Posted: 24 September 2022
For immediate release
Campaigners push for radical immigration policy at Labour Party conference
Labour Party conference could vote this week for a dramatic shift in the party’s immigration policy. A motion has been submitted which calls on Labour to “build solidarity and campaign for migrants’ rights and an antiracist, internationalist alternative.”
This would mark a sharp change from the approach taken by Keir Starmer since he became party leader. Starmer made clear in a speech in July that there would be no return to free movement or the single market. The Labour front bench has been notably muted in its condemnation of the government’s immigration policy, and the party leadership has drawn fire from activists for echoing government rhetoric on channel crossings.
A similar motion passed overwhelmingly at party conference 2019, and could pass again if it makes it to conference floor. Keir Starmer himself committed to “defend free movement as we leave the EU” in his leadership election campaign, and activists hope to hold him to this pledge.
In order to reach conference floor, the motion – which has been submitted by Cardiff North CLP – will first have to be prioritised for debate on Sunday evening. It will then need to make it through the compositing process, in which similar motions are usually boiled down into a single text. When it goes to a vote, CLP delegates and trade union delegates will each get a 50% say in the outcome.
The motion is being formally supported by Momentum, as well as the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.
It calls on Labour to:
Alex Fernandes, a Labour member from Portugal and activist with the Labour Campaign for Free Movement, said:
“Under this government, nightmares are coming true. We are already in a position where asylum seekers are being criminalised and deported to Rwanda. Free movement has ended with Europe, and we don’t know how many people have lost out on Settled Status. Many migrants are losing the right to vote. Unless we can build an opposition to this agenda, things will get even worse. Labour needs to commit, immediately and at the very least, to reversing these policies. In 2020, when he ran for leader Keir Starmer gave a cast iron pledge to defend free movement. We’re going to hold him to it.”
Michael Chessum, from the Labour Campaign for Free Movement, said:
“We now have a far right government which has built its support on the lie that immigrants are to blame for falling wages and living standards. Labour – from its leadership down to its grassroots activists – knows that this narrative is false, but is failing to set out an alternative based on class politics and hope. At a time when the Tories are inventing ever more brutal ways to police our borders, this isn’t just a moral failure – it’s also a strategic one. For as long as we fail to confront the politics of borders, and the narrative it contains, we will keep losing. This motion is an opportunity for Labour to start opposing the politics of borders and scapegoating.”