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The following Statement of Purpose was agreed at our 2022 National Meeting
The Labour Campaign for Free Movement is a network of Labour members and supporters, campaigning in Labour and the trade union movement to defend and extend free movement and migrants’ rights.
We believe that Labour should be a socialist, internationalist party standing for all workers, regardless of birthplace. Our party and our trade unions must counter the scapegoating lies that sow division by blaming migration for stagnant wages, insecurity, unemployment, crumbling services and the housing crisis.
Free movement is a workers’ right – the rich and powerful can always move where they like. Attacks on the rights and freedoms of migrants don’t protect British workers – they undermine all of us. They make migrant workers more precarious and so vulnerable to hyper-exploitation, driving down wages and conditions for everyone. They divide us with suspicion and hostility, making it harder to unionise and push back. There can be no non-racist or fair immigration controls – they are inherently racist.
To turn back the anti-migrant tide, our movement has to confront it and win back hearts and minds, rather than retreating into appeasement and triangulation. We must tell the truth about who is responsible for the problems facing workers: exploitative employers and landlords, and the succession of governments that have protected their interests against ours.
And we must propose real solutions: redistribution of power and wealth; massive public funding to ensure good jobs, homes, services and social security for all; and scrapping all anti-union laws and replacing them with strong legal rights for workers and unions, including strong rights to strike and picket, so that, uniting across divisions, workers can push up wages and conditions. Migrant workers have always been central to trade union campaigns beating low pay and exploitation. To low pay and exploitation, to deprivation and dispossession, we say: build unions, not borders!
The end of free movement with Europe was an immense roll-back of rights for millions of workers: both EU citizens who have come here or may want to in future, and UK citizens who lost the right to move, live and work freely in those countries. Labour and our trade unions must fight to restore free movement with Europe. But we cannot stop there.
We must reject policies that determine migrants’ freedoms to move, live and work here based on number caps and targets, on incomes, or on how useful they may be to employers. We oppose the expansion of temporary labour migration programmes, especially those where workers are “tied” to an employer.
We must oppose the brutal policies imposed by the UK government on migrants, including:
And we must oppose the lethal Fortress Europe policies imposed at and beyond Europe’s borders, standing instead for welcoming refugees and extending free movement beyond Britain and the rest of Europe, with the ultimate goal of equal rights to free movement worldwide.
Since our foundation in 2017, we exist to argue for these principles and demands within Labour and the trade unions, to secure their adoption as policy, and to make sure that our movement consistently enacts them both in government at all levels, and from opposition.
We must combine parliamentary and extra-parliamentary action. While we campaign to change laws and policies, we also embrace direct action and civil disobedience. These are neither contradictory nor separate: direct action halts injustices in the here and now and also helps to build pressure for reform.
In particular, we know that it is workers who make the world move, and organised workers who can bring it to a standstill. So as a labour movement campaign, we work to foster, support and promote workers’ refusal to cooperate with anti-migrant policies.
We recognise the huge range of other campaigns and organisations for migrants’ rights and we want to work with them, especially self-organisation by migrants and refugees: our roles are to help them win over the rest of our movement, and to encourage Labour and union members, individually and collectively, to get directly involved in taking action.
Given this government’s constant barrage of assaults on migrants’ rights and the changing situation, our work has to be responsive and flexible to a degree. Nevertheless, we agree some broad outlines for our activity coming out of this conference: