Tory Immigration Bill: Labour abstention would be surrender

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By Daniel Round and Ed Whitby

While events are unfolding very quickly, at the time of writing it looks like Labour is going to abstain on the Tories’ Immigration Bill tonight, with a one-line whip.

While the SNP, the Green MP and even some Tories will oppose it, Labour’s left leadership allowing the Labour right to take the moral high ground is both a deeply sad and destructive development. The opportunity this presents for the likes of Chuka Umunna and Chris Leslie to pitch themselves as progressives in touch with the views of the membership should trouble everyone who has put their energy into the Corbyn movement.

That Jeremy Corbyn, who has fought for migrants’ rights his entire adult life and whose first act as Labour leader was to attend a pro-refugee rally, may now be leading Labour to abstain on this dreadful bill shows how fully the hostile environment of Brexit has debased left politics.

In the post-2016 landscape, Labour should have changed the discourse, campaigning around uniting the class, building solidarity with all workers, challenging myths around who is to blame for low wages, and speaking about the positive roles that migrants have played in our society. The response, though, has been far too timid amid the Brexit triangulation.

In short – migrants are part of our working class and socialists should stand with them in the face of unprecedented attacks on their rights. We don’t accept the ending of free movement – a working class right – and we will campaign to halt this reactionary drift.

Rather than abstaining, Labour should oppose this racist government and stand up for migrants and free movement.

UPDATE: It now appears Labour will vote AGAINST the Immigration Bill. If this is the case, it is obviously an excellent development after pressure from the membership, but it is also deeply worrying it took a U-turn.

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