PM's short-sighted bigotry to appease right-wing press

Rory Porter

This week the British government announced a bit of Australia is coming to the UK - unfortunately it's not sun, surf or beach-bronzed demi-goddesses. It's a racist, points based immigration system.

Now I'm not saying we'll soon be seeing boats full of refugees being sent back across the channel or asylum seekers put into camps (unless you count our  "detention centres" in Kent). But this policy is equally as prejudiced and divisive as its Aussie counterpart.

As usual it's the banshee-like cries of the right-wing press that have forced prime minister Gordon Brown's faltering government into action. Just like the Australian system, our version of the policy will separate highly skilled, skilled and unskilled workers and vet them according to what they can offer the country.

Prospective immigrants need to achieve 75 points to get in and points are awarded them for skills including having a degree, plying a trade currently in short supply, or having loads and loads of money in the bank.

This all sounds fine, and it starts sounding even better when the government claims the new system will streamline the maddeningly bureaucratic processes of the more than 80 acceptable ways to get into the UK at the moment.

A scratch of the surface however shows this initiative to be pure hokum. No one with any useful skill or large bank balance will be affected by these new measures, with the system having been designed to keep this economically viable people coming to Britain.

Nor will this policy be the saving grace for the jobs of the British working class either, as it is touted by certain opportunistic Labour MPs. Britain's membership of the EU stipulates that no restrictions can be put on the movement of people from one member state to another, so a steady flow of unskilled workers will continue to arrive from eastern European members states.

This constant supply of cheap, easily exploitable and easily disposable labour will ensure that the profits of multi-nationals operating in Britain keep rising.

The question now is simple: If nothing really changes, what's the point of this new policy? And that's the fiendishly clever part. While unskilled workers from within the EU will be allowed in, unskilled workers from outside will not, and when the government says  "outside the EU" you can safely assume they mean people from  "non-white" countries.

This inevitably leads to the second question: Why is an unskilled, white, Christian worker more acceptable than an Asian Hindu or Muslim one? That's a little bit harder to answer.

This policy will stop anyone from the British Commonwealth or elsewhere entering Britain as long as big business has no need for them. For Gordon Brown this is a nasty, cynical job done well. The ugly, racist fears of Daily Mail readers not wanting to be  "swamped" are allayed, Mr Brown is seen to be doing something rather than dithering for a change on the thorny question of immigration, and no business interests are harmed whatsoever.

This policy is political grandstanding of the worst kind and should be seen as such. It will have no impact on the lives of everyday citizens, it makes a mockery of the idea of the globalisation New Labour claims to hold so dear, and is appealing to the lowest instincts of human nature in an attempt to look strong and pro-active.

Among all this talk of a  "Britain Day" and how we're losing our national identity, it's worth remembering that this country is founded on wave after wave of immigration, all of which shaped that identity heavily and put the 'Great' in our name. To keep other cultures out will only make our own more stagnant. And the the British economy much less competitive in the world.