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 1292.


    Why exactly? If you have forgotten we have:
    over 2 mil unemployed
    more than that number again under employed
    youth unemployment at an all time high
    a benefits bill we can’t afford
    an economic model that is disintegrating
    infrastructure that can’t cope
    escalating world energy/food costs
    climate shift

    And finite resources.

    So why, exactly, do we need more people?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1291.

    @1237 "Britain is a CHRISTIAN country"

    Not sure that I agree with the above. Even if it was true, what has it to do with immigration? My very nice Polish neighbours are Catholics. They are Christians, I believe! Is your problem with atheist immigrants? Somehow, I think not! Would I be near the mark if I suggested that you had a problem with muslims?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1290.

    Milliband is a marxist, full stop.

    Marxism is a very racist ideology. It seeks to get rid of any identity and eventually create one race. This is what he actively supports.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1289.

    I don't understand, you, British people vote for labor all these years even after "Tony Liar" lie about Iraq, the immigration issue is no new but every was happy in the boom years, and part of the boom was the power of high immigration. British like Greece like Spanish people make the same mistake "No buddy make question when things are going well, only when everything collapse"

  • rate this

    Comment number 1288.

    Britain is now in the unique position of having a libertarian moron in charge of every single one of the three major parties. May God help us!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1287.

    I can honestly say I don't know who to vote for at the next election.

    Miliband, Cameron, Balls, Osborne, Clegg, Farage... I don't see anyone out there with sufficient political integrity who warrants a scintilla of respect from any of us any more... when you lose all trust you lose all hope.

    MPs salary should be cut to the national average... And ministers too... These people will say anything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1286.

    1262 Mike
    True, Christianity is a dwindelling religion, however or laws and way of life are founded on the (supposed) principles of Christianity, my point, as i'm sure you are aware, is if you want to live here, live by our values.

  • Comment number 1285.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1284.

    I think the white Brits need to look long and hard at themselves and ask who it is that has really caused Britain to diversify

    White Brits love to wax lyrical but forget that over 50% of Brit companies are now foreign owned. You're pro Brit but happily shop at Amazon, drink Starbucks and work for foreigners

    We ship manufacturing to poorer countries but resent them for coming here. Get real

  • rate this

    Comment number 1283.

    "Whatever you political views Enoch Powells rivers of blood speech is coming true! The vast majority of white british do not want or need immigration and lets not pretend otherwise, we are losing our identity and our country!"

    See what I mean about the flippant small mentality? How can we open and firm in voice and action when the association is narrow-minded hyperbole?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1282.

    I have observed people from various cultures, refuse to engage in a simple handshake. This is because that is the way in their Culture.
    Should you adapt to this seemingly harmless way of introduction.
    I dont have an answer for it but i know it hinders integration.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1281.

    We do not want them to integrate, they do not want to integrate, We do not want any one them here, unfortunately they were let in and are hanging on in here like limpets, despite the obvious public opinion. Integration is the last thing anyone wants. Bar Labour who imported votes.

  • Comment number 1280.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1279.

    If I have a son...........I am going to call him Enoch Powell =)

    No.........Enoch Powell George Orwell............has a nice ring to it!

    Darwin's threory of natural selection will kill the British off as weak and ultimately extinct...........unless we do something about it!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1278.

    Dear all,

    I come from Poland and let me tell you something. If you go to Poland and you don't speak the language, no one will help you. If you need a help of a Jobcentre, council or any other services it is in your interest to be understood! If you can't communicate, you can't expect taxpayer to pay for interpreter. If you want to live in a country, you have to learn the language.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1277.

    #1234. Bill
    Foreign nationals cannot live in council properties
    Does that include Gurkha(or other nationality) ex-servicemen?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1276.

    @ 1217. Aikiguy.

    It's not only a Muslim issue. Ever heard of Southall in London? Mostly populated by non-Muslim Asians and is just as bad an example of integration as the ones you cite.

    Islam definitely deserves a lot of criticism (I'm actually a Turkish Atheist), but cheap-shot lying about Muslims is not the way to go about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1275.

    Labour trying to do the impossible, i can do without integration and immigration, we managed quite happily in the past we all integrated with each other, before immigration took hold.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1274.

    All good rhetoric of course, but Milliband, like all politicians is simply unwilling to do what will be required to promote harmonising assimilation rather than divisive multiculturalism.

    So he'll stick to the safe political ground like 'everyone in the UK should probably be able to speak English'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1273.

    There are the idiots on the Left who believe that anyone should be able to live anywhere they please (and get full citizenship rights and entitlements from the get-go) and there are the idiots on the Right who want unfettered access to cheap labour from abroad (and the British worker can go hang).
    No wonder the country is going down the pan.


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