Britain must 'work at' integration
Britain must "work at" becoming a more integrated society, Ed Miliband has said as he outlined plans for a "comprehensive strategy" to deal with the pressures of a multi-ethnic society.
The Labour leader admitted his party had failed to control immigration or deal with racial and ethnic segregation in Britain's cities during its last spell in government.
He vowed not to sweep "deep anxieties" about the impact of immigration under the carpet and signalled that he was prepared to "look at" the impact of a Government cap on immigration from outside the EU - a policy he has heavily criticised.
But he hailed the London Olympics as a symbol of the successes of the UK as a diverse community and set out measures on language, housing and the workplace to help strengthen it further.
In a speech in Tooting, south London, Mr Miliband received loud applause when he insisted that contrary to what figures such as the blackshirt Oswald Mosley, Enoch Powell and BNP leader Nick Griffin suggested, the multi-ethnic Britain shown in this week's census and in the summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games was a cause for celebration.
Drawing on his own parents' experience as Jewish refugees from the Holocaust, Mr Miliband said: "We should celebrate multi-ethnic diverse Britain. We are stronger for it - and I love Britain for it. Britain is at its best when it comes together as a nation, not when it stands divided. That's what One Nation is about. 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 or fail to talk about it, nor is it to make promises that can't be kept. It is to deal with all of the issues that concern people."
Mr Miliband accepted that there are concerns about the "pace of change" in British life due to immigration, particularly in specific areas which have witnessed high numbers of new arrivals. "The capacity of our economy to absorb new migrants has outrun the capacity of some of our communities to adapt," he said. "The last Labour government made mistakes in this regard. We have said we will learn lessons from eastern European migration and ensure maximum transitional controls in future. And we will look at how the Government's immigration cap works in practice. But I believe we can all cope with these pressures if we recognise them and understand how to respond."
Immigration minister Mark Harper said: "Ed Miliband's failure to apologise proves that Labour can never be trusted on immigration. They allowed the situation to get out of control, and have opposed every single step this Government is taking to control it.
"This Government has put a stop to Labour's mass immigration. We have already significantly reduced the flow of people coming into the country. The total number of visas issued is at its lowest since 2005 and we have cut net migration by a quarter this year. Our policies are starting to bite, and we are making progress towards bringing net migration down to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament."
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: "The steps which Ed Miliband outlined to promote integration are perfectly sensible but there was a glaring gap in his speech - namely his failure to say anything significant about limiting the scale of future immigration. Apparently he is only going to 'look at the whole system'. Does he seriously think that we can integrate three million migrants into our community every 10 years? Until Labour undertake to place limits on immigration they will not get a hearing from the British public."
- Dudley's Stick of Dynamite, Dennis Stevens
- 'The Story of England's Goalkeeper Bert Williams of The Wolves'
- Exploring Dudley Tunnel and Limestone Mines in the 1970s
- Remembering an Oldbury pub in its 1920s heyday
- 'Although it stands slanting, it's really enchanting, and an ideal place for a spree' The Siden House song
- The Apprentice