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Why Denmark’s socialists have a tough stance against immigration

My sister lives in Copenhagen, and while it would previously have registered pretty highly on the places Irish liberals would like to have been born in – up there with Barnsley for the Anglo lefties and their soccer cloth cap and muffler “Down Pit” thing they have going on – Denmark has disappointed of late.

Not only did they take a much more “based” approach to the Covid panic – up to last weekend my sister was bemusedly reading of ominous Omicronigenic variants of sub variants and cousins twice removed of the Omicrons of Valby that were threatening Ireland like the Danes of old – they have gone all For Roysh on the immigration thing.

Danes are indeed a tolerant people but years of systemic abuse, concerns over rising crime levels and popular debate – not permitted in Ireland of course – regarding the demographic and cultural implications of mass immigration have forced a rethink.

Denmark has set a target of zero asylum applications and has introduced a requirement for some immigrants claiming welfare, which in a huge number of instances becomes a lifetime dependency, to work a certain number of hours a week. In September last year the then Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen even had the audacity to use the word “duty” in explaining why this would be a healthy thing not only for Danish society but for the beneficiaries themselves:

We want to introduce a new work logic where people have a duty to contribute and be useful, and if they can’t find a regular job, they have to work for their allowance,” Ms Frederiksen told reporters. “For too many years we have done a disservice to a lot of people by not demanding anything of them,” she said.

In 2019 when questioned about her attitude towards immigration, Frederiksen responded by stating that “it is becoming increasingly clear that the price of unregulated globalisation, mass immigration and the free movement of labour is paid for by the lower classes.”

At the height of the border crisis in October when Belarus, with Russian backing and the cheer leading of the open borders extremists, was allowing immigrants to mass on the borders of Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, Denmark sent 500km of barb wire fencing as a gift to Lithuania to assist in its defences.

The interesting thing about Denmark is that the main component, with minority support, of the current government, as it has been for much of the country’s post World War II history, is the Social Democratic Party.

Denmark’s Minister for Immigration and Integration Mattias Tesfaye recently explained why his party has taken the stance it has, and defended it against the far left and bourgeois liberals who have attacked it as racist.

In an interview last week with the Neue Zurcher Zeitung Tesfaye first pointed out that the Danish left, especially the trade unions, were always wary of the economic and social impact of low wage immigration.

Anyone familiar with the history of the Dublin Trades Council including at a time when Connolly and Larkin were in their heyday will also know that affiliated unions often expressed concern over the arrival in the city of low wage workers from Britain and elsewhere. That was obviously connected to the use of scabs to break strikes, but Connolly also opposed proposals to allow Belgian refugees to come to Ireland and in the Workers Republic on March 16, 1916, just weeks before the Easter Rising, Connolly attacked British workers who were coming to Ireland to avoid conscription as “curs” who were taking Irish jobs. The ‘Unwoke’ Connolly.

Tesfaye points out that the real rationale and the initial political support for mass immigration came from what used to be regarded as the “right” which were political representatives of the interests of employers. It does not take a genius to discover why low wage employers and landlords would adopt such a stance. The real question is why such a tenet of economic neo-liberalism has become probably the main totem of the contemporary 21st century Left.

“I studied Danish migration history. And it’s obvious to anyone who’s interested that the left and the unions were very skeptical about migration in the 1960s because of the competition in the labor market. It was the political right that wanted to open the borders for foreign workers at the time. In the 1980s and 1990s things were reversed: now it was the left that wanted to open the borders, while the right wanted to close them,” he said.

“If you look at the historical background, it’s perfectly normal for left-wing politicians like me not to be against migration, but to insist that it is under control. If it isn’t – and it wasn’t from the 1980s onwards – low-income and ill-educated people pay the highest price for integration that doesn’t work. It’s not the rich neighborhoods that have to integrate the most children. Rather, areas where the classic social democratic voters and trade unionists live have to deal with the biggest problems,” he added.

Tesfaye has pointed to the impact which Denmark’s subsequent and more sensible policy on immigration has already had. Crime has fallen and participation in the workforce and in education has risen. And of course, these are things that benefit genuine law-abiding immigrants as much as they do the native population.

“If you look at the numbers in Denmark, the crime rate is going down, while education and employment are going up. The number of areas classified as ‘ghettos’ is falling dramatically. I am absolutely sure that if we had the same immigration numbers as our neighboUrs, we would have the same integration problems,” he said.

That the main party of the Danish left has come around to regarding the fact that having a population in which 10% are migrants – a lower percentage than in the Irish Republic – reflects the massive concerns that were being expressed by the traditional working class support base of the Social Democrats.

That had led to a surge of support for the Danish Peoples Party which took over 21% of the vote in the 2015 Folketing elections. While the Social Democrats managed to survive that sea change, it realised that its core support shared many of the attitudes that had led to the DPP becoming the second largest party. Hence, it’s change of policy on asylum and immigration.

One of the key changes to Denmark’s asylum policy has been to apply a much more rigorous assessment procedure. As Tesfaye said the standard EU policy allows pretty much anyone to apply for asylum whereas Denmark now specifically focuses on genuine applicants and distinguishes between people who are in need of asylum because they are fleeing countries in which they are in danger, and those who are claiming to be refugees but who are actually economic migrants.

One can only imagine what the Danes and other Europeans who have started to apply such common sense to this problem must think of the official Irish state policy on all of this. If there was one of those political compass thingummies applied to the policies of European political parties on the immigration issue, then every one of the main Irish parties would find themselves clustered in the bottom far left corner.


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