Home truths on migration

2nd June, 2014 11:27 am

Let’s get Labour’s immigration debate back on track.  Is it really true that a liberal approach to immigration is a core founding value of our party? That anyone with a different view is a ‘milk and water Farage‘? Much that has recently been written owes nothing  to Labour history, policy or values, and could cost us more than one election. So let’s get a few facts straight:

UK Border Immigration

1. Labour actually does believe in controlling who comes here and why, and we did so in government. Previous Labour governments acted – despite protests from liberals – to minimise the number of former Empire citizens who could come here.  Even though the Blair government was accused of an ‘open door policy, that’s not what we did. We reduced the number of unjustified asylum seekers by making the system tighter. We began the requirements on spouses to learn English that the current government has implemented. We didn’t plan for a million Poles to come here – that was a mistake, and if we had known we would have stopped it.  Above all, we blocked low skilled migration from outside the EU, and introduced much tougher tests for other potential migrants. We did this to restrict access to our labour market and reduce costs to public spending. There is nothing in Labour history, values or traditions that require us to be in favour, in principle, of unlimited immigration.

2. Many of the EU citizens who are entitled to come here are people we would reject if they came from anywhere else. That is the logic of our own points based migration system. Free movement has advantages and disadvantages. Labour’s view is that the advantages, including for our own people, outweigh the disadvantages. UKIP says the opposite. That’s an honourable difference for us to argue. It does not mean we have to pretend we’d actually like them all to come here, or that this is a point of absolute principle we have to defend. Nor does it mean we can’t campaign for radical changes to the current free movement system.

3. If voters ask good questions, ignoring them is not a wise political strategy. With migrants needing homes, it is reasonable to ask what this means for housing supply.  A sharp increase in local population does put more pressure on public services. It’s reasonable to ask whether resources would go further without these pressures. A flexible mobile workforce encourages employers to switch to agency work offering worse working conditions. Isn’t it reasonable to ask if this is in voters’ interest? Let’s acknowledge these issues and say how we will deal with them. Labour is the party that believes that the state should plan for the future. Let’s rise to the challenge.

4. For the foreseeable future, it would be better if fewer EU migrants came here. That way we can create a more balanced labour market and reduce future pressures on services and housing. So we should work actively to reduce the number of EU migrants coming to the UK, and move closer to the relationship we have with the rest of the world.  Of course, that is exactly what current policies – clamping down on dodgy agencies, enforcing minimum wage, requiring apprenticeships, tackling unregulated housing – are designed to do. But we are so politically correct we cannot admit that’s the aim, even though that’s exactly what most of our voters want to hear.

5.There are lots of non-racist reasons to worry about migration. Some UKIP voters are racist. Accept that. Worry about all the other ones. Particularly the ones with Labour values. People who always believed that, if there was housing shortage, we should all pay in so that the government or council could provide affordable homes. People who believe that health services are best provided if we all pay in so its there when we need it. But these same people are not so sure about paying when they are paying to give newcomers services they have not yet substantially paid for, which our voters would not receive if they went abroad . That’s about fairness and Labour’s nearly forgotten contributory principle, not racism.

It is only human to feel concern about the pace of change in communities. Many middle class ‘progressives’ once lionised working class mining communities for their solidarity, strength and identity. Many other working class communities – and an increasing number of aspirational and middle class communities -also feel their economies and communities have changed much faster, and in much more bewildering ways, than they can easily be asked to cope with. People have voted Labour because the labour movement tried to make their lives and communities better in the face of more powerful forces that they could not control alone. We couldn’t always do it. But they knew whose side we were on. And this isn’t just about white working class communities. Established minority communities often feel pretty much the same about the impact of more recent migration. They want Labour on their side too.

6. While Labour was never liberal on migration, we were committed to making a multi-racial, multi-cultural society work. From the establishment of the Joint Committee for the Welfare of Immigrants, to the Race Relations Act, to support for the cultural and religious rights of the growing minority communities, to the introduction of ethnic monitoring, to scrapping iniquities like the primary purpose rule, Labour was consistent in its commitment to build a tolerant, fair and diverse society. We didn’t get it all right, but under Labour’s leadership, Britain handled these challenges better than many EU countries. Ironically, as the biggest ever post-war migration took place, Labour diminished its efforts and creative thinking in this area. The arguments against multi-culturalism were conceded too easily with nothing, save a few initiatives like Connecting Communities, to put in its place.

Where do these six points take Labour’s strategy?

First we should defend our own history of a hard headed pragmatic approach to migration, coupled to a commitment to make our diverse society cohesive, tolerant and fair.

Second, let’s not be shy of taking measures which advantage local workers and local access to services, and discourage future migration. There’s much more that could be done, from using national monitoring in employment to granting protected access to affordable housing.

Third, let’s lead the debate in the EU about changing the rules. This won’t be a swift argument to win, but we will get more credit for trying than for avoiding the issue. Merkel won’t let Germany pay for Southern Europe. Why should we cope with the migration consequences of Euro zone failure?

Fourth, give no ground on the case for being in the EU. Nigel Farage fully understands the consequences of leaving the EU. That’s why UKIP is so deeply committed to scrapping labour market protection, making the UK the home of the most unstable and unreliable investment, and letting the rich get richer. We will win more votes on this argument than trying to defend the current free movement rules.

Fifth, refresh Labours commitment to making our diverse society work. Make nation building – the idea that everyone here has a responsibility to create a country that works – the core of our identity.

John Denham is the Labour MP for Southampton Itchen

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  • Peter A. Russell

    Sorry John: you have missed an important issue in this debate: call it the “Boston Maternity Question.”

    Some services, and some health services in particular (although the same applies to e.g., primary schools) require a specified degree of demand to continue and for their continued level of expertise.

    The case of Boston maternity services is that these were reputedly doomed to closure until the new, younger migrant population came, increasing demand for services and keeping the unit open.

    The question is do the host population want a service that is used by migrants and may even be under pressure, or do they want no service at all?

  • Paul Bateman

    If we’re worried about immigration, should we also worry about emigration? A huge number of UK citizens leave Britain creating an enormous skills and brain drain, not to mention wealth from taxation, etc.

  • MikeHomfray

    Trying to compete with Ukip is a waste of time both in terms of its likely effectiveness and on principle. Of course Labour has been comparatively more liberal. And free movement of labour just isn’t going to be changed.
    I am not going to support this line and I think its very easy to knock down.
    And since when do people who want to vlise the borders have Labour values? Being Labour isn’t just about workerist economics

    • treborc1

      It’s all about winning and if people do not come back to labour but decide to stay with UKIP which the Tories voters think well we can get a vote with Cameron.

      UKIP is worrying the parties.

    • Matthew Blott

      Wanting a properly managed immigration policy does not mean “pulling up the drawbridge” as you keep bleating on every post on this topic. I see no inconsistency in supporting a fairer more equitable society and opposing unlimited immigration and only far left dunderheads seem to have a problem with this.

    • Rob

      John Denham is not arguing that we compete with UKIP. He’s made a number of excellent points, and concrete policy suggestions, that go a long way to correcting the myths peddled by people like you that mass immigration is liberal, that there are few downsides, and that to highlight the problems of such levels of immigration is somehow racist or xenophobic.
      Its nothing to do with closing our borders either. Recognising that 250,000 people coming here a year, for a decade, is unsustainable, that any party supporting such numbers is commiting political suicide and asking why on earth mass immigration is in any way “left wing” or liberal is a good starting point. Its something we should have thought about 10 years ago.
      If you can’t support a return to sanity, thats your problem, but then utopians never seem prepared to face up to reality.

  • Doug Smith

    The UKIP tail has wagged the Tory dog.

    And now the UKIP tail is wagging the Labour dog also.

    If the Left within Labour had shown a tenth of UKIP’s dynamism they too could have wagged the dog.

    But it’s too late for that now. The game is up. The Blairite careerists are steering Labour’s ship onto the rocks.

