Immigration concerns not prejudiced says Ed Miliband
Labour leader says party has too often turned its back on such concerns, but he opposes setting ‘false targets’.
Worrying about immigration is not prejudice, Ed Miliband has said. But the Labour leader said he would not give “false promises” such as setting a target to cut net immigration.
He admitted his party had too often turned its back on concerns about immigration. The remarks signal a Labour decision to readdress immigration in the final days of campaigning before Thursday’s local and European elections.
He said: “We will never again turn our backs on people who are worried about immigration. But neither will we turn our back on the rest of the world.”
In a sign that the party realises the threat Ukip poses to its blue-collar vote, Michael Dugher, the Labour campaign officer, used an interview in the Daily Express – the paper most supportive of Ukip – to attack Nigel Farage as “a bullshit artist”.
Miliband said the election was the most unpredictable in a generation, and he had known for a long time that immigration was “a big issue on the doorstep”.
Citing his history as the son of a immigrant, he said: “With my background and my beliefs, I am never going to tell you that Britain should turn its back on the world. It just won’t work. And it is not who we are.”
He said his party had been on a journey on the issue of immigration. He told Airbus workers at Broughton, North Wales: “I don’t believe it is prejudiced to worry about immigration. We said that people needed to change their attitudes. But in fact, we needed to change ours.
“Because people see their communities changing fast around them. They worry about the entitlements people have when they come here and the pressure it might put on the system. And, especially with the cost of living crisis that our country faces, people ask about the impact of immigration on their wages and terms and conditions.”
However, in a BBC World at One interview, Miliband said he opposed the government’s target of net immigration falling below 100,000, and rejected blocking the free movement of workers in the EU.
- The Guardian,