Miliband: Too little done to integrate UK society

 

Ed Miliband: "Often we were a bit optimistic about how integration would happen"

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"Too little" has been done to integrate people who have settled in British society, Ed Miliband has said.

The Labour leader called for more proficiency in the English language as part of his One Nation ideal.

He also admitted Labour had made mistakes in tackling the "realities of segregation" in struggling communities.

Ministers accused Mr Miliband of "hollow" words, saying Labour had failed to back coalition measures to tighten up immigration.

The Labour leader said he was proud of "multi-ethnic, diverse Britain", but accepted people had anxieties about immigration.

Among his proposals to improve integration is banning those without high proficiency in English from some public sector jobs that involve working closely with people, such as home helps.

Mr Miliband also said that local authorities should cut their translation services if that would protect their budgets for language classes.

'Immigration anxiety'

His speech in south London came just days after the 2011 Census showed that fewer than half the people living in London are white British.

Analysis

Ed Miliband's speech was clearly an attempt to reposition Labour on immigration.

With this One Nation approach, he tried to reach out to two different groups - those who choose to settle in the UK and those who feel resentful about the number of people doing so.

Mr Miliband promised to prioritise spending on English language teaching for recent immigrants and increase the supply of affordable housing. But he also pledged stricter transitional arrangements and admitted the previous Labour government did too little to tackle segregation in communities.

While Labour has been strongly opposed to the cap on immigration from outside the EU - a key Conservative policy - Mr Miliband said he would now consider keeping the cap if evidence shows it works.

He's spoken about Labour's failure to address these concerns previously. In one of his first speeches as leader in 2010 he said a failure to listen on immigration was one reason Labour lost the last election.

He hopes the shift in tone will convince voters that Labour won't repeat previous mistakes. But critics say simply controlling numbers won't address underlying concerns about the impact of immigration.

The figures also showed that in 2011, 13% of England and Wales residents - 7.5 million out of a total population of 56.1 million - were born outside the UK.

"People of mixed race are among the fastest-growing group in the population of our country", and this is "a development with which our country is at ease", Mr Miliband said.

Mr Miliband - who spoke with pride of his own parents' history as Jewish refugees from the Holocaust - described his enthusiasm for ethnic diversity in the UK.

"We are stronger for it - and I love Britain for it. It gives us access to new ideas, new perspectives, new energies," he said.

"But at the same time we know there is anxiety about immigration and what it means for our culture. The answer is not to sweep it under the carpet."

In part, that means rejecting the idea that people can "live side by side in their own communities, respecting each other but living separate lives, protected from hatreds but never building a common bond - never learning to appreciate one another", he explained.

On his party's time in government, he said: "The solutions seemed abstract but the problems were real. We talked about 'shared citizenship'.

"But we did too little to tackle the realities of segregation in communities that were struggling to cope."

He criticised cuts to English language teaching despite a rising proportion of children who are non-native speakers.

'Connected, not segregated'

"If we are going to build One Nation, we need to start with everyone in Britain knowing how to speak English. We should expect that of people that come here," he said.

Labour plans to prioritise spending on English language teaching for recent immigrants over non-essential written translation materials.

Under the proposals, parents will be required to take responsibility for their foreign-born children learning English at home, and being able to speak English will be made mandatory in a greater number of public sector jobs.

A ban on recruitment agencies advertising only for workers from particular countries will help to end segregation in the workplace, he said.

"There are some shifts in some factories that are still segregated by language and by background. And there are jobs which still recruit far more easily from within one community than from other," Mr Miliband said.

The Labour leader said he wanted a "comprehensive strategy for integration" to bring the UK into line with other European countries.

Mark Harper, minister for immigration, said the speech was a "big apology" for Labour's failure to tackle immigration while in government

He told BBC News: "All of these people that were allowed to come to the United Kingdom not able to speak English came here while Ed Miliband was in government.

"We've made changes so that people who come here to study, to work and to live have to be able to speak English because we know that unless you can speak English properly, you can't be integrated properly in the community.

"They failed to back any of those policies in practice."

Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, described Mr Miliband's comments as "a bit rich and a bit late" and accused him of failing to face up to future immigration from countries like Romania and Bulgaria.

Sir Andrew Green of Migration Watch, a think tank which campaigns for tighter immigration controls, said Labour's proposals were "pretty trivial" in the face the "enormous problem of integration".

 

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  • rate this
    -40

    Comment number 72.

    51.ronnieboy1

    4 Minutes ago

    its all right for milliband to say how great immigration is...he wants to try living next to a few of them.
    ==
    Just so 1970's...

    What's it like being a relic of the past?

    (and, yes, I've lived next to, and worked with many of THEM).