    • Peter A. Russell

      There is a crucial fallacy in this. The difference is that the UKIP tail possess the strength of a degree of support in the electorate which left Labour polices never have.

      • Danny

        Nationalising the railway franchises?

        Nationalising energy companies?

        State intervention in markets?

        Greater regulation of the banking sector?

        Preventing privatisation of the NHS?

        Nationalising water companies?

        These are all left policies that have massive support from the electorate in accordance with available polling evidence.

        The only issue is, Labour is too cowardly, or to enthrall to big business and choked by the Progress Tendency, to dare throw their backing to these popular policies.

        • Peter A. Russell

          1. Throughout the 1980s, polling evidence said that people would pay more taxes in return for better services. In election after election they voted exactly the opposite way.

          2. There has not been an insurgent party of the left at UK level since Common Wealth.

          3. If people wanted a left wing alternative to Labour, why did they vote for the Tories in 2010?

          • Danny

            1. I don’t really see the relevance. When it comes to taxation and public services, it’s a much more contorted question than, “Do you support the renationalisation of the energy sector”.

            2. I think that supports Doug’s comment. There is no insurgent left party in the UK at the moment. If the left within Labour had been as forthright, outgoing and vocal about their ideals and attitudes, they could have gathered similar levels of momentum as UKIP, even if it mean putting the leadership’s nose out of joint by drifting from the still New Labour burdened party-line.

            3. The people did not vote for the Tories to form a government in 2010, despite a massively unpopular Labour government and a global financial crisis.

            35% of people did not vote and I would wager an even larger portion of those that did vote went to the polling booth with a, “I suppose I have to pick one of them, despite thinking they’re a bunch of pr*cks”.

            Motivate the 35% to vote and capture the imagination of the disenchanted people that do vote, and you’ve got yourself a stonking great majority. Based purely on polling evidence and the general feeling I get through day to day encounters with real people (and I live in a very blue county) I genuinely believe that you can capture the majority of these people with left-wing policies, particularly were the economy is concerned.

          • Peter A. Russell

            This has been the debate in the Labour party since I joined in 1976 and well before: how radical we can be and still be command popular consent.

            The last time it was really tested was in 1983, when the result was catastrophe for Labour and the country (miners strike, Poll Tax etc.)

            Until there is actual and real evidence of voters supporting left (opposed to centre-left, gradualist) policies, some of us will remain sceptical of the latent electoral appeal of the the former.

          • MikeHomfray

            But some of what is being proposed is anything but gradualist or centre-left….

          • PoundInYourPocket

            The 83 manifesto was (for me) the right policy at the wrong time as the public tidalwave was heading in the opposite direction. You can’t turn public mood around once it gains momentum. I think now public mood is turning against what it sees an inequality and crony capitalism. I don’t believe that the public will only accept “gradualism” , I think policy can be bold and radical providing it is in tune with the public mood. You have to have the zeigteist on your side. It may take a few more elections, but the days of neoliberalism must surely be waning given that we are all losers in this game.

          • Peter A. Russell

            It remains the case that market economy constrained by rules set by democractic process is most effective way to reconcile growth and wealth creation with redistribution and promotion of equality.

            Agree that better rules are required and are what we seek from next Labour governments. But the political task will always be to take the centre with you when you move on.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            I kind of agree with that. I think the notion that Labour loses elections because it is not left wing enough is a bit of a myth.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            ” market economy constrained by rules set by democractic process” . I’d settle for that if it were achievable, but once capitalism gets a foot hold, it generates power centres that distort democracit processes. These are self-feeding processes that lead to ever greater concentrations of capitalist power and degraded democracy. (ref. Colin Crouch, “post-democracy”).
            Eventually you have convergence on single party manegerialism in the interests of capitalism. You think you “are taking the centre with you”, but I’d say they are the ones taking you , leading you by the nose right where they want you. Solution – ?

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            I think now public mood is turning against what it sees an inequality and crony capitalism.

            Evidence PIP?

            PS I also want neo-liberalism to end but with all major media organisations in the grip of this dogma and neo-liberal logic all pervasive in societies across the globe- it might take 50-100 years to reverse the disastrous consequences of the triumph of neo-liberalism over the last 35 years. That or a major global calamity. It is perhaps worth bearing in mind that it took two world wars and a global depression to reverse the laissez-faire capitalist order that had been predominant in Western societies since the dawn of the industrial revolution. As Chou En Lai the Chinese foreign minister in the 1960s, when asked what he thought the consequences of The French Revolution were, remarked: ‘It is far too early to say’.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            On Inequality, refering to the 2013 British Social Attitutes survey: 80% of respondents in 2012 “agreed with the idea that the income gap was too large”, and “69% of people say it’s the governments responsibility to reduce income inequality”.
            On nationisation a YouGov poll (4/11/13) showed that 68% of respondents were in favour of nationiling energy utilities.
            On the popular overthrow of neoliberalism by 2025, OK that’s a little over-ambitious ! Perhaps I should consult Chou En Lai.

          • leslie48

            Agreed the public are more ready for this approach – but this ‘one-nation not an unequal nation’ idea needs teeth and far better articulation and the middle classes need to realise its them too ‘at risk’ as high street jobs go, uni fees get bigger for families, rents soar, wages shrink, elderly and health care evaporates with more cuts. This message is not hard but needs some clever types to articulate it in short sentences. Half the shadow cabinet only talk in long winded Oxford seminar sentences that turn people off. The Tories are good on the media they use their time to bash Labour and say they left a mess. Like UKIP they know how to talk to the man in the corner bar.

          • Mouch

            I recall Arthur Scargill and Tony Benn saying on a number of occasions that Labour lost elections because its polices were not left wing enough.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            Not just those that don’t vote, but another 6 million not even registerd.

          • MikeHomfray

            If that is the case than people won’t vote Labour – but it isn’t for Labour to be something it isn’t

          • PoundInYourPocket

            “If people wanted a left wing alternative to Labour, why did they vote for the Tories in 2010?”
            The majority didn’t. 36% Tory , 29% Labour , 23% Liberal.
            More people voted for the “left” than the “right” as the Liberals at the time were if anything “left” of Labour.

          • Peter A. Russell

            People appear to have wanted a competent, non-ideological government. (It isn’t what they got) But Labour’s position was more left-of-centre, being based on extended public expendiure to maintain growth (which was correct).

            But the voters went for an austerity package. And – repeat – not for any leftwing alternative in any measurable numbers.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            I don’t think you can divine from the 2010 result that people no longer want a left-wing alternative. 2010 was unique in that for most people , even core voters (self included), New Labour was unelectable. Rejection of New Labour, Gordon Brown, manipulation and spin were not a rejection of left wing ideals.

          • Duncan Hall

            In the election, the Lib Dems were more clearly pushing extended public expenditure than Labour were. Therefore people voted against austerity 52% to 36% (at least – significant amounts of the remaining 12% were anti-austerity too: SNP, Plaid Cymru, etc.)

          • Danny

            “Tory’s cutting services? That’s a pack of lies.”

            That’s a headline covering Gideon’s announcement that he would match Labour’s spending plans and increased spending on public services should the Tories get elected, said in 2007.

            Austerity and severe cuts were not sold to the public prior to the election. They did not vote for an austerity package by any stretch of the imagination.

          • john cutts

            Really? We got a “non ideological govt”? This lot have used the recession as an excuse to push home their anti working class politica agenda that they hold at all times – recession or not! This is a Thatcherite govt with Lib Dem camouflage. And competent?! For who? The businesses and banks who are piling up hoarded savings from their investment strike? All the objections of Field, Hoey (familiar?) etc, (and now Stringer a UKIP supporter!) can be dea
            lt with by a progressive social policy, eg, you don’t want poverty pay, implement the Living Wage, ie, make poverty pay ILLEGAL!

