Liberty Rebel: Why Did The Left Promote Uncontrolled Mass Immigration?

They’ve been positively queuing up, haven’t they? Labour grandees, especially former 1997-2010 New Labour ministers, that is. Queuing up to offer mea culpas – strictly limited in extent or sincerity, of course – for Labour’s open-door immigration policies. Miliband, Straw, Johnson – they’ve been almost falling over each other competing to utter anodyne platitudes like “clearly, we made mistakes”, or “we got some of it wrong”.

It’s widely assumed that locking in future electoral advantage was the overriding tactical aim behind Labour and the Left’s encouragement of virtually unrestricted immigration: the perception that new immigrants, especially those in lower-paying work and so more likely to be partly or even significantly dependent on the benefits largesse of the state, would be more likely to vote for welfare collectivism, and therefore the party that most embraced it.

But, does that assumption of the tactical aim, while valid on its own terms, actually go deep enough in explaining the underlying strategic and politico-philosophical source of Labour’s and the Left’s impetus for encouraging uncontrolled mass immigration? I believe it’s possible that a reading of modern political history suggests two deeper sources: neither of them particularly altruistic like “ensuring enough contributors to maintain the viability of the welfare state”, or anything similar to that.

For the first, think back to two of the seminal policies of Margaret Thatcher that enabled her to win three elections in a row by capturing the C1/C2 aspirational working class vote: the sale of council houses to their then current tenants at a discount, and the privatization of state-owned companies with preferential share allocation going to their employees.

Both were wildly popular with their beneficiaries. The majority of eligible council tenants enthusiastically took up the offer to become home-owners for the first time and possess a tangible capital asset to pass on to their children. Over 90% of employees of the privatized utilities bought shares in their employer, ignoring instructions, and sometimes outright intimidation, from their trade unions not to do so.

Both were, predictably, equally wildly unpopular with the Labour and the Left. Firstly, they removed from its control and voter-allegiance a portion of the electorate which the Left had, arrogantly, always assumed was irreversibly in its own camp, and which it had long sought to keep there by socialist-communitarian housing and employment policies.

Secondly, the success of both policies exposed as both mistaken and hollow the Left’s post-war ideological narrative, maintained since 1945, that even the skilled and aspirational working and lower-middle class recognised they had no class-interest in participating in enterprise capitalism. Given the once-in-a-lifetime chance to participate in it and acquire capital assets, they grabbed it with both hands.

That, incidentally, explains, more than anything else, the Left’s visceral hatred of Thatcher. At the absolute elemental level of political philosophy, she proved them to have been wrong all along. It’s why they have never forgiven her.

Remember, also that the 1992 General Election result was the biggest shock since Heath’s unlikely victory in 1970. John Major wasn’t expected to win, and both the media and the then Kinnock-led Labour Party were stunned. It wasn’t really until after its reputation for economic competence was irrevocably shredded by Black Wednesday and the ensuing crisis that the Major administration started to fall apart and lose its voter appeal, especially among the C1s and C2s that Thatcher had captured. But it’s from that, for Labour and the Left, low point of their 1992 election defeat that New Labour, and the Mandelson-inspired “modernisers” trace their genesis and ascendancy.

So I believe there’s a case for suspecting the first serious impetus towards a Labour-Left policy of encouraging mass immigration came from fear, in mid-1990s, that the Conservatives might recover and produce, as a successor to Major, a Thatcher Mk 2. A Thatcher Mk 2, moreover, who would retain or re-capture the votes of the patriotic, aspirational, skilled C1s & C2s as she did, and repeat the decimation of Labour’s vote that she achieved in 1979, 1983 and 1987, maybe condemning Labour and the Left to a further two or even three terms in the wilderness of opposition.

Reading some of the political histories and memoirs of the time suggests that, for Labour and the Left, this was a very real fear. They weren’t to know, at that time, that the Tories under the hapless Major would turn out to make a complete hash of retaining or re-capturing those votes, throwing them away instead.

