Labour set to focus on immigration next week

February 28, 2013 2:33 pm

Today the quarterly migration statistics are out – and show that it’s falling. Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant released a statement this afternoon that argued “Labour supports strong controls to bring immigration down” and that although immigration is falling, it’s due to the wrong kind of immigration being cut (e.g. international students).

Immigration is always a tough issue for Labour (an understatement if ever there were one), but there’s a sense amongst some of those close to Miliband that he can go further on this issue than other party leaders – as the son of immigrants he has the latitude to talk convincingly about the immigrant experience, without coming across as, frankly, a bit right wing and reactionary. (It’s a sort of reverse “It took Nixon to go to China”).

The party will be seeking to make headway on immigration next week. There’ll be an Ed Miliband centered Party Political Broadcast focussed on immigration on Wednesday, followed by a keynote speech on the same issue from Yvette Cooper on Thursday. No-one in the party hierachy is willing to give away any of what might feature either in the PPB or the speech, but I understand that Miliband’s December speech on integration provides some of the framing for what we can expect next week.

Party members who have been uncomfortable about the party’s tone (and stance) on immigration in the past will be waiting with baited breath, as Miliband and Cooper try to tread the line between fairness, One Nation and “strong controls to bring immigration down”. Indeed, they could do worse than read James Bloodworth’s piece on why we actually need more immigration to support an ageing population…

  • AlanGiles

    “, but there’s a sense amongst some of those close to Miliband that he can go further on this issue than other party leaders – as the son of immigrants he has the latitude to talk convincingly about the immigrant experience”

    What experience?. He personally is not an immigrant.Yes he is the son of one, but then again you have sons of wallpaper manufacturers, sons of doctors, sons of vicars: that doesn’t mean, even if Dad tried to teach them everything they knew, that their offspring could talk convincingly about interior design, medicine or theology.

    Why not just admit that he wants to ingratiate himself with a section of the public which enjoys tabloid scare stories.

    I seem to remember Michael Howard was from an immigrant family, but I don’t think many people in Labour being too impressed when he raised the issue back in 2005.

    You have to assume that a bit of anti-immigration talk is replacing anti-benefit claimants talk, to tick another populist box.

  • AlanGiles

    “, but there’s a sense amongst some of those close to Miliband that he can go further on this issue than other party leaders – as the son of immigrants he has the latitude to talk convincingly about the immigrant experience”

    What experience?. He personally is not an immigrant.Yes he is the son of one, but then again you have sons of wallpaper manufacturers, sons of doctors, sons of vicars: that doesn’t mean, even if Dad tried to teach them everything they knew, that their offspring could talk convincingly about interior design, medicine or theology.

    Why not just admit that he wants to ingratiate himself with a section of the public which enjoys tabloid scare stories.

    I seem to remember Michael Howard was from an immigrant family, but I don’t think many people in Labour being too impressed when he raised the issue back in 2005.

    You have to assume that a bit of anti-immigration talk is replacing anti-benefit claimants talk, to tick another populist box.

  • AlanGiles

    “, but there’s a sense amongst some of those close to Miliband that he can go further on this issue than other party leaders – as the son of immigrants he has the latitude to talk convincingly about the immigrant experience”

    What experience?. He personally is not an immigrant.Yes he is the son of one, but then again you have sons of wallpaper manufacturers, sons of doctors, sons of vicars: that doesn’t mean, even if Dad tried to teach them everything they knew, that their offspring could talk convincingly about interior design, medicine or theology.

    Why not just admit that he wants to ingratiate himself with a section of the public which enjoys tabloid scare stories.

    I seem to remember Michael Howard was from an immigrant family, but I don’t think many people in Labour being too impressed when he raised the issue back in 2005.

    You have to assume that a bit of anti-immigration talk is replacing anti-benefit claimants talk, to tick another populist box.

    • Hugh

      Presumably in the way that Michael Howard could go further on immigration than other party leaders.

      Or perhaps not.

    • Hugh

      Presumably in the way that Michael Howard could go further on immigration than other party leaders.

      Or perhaps not.

    • Hugh

      Presumably in the way that Michael Howard could go further on immigration than other party leaders.

      Or perhaps not.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      There are all sorts of issues wrapped up in this, and I am not sure that it is particularly useful to look at the issue from a single national perspective.

      Apart from anything, we are part of the EU and the Commonwealth, and we have to abide by the rules set on us, and by ourselves. You cannot blame people from abroad wanting to come to this country if it offers advantages for themselves and the rules allow it. This is human nature.

      What is a bigger issue – to me – is human population growth. It is far more important I believe than climate change, which even if it is true is of less pressing peril than population growth.

      The world’s population is increasing at about 1.05% each year, and has done consistently since about 10,000 BC (there are temporary variations to do with global pandemics, and advances in science or agriculture). There is no reason to suspect this 12,000 year trend will notably change. Why would it? The population growth is going on in developing countries, who are not worried that Cambridgeshire has no spare social housing, or that Britain is small and feels crowded already, with traffic jams on the A14 every day. And when the new people are independent adults, they will seek out the best for their lives. They will travel, and immigrate.

      By extrapolation, the world’s population will be:

      2011 – 7 billion

      2031 – 15 billion

      2051 – 33 billion

      2071 – 69 billion (10 times larger than today)

      Climate change might have an effect by 2071, if it exists. But I think the bigger problem will be feeding a population of 69 billion, when we already have a struggle to distribute enough food to 7 billion, and goodness knows about water resources and energy demands.

