immigration

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The myths that refuse to die

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/06/2024 - 8:00pm in

In my last post, I debunked the myth of the "reserve pool" of British workers. In this post, I discuss three more labour force myths that refuse to die: 

  • the myth of the "tide of unskilled immigration"
  • the myth of the falling participation rate, and 
  • the myth of the "workless yoof". 

There's also an update about my charity walk in the Lake District last Saturday, and a couple of pics. 
Read the post here. It's free to read. 

The Truth About Immigration That Sunak and Starmer Aren’t Willing to Tell you About

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 05/06/2024 - 7:10pm in

Like some grisly ghost of Brexit past, Nigel Farage’s net-zero immigration pledge hovered all over last night’s election debate between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer.

Like the Reform Party leader, both major parties have promised to reduce net immigration, but unlike him, neither have tried to pluck out a number for exactly by how much. They’re choosing to keep their targets vague, not only because of their terrible record of hitting them, or even because the other party could simply gazump them by immediately setting their number 10% lower, but because if they put a number on how much you’re going to cut immigration by, they'd then be forced to put a price on it, too.

The great unspoken truth, which neither leader wants to talk about in this election, is that there is a real cost, in lost tax revenue and skills, to cutting immigration numbers. We may decide it’s a cost we’re willing to take over the long term, but we need to be honest about what that means and approach it within a system that puts the viability of our public services first, above populist slogans about migrant numbers. 

The truth is that it will be impossible in the short to medium term to keep health and care costs low and provide the workforce our aging population needs, while significantly cutting immigration. Moving towards a model that better funds social care and the NHS, including increasing pay for workers, is a longer-term necessity, but it isn’t one the politicians touting migrant scapegoats seem willing to properly take on.

The public’s priorities on the cost of living and protecting the NHS far outstrip concerns about immigration, so the failure to reckon with the impacts of cutting numbers may come back to bite the government that has to deal with the fall-out of falling migrant numbers.

Few people will trust Sunak’s latest pledge of a cap on numbers, even as he points to the demonstrable fact that numbers are at last falling somewhat from their record highs. The most recent statistics told of a modest reduction, but the trend points to a much more significant drop over the coming years. So it’s true the Conservatives have belatedly made moves to reduce migrant numbers – a cynic might suggest they’ve done so just in time for the workforce and economic impacts of the drop to be felt under a Labour administration, that will then be forced into some unpalatable political choices on how to respond if it refuses to make the case now for the value of immigration.

What’s really remarkable is how comparatively little public backlash the exceptional increase in net migration has really provoked. We appear to simply have other priorities, and while we want immigration to be managed well, the numbers, high as they are, seem to concern most us less than ever. 

That’s why Starmer failed to land a blow when he accused Sunak of being the most “liberal” Prime Minister we’ve ever had on immigration based on numbers alone. It is a serious mistake to conflate a system that brings a lot of immigrants into the country with a “liberal” immigration system. In fact, while numbers have certainly increased, most people who come here have more restricted rights than ever, which has led directly to soaring rates of poverty and exploitation. The system is not working well for anyone, and that’s really where objections should lie.

Despite the debate on the right being dominated by an insistence on bringing numbers down, I don’t know anyone on the ‘liberal’ side of the question who sees numbers going up as the aim. What matters is how this country treats the people we do offer visas to, and how we manage and plan for the economic and social outcomes from the numbers of visas we give out. Relatively fewer migrants working alongside locals in a system that is flexible, provides for everyone’s needs, and protects everyones rights is not an illiberal aim, but driving all other policy behind the agenda to reduce the number of foreigners whatever the costs certainly is.

When workers come to do essential jobs in our country, the public welcomes it. But all workers deserve the protections of well-enforced labour standards, a fair and level playing field in the job market, and basic rights like living with our families and the possibility to settle here after a few years. We need to overhaul the work visa system not because it brings in too many workers, but because it traps those workers with the employer who sponsors their visa, preventing them from leaving if conditions are poor to find work elsewhere.