      • Doug Smith

        Well, Tony Benn opposed the EU and opted not to vote for the Labour candidate in the 2009 EU elections – this must surely have been an act of self-expulsion from the Labour Party.

        Like Benn, many other Labour Party members oppose the EU because of its anti-democratic practices and pro-business actions. But we’ve been squeezed out by Blairite elite.

        Many on the Left oppose imperialism and military intervention abroad – as does Farage/UKIP.

        Many on the Left want to see ordinary people elected to parliament instead of the never-had-a-proper-job careerist elite that now populates much of the upper reaches of the Labour Party. This view is shared by many within UKIP.

        So you see, there are shared policy areas of considerable consequence.

        • Duncan Hall

          I think you’re being remarkably kind to UKIP there! And Tony Benn never left the Labour Party. He was born in it and died in it, as promised. Of course, most people don’t write a public diary and so the secret ballot remains secret. If voting for a non-Labour candidate was an act of self-expulsion, I will enjoy waving goodbye to a fair few people who took that path during the last London elections…
          But you’re right that there is a left argument against the EU and one that I broadly share although, like Tony Benn in fact, I think there is another alternative which is a properly democratised EU. But the current structure is unacceptable.

        • Duncan Hall

          And, importantly, Tony Benn never used the migration argument when putting forward his opposition to the EU as currently constituted.

          • Doug Smith

            Of course. There is a difference between the Left’s and UKIP’s views on immigration – that’s why I didn’t include immigration as a shared theme.

            I suppose the question re Benn is: if he was still alive would the Progress zombies be calling for his expulsion – particularly as he participated in the No2Eu election broadcast?

        • Ian Young

          Benn was concerned about the undemocratic nature of the commission and said not long before passing that he would be happy to see an elected commission or one that emerged from the EP. He was therefore more of an EU federalist that I am and I believe EU withdraw is an act of madness.

          • Doug Smith

            It’s interesting how Cameron is opposing the Juncker supremacy even though Juncker can a least claim a vestige of democratic legitimacy.

            Though admittedly, like Labour’s possible NHS spending increase, this may be Newark by-election spin.

    • Rex Hale

      You’re saying the Blairite careerists are in charge again? When did that happen?!? I thought Ed was still ‘steering the ship’…

      • Doug Smith

        A Miliband premiership will be characterised by the policies favoured by the Blairites: austerity, military intervention, pro-EU and Labour’s dumping of the unions following the instigating fake crisis at Falkirk.

        Can’t see that there’s anything on offer that will frighten the Blairites.

        • Danny

          “Can’t see that there’s anything on offer that will frighten the Blairites.”

          Which is a real shame because if there was we’d probably be getting a hell of a lot more votes.

          • Bob Hasell

            your 1 million % right there!

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      They’re certainly wagging you. Here’s what you wrote:

      ‘It seems the only way to get Labour’s elite to take notice of us is to vote UKIP’.

      • Doug Smith

        No, that’s me wagging the Labour elite.

        And you must admit, the Labour elite are taking far more notice of UKIP than they are of the Left within their own party.

  • Simon Wellavize

    My understanding is the EU provides freedom of movement between states for the purpose of work..so as a simple system, if people migrate here for work then find themselves unemployed, why not introduce a system where they can receive UK benefits for the length of time they have been employed here and paying into the system…after that they get the benefits they would receive from their country of origin..it stops the idea of “benefit tourism” in its tracks as people only get what they have paid into.

  • Steve Stubbs

    I like strategy points 2, 3 and 5 in the main article. However 1. is indefensible in that the public now absolutely believe Labour was complacent or complicit (take your pick) in the huge influx through the time of the Blair/Brown premierships. Too late to change peoples minds there; no matter which side the truth was. The more you publicly try and defend it, the worse you will make it.

    Point 4 is more problematic. Despite the almost hysterical protestations to the contrary one sees on this forum, a large proportion of the party’s supporters are against the EU as it is currently governed. It is not in any way democratic, in the normal useage of the word. Unless we properly understand and accept that and have a realistic plan on how to get needed changes, other than just stamping our feet and shouting, it’s not going to work.

    Danny in his posting of abour an hour ago makes the point that “The people did not vote for the Tories to form a government in 2010,
    despite a massively unpopular Labour government and a global financial
    crisis” He however seems to have missed the point that they didn’t vote for labour either. All the left wing policies in the world will not bring them back, and neither will a blind acceptance of the EU in it’s present form.

    • MikeHomfray

      What’s the point of a ‘Labour’ government who wants to leave the EU and restrict immigration?
      May as well vote Ukip instead.
      We do not exist to blithely reflect the prejudices of the population…..

      • Steve Stubbs

        “We do not exist to blithely reflect the prejudices of the population…..”

        You don’t get a Labour Government unless the population vote for one. Without that all the principles and policies in the world are just meaningless, in that you cannot implement them

        Notwithstanding, where in my post did I advocate leaving the EU? I was talking about changes needed to make it accountable. Which bit of “neither will a blind acceptance of the EU in it’s present form” did you not understand?

      • RogerMcC

        While Bertolt Brecht’s lines about dissolving the people and electing a new one or Mencken’s dyspeptic description of democracy as a system where the voters are presented with a grand gourmet feast but choose instead to gorge on the flies it attracts can hardly fail to strike a chord sometimes that attitude really is not going to get us very far.

        People are wrong because unimaginably vast sums and whole armies of paid propagandists employing technologies hardly imaginable to a Keir Hardie or a Rosa Luxemburg are devoted to telling them lies.

        As I’ve argued down here before the politics of ressentiment that the right are so adept at tap into real fears and comfortable middle class liberals who are not one pay packet away from joining the queue at the food bank simply have no idea of how to argue with it.

        • Steve Stubbs

          Keep up the good work, I need a laugh occasionally. However can I point out that your last paragraph was so convoluted that you seem to have neglected both grammer and the the point you might have been trying to make. How does the preceding pretentious [email protected] go down on the doorsteps?

          • RogerMcC

            Having my poor ‘grammer’ criticised by someone who can’t even spell the word has made my day.

          • Steve Stubbs

            Ah well, I thought as someone from the Indian sub-continent that my grasp of English was quite good. I blame the spell checker on this machine. Glad I have made your day. Always nice to bring joy into someone’s life.

          • RogerMcC

            I will give you that my comment above is disturbingly comma-free and every bit as convoluted as you say.

            And my joy is partly inverse schadenfreude as I have done exactly the same thing as you (making a fatal error of my own in what was supposed to be a crushingly sarcastic critique of someone else’s English) myself several times online.

            We type in haste so will make mistakes.

          • Steve Stubbs

            I wish I could type as well and as fast as the brain works. There seems to be a disconnect somewhere!

          • Danny

            You’ve got to admit though, highlighting errors in someone’s grammar whilst spelling the word wrong is a little bit on the amusing side.

          • Steve Stubbs

            Absolutely. I laugh at myself often, helps me not to take myself too seriously.

  • sharon332

    It’s too late now. Labour has allowed to many loonies into the party, and it really has become the loony left.

    Any common sense policies on immigration could never be implemended by labour because there are too many loonies in the Labour and leftie movement.

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      Yup. Another Tory/UKIP troll who engages in nothing more than abuse and whose posting activity is ‘private’.

      • RogerMcC

        Yes – and note the ‘guest votes’ every such troll promptly gets.

        One wonders whether any of the others will catch on and realise that they can block access to their other comments at the Spectator, Telegraph etc….

        • Steve Stubbs

          Yup. That’s what we need Roger, some decent censorship.

          • RogerMcC

            Is it too much to ask that a website called labourlist set up to:

            ‘draw together the many views and factions of the progressive spectrum, we also believe that progressive ends – such as a robust and resolute welfare state, social and educational equality and a fully funded National Health Service, free to all at the point of delivery – can only ultimately be achieved through the continued electoral success of the Labour Party.

