Posts Tagged ‘Calais’

Vox Political on the Workers’ Rights at Risk if Britain Leaves Europe

June 22, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political put up an interesting piece today, reporting the findings of an employment silk, Michael Ford, QC, to the TUC on the employees’ rights that could be lost if Britain leaves the European Union. These include regulations on working time, the rights that can be transferred from one employer to another if an organisation is taken over or outsourced; protection for agency workers; the current levels of compensation paid to the victims of discrimination; and the rights of the workers’ representatives to be consulted in the case of major changes to a company, such as in the recent negotiations over the fate of British steel.

And these are not the only rights that are at risk. Other rights are also, and that those that remain may only be enforced by British courts if Britain decides to leave.

Mike also points out that depending on the British courts to help you in a legal battle over your rights with an employer won’t be much help, as Michael Gove has cut legal aid.

#EUref: Forty years of progress on rights at risk for workers if Britain Brexits

Let’s be clear about this: while many people are worried about immigration, it’s employment rights that are really at the heart of this move. The Conservatives have always hated Brussels primarily because of the social charter and the protection it gives European workers, not just because, or even necessarily primarily because they consider it a threat to British sovereignty, as expressed in books like ‘The Abolition of Britain’ and similar scaremongering nonsense. Dennis Skinner in his autobiography makes the point that there isn’t any real freedom of movement within the EU. This is shown by the imprisonment of the refugees and other unfortunates in the migrant camp at Calais. Those foreign workers, who come to Britain are brought in by the big companies through gang masters. This is an important point. Skinner makes no secret in his book that he would like Britain to leave the EU, but not because of UKIP, whom he aptly describes as ‘turbo-charged Tories’. Skinner makes a good point. However, at the moment the only people behind the campaign to take Britain out of the EU are extreme right-wing Tories like Boris, Gove and Priti Patel. All of them wish to strip British workers of the rights to have them labouring like their counterparts in the sweatshops of the Developing World. All for the profits of big business. Patel and her fellow Tories made that very clear in the book Britannia Unchained.

Don’t be taken in. Immigration is actually an irrelevant diversion to the real issues driving the Tory Brexit campaign. It’s what Farage and the rest of this gang want people to think it’s all about, while the real reason they’re promoting Brexit is to deprive us all, whether we’re Black, White, Asian, Muslim, Christian, Jew, Atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish or whatever, of our employment rights under European law.

Advertisements

Vox Political: New Graphic Novel about Calais Refugee Camp

May 24, 2016

I put up a few pieces two years or so ago lamenting the fact that the underground comics now seemed no longer to be about attacking and commenting on contemporary political issues, in the same way that the radical comics underground in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s did. I was later proved wrong with the publication of graphic novel collecting pieces by various British comic artists commemorating the beginning of the First World War from a left-wing, anti-war perspective. One of those behind the project was the veteran comics writer, creator and serial offender against the establishment, Pat Mills. Now Mike has news on his blog about another graphic novel, which aims to raise awareness of the plight of the refugees in the ‘Jungle’, the Calais refugee camp.

The graphic novel, Threads, is based on the experiences its writer and artist, Kate Evans, in a very short stint she did volunteering. Mike reproduces a few panels from the strip, one of which shows a Russian plane bombing Syria, which is one of the causes of the mass migration of refugees to the West. A few chapters can also be viewed on Evans’ own website, to which Mike provides the link. The panels shown are in full colour, and the whole graphic novel is due to be published by Verso next year, in Spring 2017.

Mike’s article quotes Evans herself that the work is to counter the attacks on the migrants in the right-wing press, who make them both anonymous and present them as a demonic threat. Mike himself points out that many of those objecting to the arrival of refugees forget that they are also people, and that it’s the function of art and culture to remind us of the realities.

This comic story gives a human face to Calais refugees

This is comic art and literature once again serving the vital function of holding a mirror up to reality, to provoke and upset in the cause of humanity. When graphic novels first appeared as an adult literary form in the 1990, Julie Burchill, ranted against them, screaming in her column that anyone over 18 who read them should have their right to vote removed. Of course, Burchill herself has done nothing but spout poisonous, infantile nonsense from her pen and keyboard during her long, literary career, in a series of journals and newspapers including the NME, Spectator, Guardian (how?) and, unsurprisingly, the Daily Heil. This latest graphic work seems to show the opposite: that it’s now the comics medium that increasingly takes a mature look at complex issues, while the supposedly ‘adult’ right-wing press does nothing but scream abuse and create simplistic stereotypes.