      Of course, there are limiters, and these figures will not be absolute. But when the population growth is being done in countries that tend to have space, and the opportunities and resources are in other countries, there is little incentive from a developing country’s perspective to listen to developed and rich countries say “we are full – stop breeding”, and none at all from an individual couple’s perspective.

      • AlanGiles

        Good morning Jaime, There is a lot of truth in what you say. I’ll get the obligatory “down vote” from the usual shower, but I have to say, I was astonished last week when it was announced that infertility treatment should be extended to 42(?). There seems to me better things to spend resources on in the NHS, rather than mollify people who want to have children. It opens up a whole series of questions, not least is having a baby “a right” or should we just accept some people will not have them (if they just want a little sun and air they could try Butlins). I am genuinely horrified when I read the occasional story about people wanting to be parents at 60 – think of the child, it is highly likely that the parents will die before the offspring reach adulthood – or – perhaps more likely – the teenage child will become a carer for the parent(s). I do think we have to encourage people not to interfere with nature for purely selfish reasons. In life there are things all of us “want”, but can’t have (in my case I’d like a colony of meerkats).

        I really do have to question the motives of such people, which I regard as selfish in the extreme. I am getting to that age when, if/when anything happens to my dog I would have to seriously consider if I could have another as it could outlive me. We have to be unselfish and think of others, and not just what is best for us.

        But on immigration, I love the blithe way politicians (in this case Labour) announce that “next week we are going to discuss….”. the week after that it will be something else, and nothing will be achieved or solved simply because of this “drop it and run” mentality, which I think has got worse since we had 24 hour news. “Something for everybody and nothing for long”, as the late Grace Wyndham Goldie once described the BBC TV Newsreel.

        That Miliband’s acolytes think he has some special knowledge because he has parents who were immigrants – long before he was born, let it be said, I find rather disingenuous. On that basis, my dear old grandad spent 20 years in the Royal Navy, before I was born, but that doesn’t mean I could go and take over at P & O, or become captain of the Q.E.2 . Or does it, if Miliband and co are correct?

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          Alan,

          forget your longevity, there may not be enough green space to walk your dog. I expect to live to about 2050, when there may be 5 times the current population in the UK, which appears unthinkable and has enormous effects on many other things.

          (Having been acquired by a collie dog 5 months ago, whose proper owner has not claimed him, I now appreciate the efforts needed to find green space to give the animal some decent exercise. But he has also re-invigorated in me daily runs, which he loves and I endure)

          • AlanGiles

            I am glad you kept the dog, Jaime. I’ve often wondered (I remember the weekend you told us you hadfound him). Dogs give so much pleasure and loyalty. Perhaps we can remind other LL posters if they would like to home a dog, the Dogs Trust are always needing kind individuals. I certainly won’t be around in 2050, I won’t rehearse what I said before, but I think that people should be encouraged to have smaller families – at one time for example, Child Allowance was only paid from the second child onwards (when it would be the first one that would be most expensive), but I daresay this was to encourage people to have children following the war), but obviously the situation in the 40s after the decimation of war is a very different one to today.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            He found me, really. Just started walking alongside me on the “Peddar’s Way” long path, and when I got to the train station to go back to Cambridge, would not leave me. I think we have spent well over £100 on advertisements and phone calls, and I borrowed my neighbour’s fax machine to send some pictures to police stations and to some pubs in that area, but no owner has yet came forward.

            He probably has a lovely life, the dog. He goes to work with my wife, so spends most of the time in the open air in fields, and he takes me for a run every day. The children adore him. But, he has a big shock coming. When he is fully grown, the balls come off. It won’t be too long now.

            Collies have a life expectancy of 14 I am told, so I imagine he will come with us to Canada, where he will have 8 acres of woods and lake shore to run about in.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

        On this subject I am in full agreement with you. But only the Green Party is prepared to talk about it

  • George Lees

    ” as the son of immigrants he has the latitude to talk convincingly about the immigrant experience” – I forgot that the other 80% of us are not allowed to speak about the effects on us?

    • CausticWally

      Which are…?

  • Andrew McKay

    It’s about time Labour stopped trying to win over Daily Mail voters and started making a positive case for immigration to the UK.

    We are rightly highlighting the fact that international students are being put off coming to the UK – students are consumers – they spend money!

    • Paul J

      It’s not just daily mail readers you know.
      honestly, it isn’t.

  • Paul Messenger

    UKIP, the Conservatives, and a 60,000 + and climbing e-petition has finally brought Labour’s attention to the Net Migration debate? 15 years too late unfortunately and possibly an election loser.

  • Paul J

    If we hadn’t kow-towed to the hand wringers on immigration, we’d probably still be in government. I sincerelly hope Millbands speech is nothing like that article in Left foot Forward.
    We do not need lots of new low skilled care workers, any more than we need more Indian computer programmers.

    • CausticWally

      Which job are you going to take then – the low skilled (more accurately, low-paid) care work, or will you just settle for the computer programmer?

  • John Ruddy

    The problem is not immigration per se, rather it is those things that people perceive immigrants having more than their fair share of, ie Jobs and Housing.
    Sort out THOSE two, and you’ll find less people concerned about immigration.

  • John Ruddy

    The problem is not immigration per se, rather it is those things that people perceive immigrants having more than their fair share of, ie Jobs and Housing.
    Sort out THOSE two, and you’ll find less people concerned about immigration.

  • John Ruddy

    The problem is not immigration per se, rather it is those things that people perceive immigrants having more than their fair share of, ie Jobs and Housing.
    Sort out THOSE two, and you’ll find less people concerned about immigration.

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