Haringey Socialist Alliance

No immigration controls

Louise Christian, scourge of railway management at accident enquiries, has been adopted as the Socialist Alliance candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green at the forthcoming general election. Sixty-two revolutionaries and socialists attending the Haringey Socialist Alliance adoption meeting in Wood Green Trades and Labour Club gave the former member of Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party a unanimous vote of endorsement on February 6.

The meeting kicked off with a good-humoured and scathing speech by Seven Sisters Aslef representative Dave O'Connell, who welcomed the increasing trust being created between his union and the RMT during the build-up to the previous day's tube strike, despite the machinations of management.

Louise Christian gave an address that outlined her abhorrence of the policies of the government on asylum-seekers and relished the prospect of tackling her former Labour Party colleague, government immigration minister Barbara Roche, head on at the imminent general election. Louise was especially incensed at the government extending the Tories' despicable action against asylum-seekers and withdrawing all benefits from them, substituting the stigmatising voucher system.

She was also concerned at the degradation of the public transport system and highlighted the ownership and structure of the railways as a question to which she would apply her specialist knowledge during the campaign. She made it clear that she was not keen on slogans emphasising 'renationalisation', favouring instead the idea of 'public ownership', where control is outside of government.

In a contribution from the floor Tina Becker (CPGB) suggested that the demand for 'No immigration controls' was essential. Louise replied that, as a lawyer involved in the field of immigration and asylum law, she was "in favour of the removal of all immigration controls". She condemned the affluent west's attitudes to those in 'third world' countries, noting that, "If there's oil, we will go in and milk it. But we'll keep its poor people out." There was a spontaneous cheer around the room when she pointed out that the logic of abolishing border controls pointed to the ending of nation-states.

However, such a vision is not for public consumption, it seems. Comrade Christian made it clear that in the election campaign she would prefer to highlight specific cases of asylum-seekers from her own experience to expose the government's policies rather than campaign around the slogan 'No immigration controls'. Unfortunately this was echoed by most SWP comrades in the room.

Rather than fighting around a radical slogan that would expose the anti-human and artificial distinction between 'real' and 'bogus' asylum-seekers, a slogan that clearly states our vision for a world without any borders, the comrades in the SWP prefer to tail what they perceive as mainstream liberalism in the hope of picking up "the frustrated Labour Party members who wouldn't vote for too radical an alternative", as leading SWP member Michael Bradley put it.

SWP speakers from the floor then suggested alternative slogans for the election campaign along the lines of 'End the voucher scheme' and, incredibly, 'I give to beggars, not to millionaires'.

Louise Christian concluded her speech by remarking that the policies now portrayed as radical were mainstream Labour Party ideas in the 1980s. This point was echoed by comrade Bradley who thought that, "We are not marginalised any more. We have the majority of people behind us, because our politics are common sense now".

Yet the majority of working class people are not in favour of giving more rights to asylum-seekers. The working class, defeated over and over again in the last few decades, is at the moment not inclined to spontaneously fight for the rights of another oppressed group.

Haringey Socialist Alliance has launched a 'bond issue' - supporters are being asked to lend what they can toward the £500 election deposit each candidate has to stump up. By the end of the meeting £885 had already been pledged.

A flurry of organising meetings are being scheduled separately for the two parliamentary constituencies in Haringey: Tottenham, where Weyman Bennett has already been adopted as the SA candidate, and Hornsey and Wood Green, where Louise Christian now represents us.

Jim Gilbert and Tina Becker