In a depressing piece of political jockeying, David Cameron has played a race card, with a sweeping pledge to cut immigration to “tens of thousands” (down from around 200,000 a year).
He has said he will cut immigration to the levels of the 1980s.
He could get near that only by trying to ensure hardly any migrants at all are allowed into the the UK.
• No skilled workers would be allowed in. This idea cuts across British capitalism’s continued need and desire for particular groups of migrant workers; but, for now, Cameron won’t let that worry get in the way of trying to woo BNP and UKIP voters.
• UK border controls would become even tighter. This cuts across the Tory pledge to scrap ID cards. Never let a contradictory policy get in the way of right-wing propaganda!
• Significantly fewer refugees would be let into the UK. In a world of increasing inequality and military conflict, that would be more inhumane even than New Labour’s horrible record on asylum rights. Never let concepts such as human solidarity get in the way of being racist!
These days few mainstream politicians talk in so many words about Britain being “swamped” or that immigrants should be “sent back”, but that is the mentality which Cameron is courting and encouraging.
• Protest against border controls! Saturday 23 January. From 2pm at St. Pancras Station, London.
The Tories made society more unequal, and so have Blair and Brown
The richest 10% own 44% of all wealth in the UK. They own, of course, the great bulk of the shares and other financial assets in private hands; they also, less obviously, own the big majority of the wealth held in pension-fund assets.
Quite a lot of people outside the top 10% may own a house. But the top 10% hold about 37% of real-estate wealth, too. Inequality of income has also been rising. Its big jump came in the 1980s, with the Thatcher Tory government. But since 1997 inequality has continued to rise, more slowly, and mostly driven by runaway rises for the very well-off.
New figures from the Institute of Fiscal Studies also tell us something about “average income”. The average individual adult income in the UK in 2007-8 was £487 a week, £25,324 per year.
Not too bad? But if one person has a million pounds, and 999 have nothing, then there is an “average” of £1000 per person which tells you nothing about the plight of the 999. “Average” (mean) income figures have the same problem: a minority on very high incomes ups the average.
The median income — the figure which 50% of adults are below, 50% above — was £393 per week, £20,436 per year. And the mode — the most common income level — was about £300 per week, or £15,600 per year.