Non-bigot's guide to immigration


Gordon and Gillian
Image caption Gordon Brown listens to the views of Rochdale pensioner Gillian Duffy.

Gordon Brown's fury at being confronted by a woman he called a 'bigoted' pensioner seemed to confirm what some already feared. You can't talk about immigration.

Just mentioning the 'I word' means you hate foreigners, and are probably racist.

Compared to the economy, health, and the prospect of a hung-parliament, little has been said on the subject.

Critics claims the main parties are scared to discuss immigration for fear of looking too tough or too soft.

However they all have different views on how to manage foreigners coming to the UK.

Newsbeat has trawled through the manifestos so you don't have to:


Has had 13 years in power to deal with immigration, and likes to talk-up the measures it has already introduced.

These include biometric visas and a points system for deciding if workers have skills we need.

The party is also promising more change in the future:

  • Introducing a system of counting visitors to the UK in and out by the end of 2010
  • No unskilled migration from outside the European Union (EU residents are free to work in any other member country - that also allows British people to move elsewhere in Europe)
  • Stepping-up action against illegal immigrants
  • Increase funding to the Migrant Impact Fund - designed to help communities affected by high levels of immigration


The Tories say immigration is too high and needs to be reduced to the level seen during the 1990s.

  • Limiting annual immigration to "thousands, not hundreds of thousands"
  • Only admitting those who bring most value to the UK economy
  • Promoting integration with an English language test for all immigrants
  • Clamp-down on bogus colleges and universities used as a front to get visas for students
  • Creation of a dedicated Border Police Force


  • A citizenship amnesty for illegal immigrants who have been here for 10 years, speak English, and have no criminal record
  • A regional points system, allowing immigrants to come to specific parts of the UK depending on the skills needed there
  • Like Labour and the Conservatives, plans to introduce exit checks for those leaving the UK
  • Focusing deportation efforts on criminals, people traffickers and high priority cases
  • End to the detention of asylum seekers' children


  • Scotland would take control of its own immigration policy
  • Would develop a system of 'earned citizenship' to attract highly skilled workers to Scotland


  • Against asylum seeker detention centres
  • Supports the right of asylum seekers to work while waiting for their cases to be reviewed


  • Five year freeze on immigration for those seeking permanent settlement in the UK
  • After the first five years, no more than 50,000 new immigrants per year
  • Taking Britain out of the European Union. All workers wanting to come here in future would need a visa
  • Removal of illegal immigrants from the UK
  • Tripling of staff at the UK Border Agency


The BNP takes the hardest line on immigration of all the political parties. It claims "indigenous British" will become a minority within 50 years.

  • Halt all further immigration
  • Deport all illegal immigrants
  • Deport all foreigners convicted of a crime
  • Review all citizenships granted since 1997
  • Would offer payments to resettle people from immigrant families to their "land of ethnic origin"
  • Established British families would get priority for schools and houses

The BNP claims admission of large numbers of foreigners has created a "poorer, more violent, disoriented, confused, politically correct, ill-educated, dependent, fractured society".