Miliband distanced himself from Gordon Brown’s ’British jobs for British workers’ pledge not unfortunately because the statement wouldn’t be out of place as a UKIP or BNP slogan but because Labour can’t deliver on that promise. This, I find very alarming.
Labour leader Ed Miliband is trying to claw back some credibility by weighing in on the immigration debate. The subject was carefully chosen: according to research by Policy Exchange immigration and welfare are the two most important issues to win back Labour swing votes.
Migration is a ‘class issue’ Miliband argued – because it is low-paid workers that are most affected by the influx of cheap migrant labour, and he said that Labour made mistakes in the past, by letting in too many European workers too quickly from newly acceded EU countries like Poland. But he distanced himself from Gordon Brown’s ‘British jobs for British workers’ pledge — not unfortunately because the statement wouldn’t be out of place as a UKIP or BNP slogan — but because Labour can’t deliver on that promise. This, I find very alarming.
Despite Miliband’s pledge to talk openly and truthfully about immigration, like many politicians he has chosen instead to plump for more comfortable lies. Surely Miliband is aware of research by the National Institute for Economic Research, and others — a few years ago the UN did a big global comparative study on this — that cheap immigrant labour does not reduce jobs available for the local work force.
Similarly, despite his pledge to review migrants’ access to welfare, Miliband must know that immigrant workers are less likely to claim benefits than UK workers. An honest, open immigration policy should make all of this clear.
Read more by Sophie McBain