“You have every right to be angry with a system that has let you down. But don’t blame migrants. Don’t blame Muslims. Blame the people who are actually responsible: the big corporations and the politicians who are in their pockets.”

That is the message from Victorian Socialists candidate Stephen Jolly to Victorian voters considering voting for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

If you believe a poll published in the Age, One Nation is in with a real shot at winning one or more upper house spots at the upcoming state election, which it is contesting for the first time since 1999.

ALP polling in the seat of Sunbury, in Melbourne’s north-west, has One Nation on 11 percent. 

Pauline Hanson wants voters angry about lack of infrastructure and the high cost of living to blame immigration. 

“[Immigration] is having a huge impact on the country and the cities can’t cope any more, it’s a strain on infrastructure, housing, hospitals, schools”, Hanson told the Herald Sun when announcing her intention to run candidates in Victoria.

But immigration isn’t responsible for these problems. The real culprit is the slash-and-burn neoliberal policies introduced by Liberal premier Jeff Kennett in the 1990s, which have not been reversed despite Labor being in office for 15 of the 19 years since Kennett was booted out in 1999.

Kennett closed hundreds of state schools, privatised energy and public transport and created a toxic politics that handed the state over to the gambling lobby and big developers, while multinational corporations were given control of billions of dollars’ worth of former state assets.

Politicians such as Hanson supported almost all of these policies. In parliament today, she acts as an auxiliary of the Liberal Party (which she was once a member of) and backing anti-union laws.

Labor is incapable of providing a real opposition to the far right. It has championed neoliberal policies and is integral to the corporate-dominated system so many people are sick to death of. On top of that, Labor has gone along with all the racist campaigns that give oxygen to politicians like Hanson. 

Federally, Labor has capitulated to almost every draconian measure against refugees championed by the Liberals. In Victoria, Daniel Andrews tries to distance himself from the anti-refugee policies of his federal counterparts, but he has fuelled the fire of racism by capitulating completely to the law and order hysteria whipped up by the Liberals and the media, targeting “African gangs”.

We desperately need a political alternative that gives voice to the legitimate anger against the political mainstream, but is unequivocal in rejecting and resisting racist scapegoating of already persecuted minorities, and aims its fire at the top end of town, which is responsible for wage stagnation, the neglect of basic services, the housing crisis and the disastrous fallout from privatisation.

That is what the Victorian Socialists aim to provide at the upcoming election. We will be taking on Hanson’s racist agenda, and exposing the lie that she has anything to offer struggling Victorians. 

At the same time, we’ll be taking the major parties to task for refusing to break from the neoliberal consensus that has neglected and left out working class communities.