So, the possible thesis goes, Labour basically set out to undertake its own late 20th century adaptation of Brecht, by discarding one electorate whom they feared had abandoned it for good, and creating another electorate, one which would be both more amenable to its own and the Left’s message, and less fickle, more reliably loyal, psephologically.

That new electorate, and the route towards it, was perhaps shown by the way the Labour party itself changed fundamentally with the emergence of New Labour after the unexpected sudden death of Kinnock’s successor, the Labour traditionalist John Smith, in 1994 – an event rightly described by Peter Oborne, in his “The Triumph Of The Political Class”, as a disaster for the subsequent course of politics and British public life.

It’s from that point that it’s possible to detect, in the ascendancy of the Mandelson-modernisers, a Labour-Left ideological shift, away from being a vehicle for economic collectivism to improve the conditions of the disadvantaged, to becoming a conduit for left-liberal, soft-pedal, Fabian-Gramscian cultural marxism. The Old Left’s spirit of 1945 was supplanted by the New Left’s spirit of 1968.

Oborne describes how the first element of that shift was confirmed to him. He was told in 2006 by John Cruddas, now Labour’s Policy Co-ordinator, how New Labour “had turned its back on its real supporters”: how it had been “hollowed out” by the modernisers, and its core membership either taken for granted or ignored: how the new policy formation process “meant that Labour’s core working-class vote was systematically excluded”.

Nick Cohen writes, in his “What’s Left?”, of the large gulf beween “the working-class left, which generally fights for better pay and conditions, and the middle-class left, which tends to be more interested in social and sexual liberalism”. New Labour epitomised that gulf: it concentrated less on the economic issues, which it was content to leave to the increasingly-marginalised traditional Old Left, than on the cultural, social ones.

The kind of approach that manifests itself primarily in gender and identity politics: in the identification of, and with, ethnic, religious, cultural or sexual minorities, asserted to be persecuted victims purely on account of their being minorites: in the articulation of often manufactured group grievances rather than individual rights.

Combine this with a variety of left-liberal internationalism which denigrates the concept of a demos, however ethnically-diverse, defined by the borders of a sovereign nation-state: with a universalist doctrine of ever-widening human rights: with an attachment to relativist multiculturalism. And it becomes easier and easier, to my mind, to perceive how, for Labour and the Left, mass uncontrolled immigration could have been seen to provide, not only the new electoral market they deemed necessary, but also the philosophical justification for it.

It often seems that, for the cultural left-liberals and the New Left, so ostensibly concerned with the rights of disadvantaged minorities, the one disdavantaged minority against whom both economic and socio-cultural prejudice and discrimination is perfectly acceptable is the traditional, residually-patriotic, white working class.

But they’re largely the sons and daughters, aren’t they, of the voters who treacherously turned against their self-appointed Labour-Left Spokesmen in the 1980s, and so can never trusted not to do the same again. And they’re unimpressed, to say the least, with some aspects of the New Left’s cultural hegemony. As an electorate, they’re unreliable, even unworthy. Maybe that’s why they had to be replaced, and the twin electoral and ideological attractions of encouraging mass immigration was a big part of the solution?

 

 

Michael is a freelance writer and commentator, from the small-state, low-tax, free-market libertarian perspective. He opposes all strands of Leftism, whether economic, cultural, Green, Islamist, or Eurofederalist. He tweets as @A_Liberty_Rebel

18 comments on “Liberty Rebel: Why Did The Left Promote Uncontrolled Mass Immigration?

  1. Talwin
    November 20, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    But the Conservatives haven’t produced Thatcher Mk 2 have they? And with Cameron, one can say, far from it.

    And, if, as is seemingly distinctly possible now, they’re cast out of government, for who knows how long, then Labour, in government, may come to reap the whirlwind resulting from that very same immigration policy, so egregiously implemented.

    • dr
      November 20, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

      Thatcher Mk2 was Norman Tebbit. He had family reasons why he didn’t become leader of the Tory Party.

