Your comments on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme (Friday 19 November) in relation to the situation of people crossing the Channel in an attempt to reach the UK are of grave concern to all those who seek the protection of the rights of refugees and migrants.
It was deeply disappointing to hear you, as Leader of the Labour Party, mirror the dehumanising language of the Conservative Home Secretary Priti Patel. Instead of highlighting the cruelty of the government’s border control policies, or dispelling dangerous myths about people arriving in the UK, you made it clear that your main concern about the governments’ approach was that it was failing to be as tough on migrants as it had said it would be.
You won the Labour leadership in no small part due to your work as a defender and promoter of human rights. Your leadership campaign included an unequivocal commitment to putting “human rights at the heart of foreign policy” and making the U.K. “a force for international justice”.
Labour members, voters and the country as a whole should expect a leader of the opposition – who is a human rights lawyer – to challenge the reactionary and xenophobic stance of a government which is deliberately undermining the recognised principles of international human rights.
As thousands of desperate people remain deliberately trapped at the Polish/Belarusian border and others drown crossing the Channel, you should be making the case for safe and legal routes for those claiming asylum – in Europe and in the UK. You should be exposing the human rights violations of pushbacks at sea, demanding that the U.K. fulfill its legal and moral obligations and supports other countries to do the same.
Instead, in criticising the government only for its failure to implement its regressive policies with sufficient vigour, you have further entrenched the idea that migrants themselves are a problem – and not the governments’ callous and cruel approach to migration policy. This same position has been repeated over recent days by the Shadow Home Secretary.
Aping and encouraging the worst aspects of Conservative far-right populism will do little to promote Labour’s electoral chances whilst it will cause further damage and division in our society.
Laura Parker, Labour International CLP & Another Europe is Possible NC
Nick Dearden, Another Europe Is Possible NC
Luke Cooper, co-founder, Another Europe Is Possible
Shaista Aziz, Labour councillor for Oxford City Council
Mary Kaldor, Professor of Global Governance, LSE
Hilary Wainwright, co-editor Red Pepper
Glyn Ford, Former MEP
Julie Ward, Former MEP
Niccolo Milanese, co-founder European Alternatives
Cat Villiers, Film Producer & Another Europe is Possible NC
Zoe Williams, Guardian journalist and co-host of the Another Europe Podcast
Alex Fernandes, Another Europe is Possible NC
Alena Ivanova, Another Europe is Possible Campaigns Officer
Dave Levy, Another Europe is Possible NC
Ana Oppenheim, Another Europe is Possible NC
Peter Radcliffe, Another Europe is Possible NC
Seema Syeda, Another Europe is Possible Communications and Campaigns Officer
Tom Walker, Another Europe is Possible NC
25th November 2021