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 1112.

    As long as there is immigration and migration this will happen.
    It is Inevitable that we will become less of a "White"nation family sizes of indigenous caucasans has plummeted over the last sixty years.
    I'm not concerned about the loss of shade or colour I deplore the loss of cultural heritage and belonging that we used to have. The loss is mainly down to stupid politicians and insane PC'ness

  • rate this

    Comment number 1111.


    There's a elephant in the house (country) that we are not prepared to talk about. A particular religion seems always to be at the forefront not wanting to integrate in our society in the UK. Can someone please tell them.....when in like Romans.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1110.

    Miliband admitting labour got it wrong! Am I hearing things?
    Still, credit to the man he is right about this one and it is time we stopped the multiculturalism at all costs dogma and concentrated on integrating our imigrant communities.

  • Comment number 1109.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1108.

    415. seamus mooney

    As an immigrant to this country who has also lived in America, what is different is that immigrants who settle in america want to embrace the culture and become american.

    Totally agree, lived in the US lived in the UK, migrants to the US want to embrace the US, they come to the UK for the handouts.

    Doubt me?

    Remove the welfare support and see how many come.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1107.

    Most immigrants don’t want any part of this country . They expect us to bend to their medieval mindsets and change our institutions to suit their small minded prejudices
    This is a small number of religious zealots NOT the majority.

    Any attempt to undermine the human rights law of the land has to be resisted vigorously. This is non negotiable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1106.

    The concept of allowing people to live seperately from cultures they do not like seems to have started in N.Ireland where the council approves, dare I say, appartheid. You can chose to live in a Catholic/Nationalist area or a Unionist/Protestant area or a mixed area. This is deep rooted and not about to change for any conceptural words, hard moral decisions need to be made.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1105.

    When I complained the other day about the quick shutting down on the comments section (when the census results were released), I voiced my opinion about the Editors' pick. I said I thought they were biased towards those agreeing with multiculturalism. When I mentioned the 'm' word the BBC staff member's tone suddenly changed to one of coldness; no prizes on how much PC indoctrination they receive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1104.

    They imported too many with few checks, that's the problem and the language problem should have been sorted out before they did that. As it happened, they had little checks on who they were, where they went, what they are doing and whether they're still here! Now there's also a housing crisis. And Milliband is apologising for the lack of integration? No wonder there's little integration!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1103.

    Policy is the last thing we need. People integrate organically if you leave them alone and give them time to do so. Government should only look at how it controls immigration levels to a manageable and positive level and how it delivers acceptable services. It should back off on policing thought, speech and on the dozy nonsense that is multiculturalism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1102.

    as an immigrant englishwoman into wales I truly understand not being accepted by locals, you don't need to be a different colour to be discriminated against, my accent is all thats needed, and it dosen't matter if you learn the local lingo, some people just don't want outsiders, whatever the nationality. Maybe, we all need to give time and energy talking to a person not focusing on nationality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1101.

    Ed milliband needs to go he is a joke , more votes for UKIP if he is still in the job this time next year . i was once proud of this nation i no longer am we have lost our way and run by fools and fear of offending anyone not born british . real jobs and house`s for british people should always be our number priority .....

  • rate this

    Comment number 1100.

    Last time Ken Livingstone was re-contesting as a Mayor, he promised to set up offices in cities to attract more students, especially countries that have been known to pour in students who misuse visa rules and enrol in bogus colleges. Thankfully he was not re-elected. Just getting in scores of bogus students to expand vote bank is a very sad and devious ploy in politics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1099.

    t Camerons speech could have been slightly delayed to have the Leader of the Opposition complete a major policy speech or alternatively announced that it would continue on another channel or radio station, then include the later questions and answers, I tried the internet but I missed the end and then the question session cut off. rude and unfairRude and totally unfair treatment of this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1098.

    BBC would do well to heed the highest rated comments here. We are totally sick of political correctness? its the new facism - Get it BBC?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1097.

    Frankly closing the open door of 'arranged' marriages outside of the UK and then then bringing in of the entire family would be a very good idea. People won't integrate or become 'British' if the 'old country' comes with them on a conveyor belt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1096.

    its like we've been kind enough to welcome people into our home, but then they brought their friends and family, no problem, except now the bills have gone up and we need an interpreter. now they refuse the tea and biscuits because they werent prepared in a special way and start redocorating how they see fit. All the while we have to grin and comply. dont say owt though - its racist

  • rate this

    Comment number 1095.

    I grew up with Sicilians, some of them are great friends. They only speak Italian at home, have strong religious beliefs, families have lived in the UK for 40+ years & they've built their own Italian community in the local town. Whilst the youth are much more integrated, many of the elders do not speak English. This is as best as it will ever get, the more recent immigrants do not want integration

  • rate this

    Comment number 1094.

    1070 Don't be meally mouthed TMR, the huge expansion of EU power has been forced on the voting population by a combination of party politics and rulings from ECtHR and the ECJ, which have repeatedly ruled they have jurisdiction across a range of areas previously unencumbered by EU interferance. If there was a referendum tomorrow we'd be out, a fact you well know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1093.

    1 Minute ago
    It is a small land space remember this!

    err NO over 90% of the UK is not built on.

    Try another excuse for racism.


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