Mirroring previous Conservative election slogans, the Labour leader said that; 'Worrying about immigration, talking about immigration, thinking about immigration, does not make [people] bigots'. He went on to make a speech that delighted bigoted people.
Right wing ‘think tank’ Migration Watch welcomed his words. UKIP were pleased with the message he sent. After sitting through Miliband’s speech, their pleasure came as no surprise to me.
Miliband tied the Labour Party’s colours to the right wing consensus on immigration. He blamed immigrants for low wages and unemployment, only just restraining from promising British jobs for British workers, instead promising to give British workers a ‘fair crack of the whip’.
He, once again, revelled in the fact that he is the son of immigrants. His father, the somewhat more radical Ralph Miliband, wrote soon after arriving in the UK during the Second World War:
'The Englishman is a rabid nationalist. They are perhaps the most nationalist people in the world...When you hear the English talk of this war you sometimes almost want them to lose it to show them how things are.'
Just thinking of the turns he must be doing in his grave makes me more than a bit dizzy.
Ed Miliband tried to pull some left cover over his promise to be tough on immigration. He spoke of enforcing the national minimum wage, which - while an admirable aim - is an economic measure and not a question of immigration. He proudly boasted of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, Labour’s response to the cockle-pickers tragedy in 2005, but that organisation has mounted just 11 criminal prosecutions in the past two years.
So, weak legislation and regulation of factors affecting low paid workers are now presented as immigration concerns. The minimum wage and gangmasters regulation should be properly enforced – this should be taken as read.
But these issues certainly should not be entwined with talk of immigration. It is economic policies that are to blame for low wages and poor conditions, not workers coming to the UK to seek a better life.
A serious look at demographics and immigration tells us that the UK needs more immigrants. We have an ageing population. Carers and wage earners who will pay taxes to help support the older population are essential. Immigrants are far less likely to claim benefits, often come ready trained and educated, some return to their countries of origin for health care, and in general are a boost to the UK’s economy.
Research has shown there is either very positive, slightly positive or no impact on employment and wages through immigration. Ed Miliband and his mentor Maurice Glasman choose to ignore this work and pay more attention to the views of tabloid editors and proprietors
We now face a race to the bottom between the government and opposition on immigration, as each tries to be tougher than the other. Secondary legislation now going through Parliament on the application of Article 8 of the European Directive on Human Rights will deny people their right to a family life.
After Theresa May’s infamous ‘cat speech’ at Tory Party conference, we might expect Labour derision as she carries out the much-heralded attack on human rights, but Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Ed Milliband are supporting the attack. Shamefully it will be down to the judiciary to put up any resistance that might appear.
The pursuit of the arbitrary Conservative target on immigration (to cut it 'from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands') is resulting in massive damaging cuts to the number of non-EU students allowed to pay lavish fees to our underfunded universities. Now the Government is introducing staggering conditions on family immigration which will see families divided as Theresa May pledges to cut the numbers.
Labour is doing nothing to protect the rights of less-well-off Britons to love and live with who they choose. There is no opposition in Parliament.
And you know you’re in trouble when UKIP and Migration Watch are happy - and we have to look to the judges for resistance.
Guy Taylor works for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and writes here in a personal capacity.
JCWI & MRN are holding a protest / lobby of Parliament / Campaign meeting against the excesses of the family immigration rule changes being implemented by Theresa May.
Monday 9 July
4.30pm protest at the Home Office, Marsham Street SW1P 4DF
5.00pm onwards Lobby of Parliament
6.30pm Campaign meeting, Committee Room 1, House of Lords (hosted by Lord Judd)
Please see the JCWI website for more info.
In the parks, halls and public spaces around Kings Cross
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