In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the seminal 19th century American novel that did so much to galvanise the abolitionist movement in that country, the novel’s pivotal points are the hideous scenes when a family of human beings, long in the service if not the bosom of the family that owns them, are realised again for their financial worth as individuals: and so a cold-hearted, dead-eyed trader asset-strips the family, bent on selling the father, mother, uncle, toddler soon-to-be-torn from his mother’s arms, to wherever he’ll get the best price (the expression ‘to be sold down the river’ comes from slaves living in very relatively benevolent circumstances in a mid-state being sold and shipped down the Mississippi River to some Hell-on-Earth plantation).
When the eighth Home Secretary in seven years, James Cleverly announced that from this spring British citizens and those settled in the UK must earn over £38,700 a year to have their family join them – over double the previous threshold of £18,600 and wholly in the face of the Home Office’s own Migration Advisory Committee advice, as OpenDemocracy reported – one wonders if the party’s family values have finally been expurgated by the coldest, deadest free-market logic of asset-stripping they’ve applied over decades.
Yet it’s a logic driven by some kind of xenophobia, irrational as that be, by definition. Herein, three-quarters of Brits will be too poor to marry a foreigner, and Britons who’ve already diluted their British bloodlines with outsiders obviously flocking to the UK as per the racist trope that they seek a cushty life on British benefits, will also suffer. (Even if these dependents actually earn enough not to be defined by any reasonable measure ‘dependent’, if the earnings aren’t in sterling they don’t count. It’s also unclear if this is applicable to people even with settled status already – the torture goes on).
Where value for the job is placed over their earnings in sterling is for jobs like carers – but they can’t bring their families, just tend to yours, the elderlies who are often predisposed to vote Tory. But Sunak is applying economic logic to stop carers coming in and help pile high the elderly and dependent that Johson worked so hard on and complete the work of Hancock’s non-existent ringfence around care homes, instead leaving your elderlies to remain unchanged, unwashed, untended, on the floor, in their own piss, by a care system driven to breaking point.
Are we overrun with foreigners?
Why? Is it really because Britain is full, we’re an island that’s being overrun, we’re an island that’s sinking? Not quite, we need more people – they just need to be our own. Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick exhorted to have more children as the solution to the care crisis – this guy thinks long-term. There is a serious problem, according to star-in-the-marking Miriam Cates MP, of the Brits’ declining birth rate. Brits must breed more, with other Brits! We have a need to breed. Because we’re currently full of the wrong people – not least, the kind that come over on dinghies.
The Rwanda policy
But sending them to Rwanda is the wrong solution, the Supreme Court so predictably recently decreed, deeming Rwanda to be, as the world already knows, an unsafe place to dump people. A policy even the current Home Secretary James Cleverley called ‘batshit’, but which doesn’t stop him spearheading the government’s next throw in their game-of-craps approach to law-making, to simply state in law Rwanda is a safe place. And if making the Rwanda policy work means making an international pariah of the UK yet again – how safe are we in law by this point? – by pretending human rights treaties that it has signed don’t apply to what it actually does, so mote it be.
If it can get the bill through, if it can get the bill to deliver. It’s ‘do or die’ for the Tories, Suella Braverman warned on Wednesday, back from the political dead to speak in the Commons for the first time since her second sacking, with ‘electoral oblivion’ awaiting if they fail to stop the boats – an issue that somehow pre-Brexit was only a fraction of the current scale.
Braverman’s links with Rwanda go back a while, but one wonders now if she’s really just marshalling to bring down Sunak, as Nick Robinson accused her of doing on Thursday’s Today programme (tune in from 08:20 if you just want to hear Robinson eviscerate her). He says:
“You’ve attacked lawyers, judges the head of the police, people who are worried about deaths in Gaza, the homeless, you’ve attacked migrants as being part of an invasion – isn’t the truth that you’re a headline grabber, who does it by spreading poison, even within your own party?”
But she’s spreading an acid-like poison that’s corroded the country as much as the governing party. As said, Cleverly is the eighth Home Secretary since 2016, the year when the seething xenophobia of the UK’s body-politic truly chest-burst into our lives. From the relative if not malevolent stability of six years of David Cameron in No. 10 and Theresa May at Home (unleashing the hostile environment and overseeing the Windrush debacle), we’ve since had four prime ministers and seven Home Secretaries – even Grant Shapps was let loose in the Home Office for six days, while Braverman was hired, fired, rehired, refired.
As Gina Millar has written, it’s now poisoning the mindset and policymaking of Sir Kier Starmer, too.
And this is all under the aegis of people who contribute nothing but chaos and division in the belief that they are better than everyone else, and they have more rights than anyone else, and see and treat others as if they’re lesser human beings to be stripped of their rights, even their families, for failing to earn enough. And for some there’s a buck in that.