With the world’s biggest refugee crisis since 1945, it is perhaps predictable that the Tories’ reflex response is to sensationalise the issue, lie about the facts, and pull up the drawbridge. May kicks it off with the falsehood that the vast majority of migrants to Europe are Africans motivated by economic self-interest, when in fact 62% reaching Europe by boat this year were escaping persecution from Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan. Foreign secretary Hammond portrayed them as marauders risking the collapse of European civilisation, when in fact the number of migrants who have arrived so far this year is precisely 0.027% of Europe’s total population. Cameron himself described them as a swarm intent of getting welfare benefits, when in fact the number of migrants reaching Calais of those arriving in Europe this year is just 1% and each asylum seeker in Britain gets a measly £36.95 a week to live on, only just over £5 a day, and is not allowed to work to supplement this sum.
Nor has Britain taken anything like its fair share of refugees under the vindictive and callous standards of the Tories. Last year 25,870 people sought asylum in the UK, but only 10,050 were accepted. Germany took 97,275, France 68,500, Sweden 39,905 and Italy 35,180. Calculated as a proportion to population size, Britain comes even lower. Calculated on 2015 rates, Britain has been even meaner in its reception of asylum seekers than impoverished Greece! Against the hysteria the government has generated, you would scarcely believe it that the number of refugees in the UK has actually fallen by over 75,000 in the last 4 years.
Then there is the deeply unsavoury Tory involvement in trafficked workers debt-bonded and forced to work in slavery conditions that has just come to light. Noble Foods, the UK’s largest egg company, used labour provided by DJ Houghton, a gangmaster operation run by Darrell Houghton and Jacqueline Judge at Maidstone, Kent, and its chairman has been a major Tory party donor and lent Cameron a helicopter for the election. The Lithuanian workers were held in overcrowded accommodation riddled with bedbugs and fleas, denied sleep and toilet breaks, and had their pay repeatedly withheld while Lithuanian supervisors acted as the Houghtons’ enforcers intimidating the workers with fighting dogs and threatening them with instant eviction if they complained. So much for Cameron’s promise earlier this month to tackle modern slavery in Britain.
Now that the election is safely out of the way, other Tory acts of harshness and vindictiveness have started to trickle out. They have shelved their manifesto commitment to cap care costs for the elderly in order to save £100m (out of a deficit still stuck at £90bn), on top of cutting by a quarter of a million the number of elderly and disabled persons receiving social care at all. They have concealed till now that 1 in 6 of all job seekers are hit by benefit sanctions even though the independent social security advisory committee, chaired by the ex-permanent secretary of DWP, have made the case that there is no certain evidence that sanctions actually work in forcing people back into work, but they do cause hunger and impoverishment.