Vox Political: Tory Win Vote Not to Take Child Refugees

April 26, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political also has a story reporting that the Tories have won a knife edge vote against a motion that would have obliged Britain to take in about 3,000 child refugees a year. The motion was tabled by the Labour Peer, Lord Dubs, who was one of those fortunate enough to be given sanctuary in Britain away from the Nazis through the Kindertransport in 1939. Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Immigration Minister, has stated that this won’t stop their efforts to get the bill passed, and that the fight will go on.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/04/26/labour-says-fight-will-go-on-after-tories-vote-down-child-refugee-plan/

Mike has covered the problem of child refugees before. They were an issue twenty years ago, when Yasmin Alibhai-Browne in her column in the Independent urged Britain to take them in. The issue has become more acute since it was revealed that over a hundred of them have just disappeared after the Calais migrant camp, the ‘Jungle’, was levelled. Mike’s article on that incident highlighted the fact that the children were at risk, not just of poverty, but also of exploitation. He asked rhetorically if this was acceptable.

Simple humanity says it is not.

But apparently, the Tories think so. Or at least, if there’s a choice between saving the government and saving children, they’d rather bail out Cameron.

Vox Political on 129 Children Missing Since Demolition Calais ‘Jungle’

April 5, 2016

This is truly horrific. Mike today put up a piece from the Independent reporting that 129 children from the Calais refugee camp, ‘the Jungle’, have gone missing since it was bulldozed in March. Despite the attempts to clear the site, there are still 4,946 asylum seekers living there, including 140 in the shipping containers. This includes 294 unaccompanied children. The article states that the British charity, HelpRefugees UK, stated on its website that this was unacceptable, and called on the French authorities to do more to safeguard the 294 unaccompanied children alone in the camp.

Mike simply asks the obvious question if anyone thinks this is acceptable.

See his article: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/04/05/calais-jungle-129-unaccompanied-children-missing-since-refugee-camp-demolition/.

It clearly isn’t. And it shows how terrible conditions must be in some parts of the world, that some parents are so desperate to send their children unaccompanied on the immense journey to the West. This isn’t a new or recent phenomenon. Yasmin Alibhai-Browne in one of her columns on the plight of refugees in the page of the Indie way back in the ’90s or early years of this century, reported how unaccompanied children were being put onto trains in order to get them to Europe. I also heard a story, which may well be garbled, that a large percentage – perhaps half – of the unaccompanied Somali children, that had been given asylum in Sweden, have vanished. Which is also chilling, if true.

There are very obvious dangers to children’s welfare and safety here. Not just the threat of keeping body and soul together on the streets, but also danger from the real, human predators operating on the fringes of society. Like paedophiles and other forms of human brutality and exploitation. And it shouldn’t need to be said that if the children don’t have any kind of accommodation, and aren’t being given schooling, then they’re not going to acquire the education and skills they require to survive or make a proper living in western society, if they’re finally allowed to stay here. Which, unfortunately, may well be the point.

Clearly, I hope that the French authorities do take steps to ensure the safety of the remaining unaccompanied children, and at least do something to try track down the others.

Vox Political: Cameron Sneers at Corbyn and Migrants on Holocaust Memorial Day

January 27, 2016

Mike has posted this story on Vox Political about Cameron’s disgraceful lies about Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to the Calais migrants’ camp: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/27/liar-camerons-bunch-of-migrants-comment-attacked-by-labour/ Cameron stated that Corbyn had met with ‘a bunch of migrants’ and told them that they could all come to England.

The first thing to note about this is that, like just about everything Cameron and the Tory front bench ever utter, it’s a lie. Corbyn did indeed meet some of the migrants, but he did not say they could all come to England. He stated that those with a family connection should. This is clearly different from allowing all of them in, as Cameron well knows.