Ultimately what the two leaders failed to grapple with that in a good immigration debate, the system, not the numbers would be the focus. But this debate format doesn’t lend itself to that conversation, because it has to start with planning for and investing in public services, staffed by locals and by newcomers, that serve all the population’s needs, rather than sowing division.

Why the Tories' "put people to work" growth strategy has failed

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 04/06/2024 - 9:16pm in

What do you do when your economy is in the doldrums and you need to kickstart growth?

Why, you put more people to work, that's what you do.

This has been the Tories’ strategy since 2010. The sustained attack on welfare benefits has all been focused on “making work pay” - encouraging, and at the margin forcing, people with illnesses, disabilities and caring responsibilities into paid work. 
But there is another way of putting more people to work, and that is to import them. In a new report, the centre-right CPS thinktank says that importing people to kickstart growth has been the unspoken strategy of successive governments since 1997. And it argues that the strategy has manifestly failed. 
In my latest Substack piece, I examine the reasons the report advances for this failure, and conclude that the "put more people to work" strategy has not failed. It has in fact compensated to some degree for the catastrophic failure of innovation, capital investment and productivity since the 2008 financial crisis.  
The real problem is a structural shift in the UK economy since the 2008 financial crisis that has rendered it reliant on ever-greater numbers of people doing ever more work. The UK's demographics make such an economy unsustainable. That's what present and future policymakers need to address. 
Read my whole piece here

The Big Questions Nigel Farage Should be Asked by the Media

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 31/05/2024 - 8:29pm in

Despite Farage not running in this election and despite his new party Reform, winning just two seats in the recent local elections, the former Brexit party leader has been all over the media during the first week of this campaign.

Just like in 2016, when he was all over the airwaves, despite having absolutely no role in what would happen after the referendum, Farage is seemingly irresistible to the media.

So, for the first time in a long time, I broke my habit of avoiding watching his appearances for the sake of my blood pressure, to try to figure out why. What I learned from his appearance on BBC's Question Time on Thursday, tells us as much about the failures of that media ecosystem, and those of the major political parties, as it does about the man himself and his latest protest vehicle, Reform.

Here are the big questions raised by his appearance.

How Would he Actually 'Stop the Boats'?

    The disastrous failure of the Conservative party’s deterrence policies against asylum seekers is helping to fuel Farage’s campaign. Over 10,000 people have entered the UK on small boats this year, decisively proving what experts predicted all along: that even the vilest hostility will never make refugees disappear.

    Farage is effective at highlighting the problem and the Government’s utter failure to get the issue under control, rightly trashing the Rwanda plan for the ineffective gimmick it is.

    But while he hammers home the chaos and suffering that our current system is producing in the Channel, he comes unstuck when it comes to offering any new solutions.

    Farage repeatedly draws on the thousands of people who have drowned in the attempt to cross the Mediterranean to bolster his supposedly humanitarian concerns on the issue (presumably these are more rhetorically effective than the mere dozens who have drowned in the Channel).

    How ironic, then, that his only solution to this outrage is to suggest pushing back vessels at sea and escorting them to French territory. How that would protect anyone from the dangers of the Mediterranean crossing is presumably for others to worry about.

    But are push backs to France in anyway credible? If anything, the Mediterranean example ought to lead to the opposite conclusion: illegal pushbacks are practiced from Greek shores and at Eastern European land borders. The EU has struck deal after deal with North African and Middle Eastern transit countries of the type Farage wants with France, to contain and pull back refugees – yet the crossings and the deaths continue.

    And that’s where economic and political strength is powerfully weighted to the European side of negotiations. Attempting to strike the same kind of deal with France would obviously come with much more serious reciprocal consequences. But consequences are never what Farage has to deal with.

    The real consequences of the failure to offer safe routes to travel for asylum seekers are paid with the lives of those desperate, homeless people who Farage uses as a prop in his campaigns.

    What Would he Really do with the NHS?

