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 1232.

    BBC = Biased Broadcasting Corporation

    I feel robbed that I have to legally buy a licence to fund such a sub-standard service. I am disgusted with the Editor's Picks not only on this thread but on ALL threads. They are picked to deliberately engineer a false impression that supports their own left wing pro multi-cultural agenda.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1231.

    If we weren't told whose speech this was it could be Miliband, Clegg or Cameron, couldn't it? There really is no difference between them or their policies.
    This is because it's all driven by a global agenda, they are simply implementing that, regardless of which party they've attached themselves.
    'Choice' is simply an illusion.
    Never again will the LibLabCon get validation or consent from me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1230.


    OMG when are we going to see an end to the loony left, PC nutter bias in Editors Picks?
    They give the (false) impression that everything is rosy on the UK immigration front whereas in truth 90% of the population is sick to death of paying sky high taxes so that scrounging immigrants can live the high life at our expense.
    I also want Editors Picks gone - pure BBC propaganda.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1229.

    1159. SamSat
    "...what do you think of the Union Flag being allowed to be flown on only 15 days in Belfast? I thought that N Ireland was a part of the UK ..."
    In most of the UK the Union flag only flies on special occasions.
    The Loyalists are 'loyal' to what?
    The Protestant Supremacy in Ulster.
    The first British soldier to die in NI, when the recent Trouble kicked off was shot by a 'Loyalist'.

  • Comment number 1228.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1227.

    Having lived overseas, it is natural to migrate to your own nationality, ending up with "pockets" of different nationalities. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. As long as you abide by your host nation's laws and customs (which is common courtesy), then everyone wins. Don't see any need for this obsession with "integration". It will happen naturally if the cumstances are right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1226.

    When the UK (national language English) offers to print the Census Forms in up to 39 languages, then it is time to rethink the words 'ethnic minority'. If they can't read, write or speak English, then they should have no rights to a) vote, b) sponge on our welfare state (including housing), and c) remain here for more than a mandatory three months. Mr Milliband - your words will not gain votes!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1225.

    Lets stat by ending free translation services, then lets charge for healthcare then go on to prevent children entering state schools unless they have a grasp of English. In the meantime foreign nationals should pay double national insurance, employers and personal contribution to reflect the true cost of their residency in this country

  • rate this

    Comment number 1224.

    The sheer hypocrisy of Milliband knows NO bounds:
    HIS previous Government opened the unchecked immigration floodgates - THEN brought in a LAW to gag OUR opposition to this flood. Mr.Milliband - our PRESENT Government is ALREADYdealing with this mess - of YOURS - along with the rest of Labours mess.

    Copycat bandwagon populism...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1223.

    If you believe any government cares for you because you are of the original white order of brits forget it. We have to compete in the world and at age 45 your salary is too high so - layoffs, redundancies - then we import young people, raring to go foreigners from anywhere and this will never change. Stop worrying about it and get on with your lives. Ed the Mill is just trying to get votes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1222.

    "You do know the difference between local and national elections do you?"
    Weak rebuttal.
    I do, do you?
    You didn't specify, only that they weren't allowed to vote, when clearly millions of IMMIGRANTS from the eu CAN VOTE in many important domestic elections.(

    Ouch :P

  • rate this

    Comment number 1221.

    I thought it was racist to say this. That is what people have been told time and time again when they questioned the wisdom of allowing a flood of people into the UK. Especially the unskilled and non english speaking with large families

  • rate this

    Comment number 1220.

    As nation we don't present ourselves very well, our culture is now a mish mash of this that and anything else we want to adopt. There have been too many hand wringing liberals not wanting to stand for anything and too many socialists who sneer patriotism we've lost confidence in our identity I can't say it's any Govts. fault in particular just all of them. There are all a bad as each other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1219.

    @ 1194. sexyfurrytigre.

    Thank you, someone else who gets it! I'm actually of Turkish ethnicity but it frustrates me when I hear my Asian friends being resentful towards Britain, due to the empire. White working class people were stepped on just as much as the colonies!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1218.

    A lot of the resentment which toward immigrant communities is fostered by the self-appointed guardians of the feelings of those communities.

    Things like "don't mention Chrsitmas, you might offend a minority" originate from idiots who take it upon themselves to decide what may offend people without consulting the communities concerned.

    "Liberal Bigots" is a rather apt description.

  • Comment number 1217.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1216.

    Ah. The illusion of control perpetrated by the people [government] who don't have any where it counts.

  • Comment number 1215.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1214.

    Just watched Labour's Alan Johnson denying Labour deliberately increased immigration and claiming the situation was worse in Germany.

    Thanks to Andrew Neather we know it was deliberate and the fact is the population of Germany is much the same as 10 years ago.

    A few English lessons aren't going to solve the housing and jobs crises Labour's open door policy caused.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1213.

    Lets just say this, We have a very serious problem caused by 10 to 40 years of uncontrolled intergration.No amount of learning English is going to solve the problem, villages, towns and cities have their little Kingdoms of immigrants and whites. How does one go in and break those Kingdoms up, saying you gotta move sunshine you have to move because you do not fit todays criteau.


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