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McCluskey leads attack on Farage’s promise to axe racial discrimination laws

farage with demon eyesNigel Farage has said he would scrap laws designed to stop racial discrimination in the workplace that he claims are out of date because British society has moved on, making them redundant, and it is, he says, “ludicrous” that employers could not favour a British national for a role over a foreigner. In response, Len McCluskey, leader of Britain’s largest union Unite, branded Nigel Farage’s call to scrap equality laws as “dangerous crude dog whistle politics” that displayed a “breathtaking ignorance about the Britain we live in today.”

Speaking in a Channel 4 documentary to be broadcast next week, Farage said:

I think the employer should be much freer to make decisions on who she or he employs. I think the situation that we now have, where an employer is not allowed to choose between a British-born person and somebody from Poland, is a ludicrous state of affairs. I would argue that the law does need changing, and that if an employer wishes to choose, or you can use the word ‘discriminate’ if you want to, but wishes to choose to employ a British-born person, they should be allowed to do so.”

Commenting, Len McCluskey said:

Nigel Farage’s wish to decriminalise discrimination by scrapping equality laws is dangerous crude dog whistle politics that strikes at the heart of British values of tolerance and respect. It also makes absolutely no sense. If he genuinely wants to protect jobs, then his party ought to abandon its position of attacking hard-won rights for workers.

His assertion that racism is no longer a problem in the UK employment market is naive and conflicts with shocking figures from the House of Commons library showing the number of young people from ethnic minority backgrounds who have been jobless for more than a year has risen by a staggering 49 per cent since the Tory led government came to power.

If he was truly concerned about the employment prospects for our young workers he would be talking about how we strengthen the weakest employment laws in Europe, create a society where everyone can fulfil their potential and be promoting tolerance and respect in the workplace.

In stockbroker Nigel’s world, there would be no floor in our labour market, with worker pitted against worker and their unions prevented from stopping attacks on their jobs and wages. Rather than addressing the real problem of employers exploiting migrant workers to drive down wages Mr Farage would prefer to remove responsibility from employers.

Working people need politicians that will act to halt any race to the bottom and create decent secure jobs, not indulge in the politics of fear and division.”


  1. John.P reid says:

    If saying, British born workers,should have the first chance at getting a job, over EU citizens ,here on work visas ,is a racist comment

    That means the British people are a race of people, and other EU citizens are a race of people,

    I didn’t know the abritish are a race,if we’re too define the British as a race, then the only people who can claimed be British Asa race,are those with ancestors to the Welsh,or Cornwall

    1. Robert says:

      No what he is saying is the same basically as Brown stated British Jobs for British people.

      The welsh are part of the groups of people who are Celtic and these go beyond The United Kingdom.

      Farage has now gone back on what he said and so he should.

      In the end British jobs for British people most employers will of course pick the best person for the task, some will pick people because they will work long hours and not ask what the over time rates are.

      I have had to accept that as a disabled person in a wheelchair unless the employers is looking to take on a disabled person then I’ve no chance of getting a job.

      I suspect in my area we have two or three employers who employ the majority of the people from Poland, we have a meat packing company who has been fined so many times for not paying the correct wages, now they simply will not allow a Union into the door or British workers they employ 95% from Poland even to the point of sending a bus each month to bring in people god only knows what they pay them.

      So Farage is wrong just as wrong as Brown was, but it’s election time.

  2. Barry Ewart says:

    We need to try to trade unionise migrant workers so unscupulous employers can’t use them to undercut wages.
    This would also build community solidarity.
    I met some lovely and talented human beings recently from a voluntary group.
    They were refugees and asylum seekers and were desperate to work and to contribute to society but right wing policy prevented them from doing so. Then walking through town the other day I saw someone with the most beautiful black bag, it was black and on it in large white letters it read: “Love, Respect, Equailty.” As socialists we need to carry on trying to unite diverse working people on the planet – all of us who have sell our labour to live and whose labour creates the wealth and makes societies work. X

  3. Verity Lewes says:

    Appointments to lots of posts in Britain in the immediate pre and post Blair period have often been self serving, of marginal legitimacy and sometimes even crooked, so we need to keep a perspective on the value of individual protective legislation. Len McCluskey’s timely warning though is that the loss of overt discriminatory legislation would likely entrench unfair practices even further as the influences of personnel professions become even more sidelined. However Farage’s contribution is, as always very cleverly framed. Even his mistakes.

    Nationality is quite separate and often nothing to do with race. So promoting the concern of the British unemployed youth – often untrained, discouraged, demotivated, and sometimes black over those of say well-trained, ambitious, confident, free agents from say Eastern Europe, is a legitimate option for Socialists (although not necessarily the liberal left in the Labour Party who enthusiastically promote the free movement of labour as if it was somehow a socialist principle rather than a Blair-Thatcherite pursuit of individual interests).

    Should we be surprised if Thatcher-Blair’s Britain strongly appeals to opponents of the positive social solidarity aspects of the former Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Rumania, etc. There is a chance to exploit the benefits of migrant’s lower market expectation and the migrant’s chance to gain from market advantage . There may well be socialists and communists who see a commitment to reconstruct their own nations as a priority over a short term quick-kill, walking way with the investment in them, as a personal asset. Good luck to them, we might all be tempted. Don’t blame the migrant blame the liberal Left’s free movement and it contentment and acceptance of investment absence, absence of any planning/obligations, with commitments no deeper than an immediate market need. And now threatened are Britain’s social obligations should they fall on hard times. (albeit for economic self-seekers, content to undercut/sidestep when the going was good).

    What should we say to an employer who makes long term commitment to their current British staff? That is those that invest to train, pay their share of National Insurance contributions, permit flexibility for family and social responsibility, pay their share of corporation tax, meet contractural obligations, giving the benefit of the doubt in the retention of those temporarily under -performing. What should we say when we accept as the norm the pursuit of individual short-term gain implicit in the free movement principle? Why should not the company’s not pursue the same liberties offered to economic migrants? The only consistent response is to say they are naive and pursue principles not promoted by the modern Blairist or liberal Left voice at the EU.

    Farage has again evoked the emotional wroth of Labour’s liberal left without helping with the political analysis they so need but increasingly manages to communicate with some experiences working people.

  4. Chris says:

    Although I don’t think abolishing anti-discrimination laws would lead to much actual discrimination as racism is rare these days, I don’t see the point in getting rid of the laws. They should be there just in case.

  5. Verity says:

    I am not so sure what is so wrong in favouring the employment of British nationals (all races without unfair discrimination) over that of other EU country nationals (who in the case of eastern Europe usually include fewer races remember, having had no former colonies).

    Employers in Britain who invest in the longer term by training and developing existing nationals (who make up many, many races of course) should not be undermined by the exploitative quick-gain employers who rely on Labour’s liberal Left EU market fanaticism to undercut both investing employers and the opportunities of existing British nationals (of all races of course).

    The real sadness of Labour’s liberals Left anarchic movement of migrants is that having fanatically supported the chance to work anywhere without planning or responsibility, then attempt to remove social support measures from the opportunist migrants when times turn against them. The dominant Labour position is based upon a ‘nice’ person – ‘nasty’ person level of analysis so well demonstrated by the nastily masked- Farage graphic alongside Len McCluskey lead article. What a mess Labour liberal Left has got itself into. Do they think working people cannot see beyond an apolitical nasty-nice understanding of the EU? No wonder working people have an ear for Farage (who no doubt has multiple intent). Farage will not be beaten by emotionally abusive choruses coming from the liberal Left’s EU-fanaticism.

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