'We got it wrong': Miliband calls for all Britons to speak English

After census shows big rise in immigrants under Labour, Miliband urges greater integration

Column LAST UPDATED AT 12:07 ON Fri 14 Dec 2012

LABOUR leader Ed Miliband was calling in a speech today for all immigrants to speak English in order to make it easier to integrate into British society.

His shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan said on Radio 4's Today programme that Miliband would "hold his hand up" and admit Labour got it wrong between 1997 and 2010 by failing to do more to get immigrants to integrate.

Khan admitted Labour had also mishandled the pace of immigration with its 'open door' policy. "Hands up. We got it wrong. We should have listened, "said Khan.

"What Ed is doing is making a positive speech, celebrating the diversity of multi-ethnic Britain... but saying we cannot take it for granted. Integration doesn't happen on its own. We have to come together as a nation and make it happen. We are saying there should be a comprehensive strategy."

Today's speech is part of Labour's repositioning to answer criticism in the wake of this week's census figures which showed that three million immigrants arrived in Britain during the ten years to 2011, a period mainly under Labour rule.

Khan said Labour's measures to achieve greater integration would include more mixed tenure of rented property to ensure mixed integration in schools.

Miliband was also due to say that English language teaching for newcomers to Britain will be prioritised by Labour ahead of funding for what he regards as non-essential written translation materials.

Khan made it clear his boss does not believe immigrants should be forced to assimilate totally, abandoning their culture and faith; nor should they form ghetto communities leading separate lives.

Is the Labour leader's focus on the promotion of English just a "dog whistle" message designed to win over traditional party supporters tempted to defect to the British National Party? No, says Nick Watt in today's Guardian. But Labour is clearly worried about being blamed for a level of immigration which has left white Britons in a minority in London.

The right wing is recycling an article for the London Evening Standard written by a former Blair aide, Andrew Neather, which claimed that opening up Britain to mass immigration was a secret objective of policy by Labour.

Neather wrote that he came away from one immigration meeting during Labour's second term in office convinced the policy of allowing greater immigration was in order "to rub the Right's nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date".

Neather's article has been quoted in the Daily Mail by Stephen Glover and last night on an ill-tempered session of Question Time by Peter Hitchins, a Mail on Sunday columnist.

Miliband's Pauline conversion on the need to deal more robustly with immigration may also be linked to his decision - as predicted by the Mole - to risk unpopularity in Middle England by voting against real-terms cuts in welfare benefits.

Some shadow cabinet ministers are said to have warned him it was a trap set by David Cameron and George Osborne, the Chancellor, to cast Miliband as being soft on "shirkers". After this week's census figures, he may have been concerned that he could be cast as soft on immigration as well, unless he did something to defend that flank. · 

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Thanks to New Labour the British are now an ethnic minority in London. Perhaps we should all learn to speak Hindi.

A fat chance of that happening any time soon. cant even speak a neighbour's language (French or Gaelic)... perhaps it is easier to accept that it is retribution time for the empire...the chickens have come home to roost eh? so much for the raj. it is the immigrants who will be on the raj now...

Amazing how the opposition always fesses up to its blunders AFTER they've been kicked out. Amazing also how as soon as they get back in, they go back to their old ways. Especially amazing that anyone at all turns out to vote anymore.

'Miliband was also due to say that English language teaching for newcomers to Britain will be prioritised by Labour ........ excuse me, but should the not have to learn the language before the get here, why will we be paying for it?

So you admit that what is called multiculturalism is in fact colonisation and is not in the interests of the British people? Are the British people to have the same right of armed resistance as the Maoris, Native Americans and others had?

*they, sorry, sticky keyboard