      In a conversation that leaps from the recruitment crisis in our NHS to the supposed need to reduce immigrant numbers with no sense of irony whatsoever, Farage excels.

      He is happy to deride migrant workers as “a mass of unskilled labour” but bypasses directly talking about the largest-growing group of migrant workers, social care workers. The impact of reducing their numbers would be longer NHS waiting lists and higher care costs for our elderly and vulnerable. Our aging population needs the support of migrant workers, both in the literal sense that they are the ones undertaking their care, but also because they pay taxes into the public purse to fund pensions and public services.

      While Farage derides “cheap labour” he is never pressed to propose a new funding model for social care. Light on policy always, but who can blame him when the Reform policy is as absurd as charging businesses for employing migrants. The question of how care home providers would be expected to meet that cost is obviously a tricky one, which is probably why he suggested at a press conference this week that they could be exempted from the new charges. Yet how that would leave his broader plans for the NHS remains a mystery, aside from proposing that we junk its current public funding model.

      Farage often leans on the idea that there are enough people among the sick and disabled in Britain to be able to take on the work that migrants do. Anyone who remembers his disastrous “pick for Britain” drive to replace migrant farm workers with locals – essentially none of whom turned out to be willing or up to the job – should know this is a fantasy.

      Who is Going to Build the Houses we Need?

        The fantasy continues the more you sift through the soundbites to grasp at shreds of policy. Farage argues it would have been impossible for successive governments over recent decades to build sufficient affordable housing because they didn’t know how many immigrants would come to the country.

        The vast majority of immigrants come to the UK on visas granted by the Government, however, so it’s obviously untrue to suggest that they have no control over numbers. The decision over the years to issue a high number of visas while failing to hit house-building targets is one that has been made with eyes wide open. The decision to cut family rights of migrant workers in order to reduce overall numbers, without having to grapple with the impact of reducing the number of workers themselves is also theirs, and the resulting need for just as many – if smaller – households in the country remains unaddressed.

        Neither does Farage feel the need to engage with the irony of crippling skills shortages in key construction roles that have impacted the speed and quality of house-building since Brexit.

        Why are we Still Being Forced to Listen to Him?

          Rishi Sunak has so far failed to set the agenda for the election campaign that he set into motion, while Keir Starmer is struggling to inspire voters either. The smaller parties are not being given a proportionate voice, despite in some ways being the ones offering fresher proposals for the real change our country needs.

          Into this void has stepped Farage. His presence on the centre stage justified but barely legitimised by his confusing position as spokesperson for Reform, a party for whom he is not standing.

          He is a great media performer, but not a man with any real ability to enact positive change in our country. He can always outrun politicians trying to keep up by taking another step, demanding another group of migrants be sacrificed for the sake of keeping him relevant.

          We need politicians to able to stand up to his, but they can’t when they have already effectively caved in to the underlying logic of his demands. Both Conservatives and Labour respond to the issue from the exact same starting point: that immigration is a problem, and that fixes must somehow be found to reduce it, despite that creating vastly more problems for the country than it solves.

          This consensus is in stark contrast to opinion polls which show that over the past decade attitudes to immigration among the public have shifted immensely, and are far more nuanced than what is on offer from either major party, or Reform.

          The consensus across our politics on this issue is Farage’s greatest achievement. It leaves the public without anyone making the case against him on their own terms, but instead constantly playing catch-up in an unwinnable race to the bottom.

          For the sake of the country, someone needs to take Farage on from the starting point of opposing his basic hostility to migrants.

          Until that happens, our politicians will only keep aiming for a set of goalposts which he can always shift a little further to the right.

          Six Things Keir Starmer’s ‘Six Steps’ Tell us About the Labour Party

          Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/05/2024 - 8:09pm in

          Keir Starmer has today revealed the “first six steps for change” an incoming Labour Government would take if it is elected later this year.

          The list, which was set out to journalists in advance on Wednesday, is different in several key respects to the ‘five missions’ he previously set out last year.

