Ed Miliband’s position on immigration is incoherent and will hand Labour votes to Ukip

by Atul Hatwal

Is Ed Miliband a Ukip sleeper agent?

At PMQs today, the Labour leader parroted Ukip’s lines on immigration at David Cameron: broken pledges to cut numbers, a system out of control, the need to be tougher; it was a miracle Miliband didn’t rehash talk of being swamped.

All the while, the Labour leader seemed blissfully unaware of the staggering, juddering, dissonant incoherence at the heart of the case he was bellowing, across the despatch box, at the prime minister.

Here are some basic facts: out of total net annual migration of 243,000 into the UK, 131,000 came from the European Union. That’s a significant chunk and represents a rise of almost 40% in the past year.

Europeans can come to the UK because freedom of movement across the EU’s member states is a central pillar of the union.

If Ed Miliband is going to make cutting immigration a centre-piece of Labour’s electoral offer, he will need to cut EU migration and that means either a change to freedom of movement or accept that Brexit is inevitable.

We can discount the former, because here’s what the new President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, had to say on the matter last week,

“We have a treaty. Freedom of movement since the Fifties is the basic principle of the European way of co-operating. These rules will not be changed.”

So presumably, Ed Miliband is about to announce that Labour is prepared to leave the EU?

Er, not so much. Here’s what the Labour leader had to say on British membership of the EU in March this year.

“Our country can tackle the major problems of the world far more effectively inside the European Union than it can on the outside…From climate change to crime and terrorism to promoting democracy around the world, Britain is stronger as part of the EU.

Our membership of the EU gives Britain access to a market with hundreds of millions of people. With 21 million companies. Generating 11 trillion pounds in economic activity. Almost half of all overseas investment in the UK comes from within the EU. Directly providing 3.5 million jobs. And much of the rest of the investment into our country comes because we are part of the single market.

Competing in that single market with the best companies in the world drives competitiveness and innovation for firms in all parts of our economy: from cars to computers, phones to pharmaceuticals.

Exit from the EU would put all these gains at risk. Either we would end up outside the single market or even if we could stay within it, it would be under terms and rules dictated by others. That would be bad for Britain.”

By choosing to attack David Cameron from the right on immigration for failing to cut numbers, Ed Miliband amply demonstrated he does not understand the most rudimentary of points: opposing freedom of movement and remaining in the EU are mutually exclusive.

The result is that today, on the eve of the South Yorkshire PCC election where Labour is trying to fend off Ukip, Ed Miliband framed the political debate around Ukip’s ideal question: how can we cut EU migration?

No matter how much Labour talks about fairness in the immigration system or enforcing the minimum wage or whatever is the line du jour, the only sure way to cut EU migration is Ukip’s way, to leave the EU.

The reaction on twitter from journalists of the left and right highlighted the scale of mistake made by Miliband. It was like a collective drawing of breath when something truly disastrous happens.


Europe had been one of Labour’s stronger policy areas. A rare example where Labour was aligned with business, most of the union movement and the majority of the British people, against the Conservatives.

But the more Ed Miliband talks about immigration, the more Labour’s European position unravels.

His public statements on immigration and Europe are hopelessly contradictory. The only possible beneficiary will be Ukip.

If Ed Miliband says that cutting the numbers of immigrants is the priority, why should we be surprised when Labour voters switch to vote for the one party that has the policies to deliver this?

It’s almost as if Ed Miliband were deliberately trying to boost Ukip in the weeks ahead of the Rochester and Strood by-election.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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28 Responses to “Ed Miliband’s position on immigration is incoherent and will hand Labour votes to Ukip”

  1. keithw says:

    It’ll also be costing them votes that go to the Greens. Mine, for example.

  2. BenM says:

    It’s very nice to agree with Atul for once!

    Well said.

    I think the reaction to his woeful conference speech has visibly damaged Ed’s self confidence.

    You can feel it and its reflected in the polling. Consequently his leadership and judgement of issues is all over the place right now.

  3. Madasafish says:

    I am sorry but this article almost suggests that Ed M has a set of coherent policies.. except Europe…

    The opinion polls – showing new lows for him – suggest that the public thinks not.

    I find these article attacking Ed Miliband boring and predictable : it’s not as if he’s a difficult target. I think you should stop kicking a Leader who has had “loser” written all over him since he was elected. I suggest a period of mourning in advance of the General Election would be more appropriate.

  4. e says:

    You don’t want the current Labour leader to take on the argument that the past Labour government lost control of immigration, or point out the fact that the Tories have made a ridicules promise on immigration that they have no possibility of keeping – not least because this particular administration’s management incompetence is becoming legendary. Everyone else will talk, but Labour must just shut up, is that it?
    I was dam certain EM wouldn’t have said anything to suggest he opposed freedom of movement, but just to be sure, I had to go and watch a recording of PMQs Not nice, disturbing to hear DC believes that children seeing their parents go out to work to put food on the table is down to him.