            Doesn’t have its every comment thread hijacked by people who are not in any sense at all ‘progressive’ let alone supporters of Labour.

            And we are responding to this:

            ‘Any common sense policies on immigration could never be implemended [sic] by labour because there are too many loonies in the Labour and leftie movement’

            If that is not trolling what is?

          • Steve Stubbs

            The many views and factions depend to an extent how you define progressive, given that no doubt people from all various views will define their parties views as ‘progressive’.

            One can be on the right of the labour spectrum, and still accept that as you highlight “a robust and resolute welfare state, social and educational equality and
            a fully funded National Health Service, free to all at the point of
            delivery –” is a desirable end. However, what constitutes a robust and resolute welfare state is always going to be a matter of debate, discussion and probably compromise. You have your views, I have mine. I have no doubt our individual definitions of ‘progressive’ will differ in some areas.

            There is far too much nonsense on this forum based not on discussing the question, but just slagging off generally anyone that the writer disagrees with. I am sure that is the forum was restricted to labour party members only, that would not change, it would just be a bit more focused and vitriolic. So until access is restricted, there are always going to be people coming on here for destructive purposes. And in passing, why are Guest votes allowed?

          • RogerMcC

            When someone’s only comment as here is an ad hominem insult (Labour are loonies and lefties) it is valid to call them a troll and ask why they are wasting our time.

          • But a couple of ppl on here say that everyone is a troll when all you want to do is make a point. I would like to see immigration slowed down because there are too many ppl here and we have limited room. I would like to see ppl made to learn English. In my job I often have to deliver stuff to ppl which needs to be signed for. It isn’t unusual to have 4 ppl in a house and not one of them can speak English, so they wont sign cos the don’t understand you. How can they get jobs if they don’t know our langauge?

          • john cutts

            Quite right and this mirrors the political problem. Alien forces, forces who wish no success to progress, tend to hijack these discussions. Just as they are hijacking the discussion re UKIP. Leaving aside principle for the moment, does anyone really think people in the north will vote the same way in the General Election, ie, for who governs the UK, as they did in the Euros? Please……THAT is hijacking!

  • Steve Stubbs

    Because that would be against EU treaty rules. Simply put we must treat all people here the same, so you would then also have to apply the contributory time limit to UK citizens as well. Can’t see the average unemployed graduate or school lever being happy with that – no record of paying in, so no benefits.

    And nobody here got to vote on those treaty rules either.

    • FMcGonigal

      A residency requirement (rather than contribution requirement) would not affect graduates or school leavers. It may affect returning British ex-pats though.

      • RogerMcC

        And already does with new claimants at job centres being subjected to the habitual residence test if they’ve only spent three months abroad:


        • Steve Stubbs

          That’s a good start then. Now we have to stop paying benefit to migrants for families they have left behind in another country. Also incredibly stupid things like paying winter fuel allowance to pensioners resident overseas.

          • RogerMcC

            So for you my being born in, living and working my whole life in this country would be negated by my spending 3 months abroad.

          • Steve Stubbs

            No, and nobody is suggesting that. Having read the article referenced, there seems to be some cut-off in payments made in that would prevent that happening. Unfortunately I can’t find out if the definitive criteria was followed up to find out what it was. A simple previous residency qualification period based on NI payments shouldn’t be that hard to specify.

            As far as those who have no significant record of payments in such as school leavers or graduating students who then swan off for a gap year or so being denied JSA for a three month period once they arrive back, I have no objection to that. There has got to be a limit on the generosity of our welfare scheme, or it will ultimately collapse though sheer overload.

          • gunnerbear

            “There has got to be a limit on the generosity of our welfare scheme, or it will ultimately collapse though sheer overload.”
            Totally agree….you can have mass immigration of the EUs poor and ill educated or you can have a system of universal welfare. It is impossible to have both.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            Our benefit system is not “generous” , not by any standards.
            We are actually very near the bottom of the spending chart compared with the other developled EU countries (EU15). We are continually being censured by the UN for not providing adequate support for the uemployed. Could you live on £71 a week ? Or less if you have to pay the bedroom tax and 20% of your council tax ? And way less if you’ve had your benefits sanctioned (less 40%) or stopped for some arbitrary act that displeased a bureaucrat. Have you heard of food-banks ?

          • FMcGonigal

            Pensions are a somewhat different issue as they are based on contributions. One pensioner might spend their winter fuel allowance on gas or electric, another on a flight to Spain.

          • Steve Stubbs

            Winter fuel allowance is not part of the pension, it is an allowance paid to those in receipt of pension to allow them to heat their homes a bit better than they might have otherwise have done. Like all allowances paid in cash, it can be used for purposed other than intended. I would rather see it incorporated into the basic pension and get rid of the need for yet another bureaucratic muddle.

          • FMcGonigal

            That makes sense, but taking it off those abroad would need even more bureaucracy.

          • Daniel Speight

            It should be remembered that pensioners have their state pension frozen at the level it was when they left the country, which is rather unfair as they have contributed the same as those that stay behind.

  • Ian Young

    Denham makes a tentative mention of labour market deregulation: “A flexible mobile workforce encourages employers to switch to agency work offering worse working conditions. Isn’t it reasonable to ask if this is in voters’ interest? Let’s acknowledge these issues and say how we will deal with them. Labour is the party that believes that the state should plan for the future. Let’s rise to the challenge.”

    As anyone in the labour and trade union movement knows immigrants are not the cause of labour market deregulation. Denham needs to ask why immigration is an issue among construction industry workers but not among RMT tube workers or doctors.

    The fact that Denham can hardly dare to bring himself to mention collective bargaining or the agenda of organised labour but is happy to openly pander to the far-right speaks volumes.

    • PoundInYourPocket

      Good point. If Farage was to follow LePen and adopt economically left wing policies, the Labour vote would collapse. But, I suppose he can’t make that manouvre as most of his ex Tory supporters, financial backer and personal views are free-market capitalist libertairian and union bashing, so he’s stuck out there on the far right. It will be intersting to see at what point his labour voters start to realise his stance on workers rights and welfare issues.

      • Ian Young

        Farage has already upset UKIP’s economic liberal founders with his populist anti-immigrant protectionism. He won’t fully follow Le Pen’s derigiste agenda but more like Alex Salmon in presenting a left of centre social programme. And like Salmon’s neo-liberal bankrollers like Brain Soutar, UKIP’s business supporters will back it for the sake of realpolitik. If this happens and it proves popular in Labour heartlands I’ll be interesting to see if the John Denhams and Frank Fields are as eager to recapture that agenda as they are with far-right dogwhistle xenophobia.

      • Daniel Speight

        Farage was beginning to sound very much that way on Sunday’s Andrew Marr show.

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      ‘What Labour needs to really worry about is that Farage has learned from Salmon, Grillo and Le Pen and ditch his Thatcherite agenda’ ………………………

      But of course there’s no evidence that this is happening is there Ian?
      On Sunday we had a commitment to a cut in the op rate of tax t 40p and a declaration that he wanted to cut public expenditure more and faster than is being done at present and we still have the £10 charge to visit your GP.

      You seem to know an awful lot about what ‘will’ happen – Are you able to see into the future ?

      • ToffeeCrisp

        “£10 charge to visit your GP”
        I think you’ll find that was proposed by Lord Warner in a Guardian article. A Labour peer…
        Please stop with the un-truths.

    • gunnerbear

      “As anyone in the labour and trade union movement knows immigrants are not the cause of labour market deregulation. Denham needs to ask why immigration is an issue among construction industry workers but not among RMT tube workers or doctors.”

      Because of skill levels and the training required plus regulations e.g. for doctors and Tube Drivers and NDT Engineers and Deep Sea Divers and Coded Welders and all the other skilled jobs….

      ….labouring however, isn’t a skilled job (and I’ve done it) and there are far more plasterers around (quite a few of whom are immigrants) thus the boss gets to pick the cheapest worker as there are no technical barriers to entry.