  2. Michael
    November 20, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    There are bigger issues at play here than just gerrymandering the Labour voteing base. The path this train is heading on is towards the destruction of Britain as a strong, independent nation and the re-introduction of unconcealed serfdom.

    A strong society has at its foundation a unique culture and a common language. Prevent cultural assimilation, deny people their history and undermine any sense of nationalism and you will eventually mortally wound the national fabric. Educate the masses that this is the way and in just a few generations, the indoctrinated masses will be convinced this trail which has been shaped for them is truly the enlightened path for mankind and they will unwittingly love their own slavery.

  3. Woorde
    November 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    very observant piece Michael.
    Maybe there is a British national identity which is the actual cause of the problem. One that follows values rather than logic or even political good sense:
    – a sense of ‘decency’ (fair play)
    – calvinism
    – self-deprecation
    – a desire to be liked by others
    – abhorrence of ‘making a scene’
    .. and others in the same vein.

    maybe the left just thought the white working class ought to welcome the medecine of immigration.

    electorates get the politicians they deserve I’m afraid. we must grow up. The internet and (in a small way) this site is helping.

    ?

    • therealguyfaux
      November 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

      “The gentleness of the English civilization is perhaps its most marked characteristic. You notice it the instant you set foot on English soil. It is a land where the bus conductors are good-tempered and the policemen carry no revolvers. In no country inhabited by white men is it easier to shove people off the pavement.”

      George Orwell, “England Your England,” essay, 1941

      (Many other passages in this essay confirm the same suspicions as you have as to what the “British national identity” is. And he wrote it seventy-two years ago– if anything it’s become even more apparent in the intervening time how astute were Orwell’s observations.)

      http://orwell.ru/library/essays/lion/english/e_eye

      • Woorde
        November 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

        Maybe it is personified in the BBC ; to have these values is to somehow become ‘unassailable’.
        … but its an illusion; just a way to avoid confrontation and retire quietly.
        And to be someone of any privilege such as and Etonian PM you must be constantly apologetic

        “Sorry !” “Sorry mate” “I am so sorry” “Forgive me” “Sorry brother”

  4. Simon Roberts
    November 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    You’re right that part of Labour’s agenda reflects their horror that the workers switched to Thatcher in the 1980’s and that they wanted a new constituency, and you’re also right also right that the dilution of a national identity is part of the Cultural Marxist agenda (to which Blair indirectly confessed when he said that he was a follower of Gramsci).

    What I think this piece misses is that it is no longer a Labour issue. Cultural Marxism is now just as prevalent in the Tory party.

    If you ignore the rhetoric, what have the Tories actually done differently from New Labour regarding immigration? The odd speech from Mrs May which results in precisely zero change in policy means nothing. Putting billboards on the side of half a dozen vans espousing a repatriation policy that they have no intention of pursuing means nothing.

    If you consider Cultural Marxism to be a left/right issue then ok, but it certainly isn’t a Labour/Tory issue – they are both firmly in the same camp.

  5. dr
    November 20, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    My view is that Labour Grandees have been lining up to offer Mea Culpa’s because they think that the immigration from Romania and Bulgaria next year will be problematic. They want to be able to claim that they would have learnt from the previous immigration and so would have controlled that in 2014. If this plan works, then Labour can blame all the problems from the expected immigration on the current government.

  6. jazz606
    November 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    The indigenous British had better give up being fair minded and reasonable while there is still time.

  7. Daniel
    November 20, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

    I think you are right that Labour as a party wanted a population group that they could control and the idea of lots of separate community groups holding each other in mutual distrust provided a zone of exploitation.

    The big area that you really miss is spite. The Labour governments from 1997 are astonishing not just for their stupidity, ignorance and arrogance but how settling past scores become government policy.

    The left hate Thatcher as you said because she showed conclusively that they were wrong about everything, but they also hate the working classes for voting for her. Think about the ban on fox hunting with hounds, so many on the left saw it as getting one over on the Tories. Mass immigration was designed to destroy and damage working class communities out of spite as well as to provide a controlled voting block. If you want a real example of racism this is it. Labour using people as things, to achieve an end.

