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On 22 November Hillary Clinton, in an interview published by the Guardian, said that Europe needs to cut down on immigration to tackle the rise of the far-right. This led to widespread criticism, including many of the leading commentators on the far-left, who called it ‘absolutely clueless’, scapegoating, and it was even described as ‘triangulating’ in one eager young man’s attempt at sarcasm.
In June 2016, while launching his bid for re-election as general secretary of Unite, Len McCluskey called multiple times for a control on labour supply from the European Union, and said that free movement had been an ‘experiment’ at workers’ expense. Last night, while talking to a ‘private’ meeting of Labour members of parliament, he urged them not to back a second referendum, using immigration as a reason.
I’ve had a quick flick through the twitter feeds of the same people who two weeks ago were disgusted by Hillary’s suggestion, but I’m yet to see any condemnations. Maybe they all left their phone chargers at home today next to their outrage.
The point is this: as long as the left (Clinton and McCluskey included) sees immigration as purely a political issue – rather than a moral one – we are failing those who need us most. And appeasing the right on immigration isn’t just immoral, it also doesn’t make political sense: we are never going to convince voters we are more hardline than the Tories; we only give them licence to go further. We print a mug, they print a billboard.
Instead of playing politics with people’s futures, what if we proudly stood for immigration? Because the best chance we have of winning the argument is to be honest about the fact that we believe immigration is good; good for those who want a better life, good for our communities, and yes – good for our economy too.
We have to hope that our political leaders can live up to that title and show the leadership needed. So far Len and Hillary have let us down.
-Joe Cox, digital assistant
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