Corbyn: When a politician plays the blame game, it’s because they’ve got nothing to say

Immigrants are not driving down British workers’ wages, Jeremy Corbyn has insisted in a major speech in Rotherham

16th June 2016

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Corbyn said previous Tory and Labour governments are to blame for the lax City regulation that led to the banking crash and for eroding workers’ rights, leading to insecure employment and undercutting of wages.

The situation has led to unscrupulous employers like Sports Direct employing hundreds of eastern Europeans on zero-hour contracts, undercutting “good businesses” and forcing a race to the bottom, the Labour leader said.

In an appeal to working class Labour voters who many fear may swing the referendum in favour of Brexit, Corbyn said UK governments past and present have allowed the current situation rather than the EU. He called for Britain to use its presidency of the European Council next year to push for continent-wide minimum workers’ rights and wage levels.

In a speech in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, the Labour leader said: “Too many voices in this debate are only playing that old trick – the blame game. And when politicians play the blame game, it’s usually because they have nothing serious to offer themselves.

“Those pushing us to leave the EU, Conservative MPs like Iain Duncan Smith, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, say that more money could be spent on the NHS if we left, they’ve also promised more money for farming, for fishing, for university research, for tax cuts. They’ve promised our EU contribution over and over again.

“Now they want to use people’s real concerns about the impact of EU migration to turn the campaign into a referendum on immigration.

“It’s easy to blame people who come to this country, to blame the outsider, to blame bureaucrats in Brussels. It’s also very convenient for politicians too. If you’re blaming a scapegoat you’re not blaming the people with the real power, the corporate elite and the politicians in government who do its bidding.”

The Labour leader claimed there was “very little debate” about immigrants driving down wages in the 1950s and 1960s because there were powerful employment and trade union protections.

He went on: “The veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner talked yesterday in Parliament about Shirebrook. For many years that site was a coal mine where eastern European miners worked alongside English colleagues, doing the same job, earning the same pay and in the same union.

“Today that same site is owned by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, where he employs 200 full-time employees and 3,000 people, mainly eastern Europeans, on zero-hours contracts.

“Today we have a deregulated labour market that allows unscrupulous employers to undercut local pay by exploiting migrant workers and undercut good businesses by forcing a race to the bottom.

“So migrants aren’t driving down wages. Unscrupulous employers are because the Government allows them to.”