          Here’s what has been added, what has been taken away, and what it tells us about the Labour leader and his plans for government.

          Housing is Out and ‘Border Security’ is in

          The first thing I noticed when looking at the list was that the first of Labour’s “five missions” for government, which was to “Get Britain Building Again” has vanished from the list. The second thing I noticed was that an immigration-based commitment to “Launch a new border security command” has been inserted instead.

          Asked about this switch up, a Labour spokesperson told me that “what we’ve said about housebuilding before completely stands”. This was backed up by one of the business speakers at the launch event for today's six steps, focused solely on housing. However, while Labour's housing policy may not have changed, the emphasis placed upon it clearly has. By de-emphasising their pledge on housebuilding, which may be controversial in some NIMBY-filled Conservative target seats, and re-emphasising its new pledge on immigration, the Labour Party is sending a message about the kind of government it intends to be.

          ‘Spending Rules’ Now Trump Economic Growth

            The second thing I noticed was that whereas previous versions of Starmer’s ‘five missions’ for Government had committed to securing the “highest sustained growth in the G7” these ‘six steps’ instead commit to “deliver economic stability” through “tough spending rules.”

            This is a massive difference. Insisting that ‘fiscal rules’ should be the country’s number one priority, as the party's Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves did this morning, or that "stability is change" as Starmer put it rather obliquely, risks Labour making exactly the same mistakes that led the UK into the decade of austerity-driven low growth we have just experienced under the Conservatives.

            This is a suggestion that Labour has strongly pushed back upon, with Reeves insisting this morning that investment in the economy remains the party's priority. However, this new emphasis on "stability", combined with the party’s recent abandonment of its plan to invest £28 billion a year in green projects, suggests that the era of fiscal conservatism that has driven the UK into its current slump may yet continue under a Labour Government.

            From ‘Pledges’ to ‘Missions’ to ‘Steps’

              The next thing worth noting about Starmer’s new list is that it appears to be once an attempt to downgraded the extent to which he can be held to account for it. When he first ran for Labour leader, Stamer made “ten pledges” to his party, most of which he has since abandoned. Then when he revealed his new list last year, the word “pledges” had been replaced with the word “missions”. A pledge is to mission as a commitment is to a target. He may have a mission to “build an NHS fit for the future” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he will promise to actually achieve it. The latest version goes a stage further, replacing the word “mission” with the word “steps” instead. So not only is he not pledging to get to the end of his mission, but he’s not even yet committing to get beyond the first step of that mission. This may not sound like a particularly important distinction to many people, but these kinds of differences in language do actually matter.

              This is particularly the case given the lack of actual concrete, measurable commitments in this list, aside from a single pledge to recruit 6,500 teachers. On every other step, from cutting waiting lists to “launching” new border security measures, the list does not give any means by which voters can actually judge whether the steps will have been a success.

              Government by Opinion Poll

                If Starmer’s list of six steps and the order they have been placed in looks familiar to you, it could be because you have already seen very similar lists before. Every month the pollsters Ipsos publish a list of the top issues that most concern voters. The top three priorities in their latest version is identical to the first three in Starmer’s list, with the next three also following fairly closely to Ipsos’ list of voters’ priorities, it’s very clear that whoever was in charge of drawing up this list is very familiar with such polling. Asked about this on Wednesday, a Labour spokesperson replied that “this is a really good set of steps to show that we care about what the British public do.”

                Climate Timidity

                  While most of the public’s top priorities are included in Starmer’s list there is no explicit reference to tackling climate change, which depending on which pollster asks the question, has consistently been among the top issues for voters for some time. The issue isn’t completely excluded, with a pledge to create a “publicly-owned clean power company” making number four on Starmer’s list. However, previous references to reaching “net zero” have been removed. Coming as it does after the party’s U-turn on its £28 billion climate plan, and its post-Uxbridge by-election criticism of Sadiq Khan’s clean air policies, this is another sign of the political direction Labour is heading in.

