by Callum Anderson
Whilst Nigel Farage was throwing back pints of lager and glasses of wine and champagne on Channel 4, Ed Miliband and his closest aides were reeling from yet another awkward episode on immigration.
On a day that was supposed to represent an opportunity for the leader of the opposition to portray himself as the prime minister in-waiting, what instead occurred was a series of deflections by Miliband about that document, culminating in him entirely distancing himself from it.
In short, Miliband’s closest aides failed him.
Yet it wasn’t through actually leaking the 33-page private strategy document that failed him. It was the contents of that document which did.
Whilst the document correctly identifies immigration as the issue people most often cite when explaining support for UKIP, it makes several mistakes insofar as stating that any messaging around immigration should always be done in conjunction with other policy areas, such as health and housing. Doing this, the theory goes, will enable activists and candidates to tilt conversation away from uncomfortable, but frankly needed, exchanges about immigration, in favour of ‘comfort-zone’ topics of conversation.
Or, in other words, activists and candidates should do their best to entirely avoid the concerns of voters, and talk about traditional, safe Labour issues.
This is a dangerous game to play.
It is clear that Labour will always be facing an uphill struggle on immigration. The ultimately flawed policy of allowing the so-called A8 (i.e. the Eastern European countries which joined the EU in 2004) to arrive without any initial border controls has tarnished Labour’s credibility on migration issues.