  8. silverminer
    November 20, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    There is an EU angle to this. The EU agenda is to destroy the nation state. A nation is just the sum of its people, their shared experiences and traditions passed down through the generations. The more you take the indigenous people out of Britain and bring in foreigners the more you dilute that common shared thread of experiences and collective memories.

    This is the point of the open borders policy combined with multiculturalism rather than integration and assimilation. New Labour under Blair bought into the destruction of Britain and were simply rolling out the agreed strategy.

    Simon makes a good point. All three cheeks of the arse are in on this now. The Cameroon Tories are just as committed to the destruction of Britain as an independent nation state as the Lib Dems and Labour.

    The Old Left are deserting Labour for UKIP in droves and it’s because of the immigration issue and the realisation that New Labour don’t give a toss about Britain. They are part of a larger project which requires Britain to be destroyed.

  9. Lord Lunatic
    November 20, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

    Oh well never mind ‘ lets have a nice cup of tea .

  10. Baul Bracre
    November 21, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    I’m always amused by how many people calling themselves ‘libertarian’ seem to find no conflict between their ideology and a massive, state-run security apparatus designed to prevent the free movement of labour. Too often these days, libertarianism is confused with ‘conservative contrarianism’, as no traditional libertarian would support the kind of immigration restrictions that so many of you seem to favour. In fact it’s pretty mysterious as to how a libertarian worldview is compatible with applying the heavy hand of the state to tell people where they can and can’t go.

    Furthermore, it’s alarming that language like ‘uncontrolled mass immigration’ gets tossed around without the slightest concern for what that actually means, and whether there’s any evidence to support it. There was a significant spike in migration during some of Labour’s term, particularly from about 1999-2004. If you look at the broader picture, though, this was fairly consistent with a number of global trends – more integrated administration of Schengen arrangements within the EU, the rise of budget air travel, a surge in overseas contracts for workers, the creation and expansion of free trade agreements, and the adoption of more business-like models for higher education, in which universities were encouraged to recruit students from abroad, who typically paid higher fees. If you look at emigration figures for the UK during this period, as well as immigration stats from other developed nations, such as EU countries, the US and Canada, you’ll see that there was an unprecedented level of human movement happening at that time – for work, study, family and tourism. To look at the UK’s position within that scope and conclude that it was unique to us, and the deliberate strategy of a single political party, is incredibly parochial and myopic. It’s also contradicted by some basic facts.

    Why don’t you ask someone who had personal dealings with the Home Office and UKBA after, say, 2003, whether they believe that Labour maintained an ‘open door’ policy on immigration? Far from throwing the doors wide open, Labour (probably in response to public concern and relentless tabloid haranguing) began imposing more and more restrictive barriers to entry and settlement from outside the EU. If you don’t believe me, do some research for yourself. The cost of visa applications swelled, the paperwork involved became far more burdensome, and the introduction of the points-based system resulted in significantly increased visa rejections. Their initial system was built on what the Tories had left them, and there is incontrovertible evidence that immigration policy became more restrictive under Labour. Those regulations didn’t necessarily have their intended effect, but to suggest that ‘uncontrolled mass immigration’ was a deliberate policy, imposed to capture a specific voting bloc (which would have in fact been very small, since only British citizens can vote) is to indulge the worst kind of ignorant conspiracy theories.

    And for the record, before the hail of abuse starts showering down, I am not a Labour apologist and have never voted for them. I’m just a guy who likes to introduce some facts into debates about immigration.

    • Simon Roberts
      November 22, 2013 at 9:03 am #

      I don’t see any contradiction between being a libertarian and objecting to the immigration that has been taking place.

      I think the point is that the immigration is being imposed, with no democratic mandate.

      As a libertarian, I don’t believe that the government has the right to implement harmful policies with no mandate to do so.

      • kevinsmith2013
        November 22, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

        Immigration should have a purpose, the most basic being to recruit workers into area’s where there is a shortfall of suitable candidates, either because of a lack of skill, or a lack of sufficient candidates.

