Open letter: respect the conference vote on free movement
On Weds 25th Sep, both union and CLP delegates at Labour Party Conference voted overwhelmingly in favour of our immigration motion, Composite 20. It is clear that the Labour membership, and the affiliated trade unions, stand united in supporting the rights of our migrant comrades. The commitments in the motion are policies which Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, and others in the Shadow Cabinet have been active in fighting for throughout their political careers.

This motion included a commitment to “maintain and extend free movement rights.” It is clear that Labour members back free movement irrespective of Brexit. We were therefore disappointed to hear Diane Abbott say on the Today Programme - less than 24 hours after the motion passing - that Labour’s immigration policy has not changed in light of our motion being passed.

We are supporters of the radical vision of society put forward by Jeremy Corbyn and we welcome the drive to transform Labour into a member-led, democratic party. In recent years, conference has become once again the party’s sovereign decision-making body, rather than a mere PR exercise as it was for so many years prior.

This year, a huge number of radical, visionary motions were passed at conference, including on homelessness, a four-day week, and a green new deal. We applaud these motions, and are delighted that they will form the backbone of the most radical Labour manifesto in our lifetimes.

But if conference is to be sovereign, there cannot be any picking and choosing which motions are adopted and which democratic decisions cast aside. We believe our motion puts forward a series of proposals that begin the process of remaking a socialist plan for immigration - from closing all detention centres, to giving asylum seekers the right to work and ending the daily cruelty of NRPF policies. We wish to show that the Labour Party supports the causes which our members and leadership have fought for all of our lives, and we are delighted that conference did so.

It would not just be a shame, but a tremendous betrayal of our migrant comrades, if anti-migrant and anti-worker forces were to pressure our party into rejecting some of these positions. We cannot bow to the lies of  right-wing newspapers and exploitative employers, that migrants lower wages and harm other workers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Migrants organise with us, strike with us, and fight with us. They are our comrades; their fight is our fight. We must stand in solidarity against our true enemies: the landlords and the bosses, the far-right and the vulture capitalists. Migrants' rights should not be bound to trade negotiations any more than they should be to the profits of capitalists.  Unlike the Tories, Labour must not make free movement and the rights of migrants into a bargaining chip for trade diplomacy.

We call upon the leadership of the Labour Party to reaffirm the principles they have fought for unceasingly throughout their lives, and make clear that they will support the policies passed by conference in Composite 20. Labour is a proudly internationalist socialist party. Now more than ever, it is vital that we stand by our principles. Labour conference backs our call to defend and extend free movement - so must our leadership.

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