  5. Landless Peasant says:

    Anyone who defects to UKIP were never Socialists in the first place and were obviously very confused people who either belonged to, or were voting for, the wrong political party. Fuck ’em and good riddance to the racist scum.

  6. Tafia says:

    Whether Labour like it or not, the agenda for GE2015 will be dominated by two issues – the EU and immigration. Not the economy, not the NHS, not education – but the EU and immigration.

    So it better get it’s position clarified over booth crystal clear and start firming up.

    Big hint for Chuka – Not only does big business wish to remain in the EU, buit it also wants us in the euro. Lets see you sell that one. In addition, the core blue collar vote couldn’t really give a toss what big business wants ( they regard big business as tax-dodging thieves )and are always suspicious of it and anything it says so I wouldn’t go taking their side if I were you lest you become tainted by association.

  7. steve says:

    Miliband is clueless, it’s as simple as that.

    Best not to forget that UKIP supporters heckled Liz McInnes during her victory speech after the Heywood and Middleton by-election – over Labour’s senseless NHS PFI debt.

    And UKIP, like the Greens, opposes TTIP and supports the NHS.

    There are plenty of reasons for traditional Labour voters to abandon the sinking ship. And no doubt many more will.

  8. John PReid says:

    Landless peasant the IDEA of a party ran by at routes level of middle class, university educated, people cut off from the real world in the Green Party,describing ex labour voters who vote Ukip as racist is hilarious, do you have any idea how many black and Asian people ex labour are voting Ukip, OK several BaME people voting Ukip, never were socialists, maybe they voted labour a their parents did as union members were the only people who really welcomed BaME people when they came here 60 years ago, as for ex socialists voting .u.kIP, well they were againstID cards, CCTV IRAQ, want state pensions, and remember when labour was anti the EU

  9. John P Reid says:

    E, yesterday’s PMQ was labour blaming the a tories for the state of the country, the Tories saying it was the last labour gov’t’s fault,
    This reminds me of both Labour in the late 70’s when Mrs Thatcher opposition leader criticised labour,had labour say it was Ted Heaths fault,obviously labours defence didnt stick with the public,as we lost

    And William Hague criticising the labour government in 2001 for the state of the country, despite a lot of things such as the border police being scrapped by the Toeies in 1996′ Hagues criticism never stuck with the public as he lost,
    It’s 6 of one half dozen of the other with Labour blaming the Tories for the state of the country, but deporting criminals after their sentences are up, can’t be blamed on the last labour gov’t.

  10. 07052015 says:

    Four party politics,five in some places,is very tricky.You try to control the core deserting for ukip and you upset the left and vice versa.You chase aspirational soft tories and some ex labour libdems go green rather than come back to labour.

    The tories have the same problem in reverse.Anyone who thinks there is a simple solution to this ,eg kettle saying ed should come out fighting,doesnt understand the problem or is persuing some other objective.

    What this suggests to me is that the only way thru this is to develop a more collective leadership -no one politician can find a way thru .Someone takes on the tories ,someone takes on the snp,someone takes on ukip etc etc.

  11. Landless Peasant says:


    UKIP are a Fascist party. Anyone who votes for them is a racist. Such people have NO place in a Socialist Labour Party. End of.

  12. Landless Peasant says:


    I only vote Green because Labour have nothing to offer me. I would prefer to be a Labour voter but cannot as they continue to support Benefit Sanctions. I vote Green because there is no one else to vote for, apart from SWP or Class War in areas where there are candidates.

  13. Landless Peasant says:

    Labour need some more people of the calibre of Harold Wilson and Tony Benn, some real Commies that we can vote for, but not-so-Red Ed doesn’t cut it. Old Commies like me who were once hardcore Labour voters are not going to vote for Blue Labour.

  14. Landless Peasant says:

    There can be no compromise with Fascism.

  15. john Reid says:

    Landless peasant. can’t be bothered to argue with your dribble, but you do realise that communism can be red fascism, you say no compromise with it, what does that mean,would you apply your own view of no compromise to right wing fascsim as left

    the worrying thing is ,that you can just say ‘I know best anyone who’s slightly more right wing than me is a facists, i dont like them, and that they must be dealt with’
    End f, you won’t even bother to question, that UKIP aren’t facsist, that sort of close mind,was how fascsim spread, by not allowing debate to see what is undemoctratic or not.

    and Blue labour is a think tank, it’s not what the current Labour party expresses, as for SWP i suggest you google their recent activicty

  16. Tafia says:

    Reid: UKIP are a Fascist party.

    ” veneration of the state, a devotion to a strong leader, and an emphasis on ultranationalism and militarism. Fascism views political violence, war, and imperialism as a means to achieve national rejuvenation, and it asserts that stronger nations have the right to expand their territory by displacing weaker nations.”