      Thus for those at the bottom of the pile, immigration is a huge deal.

      • Ian Young

        Not just labourers but skilled workers in industries like construction (who are more skilled than tube drivers) do not have any leverage. The law should be on these people’s side to form industry wide collective bargaining agreements to establish a minimum rate for the job. UKIP actually want to make it easier to cut job rates as long as its just British and Irish workers competing in the Dutch auction. The fact that someone from Bulgaria instead of Liverpool or Truro is currently the winner of this process is irrelevant.

        • gunnerbear

          “The law should be on these people’s side to form industry wide collective bargaining agreements to establish a national minimum rate for the job.”

          Nothing in principle against that. Might make enforcing H&S standards easier too. Plus of course in todays world, I suspect most workers know that if they set their prices too high, the contract goes elsewhere – especially for the huge contracts like T5 etc.

          I think though the impact on micro and small firms needs to be looked at prior to the introduction of such laws. The issue is of course the ‘construction sector’ is so fragmented with so many employers – unlike medicine, major offshore work, rail etc.

  • swatnan

    As some have mentioned already, its awaste of time trying to woo back the ex-Labour voters who’ve switched to UKIP and other Parties; they’re gone for good, and frankly the Party is better off without them. Maybe these were the ‘loony fruitcakes’ already in the Party which sharon 332 mentions.

    • Is it being a loony fruitcake to have real concerns about trying to find jobs and homes for an unlimited number of ppl on a small island? If it is there are thousands of us

  • Dez

    ‘Labour actually does believe in controlling who comes here and why, and we did so in government.’

    But clearly not during the 13 years of New Labour,the numbers speak for themselves.

    • PoundInYourPocket

      I’ve never got to the bottom of why Labour didn’t take advantage of the transitional arrangements that the Germans and French used in anticipation of large inflows from less developed parts of the EU. It was obvious what would happen, but why didn’t Labour take full advantage of the available transitional arrangements ? was it just incompetence in failing to predict the numbers or pro EU zeal ? Whatever the causes, there’s no back-pedalling from that decision and the incompetence or arrogance it demonstrates.

      • Peter A. Russell

        The story told is that Labour Govt believed all others were going to open too. But French, Germans etc did not – and by then UK was committed. (I think that is how Peter Hain tells it? Maybe Jack Straw.)

        So EU zeal, but not quite as you might think. If the others had also opened, the effect would have been spread and diluted.

        • MikeHomfray

          I disagree. Polish people made up the vast bulk of those who moved here. And that wasn’t any sort of coincidence. Polish people came here because there has been a longstanding Polish community and many Polish people have relatives living here.
          Secondly, Polish people take learning English very seriously and most came here at least partially to improve their spoken English – you go to your local Polish shop, as I do regularly, and the staff will all be keen to chat to you because that is part of what they want to do by coming here
          Therefore I think on one level it was just as well that the Polish people came here when we were experiencing prosperity. had they all arrived after the delay time, then things like being exploited for lower wages would have been more likely. I don’t think they would have chosen other countries because of those historical and linguistic factors

          • Peter A. Russell

            Many, many more Polish people would have gone to Germany if they could have, for two reasons. The first is proximity (just over the Oder). The other is that eastern Germany (ex-DDR) was then suffering huge skills shortages and vacancy levels as people moved west internally within the country.

          • Brian Barder

            On the other hand very many Poles detested the East Germans who in Polish eyes combined the worst of both worlds: (1) Germans, (2) communists. Considering Poland’s history since 1939, who can blame them?

          • MikeHomfray

            The hostility of many Poles to Germany makes that unlikely – gaining skills in spoken English is a priority

          • Matthew Blott

            Did you ever consider that they are keen to chat to you because you’re in their shop and they simply want you to buy something?

          • MikeHomfray

            Of course, and they can’t do that without skills in spoken English

          • RogerMcC

            ‘Polish people made up the vast bulk of those who moved here’

            Have you ever looked at any actual migration figures?

            At no point have emigrants from the EU (of which Polish immigration is just a subset) constituted a majority of total immigrants to the UK.

            The most recent figure I can find is that in 2012 9% of immigrants were from Poland.

            And while that percentage was certainly higher before the economy tanked it was never a ‘vast bulk’.

          • Dave Roberts

            Who were the rest then?

          • RogerMcC

            Can you not see the table I attached to the comment (genuine question)?

          • MikeHomfray

            I meant of EU immigrants at that particular time when the poles were allowed free movement to the UK

          • RogerMcC

            Even that never applied as the only year A8 immigrants outnumbered EU15 immigrants was 2007 – and Poles would have had to have been 90% of the A8 total (which they clearly weren’t) to have made up a majority of EU immigrants that year.

          • RogerMcC

            Meant to include a table from the most recent House of Commons library research paper on migration statistics:

            Try http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN06077.pdf

      • Daniel Speight

        I’m not sure on the timing but could it have been connected with, as John Reid reported much later, Brown’s people arguing for greater labour market flexibility in cabinet. We certainly got that.

        • Bob Hasell

          Blair was a plant by J P Morgan Was’nt he?

    • Bob Hasell

      Correct! Whatever happened to the workers party?

  • Charlie_Mansell

    The problem we face is a lot of Labour and UKIP voters want nationalisation of the railways but the UKIP ones also want to ‘nationalise’ immigration too (ie lots of state intervention in that area) whereas us Labour activists are naturally quite ‘individualistic’ (ie free movement of individuals) when we talk about immigration. This is because our own cosmopolitan values are quite complex compared to those strangely more consistent cultural authoritarians who tend to vote UKIP. Despite that we will tend to accuse the UKIP voters of being inconsistent!:) http://www.ippr.org/publications/the-new-electorate-why-understanding-values-is-the-key-to-electoral-success

    • john cutts

      I do wish people would stop imagining there is anything remotely leftist about UKIP. They came into being as the billionaire James Goldsmith’s Referendum Party, ie, a split off TO THE RIGHT of the tories and nothing they have said or done since has changed this. Just look at the effect they are having A leftist force dragging politics to the right and making good Labour members wonder if we shouldn’t take a leaf out of their racist book too! We can do without thar sort of leftism!

  • EricBC

    That seemed a reasonable step forward in advancing the debate. Here is something more specific. To address housing demand from net migration we need to increase housing stock by around 80,000 dwellings per annum. Or we can let overcrowding get worse and terrible slums develop. In addition we need around 100,000 dwelling to address needs arising from natural increase in population.

    Therefore we only relieve the present housing crisis when building substantially more than 180,000 dwellings per year. Would it be possible to move on from vague talk about using these or similar numbers to account for the housing crisis?

    Can we also have a debate about land use? How much suburban sprawl will there be? Should we venture into high rise again? How much land will be devoured by housing each year when building 250,000 units per annum IN PERPETUITY?

    • RogerMcC

      I don’t know why I am bothering to argue with you but you ask:

      ‘How much land will be devoured by housing each year when building 250,000 units per annum IN PERPETUITY?’

      Actually very little.

      The UK is very big – 94,000 square miles.

      Modern UK homes – and particularly affordable homes which is what we need – have a tiny footprint.

      And this could be tinier still if we used the improved technologies and materials that only get used now to build phallic totem office blocks to assert some plutocrat’s ownership of the skyline to build hi-rise homes.

      Even without changing design and density the average new British home is just 925 sq ft – compared to 1,635 sq ft in the 1920s.

      And so we currently pack 42 new dwellings into a hectare which equates to around 11,000 homes per square mile.

      But two-thirds of new dwellings are on already developed land and even if we build many more that is unlikely to change much as there are very large reserves of brownfield land and modern technology and materials does allow us to build higher on it without the issues that accompanied 60s high rises.

      So those 250,000 houses that terrify you only require about 8 sq miles of land per year.

      At that rate the UK will be ‘full’ in around 12,000 years time.