                  It’s all About Keir

                    The last thing worth noting about Labour’s ‘six steps’ is that Keir Starmer is placed front and centre. The list is not labeled as “Labour’s first steps for change” but “My first steps for change” with a large picture of Starmer taking up the majority of the party’s new Tony Blair-style ‘pledge cards’.

                    This is an interesting choice given that Starmer’s ratings are currently historically pretty low for an opposition leader heading towards government. His presentational style is not always the most convincing. While not a bad speaker, his speech was one of the least impressively delivered of the many politicians, business people and activists who took to the stage at the party's launch rally this morning.

                    However, while Starmer may not be the most inspiring speaker, he is still a lot more effective than Sunak, whose speaking-style sometimes makes him sound like a particularly patronising supply teacher. And while the Labour leader's ratings may not be great, they are still a lot higher than Sunak’s, whose name was largely absent from the vast majority of the Conservative party’s campaign material sent out in the recent local elections.

                    This contrast between the two leaders probably explains Labour's apparent confidence in Starmer’s ability to win a presidential-style battle against Sunak, and also tells us a lot about what we can expect from the coming general election campaign.

                    Fresh audio product: nativist neoliberalism, the Alabama ruling class

                    Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 10/05/2024 - 7:11am in

                    Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

                    May 9, 2024 Derek Seidman looks into the Alabama corporate elite and its terror at the incursion of the UAW (articles here and here) • Quinn Slobodian on Peter Brimelow and the white supremacist wing of neoliberalism (paywalled article here)

                    Labour MPs are ‘Furious’ with Starmer Over Defection of Hard-Right Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke

                    Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/05/2024 - 1:32am in

                    Keir Starmer’s decision to welcome the defection of hard-right Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke’s to the Labour Party has caused fury and disbelief among Labour MPs.

                    One Labour MP told Byline Times that the “whole Parliamentary Labour Party is furious” about the decision to embrace Elphicke, who has a long record of inflammatory comments about immigrants and asylum seekers.

                    Elphicke, who is the MP for Dover, has previously accused the Labour Party of wanting “open borders” and called for asylum seekers to be forcibly turned back in the English Channel. She has also suggested that those who arrive here use razor blades to cut their fingers to avoid being identified.

                    Elphicke was also suspended from the House of Commons in 2021 after being found to have tried to influence a judge who was presiding over the case of her then-husband Charlie Elphicke, who was later found guilty of sexually assaulting two women. 

                    Elphicke defended her husband at the time, saying that his being “attractive” to women had made him “an easy target for dirty politics and false allegations.”

                    One Labour MP told Byline Times that MPs from across all wings of the party, up to and including Shadow Cabinet members, had made their displeasure about the move known to the Labour leader’s team.

                    Responding to her defection, the MP described it as a "disgrace".

                    "I think it’s a disgrace and I know a lot of colleagues are extremely unhappy", the MP said.

                    "There’s being a broad church and then there’s admitting hard-right Tory MPs who demonise refugees and dismiss sexual assault survivors. 

                    "We already know that many voters don’t understand what the Labour Party stands for. How does allowing someone who doesn’t remotely share our politics to become one of our MPs help? Or is Natalie’s vision the one Keir wants to present to voters?

                    "As the saying goes, if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything and that’s what is already putting voters off and worrying them about a future Labour government. It’s yet another move that will come back to bite us."

                    Elphicke’s defection has also stunned the Conservative Party. One leading right-wing anti-immigration Conservative MP was heard commenting that Elphicke was considered “hardcore” on the issue, even to them.

                    Asked about her defection, a spokesperson for Rishi Sunak, said that: "I think it's down to Labour to explain some of her past comments and why they believe that she's now the right person to join their party."

                    Elphicke plans to stand down at the next general election but has discussed taking on a new role advising the Labour party on housing, a Labour spokesman said.

                    A spokesman for the Labour leader told this paper that they were “confident” that Elphicke shares Labour values, despite voting for restrictions on trade union strikes and against action on climate change.