    That is not UKIP (it actually sounds more like Jim Murphy and other Blairites). You actually remove the damage that the label ‘fascist’ can do by misusing it. In fact you make it acceptable. And then real fascists can sneak in by the back door.

    All UKIP are is a neo-liberalist Thatcherite party. They are probably only as right wing as the US Republicans and half the US Democrats.

  17. john P reid says:

    Tafia ,Tony Benns comment about how some Blairites found it easy to move from former Stalinists to the right was very telling, Blunkett and the Other John Reid being examples of how near fascism they came as Home secretary,

    Norman Tebbit of course called Michael foot a fascist over the closed shop, and the Times newspaper agreed with him, Keith Joseph called the grunswick picket red fascism, I recall Charles Clarke when he was at Liberty and it’s links to Pie was called a fascist (unfairly IMHO)by SWP and Charlie Whelan called Frank Field a fascist for 10 years ago calling for welfare reforms and a curb on unlimited immigration,

  18. Landless Peasant says:

    UKIP are, without any shadow of a doubt, a Fascist party. They are financed by a self-described millionaire Greek Fascist named Demetri Marchessini, who believes that it should be illegal for women to wear trousers. No compromise with the Fascist scum.

  19. Tafia says:

    Landless Peasant – UKIP are not fascist. Not even close. Not even anywhere on the same ball park.

    You need to get a grip.

  20. Landless Peasant says:

    @ Tafia

    What planet are you living on? UKIP are fucking FASCISTS!!! Their main donor ADMITS TO BEING A FASCIST, and is bloody proud of it!

  21. Tafia says:

    Landless Peasant – I shall make this an easy self-learning experience for you being as you seem to be unable to grasp what fascism actually is. Go and look up the definition. If anything, Blair’s New Labour were closer to fascism than UKIP are.

  22. Tafia says:

    In addition, you are confusing fascist, racist and nazi. All entirely different things. Fascism is mainstream politics in Italy and Spain. Sinn Fein for instance are broadly fascist – far more so than UKIP.

    Fascism is largely an economic position and is both and neither left and right wing.

  23. Landless Peasant says:

    Tafia you can split hairs all you want but it doesn’t alter the fact that UKIP are Brownshirts, whether you call that Fascist or Nazi I don’t care, it’s all the same to me, they are the scum my father’s generation fought a war against.

  24. John Reid says:

    Tania you’re right about, facism,racism,as different things, Enoch Powell was a racist, but not a racist, a fair few of EDL are racist, but not facsist,

    Franco in Spain was a fascist, but not a racist, and having both concerns about Sharia law, not wanting the excuse of being called a nationalist, as a defence when one is concerned about the muslim Peado gangs, is another thing that isn’t racist.

  25. Tafia says:

    It isn’t splitting hairs it’s reality.

    And having served as a combat soldier and met many many World War 2 veteran infantrymen I can assure you one thing they weren’t interested in was the politics of it. Their position was that they wanted to go home and the quickest way to do it was to kill as many Germans as possible as quickly as possible. So they did.

    Mussolini was fascist but not a nazi and not a racist. Hitler’s nazis were racist in some areas but not others (they had black soldiers and even a muslim SS division – in fact they had more muslims in their Army than any european nation before or since). The nazis were also economically fascist.

    UKIP are not fascist. In fact there immigration policy wouldn’t be out of place in Wilson’s or Attlee’s Labour governments and they were hardly fascist. Their economic policy – which is the core of fascism, is neo-liberalist where as fascism has to be state corporate (such as Red China).

  26. John Reid says:

    Landless Peasant, Peter shores widow left Labour stood as a Ukip candidate,as did Robert Kilroy silk Ex labour MP, are those your nazis,

    Fascism, is undemocratic oppression by power pushing views on the publici be it. Some of New Labour ,Sinn Fein, by actually ageing the IRA using violence to get their ways or the Soviet union, ate Ukip a Undemocratic, they actually want more democratic power for the British people to decide our laws

    Remember when the Sun has a Headline that via A Saonce ,Adolf Hitler said he was backing labour at the 1987 election, advising sun readers who’d fought against Hitler that the Labour Party were, the same or in 1992 calling the Sheffield rally a nazi style rally, saying we fought them communists in 2 wars and won, we could beat them ona other,(sic)

    Or the fact the Cold War was by our fathers generation fought against the USSR,

  27. Landless Peasant says:

    UKIP are Fascist scum. More Tory than the Tories.

  28. John Reid says:

    Define Tory, one nation tories like McMillan, Rab Butler were pink socialist, Thatcher according to atony Benn wasn’t a atory she was a free market liberal, like Gladstone

    As Diane Abbot and Bernie Grant both said racist remarks, d’you think tney were facsist,

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