Not Bright's Blog II

Martin's second guest blogger of the week is Sunny from Pickled Politics

You have to give it to the Conservatives in America - they have balls. At least they are willing to go out on a limb and prove their big cojones. The latest such contender is the author Dinesh D'Souza with a new book called The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11.

Straight from the Ann Coulter camp of provocatively titled books that leave no doubt about their slant, he is in no doubt that liberal America's crusades in favour of abortion, feminism, adultery and a breakdown of family values has led to, erm, Osama Bin Laden and his crew.

In her view for The Nation, Katha Pollitt states:

Muslims fear the West is out to foist its depraved, licentious, secular "decadence" on their pious patriarchal societies. And, D'Souza argues, they're right. Working mothers! Will & Grace! Child pornography! Our vulgar, hedonistic, gender-egalitarian, virally expanding NGO-promoted values so offend "traditional Muslims" that they have thrown in their lot with Osama and other America-haters.

You may consider D'Souza to be slightly loopy but he isn't alone, even on this side of the pond. Only a few months ago the writer Melanie Phillips published Londonistan, making a similar claim that Britain's moral and cultural decay contributed to the growth of Islamism, and blamed an unholy trinity of "militant gays, feminists or ‘antiracists’".

Coming back to D'Souza's book, a review in the New York Times wasn't so favourable either. Alan Wolfe says:

D’Souza has fallen on hard times lately. Political correctness and affirmative action — the issues he has addressed in inflammatory ways in the past — no longer inspire the same passion. “The Enemy at Home” is clearly designed to restore his reputation as the man who will say anything to call attention to his views; charging prominent senators and presidential candidates with treason can do that.

Ouch! If you want a more amusing and simplified put-down, you could watch him being interviewed by Comedy Central's rising star Stephen Colbert.

But at least D'Souza is consistent when he says, "American conservatives should join Muslims and others in condemning the global moral degeneracy that is produced by liberal values."

It has always been a great source of amusement to me that British and American conservatives, for reasons of political expediency rather than rational consistency, have constantly scare-mongered about Muslim values even when they so closely mirror their own (a point Sarfraz Manzoor alluded to earlier in January). I wonder how long it will take for the Daily Mail to come to its senses. Paul Dacre could always read Dinesh D'Souza's book.

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Our union backed Brexit, but that doesn't mean scrapping freedom of movement

We can only improve the lives of our members, like those planning stike action at McDonalds, through solidarity.

The campaign to defend and extend free movement – highlighted by the launch of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement this month – is being seen in some circles as a back door strategy to re-run the EU referendum. If that was truly the case, then I don't think Unions like mine (the BFAWU) would be involved, especially as we campaigned to leave the EU ourselves.

In stark contrast to the rhetoric used by many sections of the Leave campaign, our argument wasn’t driven by fear and paranoia about migrant workers. A good number of the BFAWU’s membership is made up of workers not just from the EU, but from all corners of the world. They make a positive contribution to the industry that we represent. These people make a far larger and important contribution to our society and our communities than the wealthy Brexiteers, who sought to do nothing other than de-humanise them, cheered along by a rabid, right-wing press. 

Those who are calling for end to freedom of movement fail to realise that it’s people, rather than land and borders that makes the world we live in. Division works only in the interest of those that want to hold power, control, influence and wealth. Unfortunately, despite a rich history in terms of where division leads us, a good chunk of the UK population still falls for it. We believe that those who live and work here or in other countries should have their skills recognised and enjoy the same rights as those born in that country, including the democratic right to vote. 

Workers born outside of the UK contribute more than £328 million to the UK economy every day. Our NHS depends on their labour in order to keep it running; the leisure and hospitality industries depend on them in order to function; the food industry (including farming to a degree) is often propped up by their work.

The real architects of our misery and hardship reside in Westminster. It is they who introduced legislation designed to allow bosses to act with impunity and pay poverty wages. The only way we can really improve our lives is not as some would have you believe, by blaming other poor workers from other countries, it is through standing together in solidarity. By organising and combining that we become stronger as our fabulous members are showing through their decision to ballot for strike action in McDonalds.

Our members in McDonalds are both born in the UK and outside the UK, and where the bosses have separated groups of workers by pitting certain nationalities against each other, the workers organised have stood together and fought to win change for all, even organising themed social events to welcome each other in the face of the bosses ‘attempts to create divisions in the workplace.

Our union has held the long term view that we should have a planned economy with an ability to own and control the means of production. Our members saw the EU as a gravy train, working in the interests of wealthy elites and industrial scale tax avoidance. They felt that leaving the EU would give the UK the best opportunity to renationalise our key industries and begin a programme of manufacturing on a scale that would allow us to be self-sufficient and independent while enjoying solid trading relationships with other countries. Obviously, a key component in terms of facilitating this is continued freedom of movement.

Many of our members come from communities that voted to leave the EU. They are a reflection of real life that the movers and shakers in both the Leave and Remain campaigns took for granted. We weren’t surprised by the outcome of the EU referendum; after decades of politicians heaping blame on the EU for everything from the shape of fruit to personal hardship, what else could we possibly expect? However, we cannot allow migrant labour to remain as a political football to give succour to the prejudices of the uninformed. Given the same rights and freedoms as UK citizens, foreign workers have the ability to ensure that the UK actually makes a success of Brexit, one that benefits the many, rather than the few.

Ian Hodon is President of the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union and founding signatory of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.