        If the country (any country) has insufficient trained doctors, nurses, accountants, IT consultants or whatever, it makes absolutely perfect sense to open up vacancies to suitably qualified people outside the UK, who are willing to move here and do those jobs. There is no implicit requirement to assimilate, but it makes sense that people should want to, if they wish to be accepted by society in general. This does not man that they cannot or should not continue their own religious or cultural beliefs, but they must obey the laws of the land, no man is above the law. If they can’t or won’t speak English they are putting themselves at a distinct disadvantage outside of their immediate family/community environment.

        Many immigrant groups are liable to be exploited, mainly as cheap labour, often in mundane or unpleasant jobs that our welfare scroungers refuse to lower themselves to perform, usually because their benefits reward them better, but that is another debate.

        Immigration should not just be an open door policy, and this debate should be happening in the wider context without people being called racists, just because they have an opinion. I believe it is wrong to exploit non-nationals (or anyone), thats an immigration opinion, is that racist?

        If we have unemployment of around 2.5 million (probably nearer to double that), it makes no sense to allow non-nationals to take those jobs if their is no shortage of skilled, qualified or willing citizens, of any race or creed already resident here to take that role. Immigrants can take jobs from non-white nationals just as readily.

  11. Baul Bracre
    November 21, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

    I’m always amused by how many people calling themselves ‘libertarian’ seem to find no conflict between their ideology and a massive, state-run security apparatus designed to prevent the free movement of labour. Too often these days, libertarianism is confused with ‘conservative contrarianism’, as no traditional libertarian would support the kind of immigration restrictions that so many of you seem to favour. In fact it’s pretty mysterious as to how a libertarian worldview is compatible with applying the heavy hand of the state to tell people where they can and can’t go.

    Furthermore, it’s alarming that language like ‘uncontrolled mass immigration’ gets tossed around without the slightest concern for what that actually means, and whether there’s any evidence to support it. There was a significant spike in migration during some of Labour’s term, particularly from about 1999-2004. If you look at the broader picture, though, this was fairly consistent with a number of global trends – more integrated administration of Schengen arrangements within the EU, the rise of budget air travel, a surge in overseas contracts for workers, the creation and expansion of free trade agreements, and the adoption of more business-like models for higher education, in which universities were encouraged to recruit students from abroad, who typically paid higher fees. If you look at emigration figures for the UK during this period, as well as immigration stats from other developed nations, such as EU countries, the US and Canada, you’ll see that there was an unprecedented level of human movement happening at that time – for work, study, family and tourism. To look at the UK’s position within that scope and conclude that it was unique to us, and the deliberate strategy of a single political party, is incredibly parochial and myopic. It’s also contradicted by some basic facts.

    Why don’t you ask someone who had personal dealings with the Home Office and UKBA after, say, 2003, whether they believe that Labour maintained an ‘open door’ policy on immigration? Far from throwing the doors wide open, Labour (probably in response to public concern and relentless tabloid haranguing) began imposing more and more restrictive barriers to entry and settlement from outside the EU. If you don’t believe me, do some research for yourself. The cost of visa applications swelled, the paperwork involved became far more burdensome, and the introduction of the points-based system resulted in significantly increased visa rejections. Their initial system was built on what the Tories had left them, and there is incontrovertible evidence that immigration policy became more restrictive under Labour. Those regulations didn’t necessarily have their intended effect, but to suggest that ‘uncontrolled mass immigration’ was a deliberate policy, imposed to capture a specific voting bloc (which would have in fact been very small, since only British citizens can vote) is to indulge the worst kind of ignorant conspiracy theories.

    And for the record, before the hail of abuse starts showering down, I am not a Labour apologist and have never voted for them. I’m just a guy who likes to introduce some facts into debates about immigration.

  12. Lord Lunatic
    November 22, 2013 at 1:25 am #

    Well done silverminer. v interesting stuff by Hans-Hermann Hoppe. well worth reading.

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