Rachel Reeves, my MP, has issued a report via the Fabians and several follow up articles advocating labour adopts a position against free movement.
Here is my letter to her opposing this.
I read your piece in the New Statesman about ending free movement post Brexit.
As a shop steward at ****** in East Leeds and coming from Hull I also got an
inkling a couple of days before the vote that Brexit was going to win. People I
had helped convince vote Labour in 2015 at work and my family at home were
nearly all voting out. Immigration was the number one reason. But I also
represent polish workers who feel very anxious that this vote was directed at
I do think Jeremy Corbyn was one of the few politicians on the remain side to
recognise the issue of wages and the EUs impact on working class people. I feel
if the entire labour party could have got behind that we would have had a
However I think it will be the entirely wrong course to advocate the end of
Firstly in a situation of murders and attacks on the street of migrants and the
far right growing across Europe, we have a duty as internationalists, socialists,
progressives to stand against that. I think adopting an anti-immigration stance
will undermine that and give credence to UKIP and the Tories lies.
Secondly free movement is a positive right. Our citizens enjoy it in Europe and
it contributes much to our society. Ending it for people coming to Britain
means ending it for people going from Britain. Also why should big business
have the right to move money, goods and capital and people not have the same
Thirdly You admit that the evidence is that EU migration might have a slight
drag effect on wages but nothing compared to the depression of wages caused by
the governments public sector pay freeze and the growth of casualization, zero
hours contracts and the weakness of union’s. So ending free movement will not
materially change workers conditions much if at all. If we know that to be the
case we need to be honest about the true causes of growing inequality not give
credence to the right wings blaming of foreigners for these massive structural
Strengthening and extending collective bargaining, a real living wage properly
enforced and banning Zero Hour contracts would have a massive material impact
on millions of lives. We should focus on this.
Bringing back the migrant impact fund will also help.
Finally in electoral terms its not ground we are ever going to win on.
Presumably you are not advocating ending immigration full stop or sending
people already here home? The problem is there will always be right wing papers
and right wing politicians willing to countenance this. Our anti-immigrant
stance like the much derided Ed Stone will rightly never be credible because
people know we don’t actually believe in it and think we should be an open
welcoming country. Better to win people to our positive politics then offer a
pale version of the rights rhetoric that’s not convincing.
Winning back lost working class voters in some areas is going to be hard and
needs further discussion but I don’t think this route is the way will do this.