                    Asked whether Labour would also welcome Nigel Farage into the party, they replied that “we have conversations with all sorts of people who want to come and support the party”.

                    Labour welcomes ‘unhinged’ anti-refugee Tory MP Elphicke

                    Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/05/2024 - 1:13am in

                    MP’s disgraceful comments on refugees no bar to a Keir Starmer embrace -nor is voting to keep poor children hungry

                    Labour has rolled out the red carpet to welcome yet another right-wing Tory MP – Dover and Deal’s Natalie Elphicke – with a prominent ‘welcome’ tweet to announce Elphicke’s defection from the Conservative party.

                    Elphicke has a disgraceful record of anti-immigrant commentary, so will fit right into Keir Starmer’s red Tory outfit, as several people have observed with varying degrees of humour:

                    Starmer’s faction of the party – now almost all that remains – is rotten with Islamophobia, anti-Black and anti-Gypsy racism and falls over itself in its haste to expel or suspend any left-winger, especially those of the ‘wrong’ skin colour. But white MPs from the even more openly racist version of the Tory party can look forward, including recent defector Dan Poulter, who voted to keep poor children hungry, to a celebration of their confirmation that the only material difference between the two main parties is rosette colour.

                    If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

                    UK’s ‘Worst Hotel Chain’, Britannia Hotels, Makes Remarkable Profit After Joining Government’s Asylum Seeker Hotel Network

                    Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 02/05/2024 - 8:19pm in

                    Britannia Hotels has registered profits of nearly £40 million thanks to its involvement in the Government’s asylum seeker hotel network.

                    The company – voted the UK’s worst hotel chain for the past 11 years running in polling run by Which? – is one of the main providers of accommodation for the Government’s growing number of asylum seekers.

                    It has more than 60 hotels nationwide and scored an "abysmal" overall customer satisfaction rating in 2023.

                    But, in its annual accounts for the year to March 2023, the firm posted a boosted pre-tax profit of £39.3 million – up by nearly a fifth (18%) compared to its previous high of £33.3 million in 2022.

                    The chain's turnover rose by 31% – from £117.8 million to £154.7 million – and it increased its staffing to 2,365, the latest accounts show.

                    The boost was labelled “exceptional performance achieved during a period of difficult trading conditions” by the hotel chain’s directors, in a statement attached to the annual accounts.

                    It also noted the chain's tight controls on costs, particularly labour, in order to ensure that the company maintains its "competitive position”. It made no mention of its increasing role as a provider of asylum seeker accommodation.

                    A growing number of asylum seekers face living for months, if not years, in hotels or housing provided by the Government. They are expected to survive on £8.86 a week if their hotel provides meals, and are unable to work until the Government makes a decision on their asylum claim. The backlog for such decisions was 128,786 in December.

                    The asylum seeker housing system is almost entirely reliant on private providers, which both manage the provision of accommodation and run, or own, the hotels – and have been able to make significant profits.

                    The Home Office’s asylum seeker hotel budget is around £20 billion, but earlier this year the department admitted that it had overspent on accommodation by £2.6 billion and had to plead for an emergency cash injection.

                    The latest financial results for Hotel Britannia come a month after a Byline Times investigation into the chain found that, between 2002-2003 and 2013-2014, it made an average of £1.9 million a year in pre-tax profits – significantly less than what it has made since 2014-2015, when profits shot up to £14.2 million.

                    That was also the year when Britannia was first reported to have started housing asylum seekers en-masse for the Home Office.

                    Some news reports have suggested that at least 17 of the chain’s hotels have been block-booked out on behalf of the Government.

                    Tim Naor Hilton, chief executive of Refugee Action, told Byline Times that “every pound of profit that fills the pockets of these companies is a pound that is being taken out of our communities".

                    He suggested those housing asylum seekers were "brazenly ripping off the Government", while vulnerable people wanting to rebuild their lives are being “forced to live in housing that actively harms their health".

