Ed Miliband on immigration: brave, mature or opportunist?

Jun 22, 2012

The Labour leader admits his party 'got it wrong' and pledges to take action

LABOUR leader Ed Miliband today admitted that his party "got it wrong" on immigration when they were in government and admitted that an influx of foreign workers had damaged Britain.

In a speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research he confessed that "by the end of our time in office, we were too dazzled by globalisation and too sanguine about its price" and said allowing uncontrolled immigration from the EU had helped create a labour market that was "nasty, brutish, and short term".

In his speech and in an interview with The Guardian he said it was wrong of the party to dismiss objections to immigration as prejudice and bigotry. And he pledged new measures such as forcing companies with a migrant workforce of 25 per cent or more to notify their local job centre.

Predictably there was a mixed reaction to his speech.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Melissa Kite accused Miliband of political opportunism. "The idea that Labour can be trusted on immigration when they opened the door in the first place is in itself highly questionable," she wrote.

Indeed the whole speech was "backward-looking and depressing" according to The Guardian's home affairs editor Alan Travis. He described it as "nasty politics because it gives substance to myths that legal Eastern European migration has taken jobs from our young unemployed and driven down wages".

But saying sorry for the failings of the past is a step in the right direction. "The depth of feeling against Labour on the issue is such that, even now, they are probably right to start with an apology," acknowledged Matt Cavanagh, also in The Guardian.

"Immigration is a crucial issue in Labour's rebuilding project," he said, and the speech "pointed the way to a more honest debate".

But why bring it up when the Coalition is teetering, asked some? "In wake of omnishambles, just when Cameron exposed as a hypocrite over tax avoidance, Miliband plays a race card. Moronic Labour strategists," commented blogger Tom Freeman on Twitter.

Actually, doing so was actually a political masterstroke claimed Daily Telegraph blogger Dan Hodges. He said the speech was not only "brave and mature" but "one of [Miliband's] most politically astute".

His handling of the immigration question has made Cameron's efforts to politicise Jimmy Carr's tax situation look foolish.

He added: "Immigration is a tough subject for Ed Miliband and his party. Yet over the past week he's demonstrated the confidence and sureness of touch to confront it. The Labour Left will be nervous. So will David Cameron."

The Labour leader has also taken the heat out of the debate by bringing in issues of economic inequality and morality. "Miliband can talk about people’s immigration concerns but also quickly widen-out the conversation, to take it into terrain where he can push home an advantage, using his egalitarian and communitarian convictions," noted Andrew Harrop on the New Statesman Staggers blog.

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Born in London, Miliband is the younger son of Polish Jewish immigrants. His mother, Marion Kozak, a human rights campaigner and early CND member, survived the Holocaust thanks to being protected by Roman Catholic Poles. His father, Ralph Miliband, was a Belgian-born Marxist academic, who fled with his parents to England during World War II

The population has trebled since then and there is globalisation and freedom of movement for capital.
I wondered at the time why Germany et al, placed restrictions on the new nations but Britain didn't.
A very different time, and set of circumstances, at least for those outwith the chattering classes.
The apology that he makes for his Party's actions is fair, but too late.

All very well after the event, Mr Miliband - you and your ilk turned a deaf ear to the many protests against uncontrolled immigration from Eastern Europe (and beyond).

We have seen the terrible consequences of ignoring the warnings and murmers of discontent against immigration in Norway, with the Breivik atrocities. The perpetrator, Anders Breivik, argues that he has committed those terrible crimes to "protect his fellow Norwegians against the Moslem threat" - the terrible truth is that, had he felt that there was some representation for his anti - immigration views in the political arena, he (just) might not have felt justified in doing what he did - instead, he took matters into his own hands, having given up on the lack of political representation for anti - immigration views.

We have suffered in Great Britain from politicians, similarly turning a deaf ear to messages that they simply do not wish to hear - either from fear of upsetting a potentially violent minority or by Political Correctness or, probably, by both - the lack of proper consultation in the political process has helped to spawn extremism from both ends of our political spectrum - witness the far right English Defence League and of course (yawn) the various ultra left elements in British Society (some of the latter, I have to admit, do enjoy some represention, courtesy of the BBC).

Perhaps Mr Miliband might like to enlighten us and explain exactly what he plans to do about immigration and its many ticking time bombs, if he should become our next Prime Minister - let me guess? Nothing?

And Dave......what happened to his assurances - after his extension is finished, perhaps?

Are you old enough to remember Enoch Powell's warnings? He was not a racist just had the foresight to see the consequences of unlimited immigration. During the 1950s we actually needed the immigrants, especially with the introduction of the NHS, without the immigrants, mostly medical people from India at that time the NHS would not have survived. Enoch Powel was one of the very few Conservatives that was admired by both sides of the voters. Unfortunately we seen a brilliant man brought down because those with less foresight accused him of being racist.

Could Ed. Miliband really mean to reduce the immigration or will he do a Cameron act and close the front door but open the back door wide. I hope Mr. Miliband is not taking the British people for a load of gullible fools as Mr. Cameron thinks we are. We'll patiently wait until the next general election is looming and see how strong or which way he is going to reduce immigration, I for one will want more than just his word for it, I will want to see which way he will go about it before I come back to Labour. At the moment I feel that Nigel Farage and UKip are the British masses way forward. Certainly the British masses feel hard done by when we see how many companies are offering minimum pay, all the fault of the Labour party. At the moment it is an employers market and we are forced to take low paid jobs, just as our forefathers did before the Unions were established and the Labour party came about. Young people on low pay that could not afford to save for a home are living with parents etc. waiting on the long list of social housing and seeing immigrants housed before them. At the moment it is a very unfair social housing list because instead of being housed in turn those homeless (immigrants) are taking preference over the Brits. Unless Mr. Miliband is in the hands of the very rich it is about time that he did a U-turn and got back to the Labour parties roots.