3 things we might expect from a Labour immigration policy

December 20, 2012 1:31 pm

Following up on Ed Miliband’s recent speeches on immigration and integration, Yvette Cooper has today put a little more meat on the bones of Labour’s immigration policy. In a piece for PoliticsHome (which we understand was written in close collaboration with the leader’s office) Cooper has begun to sketch out what the party’s approach to immigration might look like.

Clearly based on Ed Miliband’s recent speech we should be expecting a great deal of focus on language for incoming immigrants, but what might we expect from a Labour immigration policy based on Yvette Cooper’s intervention? Here are the three things that stand out:

Positive and negative immigration – there’s a clear focus in Cooper’s piece on differentiating between immigration which has a positive impact and immigration which merely serves to place pressure on society and the immigrants themselves. Failure to forsee the level of immigration from Eastern Europe is something that the party has apologised for before, but there’s now a clear focus on the need for high skilled immigrants. Interestingly, the argument is made by Cooper that immigration which doesn’t work for Britain is also immigration that doesn’t work for the immigrants themselves (as they end up in low paid jobs/low quality housing/exploited by unscrupulous employers).

Removing the net immigration target? – Cooper notes that the Tory net immigration target is somewhat farcical as it meeting government targets will rely on British people leaving the UK (or staying away) and the loss of overseas students who boost the economy. Could this be a precursor to Labour abandoning net immigration as  a measure in government? It certainly sounds like it.

Cracking down on illegal immigration – Cooper and her team are clearly aggrieved by the failure of the Tories to deal with illegal immigration, especially as the UK Border Agency faces cuts. She suggests that illegal immigration threatens to deligitimise other forms of legal immigration (and asylum), and suggests arrest powers for UK Border Authority agents is one potential way of reducing illegal immigration and reducing the risk of illegal immigrants absconding from ports and airports.

Cooper’s approach does – on the face of it – seem “tougher” than Miliband’s. Yet what is striking is to hear the change of influence away from just the negative impacts of immigration on the existing population – and towards the idea that immigration must work for immigrants too.

That’s a subtle but important shift in Labour’s messaging.

  • NT86

    Problem is that there is a very thin dividing line between positive and negative immigration. Whether it’s in highly skilled work or in low paid menial work, opportunities for British workers across the socio-economic spectrum are being squeezed. Investment needs to be shifted into British colleges, universities and firms to have a strong homegrown workforce which emphasises a diverse portfolio of skill sets.

    Yvette Cooper’s statements are certainly an encouraging step forward in Labour thinking given that immigration was one of its biggest failures while in government. It is time for Labour to now decouple the stupid notion that reasonable skepticism towards mass immigration is racism/xenophobia. They also need to admit that it was wrong scrapping measures such as the Primary Purpose rule.

  • Daniel Speight

    Sooner or later the question of free movement of labour inside the EU has got to be tackled and that may well involve our attitude to the EU as a whole. Better to tackle the question head-on than be dragged into it by nuts from UKIP.

  • Amber_Star

    “…but there’s now a clear focus on the need for high skilled immigrants.”
    ——————–
    Yvette Cooper (& Vince Cable who also says this) could do us a huge favour & tell us which skills the UK is short of now & is expected to be short of in the next 3 to 5 years. That would allow those of us who have these skills already to secure the full fruits of our labour because we’d know we are in demand; it would also allow those of us who could acquire such skills to focus our efforts on doing so. Sadly, I doubt the list will be forthcoming.
    This is why we say that the deck is stacked against us; nobody tells us what it is we are lacking! We are simply told, after the fact, that we didn’t have the skills which were needed!
    So, please may we see the list of skills on which Yvette has a ‘clear focus’. Then we, the people, may be able to have a ‘clear focus’ on them too.

  • SR819

    We should simply accept the Tories’ arguments on immigration and apologise for our record. There’s no way to win the immigration “debate”, the vast majority of the country are quite opposed to immigration certainly at the levels we’ve seen recently:

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2012/12/18/the-awful-state-of-public-opinion-on-immigration/

    I really don’t think we can do much about changing perceptions. The best we can do is put in place a very strict system, so that only serious shortages in important sectors of the economy (e.g. healthcare, science/technology) will result in work permits being given, and even then these work permits should only be temporary, so the migrant worker returns home when there is a suitable local candidate who can do the job.

    There’s no point fighting the tide on this one.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    It all seems so sensible, and not really a matter of any tortured debate between politicians of both left or right, that this need be a party political policy at all. Any normal country, whether governed by social democrats or libertarians would implement this policy.

Latest

  • Featured Try to imagine for a moment that you are Jeremy Hunt

    Try to imagine for a moment that you are Jeremy Hunt

    It may be an uncomfortable exercise, but brace yourself and try to imagine for a moment that you are Jeremy Hunt. Now, in your new role ensconced behind a desk at the Department for Health, it’s not difficult to imagine the huge pressures that are heaped on your shoulders at the moment. The English NHS is undergoing the worst year in A&E for a decade, with almost a million people waiting over 4 hours, elderly care is in crisis as […]

    Read more →
  • News Wales Mass Exodus? Figures show number of Welsh NHS patients using English NHS is FALLING since 2010

    Mass Exodus? Figures show number of Welsh NHS patients using English NHS is FALLING since 2010

    The Tories have been trying to use the Welsh NHS as a stick with which to beat the Labour Party, so it wasn’t too surprising to see the Daily Mail parroting Tory attack lines today with this front page splash: Now if you look beyond the (largely anecdotal) stories and carefully selected numbers in Daily Mail piece and look at the complete figures (available here) – they reveal that the number of Welsh patients using the NHS in England is actually falling. Here’s how […]

    Read more →
  • Comment No child should live in danger. Now is the time to end violence against children

    No child should live in danger. Now is the time to end violence against children

    Every five minutes somewhere in the world a child dies as a result of violence. These tragic deaths are not just confined to the war zones that dominate the news. Too often they happen when children should be safe –at home, at school or in the communities where they live. Today’s new report by Unicef UK outlines how violence is now a leading cause of serious injury and death among children. In Bangladesh, more than 20 per cent of girls […]

    Read more →
  • Europe News How would an EU referendum pledge affect Labour’s support?

    How would an EU referendum pledge affect Labour’s support?

    A poll conducted for the Daily Mirror by ComRes has found that most Labour-leaning voters aren’t bothered whether or not the party pledges to have an EU referendum. The poll saw 2,000 Labour-leaning people asked how the party’s stance on an EU referendum would affect their voting intention. 13% said it would make them more likely to vote Labour, while 7% said they would be less likely to do so. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most people (67%) said that an EU referendum […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Labour’s London Primary must be as accessible as possible

    Labour’s London Primary must be as accessible as possible

    The two-party system is on the way out. If there is a political lesson from the last two months, then that is it. The SNP’s popularity in Scotland and the rising stock of UKIP south of the border tell a clear story of people fed up with politics as usual. They are sick of the tribalism, bored of the politicking, tired of trying to work out who stands for what. They want something different: to be treated honestly, listened to, […]

    Read more →
7ads6x98y