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 1552.

    Just now
    1442.David H
    When we got our mortgage it was based on the salarys we were getting at the time. Now with the min wage and thousands of foreign labour we are unable to pay our mortgage, was that our fault ?
    I'm now out of work after 37 years, not due to foreign workers,
    but competing with young professionals with Degree's/MBA's
    So who should I blame?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1551.

    " Not a day goes by in which political leaders in charge of the affairs of their country do not press upon the public their ideas and beliefs. Much of this conceals as much as it reveals" What is being concealed from this recent lecture. There appears to be mention of the white working and middle class labour voter. Ed Miliband is taking them for granted which will cost him very dearly in 2015

  • rate this

    Comment number 1550.

    1428 - as an opticians you should provide the same service to everyone without passing judgement. Should you ever need assistance of any kind here is hoping you are 'shown the door'

  • rate this

    Comment number 1549.

    I suspect that the rhetoric of the party has changed on the outside, but, not on the inside by all the communists claiming that anyone who speaks out against mass immigration/integration/multicuralism are somehow bigotted racist Alf Garnets, a leopard can't change it's spots and neither will Labour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1548.

    Why should i subside child allowance for EU foreigners who dont even have children in the UK.

    LABOUR DELIBERATALY LIED ABOUT Immigration for all the time they were in office.

    I will be joining the English defence league. The 3 main parties can get stuffed. ENGLAND has been ruined since the 1950s and windrush

    POSTAL VOTING SHOULD BE BANNED. Get of your fat bottoms from EastEnders & vote

  • rate this

    Comment number 1547.

    Whilst visiting a friend in hospital in his 26 Bed ward a nurse told me 21 of the patients are from eastern Europe. She told me that it was 'common' . Now I know while there is up to a 5 hour waiting in A&E

  • rate this

    Comment number 1546.

    No mention that before being able to claim benefits you should be able to speak and write basic english, How can you be available for work if you can't speak english? Benefits should be limited for a year for those who can't and it should be compulsory to attend language lessons.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1545.

    Labour are admitting they got it wrong on immigration.

    Please, let the rest of the pro-immigration brigade finally acknowledge the truth. You're all wrong, and you were warned.

    Playing with the details isn't enough. It's time to reverse, not accommodate, the tide.

    No point acting as though the negative consequences for the environment, economy and society are a surprise. You all thought

  • rate this

    Comment number 1544.

    Always voted Labour but unless i see the words DEPORTATION and REPATRIATION in there manifesto they can forget my future vote. My local Labour Councillor in a predominantly White area is a Muslim dont know anyone who votes for him and yet with the ludicrous Postal Vote which he seems to monopolise he gets returned. i believe this type of voting is more dangerous than anything seen in Zimbarbwe

  • rate this

    Comment number 1543.

    We will never effectively control immigration until we know who has left the UK; at present we only know they have come in.

    Also, we should not be paying benefits to any immigrant if their own country does not give benefits to UK immigrants. I am thinking of emigrating to an Asian country where I will have to pay for everything, including healthcare but their citizens can have free benefits here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1542.

    Milliband denying Labour engineered the current state of affairs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1541.

    One nation under a groove, integrate me,

    I feel a song coming on, next line please.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1540.

    @ 1461. Bullitjw: I live here & yes I do intend to leave 1 day. But sweeping ur crimes under the carpet will solve none of urproblems. You must understand why more than half the world hates all things British. They may not show it but it is a time bomb. What is wrong with accepting your ancestors messed things up big time, apologizing and moving on? Victims would appreciate it. Give up arrogance!

  • Comment number 1539.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1538.

    Woeful comments. Not that eds right,he's part of the problem and the problem is the establishment.They ALL welcome immigrants,Tory,Labour,all of them. Some because they mistake the lessons of history and feel guilty about their great grandfathers persecuting people in the name of empire building but most because immigrants equal low pay = happy bosses.We have no choice on the issue at the polls.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1537.

    1520.kathryn_jc. = non-EU = no benefit until ILR
    We both know that isn`t true. What do you think the size of the no recourse to public fund bill is - £millions
    Then of course you need to factor in the cost of free/subsidised transport, milk vouchers, healthcare - the list goes on

  • rate this

    Comment number 1536.

    Let there be one world, with same cost of living, same living standards, same wages for similar jobs and same taxation across. Problem solved. There will be no mass immigration, evenly distributed wealth.

    But wait, would that be acceptable to our politicians who want to be premiers of their gerographic pockets to to the likes of Starbucks who declare their profits in low tax territories?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1535.

    the government say things to appease us in the short term. Then they keep on repeating it and repeating it. They just sweep the problem underneath the carpet when a bigger problem crops up. The mess beneath the carpet them becomes the main problem again and we get this spiral. Nothing ever gets changed for the better. It's all about profit and money, and not about the people's wishes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1534.

    Once again complete U turn by the party who allowed uncontrolled immigration & encouraged seperate development of certain religous & ethnic minorities regardless of the future problems this has now created.I have many friends who are 2nd generation eastern european(Polish/Ukranian) & apart from having dodgy surnames are 100% English.Their parents made an effort to embrace a new life & it worked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1533.

    Don't forget this was Labours deliberate Policy.

    Never vote for them again, their base ideology hasnt changed one bit.


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