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 71.

    Forgive me but the majority of people come here not to be British but to be free from tyranny in their own country - they always regard their homeland as their motherland and would never see the UK as anything other than a place to get benefits, house, and free NHS care - thats where it begins and ends. Assimilation is the last thing on their minds! Miliband is chasing shadows....

  • rate this
    +104

    Comment number 70.

    Bolt - Stable door - Horse

    You let them all in Ed.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 69.

  • rate this
    -25

    Comment number 68.

    Surely it's up to employers to decide whether a candidate has the requisite language skills to do a particular job properly?

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 67.

    Multicultural, in the sense of style, cooking, music art etc. is fine.

    However, when comes to norms, of the rule of secular law, gender equality, rational thinking, acceptance of democracy etc., people must accept these and integrate in these respects.

    The alternative could, with the wrong eventual demographic, ultimately lead to a Lebanon-type crisis in the UK.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 66.

    He means well but the point is not that immigrants find integration difficult but that the indigenous population finds itself increasingly isolated and alienated by attempts to shift it from its own core beliefs in order to accomodate immigration.There are few less 'integrated' groups than the white British working class particularly in the midlands and north of England.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 65.

    Why is it the Ed looks like someone who got into politics by mistake?

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 64.

    How can the white British majority,(still) take back control of our destiny? I despair that the Labour party and the BBC have tried to brain wash us and silence any people who want us to retain a basic Anglo Saxon type of core value. Who do we turn to? Is it UKIP? The working classes have seen it coming and flagged up with BNP and so on, WHO?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 63.

    Why cant I work in a Chinese or Thai restaurant? - where is the cultural and ethical diversity. Why cant I work in an Indian or Chinese takeaway unless I ride a motorbike? I want inclusion from all sides and colour religion and where you were born has no place in the workplace. Why aren't there many Chinese, Arab or Indian estate agents employed by SE London estate agencies. All sides to blame!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 62.

    "Too little" was done during the 13 years of labour.

    We now need something like the USA has where anyone who wants to become a citizen needs to swear allegiance to the flag & learn about their history.

    Then again we wouldn't of needed this problem if the gate had stayed shut.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 61.

    Accusations of responsibility for the segregational nature of some aspects of modern Britain forget how proud we once were of the Empire now Commonwealth. Did we ever integrate with those countries or did we effectively impose our language? Translation services impede integration. France/Holland insist on competence within a year.
    Thanks to the Polish Airmen in WW11 - just look at The Few.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 60.

    Excuse me ? what ? !

    Mr Milliband its your labour party that increased the number of foreign nationals by 3 million or a 66% increase from 2001 !!!

    How dare you lecture society or anyone on integration when you are largely the cause of the issues ! Labour have never apologised for this and the costs burden the rest of society have had to pick up from your policies on immigration .

  • rate this
    +27

    Comment number 59.

    We're non-EU immigrant here in London.Me and my wife applied HSMP visa(Highly Skilled MIgration Program).We been through strict requirements,and must have personal funds for the first few months to support ourself while applying for professional jobs.We thought that every immigrant had the difficult process we been through BUT they are not! They dont even know how to speak English and in benefits.

  • rate this
    +27

    Comment number 58.

    Immigration isn't the core issue.

    Immigrants who set up their own cultural enclaves remaining completely separate from British culture, society and identity whilst trying to impose their own cultural /religious way of life on Britain is a real and divisive problem.

  • rate this
    +26

    Comment number 57.

    When will they realise that the people who want to intergrate do so with no problem, but the ones just come to the UK for handouts and an easy life will never intergrate however much money the goverment thows at them. As for the Labour party half of them should be shot for treason for what the did to the UK

  • rate this
    -129

    Comment number 56.

    Ed Milliband is building a well deserved reputation for the courage to tackle really difficult subjects head-on. It makes absolute sense that a country will do much better if we all can communicate with each other and this requires us to all have the same common language. This is a very constructive way to tackle this barrier to a better future for all.

  • rate this
    +219

    Comment number 55.

    Labour will for ever more be tagged as the party that allowed the destruction of Britian by their open door policy. 1. Now, they have to be strict on allowing people in who cannot speak English well. 2. Stop people settling here from countries that dont allow reciprocation. 3. Allow work contract for foreigners, and they GO HOME after the contract is completed. 4. No baggage of extended families.

  • rate this
    -76

    Comment number 54.

    Respect,ed, Respect.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 53.

    Miliband is admitting past labour mistakes in order to get a point across that we have all been aware of since they let these people in. His party have done critical damage to this country. Terrible people to entrust the UK to. What problems they left. The current gov is unpopular trying to sort it out and they probably won't survive the next election. Tragedy.

 

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