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.


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

    Comment number 792.

    So now we're allowed (allegedly) to discuss immigration without being called a bigot, racist etc is it fair to say that until unemployment in this country is in the thousands rather than millions there is no need to allow any further influx at all (with a couple of minor exceptions)?

  • rate this

    Comment number 791.

    Milliband and the entire political classes are despicable for their anti-British, globalist ideology. Advocates of 'integration' have no respect for and do not value who we are as a people, our heritage and our native identity. Thus to 'celebrate diversity' is to celebrate our demise. Sadly, the cowed and blinfolded turkeys of the electorate continue to vote for their 'Xmas'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 790.

    It's quite simple...many immigrants do not want to integrate, they think we should change to suit them, and at the sametime feel using our country is easier than changing their own.

  • rate this

    Comment number 789.

    How well we intigrate in this country.
    In quite a few schools around the country, the PC brigade make the kids say "Happy Holidays" during the Festive season so as not to offend people with different beliefs. Thats not intigration but positive discrimination.
    On that note Merry Christmas everybody!

  • rate this

    Comment number 788.

    758. steve

    No wonder, it why Ed is so keen add more immigrants to those polls. He's using Obama's tactics!

  • rate this

    Comment number 787.

    Integration would happen a darn site more quickly if we didnt give unlimited handouts, freebies and prioritised accomodation to those entering. Getting a job and paying your way is the best way to integrate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 786.

    Anglophone @708
    "wonder why"
    "naive blunders"
    Or corrupt?

    Is it that you didn't know our politicians were non-representative?

    Or that you still don't know, "why" politicians are not 'representative'?

    See True Brit @690, its getting worse: soon 99% support for 1% rule!

    Economically divided, corruption rules, society disintegrates

    Spreaking truth to power today... is kamikaze

  • rate this

    Comment number 785.

    For all the past faults of the Labour party (which, by the way, don't even come close to the outrageous practices of this current government) Ed Milliband has hit upon the key issues and is presenting an honest way forward.

  • rate this

    Comment number 784.

    There is no democracy worth the name in Britain: the first-past the post system ensures that votes for parties that are not already large is utterly pointless. With FPP votes for minority parties secure ZERO representation, not a smaller amount of representation. This ensures that the established political class is going nowhere and the wishes of the people are perpetually irrelevant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 783.

    Lycurgus #555
    What a load is ignorant nonsense. I live in those northern areas and the communities you talk about seperate themselves by choice. Some of their leaders are obsessed with controlling opinions and attitudes and see the western liberal values as 'less than' somehow. Bigotted and ignorant opinions like yours make the problem worse and are unhelpful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 782.

    I have always thought that if you decide to settle permanently in another country it is up to you to adapt and integrate into the society of your adopted home.

  • rate this

    Comment number 781.

    721 whambam: This is probably true...however, a few years ago, I saw an advert in a national paper recruiting IT professionals for jobs in the South of England. The advert clearly stated that any applicant had to be fluent in Urdu, Gujurati or Rajasthani. How many British citizens could apply??? And THAT is how they got around that problem. The jobs, btw, were paying WAY under UK minimum wage...

  • rate this

    Comment number 780.

    So after 10 years of scaremongering that Asian/ Muslims are terrorists after 9/11, false WMD claims, an illegal war that murdered tens of thousands of innocents in Iraq, rendition to G.Bay after deals with Gadaffi and so on - Labour now want to back track and assimilate immigrants.

    Dangerous ideas from stupid people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 779.

    This is the same the world over, changing human nature is not easy. It isnt a British issue it is social world issue. People are tribal and there is little you can do about that. Until everyone embrases each others difference but accepts their comonality and pride in thier country nothing will ever change. This isnt going to happen in my opinion .

  • rate this

    Comment number 778.

    Every members of Westminster Dictatorship Club must speak at least two languages. No more public jobs for people who can only speak one language. Bring the language courses ON."

    They already do speak 2 languages - they are fluent in "lies" and "bulls**t".

  • rate this

    Comment number 777.

    I saw a some Albanians in Greece in a Cafe. Greece was playing football against another nation. The other team scored - the Albanians did not dare rejoice!

    I saw some Albanians in the England watching football in a pub. England was playing against another nation's team - England scored- the Albanians hit the ceiling with joy!

    For all the negativity England must be doing something right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 776.

    'Among his proposals will be banning those without high proficiency in English from some public sector jobs.'


    Knock me down with a feather! He wants UK civil servants to speak English - whatever next!

    I suppose any chance of being able to ask for a packet of aspirin in the local BP petrol station & actually getting what you asked for is now just a misty distant dream from a bygone era!

  • rate this

    Comment number 775.

    "Let's see what the new Islamist constitution says about the Coptic church then"
    Good point. The Coptic Church has survived many Islamic regimes for millennia. I tip it'll be around for a while yet.

    @752 True Brit
    " ... people who object to uncontrolled immigration are not racists. People who object to the EU are not necessarily xenophobic...."
    Well said.

  • rate this

    Comment number 774.

    It was only a matter of time before he jumped on this bandwagon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 773.

    415.seamus mooney
    Immigrants to US - don't have a lot of choice - as Americans are hardly known as the most tolerant of cultures - the price they pay is a total ignorance of the world. That said, in the UK - politcial correctness and misguided labour policies have been an absolute disaster, creating numerous Northern Ireland type scenarios within the British Isles.


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