      And why is a golf course 99% of us cannot afford to use, some scrubby little paddock used to graze some spoilt upper middle class child’s pony – or even a field growing some massively subsidised crop that could be far more cheaply produced elsewhere – a better use of land than homes for our people to live in?

      • Neil Thorburn

        So if you assume that the average size of a household is 3 people (it will probably be more), then you are looking at 750,000 people, according to your figures, inhabiting a space 2 miles x 4 miles (or did you really mean 8 miles squared which is 64 square miles)? Regardless of which you are using, these assumptions are ludicrous and quite naive. Although I do not have the data to hand, I would suggest that the person to land footprint ratio (i.e. how much land for the growing of crops, livestock, land used to provide essential services, infrastructure etc for every man, women and child it sustains) is rather a very different picture to the one you have painted. In fact, what you have described, in my mind at least, is a modern hell.

        Further to this there are other very important ratios that need to be considered. For instance, if you consider the economy in terms of essential economic activity (food, water, shelter, energy providers etc) versus non-essential support economic activity (service sector, logistics, health provision, education, local and central government services etc), the problem magnifies significantly. In other words, the business end of our economy is a very sharp edge of a very fat wedge.

        Open door immigration is problematic not for reasons of colour, race and religious belief (as is made out in the mainstream). It is a problem because it will continue to happen until the UK is saturated with poorly paid workers and the numbers of benefit claimant’s rocket. I suspect that the EU will then, through severe austerity measures argued for by an ever increasing deficit, make the UK a very poor proposition for those fleeing their own economic misery elsewhere in the EU and turn off the UK immigration tap. It won’t be because our coffers have been bled dry by these pesky immigrants as there are no coffers. Rather, it will be because the creation of our money supply is in private hands, it is being issued as debt with interest to us as private customers and as nation as a whole and it is being created out of thin air. Those golf courses, those vast domains of private green lands that you say we are not allowed on; well they will stay that way won’t they. Hungry dogs will do anything they are told for their masters when their masters offer to throw them a piece of steak. If you believe otherwise, then God Help Us…

        • RogerMcC

          Where did I say 8 miles squared?

          I said 8 square miles because only an innumerate idiot would say 8 miles squared when talking about housing or population density.

          And household size (which you don’t have to guess at because we have google) is around 2 not 3 so we are talking 500,000 not 750,000 people.

          But if you’d actually bothered to read my argument you’d have seen that in the shorter term probably only a third of the 250,000 new homes would be built on new land – so we are talking 80,000 homes or 160,000 people in those 8 sq miles.

          Which is a perfectly reasonable urban population density – about half that of the London Borough of Hackney which has 300,000 people in 8 sq miles.

          The ludicrous naivety is in statements that the 9th largest (and 6th largest that is actually habitable) island in the world is small and overcrowded and the whole landmass of Great Britain will quickly be concreted over if we build fewer new homes than we actually did build in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

          Holland has one and half times the population density the UK has but is hardly uninhabitable let alone a living hell.

          And clearly we will not be building 250,000 new homes just like the homes we are building now for the next 12,000 years – either civilisation will collapse altogether and most or all of the population die off, or we will develop new technologies and live in arcologies (which are already buildable) or floating cities (again feasible although perhaps not cost-effective to build now).

  • llanystumdwy

    A case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted again. New Labour let immigration rip in office without a care in the world about the consequences on the public services, housing, and much more. Now, they can finally see that they have made terrible mistakes (only Milliband has admitted to this) and now Mr Denham wants to flip policy as Balls did recently on public spending. Does, Labour believe in anything any more? Its a tragedy that this once great party is now, under the leadership of a young careerist elite, who seem to be ready to flip on anything as long as it raises their ratings in the opinion polls.

    Might I suggest that Denham, Milliband, and the rest of the upper echelons of the Labour party start by asking themselves what they stand for now, and construct policy based on principles – if they still have any. If Labour cannot construct a coherent set of policies based on principles, rather than reacting to public opinion polls, then they will not deserve to win the next election.

  • Sean Cameron

    I hate this kind of scapegoat politics, it really makes me ashamed to be affiliated with this party occasionally.

    Blaming everything on the immigrant is the oldest trick in the book when it comes to politics, in modern terms it is about the most literal translation of the ‘scapegoat’ in everyday life. Blaming difference for social ills is not only incredibly facile, it belies the true problem. This ‘problem’ with Europe is not the result of immigration, but rather an anti-austerity backlash. Voters are, as they can so disappointingly be, venal in their intents and ambitions, they will believe the easy lies of the charlatan outsider rather than cold hard truth.

    That truth is that immigrants are a vital part of our society, who lay taxes and contribute to the economy. Immigrants are far more likely to socially mobile, educated workers with a high skill set, having lived with many I can testify to this. They are no more the cause of society’s ills than fairies or hobgoblins.

    • gunnerbear

      “Immigrants are far more likely to socially mobile, educated workers with a high skill set, having lived with many I can testify to this.”

      Err…not by judging the amount I see hanging around the DHSS Office where I live.

      • Sean Cameron

        Those would be the ones with “I’m an immigrant” written in bold font on a placard around their necks. That’d have to be the case, I wouldn’t want to think you’d decided simply on looks alone.

        • gunnerbear

          Hmm…groups of young people – all speaking languages other than English – outside a DHSS office….

          ….hmm…maybe I was wrong….maybe they’re rocket scientists or architects deciding to while away their time outside a DHSS office located in a region where unemployment is running at about 8%…

  • Grouchy Oldgit

    Agree there needs to be controls on immigration such as restrictions on who can claim benefits, get public housing etc to discourage spongers. But doesn’t capital rule by dividing the ruled, eg working people by race/nationality? And shouldn’t part of Labour’s mission be to support all workers regardless of their origin?

  • Richard Dingle

    ” We will win more votes on this argument…” gives the game away. Lets exchange principles for votes. Shamefull. I stopped voting Labour after Iraq, was planning to come back in 2015 but wont if any Labour support to scrap or water down Freedom of Movement. London is booming due in no small measure to immigration also impervious to UKIP penetration. Lets make the rest of Britain like London. Pressure on housing, services, schhols ? Of course, but not due to immigration but due to lack of investment.

    • gunnerbear

      “London is booming due in no small measure to immigration also impervious to UKIP penetration.”

      Because London isn’t the same as the UK in the same way the New York isn’t the same as America. Major cities have more in common with each other than they do the countries they are situated in.

      • Richard Dingle

        OK. Please explain the connection between unemployment and immigration and the connection between unemployment and education.
        Germany with 9 open borders has 5,1% unemployment and youth unemployment a third of the UK. Germany has a fit for purpose education system. So work it out.
        Immigrants on the whole tend to be young / dynamic and pay into the tax system, some also create jobs.
        Labour is running scared of UKIP and looking for a cheap fix.
        Switching to Greens.

        • Brian Barder

          Well said indeed. There’s no evidence whatever that immigration depresses wages or takes jobs from natives: if anything the reverse. The overall contribution of immigrants to the economy creates jobs and boosts demand as well as helping to reduce any budget deficit. They do of course put pressure in some areas on housing, GPs and hospitals, and schools, but the solution to that is to increase the supply of houses and flats, GPs, and school and hospital places, where they are needed, not to restrict immigration and thereby actually damage the economy. When are we going to hear Yvette Cooper saying these things?

  • sharon332

    Some of the biggest supporters of open door immigration and open borders are also the biggest supporters of the 2 state solution in Israel – which is in many peoples opinion an apartheid state.

    Britian has always been tolerant but open borders to the EU is a step too far and many are rightfully worried about effects on jobs, schools, NHS etc.

    Tony Blair supports a two state solution in Israel, keeping palestinians in ghettos and the continuing humiliation of the Palestininian people. Why dont politicians support a one state solution, with two peoples living side by side. Jews live in Iran peacefully so why not a multicultural and integrated Israel and right of return for refugees?

