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 1392.

    An example - If i live next to a muslim and decide i dont want to talk to him/her because i dont agree with their religious beliefs thats my choice."

    Sure, no requirement that you have to be their friends, but normal civilised behaviour would be to be courteous when you encounter them and to offer and ask for help when needed as good neighbours should.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1391.

    lets' hear it from the horses mouth, I am a foreigner and I have tried my hardest to integrate for the past 37 years but I have finally given up. I AM NOT ACCEPTED BY THE BRITISH PEOPLE. Go on make me the lowest rated!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1390.

    I would just say i think the letter from money dude was great as a licence fee payer i would just like to agree with him about the way the bbc acts like some kind of god when they pick out the left wing letters as the editors choice,as they never seem to agree with most people on subjects such as this one

  • rate this

    Comment number 1389.

    I learnt English as a second language and subsequently moved to England to do a degree and work. I didn't expect to be able to access public or private services in my native language, and I wasn't disappointed. I subsequently returned to my own country only to find it's filling up with English speaking Brits who for the most part simply REFUSE to learn my country's native language. I'm from Wales.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1388.

    How many more failings will Ed Miliband and his marxist cronies have to apologise for prior to the next election? Let us pray they never have the opportunity again to wreak the same havoc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1387.

    1 Minute ago

    Yet again populist hot air from Milibandwagon and lacking any details of what his solution would be."

    Couldn't agree more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1386.

    I was amused by the comment on the radio this morning about integration. In some towns there were few British left to integrate with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1385.

    What Miliband should be apologising for is for the active extremely sinister policy of implying that anyone wishing to discuss this issue wishing to defend their culture and their ability to live and work in the country of their birth must be a racist and therefore a criminal. Someone everything has got turn upside down. Why are we justifying our right to live and survive in our own country?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1384.

    I don't want immigrants to learn English at my expense, and i don't want them to integrate - I want them to go home.Simple.

    Oooooooo, I can hear the cries of "racist" already. Do you know what? I couldn't give a monkey's what the name-callers think of me. Name-calling is just a childish way of deflecting a losing argument.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1383.

    Balderdash & Piffle !

  • rate this

    Comment number 1382.


    At the taxpayers expense !

  • rate this

    Comment number 1381.

    @ 1355. The Ace Face

    They would say nothing if Cameron had said it because a) It wouldn't have been on the front page of the BBC website all day and b) It wouldn't have been made available to comment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1380.

    I am a 3rd generation British Pakistani. The problem here is that people who want to live in this country, need to be forced to learn how to speak English fluently. The first generation of people, which came from these regions, after 55 years,still do not know how to speak English. The real problem is the divide between language. Integration will only work if everyone can speak English - FACT

  • rate this

    Comment number 1379.

    To hear this from Miliband beggars belief, he'll never get my vote!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1378.

    Its also about personal choices

    An example - If i live next to a muslim and decide i dont want to talk to him/her because i dont agree with their religious beliefs thats my choice. Does not make me a racist becuase i am free to choose who i want to talk/integrate with

    Forcing multiculturism is wrong and has the reverse effect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1377.

    By the time 'asians' are accepted ... they will have all left !!

    By 2020 India will have surpassed Europe's economies and will house migrants moving to India. That's just in 8 years time !!

    The whinging about 'asians' is going to back-fire on everyone, the media knows this, which is why its forcing multi-cultralism on everyone. They know it wont work but want everyone dependant on it eventualy

  • rate this

    Comment number 1376.

    Re: the person who said this country was founded on Christian values.

    It may have been in the past, but the foundations have evolved over the past millennium. If Britain were still founded on Christian values it'd be as backwards as Pakistan. (Read the Bible to see what I mean).

    The UK is so developed and progressive because Christian institutions have been relegated to near irrelevance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1375.

    Yet again populist hot air from Milibandwagon and lacking any details of what his solution would be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1374.

    Labour in 2004, 2007, 2009 in government and Miliband in 2012 repeatedly announce that immigrants "must learn English"

    Miliband you're a fraud!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1373.

    Integration IS a good thing. It puts the onus on those who are from different ethnic backgrounds to realise that when in Rome......

    Good plan Miliband.


Page 11 of 80


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