What is most shocking isn’t that Cameron lied once again, and certainly not that he has lied about migration, an issue which the Tories themselves have been shown repeatedly that they are unable to tackle, despite the boasts, promises and often aggressive rhetoric demonising asylum seekers. What is shocking and really offensive is Cameron’s sneering and offhand attitude to the migrants themselves. They’re ‘a bunch’. Like bananas. A mixed assortment, in other words. And he said this on Holocaust Memorial Day.

This is the day when Europe remembers not only the Nazi extermination of the Jews, but, by wider extension, all victims of racism and genocide. The blurb for it in the Radio Times actually says that. And many Jewish organisations make an explicit connection between commemorating and protesting against their own history of persecution, and contemporary genocides and crimes against humanity. Bernie Farber, the head of one of the major Canadian Jewish organisations, drew the ire of the Canadian right-wing Tories a few years ago during the Darfur crisis. Why? He organised an official ‘Shabbat for Darfur’, a ‘Sabbath’ of fasting and prayer against the genocide against its people then being carried out by the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militias. It annoyed the particularist right, who felt that Farber should just be concerned to commemorate the sufferings of the Jewish people, without worrying about others. And unfortunately, there are others over here who share the same opinion. Like Richard Desmond, who wrote a moving description of his own visit to Auschwitz, before going on to join UKIP, despite the fact that many of the migrants UKIP vilify and denounce are similarly fleeing from the organised extermination of their peoples in their homelands. It seems from this that Cameron has the same view.

A year or so ago Mike also put up another piece commenting on Ian Duncan Smith’s visit to Auschwitz and the hypocrisy involved there. The ‘Gentleman Ranker’ was trying to show he shared the world’s horror and outrage at the crime, while at the same time his policies, like the Nazis, attacked and degraded the sick, unemployed and disabled. In the case of denying them benefit, to the point of death. IDS seems to have regarded the trip as little more than a photo opportunity, a chance to show that he was a decent human being by going on a pilgrimage to a place of the most extreme horror. While all the time, his policies say otherwise. And Cameron, from his dismissive comments about the migrants at Calais, also apparently shares this blithe indifference, even hostility, to the victims of such holocausts today.

Labour’s Yvette Cooper protested against Cameron’s comments and his sneering lack of concern for those, who have lost everything. She is to be applauded for it. As for Cameron, he should feel ashamed, both about his lying, and the sneering racism underneath it. But I doubt that he will. Cameron is a toff, and as the American Socialist journalist Chris Hedges pointed out in a piece I reblogged last week, the upper classes are unpleasant psychopaths. They sneer at the lower classes and have the same contempt for the middle class. It is, however, disguised by clever PR work and various much-publicised philanthropy.

Cameron’s offhand remark about ‘a bunch of migrants’ also tells you everything you need to know about the Tory attitude to globalisation and the social disruption this causes. The elites love it, because it allows them to break the power of national governments to regulate the economy and protect the working and lower middle classes by exporting industry to other countries around the world, where labour is cheap and welfare provision minimal. And if the workers there prove a bit ‘bolshie’ and demand their rights, it can be moved to somewhere else. For the working peoples of the world, it’s been disastrous, as they’ve seen their working conditions deteriorate, wages stagnate and working hours increase. The process is documented in the book Falling Off the Edge, and Greg Palast’s Armed Madhouse. The result of this has been the massive disruption of many societies in the Developing World, culminating in terrorism by guerrillas and the state. The result of this has been the mass migration of millions of displaced people around the world, seeking safety or a better standard of living.

Like those in Calais.

And this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Way back c. ’95, the BBC’s long running science programme, Horizon, devoted an edition to ‘Icon Earth’. This was about the photograph of the full Earth taken from the Moon by the Apollo astronauts, and the way it had changed our perspectives. The programme made the point that there had been no photographs of the Earth as a whole before then. The result of this was that there was a change in consciousness, as the world’s populations became less concerned with their own, particular affairs on more aware of the importance of the planet and interrelatedness of the world’s peoples and their actions. It helped stimulate the nascent ecological movement, as part of this.

The programme covered the contemporary debate about globalisation, then being embraced by the Major and Bliar Conservative and Labour parties. One of the speakers on the programme was an Indian social activist, who opined that while politicians liked globalisation for the opportunities it gave for business, they did not like the mass migration it also engendered. Her words were accompanied by footage of migrants trying to get through various borders, fighting police and border guards as they did. I think she was particularly concerned at the way immigrants to the west from south Asian countries, like India, were being blocked as governments increasingly clamped down. But she also predicted that as time went on, we would also see pockets of the Third World appear in the West.