    Miliband also supports a two state solution and Israel as a jewish state which is divisive. Aaronivitch and jonathan Portes also support it.

    British people have a proud history of tolerance which has been stretchef by politicians determined to impose a chaotic open door EU immigration policy. We’ve been called racists by politicians who have chosen to turn a blind eye to real racism and injustice in Israel.

    Why is this happening?

    • PoundInYourPocket

      “British people have a proud history of tolerance”
      Bit of a myth isn’t it ? We were afterall rather instrumental in the slave-trade, subjugation and exploitation of the indian continent , suppression of dissent in Africa, supporters of Apartheit, exterminators of the aboriginies, drug pedlars in china, non too friendly towards the Irish, the Scotts and the Welsh. I can’t find much evidence of tolerance in the past although I agree that we have been forced by the brave actions of our ethnic population to take a long hard look in the mirror and change our ways somewhat. I’d say that we’ve begrudgingly been made more tolerant since the 70’s.

  • Paul Bateman

    What about the number of skilled and educated UK citizens that leave Britain every year? Isn’t that an issue we should be looking into?

  • markmyword49

    Enoch would have been proud of this piece.
    Information from all sources shows the vast majority of immigrants aren’t scroungers and put far more into this country than they take out.
    Don’t blame the immigrants for taking “your” low paid jobs. Blame yourselves. You’re the customers who want everything on the cheap. From the produce in the supermarkets to the home care for your relatives you force down wages and employers expect the government to “top up” the pittance they pay through the benefits system.
    The vast majority prefer the “me” society and Labour Party policy agrees with them. Community values are laughed at or feared depending on the community being talked about.
    Nation building!! Really? We’ve been one for over four hundred years. Immigrants have come and been accepted into it for hundreds of years. Politicians always worry about the minority who vocally shout the odds whilst the vast majority of the population accept the newcomers who over time blend in.
    The current furore has everything to do with the failure of politicians to provide the economic and social stability by their poor choices of policy. All Denham’s proposals are a knee jerk reaction to a bad election result.

  • George McCarthy

    The majority of these EU immigrants are coming via ‘agencies’ they supply shabby accommodation as part of the remit which keeps the wages low! They supply cards, like CIS, to these poorly paid immigrants, these cards our own people have to spend a fortune to obtain, legally! If we left the EU these people wouldn’t be ‘entitled’ and we could check their status. At present we can’t even ask them how long they’re staying???

  • Big-Daddy Todd

    What we have hear is the hierarchy of the Labour Party tryung to be all things to all men.

    It is clear as Denham saysbthat our party has never had an open door policy on immigration, but it created the rod for its own back by consistently dithering about what it did want for immigration.

    A truly open door policy would in my view be an honourable and profitable position to hold, but what New Labour attempted was the worst faffing arpund and mealy mouthedness in allowing the Right Wing to dominate the debate.

    In trying to ever out tory the tories on imkigration the labour party has lost the argument and yet again panders to the xenophobe and isolationist tendancies within british society which we’ve been working to stamp out.

    Its a curious thing that Denham lauds the restrictions on unskilled workers and yet fails to sufficiently explain who it is that will be required to fill low skilled vacancies? Britons of all stripes now do not simple want a job, they’ve been promised a career and mere work has been devalued in its social standing to mean that anyone who toils is no longer valued for their contribution. This is for me the main reason behind long term low skilled immigration. The economy doesnt require doctors lawyers teachers and other professionals, we have enough aspirants to those roles and it is a sorry fact that high skilled migration is shutting our own people out of the equation. So we need to stop high flyers and bring on our own and really give a boost in the social mobility of our own young people

    Lastly whatever ever the Labour movement does it needs to combat nationalism. We need to explain the difference between that and patriotism, as De Gaulle put it

    Patriotism is putting the love of one’s own country first.

    Nationalism is putting hatred of other countries first

    • john cutts

      I can’t say i agree with De Gaulle. Nationalism means putting the interests of your nation first whereas internationalism (still our official policy i think) means putting the interests of humanity as a whole first.

    • PoundInYourPocket

      “It is clear as Denham says that our party has never had an open door policy on immigration”
      Denham has either no memory or is plain lying.
      We have had an “open-door” policy on immigration since joining the EU, it’s a fundamental principle of EU membership. I’m not arguing against it as I’m in general pro-European, but we need some honesty in this debate. Trying to fudge over the past fools nobody. It’s interesting to look back as Beverly Hughes was asked why over 400,000 Polish workers came to the UK and why the UK didn’t impose quotas as France and Germany did. Her answer was that business needed cheap labour. This game Denham is trying to play is shallow politics, trying to appear “tough on immigration” whilst supporting open borders and cheap labour for business.

  • Michelle

    If labour change tack now they’ll look like they’re running scared of UKIP. It will make them look weak and unprincipled, and people will still vote UKIP because they really believe what they are saying. Echoing other posters, its time for Labour to get radical about things they believe in, such as nationalisation of the railways (for starters). Popular policies that will win back a lot of people who have given up on politics.

  • swatnan

    No, but its the flat earthers and MCPs and those stuck in the mud white working class-ers who can’t quite embrace change, and see that the world is exponentially very different from what it was even say 20 years ago; these are the ‘left-behinds’ that haven’t quite been able to keep up with progress and change; every political grouping has its share, including Labour. Maybe they’ll find a home somewhere; maybe they won’t. And it is right to castigate Labour for not building those homes and being a soft touch for the whole of humanity. We have to be ever voigilant and be on the lookout for that abuse the system.

    • gunnerbear

      “And it is right to castigate Labour for not building those homes and being a soft touch for the whole of humanity.”

      Careful….you’ll be accused of being a Rigtie or a racist.

  • CharleyFarleyFive

    It’s too late, the damage has been done by the Labour government of 1997-2010. It was done, intentionally, with the express aim of creating a multi-cultural society that voted in the main for Labour. That it has backfired spectacularly and alienated large amounts of Labour’s core vote just speaks volumes about the malicious and inept Brown and Blair.

    • gunnerbear

      “the damage has been done by the Labour government of 1997-2010.”
      And of course who can forget the day when a serving Prime Minister castigated a concerned voter as a ‘bigot’ when the concerned voter raised the issue of immigration.

      That summed up what the then current government thought of the electorate of the United Kingdom.

    • PoundInYourPocket

      “with the express aim of creating a multi-cultural society that voted in the main for Labour”.
      That’s ridiculous. How can you believe that to be true. Any evidence ?
      Even without evidence how would a transient EU migrant group, that are not involved in politics or probably on the electoral register, give Labour an electoral advantage ? Complete nonesense.

  • Moputabee

    Excellent John but probably far too late.

    I was a Labour voter for 30+ years but reluctantly switched to the Tories for one election and then UKIP just gone BECAUSE of mass immigration.

    If I could believe John’s home truth’s would be adopted and implemented – Then I would switch back to Labour immediately.

    Problem is Labour has abandoned those from the working class and lower middle classes in favour of newcomers to the country and its politically correct Liberal Elitist agenda.

  • The Emperor’s new clothes of immigration.
    Apparently losing high skilled jobs to migrant workers who undercut residents is ok as you only ever hear discussion of low skilled workers from Europe being a problem.

    This government has bent over backwards to enable foreign service companies to onshore cheap workers from outside of the EU into the UK through intra-company transfers, rigging the rules around business expenses in a way which acts as a financial incentive to use migrants over residents. The pay of these foreign workers in many cases is one tenth of that in the UK.

    Explore the numbers (nearly 60,000 intra-company transfer workers in the UK in Dec 2013) and the types of roles, obtained under freedom of information through this dashboard


  • RogerMcC

    A troll is someone who doesn’t want to argue but to upset and annoy.

    People who say Labour is loony and leftie are not coming here for an argument but to say how much they hate Labour and the people who write for and comment on this site.

    They have a right to that opinion.

    But why should a site called labourlist publish it?