                    He added that it was "concerning" that the Government refuses to be open with the public about these "rip-off housing contracts and the performance of these companies".

                    “It’s time we fund councils to run a not-for-profit housing system, so every penny of public cash earmarked for refugees is spent protecting people and strengthening services for us all," Hilton added.

                    Byline Times previously spoke to two asylum seekers who had lived in a Britannia hotel in Manchester for months and described living in fear of harassment, dirty rooms, and poor conditions.

                    One explained how his wife had repeatedly attempted suicide due to mental health problems he claims were worsened by their year-long hotel stay. He also said the hotel, and the Home Office contractors tasked with supporting asylum seekers, had failed to offer support or to intervene. 

                    Byline Times also saw videos of badly leaking ceilings, uncleared food, and clothes littering corridors in the hotel.

                    Britannia Hotels is owned by octogenarian hotel tycoon Alex Langsam, whose company is the ultimate beneficiary of the £107,000 a day in profit it logged in 2022-2023.

                    Questions raised over pro-Trump, anti-BLM, anti-Labour comments of Labour candidate

                    Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 28/04/2024 - 8:47am in

                    Joe Johnson’s social media record includes defence of racist comedy, admiration of Thatcher and Trump, support for far-right views and opposition to Labour – yet he has been selected to stand for the party

                    Sefton council candidate Joe Johnson, from his Facebook profile

                    A Labour candidate’s social media output has raised serious questions about his suitability to stand – yet he was apparently waved through by Keir Starmer’s party, either without vetting or in disregard of his record, to stand for the party in the St Oswald ward in Bootle, near Liverpool.

                    Locals have raised flags about what they say are:

                    • Historic racist views
                    • Support of Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party
                    • Admiration of Margaret Thatcher
                    • Support of Donald Trump
                    • Support of far right views on social media (TwitterlX: @joejbsg)
                    • Public opposition to the Labour Party

                    In 2020, the BBC reported that a Dover footballer, who was racially abused by Hartlepool fans, said that Johnson had implied he earned the abuse by celebrating his goal:

                    The ref was saying that I sparked it all off with my celebration. As a ref, you shouldn’t really be saying … it’s sort of saying that, because I did a celebration, I should now be receiving racial abuse.

                    In the same month the BBC was reporting the Hartlepool incident, Johnson was commenting on his social media that police should be baton-beating and tasing Black Lives Matter protesters:

                    Johnson also defended the police after video emerged of a Black man being kneed in the face – commenting that the police ‘should be allowed to do their jobs’:

                    Johnson also commented that ‘blackface’ was ‘comedy at its best’:

                    In 2019, he supported Boris Johnson over Brexit and in 2020 he defended Johnson’s appalling handling of the pandemic and his wilful ignoring of the advice of government scientists:

                    And on Brexit he went further, supporting a far-right account’s recommendation that Johnson should invoke emergency legislation to force through a hard Brexit:

                    Johnson needn’t have bothered: the sabotage by Keir Starmer and the Labour right handed Johnson the hardest of Brexits anyway. He was also apparently a fan of the hated Margaret Thatcher, ‘liking’ a post calling her an ‘inspiration’:

                    Johnson praised far-right former US president Donald Trump more than once:

                    And his ‘likes’ included an anti-refugee post by far-right political figures Nigel Farage and former Home Secretary Priti Patel:

                    Johnson’s likes and comments also indicate a deep distaste for Labour under Jeremy Corbyn – and approval for a video mocking Diane Abbott, Britain’s first Black woman MP:

                    Johnson’s ‘like’ of a post about Abbott

                    Contacted for comment about his posts an locals’ concerns, Johnson replied:

                    I am not surprised, although disappointed by putting myself up for local election to help the area that some people would try and shoot me down for past views, beliefs and opinions.

                    Labour’s regional director for the north-west, Liam Didsbury, did not respond to a request to confirm whether Labour did any vetting before allowing Johnson to become a candidate.

                    If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

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