Posts Tagged ‘Gangmasters Licensing Authority’

One Nation Labour has to be tough on immigration and tough on its causes

06/03/2013, 11:21:34 AM

by Kevin Meagher

Tonight Ed Miliband will use a party election broadcast to set out a subtly new approach on immigration after apparently being stung by how resonant the issue has now become following Labour’s poor showing at the Eastleigh by-election.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper will follow up with a speech tomorrow setting out how Labour will get tough on so-called gangmasters, ending their practice of cramming immigrant workers into unsuitable accommodation while forcing them to pay extortionate rents for the privilege. There will also be a symbolic shift towards the police rather than HM Revenue and Customs taking the lead on enforcement of the national minimum wage.

“There must be a level playing field so domestic workers are not disadvantaged and employers shouldn’t be allowed to use migration in the wrong way,” says a Labour source.

This is all to the good. To be sure, Ed is making this intervention from the safe distance of critiquing labour market abuses rather than engaging, it seems, in the bigger discussion about culture, population and national identity. That may come another day, but at least the issue of immigration is now framed by an acceptance that it comes with costs for many people, particularly those at the bottom of the pile who are effectively priced out of jobs by migrant workers.

I’ve written before that Labour politicians – and many on the left – can’t seem to bring themselves to discuss downsides to immigration. (Indeed, the term ‘inward migration’ has crept into popular usage, as if eschewing the very mention of ‘immigration’ will nullify public concern). Like actors refusing to refer to “the Scottish play”, the subject is deemed to be taboo, inherently right-wing and the precursor to a more toxic discussion about race.


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