of ‘Lexit’ at a debate hosted by B’ham Trades Council just before the referendum, he stated that the Lexit campaign would never blame foreign workers for undermining the terms of UK workers, putting pressure on the health service, housing, etc … despite the fact that in that very debate his fellow Lexiteers from the SP and the CPB (Morning Star) had done just that …

    Jim Denham

    September 8, 2016 at 1:51 pm

  11. George Galloway, on the Blitz, and Winston Churchill.


    September 8, 2016 at 2:48 pm

  12. TrotKip.

    John Rogan

    September 8, 2016 at 8:25 pm

  13. Or indeed this ‘socialist’ book by Clarion Club ‘socialist’ Blatchford.

    Andrew Coates

    September 9, 2016 at 4:36 pm

  14. Socialism is nothing if not diverse. You can mix almost anything with it. And nationalism can be mixed with it very readily, particularly in view of socialism’s affinity with state-organised economics. Blatchford – unquestionably a socialist – represents part of a very long tradition in that respect.


    September 9, 2016 at 5:34 pm

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