    As I keep saying if you go to the nearest equivalent site for Tories – conservativehome – their comments sections are not full of lefties saying how much they hate the Tories.

    We don’t go into their homes to tell them how crap they are – why do they come into ours?

  • RogerMcC

    It is NOT a small island.

    It is the 9th largest island on earth.

    But of those 9 islands three are in the Arctic and are largely empty and four are in the tropics.

    So it is the second largest island in a temperate climate zone where people can live comfortably.

    And the only other island bigger than Britain in such a temperate climate zone is Honshu – the big Japanese island – which has a much larger population than here but is much more mountainous and so has even less inhabitable land.

    Indeed very little of the UK is uninhabitable in the sense that you can’t run a road into it and build homes there.

    So we are blessed to live here and could pack many millions more people in and still be less crowded than Japan or countries like Holland.

    And you can build up rather than out – all those office blocks in London could be new hi-tech high rise housing units instead.

    • Ppl specially politicians often try to compare us to the USA but we are nothing like their size, and Roger sorry why should we have to use our land building houses for anyone who wants to come here when a lot of that land is nice countryside. Where I live every bit of space including some green space has had flats built on it.

      A lot of us don’t want to pack millions more ppl in cos we need to breathe and have space. The roads are crowded, so are the hospitals. We can’t deal with everyone we already have. In case the bloke who calls everyone a troll reads this I am not one and I think immigration regardless of where the ppl come from should be stopped.

    • john cutts

      Yes, to read some stuff on here you would think economic growth was a problem because it involved more people. We ought to be pleased that people want to come here because if they didn’t………..

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  • Kevin Barry

    A brave piece, John. And it hasn’t been long before the name-calling has started.

  • Janet Edwards

    Thank goodness. Finally some senior members of the Party are seeing sense on the free movement issue. The Labour Party should be asking the crucial question, who benefits from free movement of labour? Businesses want it as it holds down wages and removes the need for investment in training, especially young people. We should never indulge in any anti immigrant rhetoric and of course acknowledge the benefits immigration has brought to our society. But we must be able to control the flow, to plan and prepare for housing needs, education, health and welfare provision. We rightly support regulation of potentially damaging market forces in many areas and I don’t see why immigration should be treated differently. Ironically the only way to eliminate uncontrolled free movement is for non-racist, progressive parties to join together and work for change within the EU. An exit from the EU (UKIP) or a no vote courtesy of the tories in 2017 would guarantee the status quo. From the outside we would inevitably need to continue to trade with the EU and would therefore have to follow the rules, including free movement. It’s time we lanced the UKIP boil by recognizing the original free movement provision may have been right then, but it isn’t any more and it doesn’t serve the people we represent.

    • MikeHomfray

      The entire basis of the EU is the breaking down of borders and free movement of capital, labour and citizens.
      Without this you would have something very different from the EU – which does seek ‘ever closer union’ and is ultimately a federal project with greater unity and central strategy but also decentralisation of delivery
      To aim for reform in the way you suggest would effectively lead to the end of the EU.

      • Neil Thorburn

        The real basis of the EU is the elimination of sovereignty (self determination) and the rule of sovereign law (in our case, Common Law) in order that geographical areas, including their economic activity and the inward and outward flow of people into these areas, can be controlled by a very corrupt financial system that has unlawful ownership of our peoples money supply. I am tired of hearing the arguments that we need to be in the EU to trade with the EU or that trading with the EU means we have to adopt EU laws. None of these claims are true and the UK will continue to trade with the EU whether we are in it or not. We will obviously comply with their specification requirements and they will comply with ours.

        The greatest economic advantage will come when our people wake up to the knowledge that we, as a country, have been deliberately prevented from performing to our optimum capacity by successive governments who have continually failed us. The lunacy that dictates our immediate economic activity and arguably planned our long term economic downfall has without question been touted by all major political parties. That lunacy being the control of our money supply and the deliberate attempts of those willing to use the fear of economic (quite artificial and quite deliberate) hardship as a mechanism to gain consent to sell our sovereignty out. The austerity lies and the EU model!

        Unless Labour changes its tune and shows itself as a party that values people, values their community, values their hard work and values their opinion, then you will become a party that is dead in the water because you will be seen as a party that betrayed the true economic value of this country. That economic value of course being, the very people and values that made you. More and more are waking up every day, its now only a matter of time…

        • gunnerbear

          “I am tired of hearing the arguments that we need to be in the EU to trade with the EU or that trading with the EU means we have to adopt EU laws. None of these claims are true and the UK will continue to trade with the EU whether we are in it or not. We will obviously comply with their specification requirements and they will comply with ours.”

          Totally agree. Well said. Top Notch.

          The EU is beyond reform. It can’t offer member states special deals in relation to movement of peoples otherwise the whole thing falls apart.

      • Rob

        But the entire basis of the EU is surely not to allow mass transplantation from poor countries to richer ones, or to allow benefits to be claimed in the richer ones without having made any contribution to that country. What possible benefit is there for the UK of thousands of Roma coming here to sell the BIg Issue?

        • gunnerbear

          The EU wants to be the US of Europe and just like in the US, it wants the ‘federal govt’ to be able to move cash from rich areas to poor areas (regardless of the wishes of the people in the rich areas – thus the EU needs the Euro and the ECB for fiscal

          And the longer the UK stays outside the Eurozone (the real driver behind integration) the more logical it is for the UK to leave the entire set-up.

          A fully integrated EU (the Eurozone) could never give the UK ‘special deals’ to stay in the EU as by then the ‘greater EU’ i.e. non-Euro members will be seen as an irrelevance as the Eurozone will be the one making the running.

        • PoundInYourPocket

          It’s a club and you’re either in it or out. The benefits are free-trade across EU borders, but the rule is that citizens of each member state have the same rights. A member nation can not discriminate against the nationals of any other EEA state. Those are the simple rules. So any EEA national is entitled to the same benefits as a UK national, otherwise you’ve a case to answer in the European court. You just have to weigh up the costs/benefits. Benefit – single trading market. Cost – EEA immigrants on benefits. You can find that data and calculate the welfare costs, I expect it’s not that great compared to the trading benefits. But hard to say for certain.

  • Tokyo Nambu

    “Echoing other posters, its time for Labour to get radical about things they believe in, such as nationalisation of the railways (for starters). ”

    UKIP will probably poll 20% in the next general election, as a single-issue party. It will certainly get 15%. It might get 25%.

    If you could wave a wand and get a “Nationalise the railways, BR Now!” party to run a candidate in every seat, what proportion of the electorate do you think would vote for you? How much of an issue do you think it is outside London? For people outside the London commuter belt, what proportion of the population do you think travel on a train more than once a year?

    • Michelle

      Did I say labour should go into the election as a single issue party? And don’t write off the commuter belt. There are a hell of a lot of disgruntled passengers out there, and people don’t just commute to London. There are other cities in existence. I was referring to a whole package of policies, such as a living wage, massive house building programme, in part to massively increase council house provision, de-privitisation of the NHS, etc. then I think they’d wipe UKIP off the map.

  • Why is LabourList afraid for people to see the freedom of information data from backthemac on intra company transfers posted yesterday but deleted? Afraid your readers will see the raw data and make up their own minds?

    Google backthemac ict data dashboard

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    Can someone explain how we tolerate a job entitled “gangmaster” in th 21st century and at the same time worry about immigrants, jobs, healthcare and housing? Take away the licence to run gangs of workers (from where ever). It is intolerable! Reminds me of other outdated practices like the hiring fairs and the bond which we look at in our history books agog at the horror of former exploitation of workers. Isn’t such exploitation still alive and kicking? Remember the cockle pickers in Morecame Bay …

  • PoundInYourPocket

    “immigration regardless of where the ppl come from should be stopped”
    wives & family of UK citizens ? heart surgeons ? nurses ?
    engineers ? indian chefs ? and after September – Scotts !

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