David Blunkett has taken a leading role in making it almost impossible for people, especially those from the oppressed and super-exploited countries, to be allowed to settle in Britain. He has now had to resign ostensibly because he facilitated a visa allowing a Filipino domestic servant indefinite leave to remain in the country – ironic!
His resignation from his position as British Home Secretary is indeed a bizarre affair, rather like a sequence from ‘Alice in Wonderland’. It appears full of contradictions, where nothing is as its seems and things mean the opposite of what they apparently say.
Blunkett has carried out his tasks in the Labour government as a true lackey of imperialism. With Blunkett as Home Secretary pushing things along, the Labour government has subjected asylum seekers to draconian legislation and treatment, including incarceration in places which are concentration camps in all but name. Immigrants and asylum seekers are the specific targets of over 25 offences created in three major pieces of legislation and further offences apply to those who help (even by giving advice) or employ so-called illegal immigrants.
In twelve months spanning 2003/2004, 6,400 refugees arrived in Britain from Iraq. Only 5 have been allowed official status, the rest having all support denied and any initiative to secure survival made illegal in an attempt to ‘encourage’ them to accept ‘voluntary’ repatriation, presumably to the Iraq that Britain and the US have ‘liberated’ and made safe! If that is not evil enough, having put parents into a position where they cannot support their children, the law enables the authorities to take the children into care, while the parents are left destitute. All this is a deliberate policy to make life miserable for those who try to find refuge in this country. It is also part of the divide and rule tactic, of which more below.
Among other legislation Blunkett has ended the double jeopardy rule by which a person could not be tried twice for the same offence, in effect allowing the state to continually harass individuals who cross its path, whatever ‘reason’ was given for it.
The Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (ATCSA) provides for the imprisonment without trial of foreign nationals. It was enough for Blunkett as Home Secretary, and it is now for his successor, to say they are connected with “terrorism”. In order to institute indefinite detention Britain had to seek derogation from the European Convention of Human Rights, the only EU country to have done so since 12 September 2001.
Blunkett vigorously defended this legislation against criticism. The assault on immigrants is so draconian that it has on occasion fallen foul of the courts. The ATCSA has been criticised by a panel of MPs and recently by the law lords. On 16 December 2004, the day after Blunkett’s resignation, the latter ruled by a majority of eight to one that detaining foreign nationals without trial breached human rights laws. One law lord said that indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial was anathema to any country that observed the rule of law.
We assume that the law lords are thinking only of within Britain. They are silent on the draconian and fascistic actions that British imperialism has over the centuries and up to the present inflicted on the inhabitants of countries across the globe, from Ireland outwards – torture and slaughter, let alone indefinite imprisonment without trial. But the law lords are only advising a little restraint as a tactic of the ‘democratic’ form of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
And, lest we forget, Blunkett has been a pillar of the Labour Party and Labour government in its insatiable warmongering around the globe, not least in Iraq, in the process of pursuing raw materials, markets and hegemony for their imperialist masters.
We might think that the above list, which is by no means exhaustive, under a decent system of government would provide enough reasons to justify Blunkett’s resignation many times over (and along with him the rest of the government!). But all this is not the reason why David Blunkett has resigned. He has resigned for reasons that are piffling, trivial, in comparison to the crimes that he has perpetrated while in office. But that is from our point of view, from the point of view of the working class and its allies, the working and oppressed people of the world.
From the point of view of his imperialist masters Mr Blunkett has been doing a generally good job. There is no doubt that his conduct has been by and large to the satisfaction of his bourgeois masters. From our point of view, though, it is rather like the bank robber being paraded as a naughty man for parking his getaway car on a double yellow line outside the bank and being issued with a parking fine. But then, it is the ‘godfathers’ who make and oversee the administration of the laws under the system of imperialism!
Blunkett’s main failing was to get caught, if not quite in flagrante delicto then in close association with it. He went because he was indiscreet about his lover and had been indiscreet in voicing his very blunt, if accurate, views on his colleagues (fellow criminals) to a biographer.
He got caught fixing a visa for his lover’s nanny. He was sure that he had covered all tracks, and he assured the Prime Minister that they were covered and would withstand an “investigation”. But carelessness exacts its revenge, a stray e-mail betrayed that his office had at the very least been involved with the visa – embarrassment all round!
But even if he had fast-tracked a visa, so what? Even if he ensured that a visa was granted what is there to be upset about?
Blunkett is not averse to immigration as an absolute principle. Rich American woman and a Brussels sprout farmer have something in common – David Blunkett facilitates visas for their foreign employees!
The farming, hotel and catering sectors, not to mention the domestic service of the rich, are full of ‘illegal’ immigrants to whom a blind eye is turned and many more who have been granted visas (although for only four years and without the right to bring family here). They are there to meet the shortage of labour for poorly paid jobs with long and unsociable hours. They are there because it suits imperialism.
But Blunkett, like any other respectable bourgeois politician, has peddled the idea that immigrants are the cause of all society’s ills. He has done so to distract attention from the fact that it is monopoly capitalism that is the rotten core of imperialist society. He has further done so to sow seeds of division in the working class to try to render its struggle for emancipation ineffective.
The Financial Times, in its leading article of 16 December 2004, under the heading, “He who lives by the Mail dies by the Mail”, says, “As a politician David Blunkett had few qualms about pandering to the illiberal instincts of the tabloid press. So it is no small irony that his resignation has been forced by the very newspapers that so ardently backed the populist measures he has advocated as home secretary.” But the Financial Times is being economical with the truth. Yes as far as it goes that is the case, but the Blunketts of this world as well as the tabloids (whether consciously or out of long practised ‘instinct’) have an important role to play in fashioning ‘public opinion’. Rather than being populist they aim to set the popular agenda by innuendo and downright lies, and there are a lot of votes in it. Having done that they can be accused of populism if things go wrong, that is work out not quite in the way they were intended.
We are no doubt supposed to rest assured that the checks and balances of parliamentary democracy (in reality the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie) are in good working order. Perhaps we are supposed to sleep easy in our beds knowing that if even Ministers of the Crown step out of line they get their come-uppance. What a charade!
The state is not there to administer fairness for ordinary people, it is not there to ensure that our public figures are honourable and honest. It is there to serve the ruling class, and in today’s Britain that means the imperialist bourgeoisie. The British State is nothing other than the instrument of bourgeois rule, the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. And the role of any bourgeois government, Labour governments included, is to facilitate that dictatorship, as the direct administrator imperialism.
Blunkett did not do anything that bourgeois politicians are not normally guilty of. His mistake was to sleep with a rich American publisher, fast track a visa for her nanny which unusually allowed indefinite leave to remain, and then let it all become public knowledge. That was indiscretion number one. He also slagged off his cabinet colleagues to the extent that only Mr Blair was left supporting him – indiscretion number two. In simple terms he became an embarrassment and this has, at least temporarily, outweighed his usefulness.
Ministers come and ministers go, but the bourgeoisie still remains in power. Mr Blunkett resigns and Mr Charles Clarke takes over – ‘The king is dead, long live the king!’ i.e. a small blip, then business as usual.