The Tories recently unveiled a pay-for-processing programme, in which those seeking asylum in the UK will be sent to one of the poorest countries in the world: Rwanda.
The focus of the plan is to ship those arriving at the walls of Fortress Britain thousands of miles away – either to ‘voluntarily’ resettle in Rwanda or another third country, or to ‘return home’.
This attempt to exclude asylum seekers using cynical political doublespeak about ‘rescue’ and ‘security’ concerns, however, has spectacularly backfired.
Boris Johnson may cry crocodile tears over the “barbaric trade in human misery”. But many are realising that it is the capitalist system he represents that is responsible for creating the conditions in which barbarism and misery thrives.
Trickery and trafficking
The Tory Prime Minister assures us that the scheme will offer safe refuge for the oppressed and vulnerable, with ample opportunities to work in Rwanda. Those mishandled by traffickers in Europe will instead arrive in “one of the world’s safest nations”.
If we were to indulge in the Tories’ dubious lies, we would be led to believe that Rwanda is a land flowing with milk and honey.
Any criticisms of the programme run the risk of ‘stereotyping’, we are told. And yet in dolling up this scheme, Johnson and co. have happily rolled out all the usual trite and tasteless caricatures about those fleeing war zones “taking advantage of the asylum system”.
The repressive nature of the Rwandan government is both well-known and well-documented.
“There are serious concerns over Rwanda’s human rights record,” states the associate director of the Institute for Public Policy, for example, “including reports of arbitrary detention, torture and degrading treatment, and political imprisonment.”
In 2018, Rwandan police even murdered eleven refugees from Congo who had demonstrated against reductions to their food aid. With reductions in aid to Rwanda now causing concern for the UN, a perfect storm is being prepared for those first captured then catapulted all the way to East Africa.
With such treatment now the norm, it is not ruled out that those deported to Rwanda would likely treat it as a transit country, in hope of finding better prospects elsewhere. In other words, this will not deter trafficking at all, but will instead deepen existing problems.
But why should this concern the Tories, motivated as they are by the slogan ‘anywhere but here’?
The Tories have proven themselves entirely unable to handle the migrant crisis in any meaningful way. Instead, they have opportunistically used refugees to score cheap political points, and as a convenient distraction to mounting problems at home.
‘Outsourcing’ the problem abroad, therefore, has become an attractive means of keeping this cascading crisis out of sight, out of mind.
Liberal commentators claim that this policy stems simply from the ‘evilness’ of the Tories; or is a consequence of Britain leaving the European Union. In fact, it is directly borrowed and inspired by the playbook of other imperialist countries.
The proposal being suggested resembles a much vaguer one struck between Denmark and Rwanda last year. Similarly, countries such as Australia have been courted for counsel on the logistics of their rigorous offshore detention policy.
Those bemoaning that the Tories’ latest proposal is a Brexiteer wet dream, meanwhile, should remember the dodgy dealings that exist between Italy and Libya.
Since 2017, with the tacit support of the EU, these countries have agreed to return those crossing the Mediterranean to detention centres in Libya – a country mired in conflict as a result of intervention by Western imperialism.
The truth is that the migrant crisis cannot be solved on a capitalist basis, as it is this profit-driven system that is responsible for war, poverty, and the mass displacement of peoples in the first place.
Mutiny at home
Home Secretary Priti Patel has since doubled down on the proposal, describing the “groundbreaking” deal as the act of a “humanitarian nation”.
As is always the case with such hypocrites, criticisms of human rights violations by despots and autocrats go out the window whenever a business deal is to be made.
Patel’s remarks are clearly there to provoke; another round of fire in the Tories’ so-called ‘culture war’, designed to distract from the government’s crimes, whip up hysteria, and appease frothing Conservative backbenchers and supporters.
The Tory Home Secretary probably anticipated hostility to her plan from NGOs, the Labour Party, and the Church. Something that was not foreseen, however, was backlash from within the Home Office itself, with civil servants threatening strike action against Patel’s one-way ticket to Rwanda proposal.
Socialist Appeal spoke to a PCS member at the Home Office, who described the situation as following:
“It’s apparent to all Home Office employees that this is just another Windrush waiting to happen. Concerns raised from staff to seniors at our all staff call about the plan being racist, inhumane, and cruel were dismissed outright. Essentially we were told to follow ministerial direction and go full steam ahead.”
This worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, continued:
“The government’s attempts to wrap this plan in humanitarian language – about stopping the traffickers who risk people's lives sending them on small boats across the Channel – have rung hollow. And the government should expect more resistance to come.”
This demonstrates how the Tories’ culture war is once again backfiring, creating fractures within the capitalist state itself.
Down with capitalism!
With civil servants considering mutinying against the Home Office’s racist, reactionary policies, it seems that this rotten Tory government may finally be getting its just deserts.
This is indicative of the times we are living through. Johnson, Patel, and co. may try to distract from the crises they – and the working class – face back home, but the problems nevertheless continue to pile up for this criminal government.
There is no point in hand-wringing over how ‘nasty’ the Tories are, as the liberals do. Nor should we waste time appealing to the ‘better nature’ of the more ‘sensible’ wing of the Conservative Party, as Starmer and the rest of the establishment attempt.
It is the capitalist system that is responsible for displacing millions; for destroying the lives and livelihoods of ordinary people across the planet.
And it is the representatives of this system who erect borders, and who treat the most oppressed and vulnerable as short change in pursuit of their narrow interests.
We must plainly lay the blame at their door. This means organising to channel the anger and indignation against this latest despicable manoeuvre into a movement capable of bringing down the Tories, bringing down the borders, and bringing down capitalism.