She’s right. Priti Patel and the other globalists behind the book, Britannia Unchained, wanted to see Brits similarly forced to work the long hours for few material rewards as their counterparts in the Developing World, in order to make Britain, or rather their bosses, more prosperous. And this attitude was echoed in Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems by the MP for Taunton Dean, who wrote his ‘magnificent octopus’ (apologies Baldrick) on the same subject. And the mass migration thrown up by globalisation has carried on. The victims of globalisation’s disruption of societies and economies across the globe, and Cameron and Bliar’s wars in the Middle East, are there in the Calais migrant camps. But they’re un-people, those outside the circle of bankers, industrialists and big businessmen, who are the only people who matter to Cameron. They’re of no interest to him except as a political embarrassment to Cameron, or, at best, just as an opportunity to score a point over a principled rival before his claque of right-wing morons. They are the flotsam and jetsam of the world, thrown up by globalisation.

Cameron’s attitude is disgusting, but entirely explicable in terms of his class and politics. He’s a liar, and the political and economic theories he embraces with such passion have caused misery on a global scale, but he has nothing but contempt for their victims, both within Britain and outside. The sooner he’s voted out, the better.

Vox Political: Cameron Deliberately Misquotes Corbyn on Migrants

January 26, 2016

A few days ago, Jeremy Corbyn took the principled step of actually visiting the migrant camp in Calais, commenting on the poverty and appalling conditions there. It’s a move few politicians would care to do, because of migration being such a toxic issue. The Daily Heil did, I think, send one of their journos there in the hope of uncovering rabid jihadis bent on entering Britain by subterfuge. They were disappointed, as the migrants they discovered all had a disarmingly high view of Britain and the opportunities it offered. Corbyn made a number of suggestions for raising living conditions in the camps, and said that those migrants with family ties to Britain should be allowed to enter our country.

This has clearly got Cameron worried. So worried, that he has misquoted the man in order to distort his stance on migration and asylum. Mike today reported that Cameron said that Corbyn recommended making the Calais camp a ‘direct route’ to the UK, and stood for ‘open door’ immigration.

See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/26/quelle-surprise-cameron-distorts-corbyns-words-on-calais-migrants/

Mike remarks that the Tories should be glad David Cameron will be gone in a few years; it is becoming far too easy for UK citizens like This Writer to see through his comments.

Well, Cameron and his cronies now lie so often and so hard, that they’ve become the living embodiment of the old joke about politicians: ‘How can you tell when a politician is lying? His lips move.’ Adopt this attitude to anything Cameron, IDS, Nikki Morgan, Osbo or, indeed, the entire Tory party and you won’t go wrong. Cameron’s line, of course, is to play up to the idea that somehow Labour are soft on immigration. Underlying this is the old quote repeated in right wing, and extreme right wing circles, about Labour having deliberately let non-White immigrants into the country in order to make it multicultural against the wishes of the White population, just to spite the Tories.

In fact, from what I can remember, the opposite was true. Once in power, Bliar’s administration cracked down hard on immigration. I can remember Alan Coren remarking on the News Quiz back in the 1990s when he was still alive and it was still funny his amazement at the transformation that had occurred to one of Labour’s politicians once he had become head of the Home Office. From being fairly fuzzy, warm and caring, he had turned into the exact opposite. Coren joked that there was something about the post, so that whoever it was who got the job, ‘they all become men of steel’. Coren was one of the greatest satirists 20th century Britain ever produced, and in my view his death left a gap in British political comedy that has never really been filled since.

Cameron’s comments are also to cover up the fact that his administration has been consistently incompetent at handling immigration. Despite claims that they were going to cut it down to a certain level, they have proven repeatedly that they are unable to do so. And when they have tried to take a tough line, it’s been transparently racist. Remember the vans going round Black and Asian neighbourhoods inviting people to turn themselves in and be repatriated?

Forget what Cameron has to say about the migrant camp and Corbyn. He’s just trying to divert attention from his own party’s dismal failure on this point. Quite apart from what it says about immigrants who dare to have families.