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 1452.

    As regards immigration, the BNP look far more credible than Labout right now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1451.

    I don't see any mention of immigrants making an attempt to integrate. If they come to this country and settle it behoves them to make some effort; a minimum would be to learn the language and to have made a start on it before they come. They should be aware that this is an open society and women have the same rights as men.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1450.

    The UK will never be able to control immigration while it is still in the EU and, as all three main parties all want the UK to stay in the EU, the UK will never be able to control immigration.

    That is just the way it is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1449.

    "people need to intergrate"

    Well if labour didn't allow every single person into this country then we wouldn't have such large pockets of foreign cultures.If immigration was controlled people would have to intergrate as there isn't enough people to make a sub culture. Now if you go to a tesco in certain areas of London there is a halal meat counter but no 'humane' meat counter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1448.

    @ Andrew Salter: You're right and the British have no homeland anymore because it is a consequence of having destroyed homelands of millions of people around the world. Your legacy speaks for itself. What goes around comes around. Don't forget this. If Britain want a brighter future then the British should tone down their arrogance & become humble. Accept your misdeeds, respect others and move on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1447.

    @1415.Trout Mask Replica
    " Bastiat
    But Ed, your party, Labour, loves employing foreigners who can't speal English very well"

    Right. Very ironic.
    Haha I know, the iromy!
    Keep praising your fuerer at the Labour party. What's his creed today?
    "we are going to build One Nation". Sounds like he's stolen Golden Dawn's motto.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1446.

    This from a man whose ex-leader (brown) called a woman a bigot when she raised the same questions. Since its so blindingly obvious to most of the population that english is essential for integration, jobs and understanding then it just goes to show how out of touch labour are. We need a party which lies in the real world and has advisors who listen to people not the right/left elite.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1445.

    a majority will seek to make a government in its own image so it is delusional for the white anglo saxon elites to think they will retain power [and its wealth] where they are the minority? a minority aspiration that would be a colonial pattern? the role gaming excluding anglican christian monarchy is a minority cabal that represents who? it cannot stand either in the long run as the pop chages?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1444.

    What's wrong with a strict visa system?

    Labour never learn

  • rate this

    Comment number 1443.

    @Angela (and others)

    Clearly you don't know that most Western expats in the Middle East live in enclaves behind gated communities where they do plenty of things that are illegal in their host nation, such as brew alcohol? The security guards who protect them from the locals are invariably from other foreign nations like India.

  • Comment number 1442.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1441.

    When the white,working man and woman comes to vote in the next election,they should look around their town centres,look at the over burdened services,including the bankrupt local hospital,and remember,this is the Labour legacy,the destruction of their country.Never again must we have politicians as we have now,with no experience of having to work in a real job,and paying their own bills.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1440.

    The majority of the country wants to see some sort of screening on immigration, not a cut throat ban on it.

    You cannot blame people from wanting to keep there streets and children safe. In Africa Violence & HIV is ripe, Islamist often oppress women and have extremist views against western people, Eastern Europe is rife with organized crime.

    Tell me, are people racist for wanting people screened?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1439.

    I am so tired with Labours hypocritical approach on many issues going on today which the previous Labour government created. Miliband wants to promote integration in society for a 'problem' his goverment created by allowing a fast influx of imigrants (who are most welcome). However, not think you are coming to the rescue now for a problem your party created

  • rate this

    Comment number 1438.

    Meanwhile Labour MP Margaret Moran has got away nicely with her expenses fraud.
    Too tearful to attend court, but not too poorly to fiddle.
    tears over integrity, works like clockwork.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1437.

    I have absolutely no problem with people coming to Britain. Indeed, I welcome them. Inward migration is as much an investment as someone setting up a factory. We should be thankful.
    The simplest way to "grow" the economy is through increased population.
    Nowadays you cannot breed your way to growth. You can only do it by attracting inward migration.
    Integration will happen over time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1436.

    @1392 "Sure, no requirement that you have to be their friends, but normal civilised behaviour would be to be courteous when you encounter them"

    By civilised behaviour I assume you're referring to things like beating your teenage daughter for 'dishonouring' her family by talking to a white boy?

    The Qur'an teaches muslims not to befriend infidels - it's the word of god don't you know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1435.

    Our leaders should have listened and thought about this fifty years ago, it's too late now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1434.

    An immigrant who comes to UK and earns two hundred pounds a week is basically paying zero tax
    Really? £200 x 52 = £10400pa. Unless they have a £10400 tax allowance then they'd pay the same as everyone else.

    I know a lot of immigrants earning significantly more and pay lots of tax.

    I'm not sure what your point was?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1433.


    I can't help suspecting that incomers take one look at our society and recognise it for the shallow, self obsessed moral vacuum that it is and decide instantly that apart from doing a fair day's work for a fair day's pay they want nothing else to do with it.
    If they do and yet still decide to stay, and make this their country, but do nothing to help improve it - aren't they as bad?


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