Mili's immigration shift
Ed Miliband today called for immigrants to be barred from public sector service jobs unless they can speak English properly.
(Read the whole of Mr Miliband’s speech here
But David Cameron has challenged the Labour leader to explicitly support some of the Government’s policies, such as a clampdown on student visas, aimed at reducing immigration.
“The challenge I think for Ed Miliband is – will you now support the changes we’ve made to student visas, the closure of the bogus colleges, the cap on unskilled migrants from outside the EU? Will you now support these steps that you opposed and for 10 years, 13 years, refused to put into place?”
In the week that the Census revealed growing numbers of mixed-race families and ethnic populations in cities, Mr Miliband praised the UK's multi-cultural society and stressed his own Jewish migrant roots.
But in a key shift in policy, he also hardened his party's stance on the teaching of English and on what he called “segregation” in housing and employment.
In a speech in south London he admitted his party “made mistakes” on immigration and said Labour would consider accepting the Coalition's cap on migrant numbers.
“We will look at the whole system of control for non-EU migration, including the government’s cap, to ensure a system that works. Britain must always control its borders,” he said.
Also in the speech, Mr Miliband acknowledged the “profound anxieties” some communities feel “not just about people coming here but about how we live together when they do”.
He highlighted the problems many in social care faced when dealing with care workers who could not speak English well, saying:
“Many people being paid the lowest wages do a fantastic job working as care workers. But older people of different backgrounds often say that the limited English skills of some care workers present them with difficulties.”
He said Labour would prioritise English teaching for ‘newcomers’ ahead of funding for “non-essential written translation materials”, such as council leaflets.
Other proposals included putting English teaching in all Home School Agreements for parents and being "tougher” in enforcing existing law on stopping shift patterns that allow people to work only with those of the same ethnic group, he added.
And in a move that may affect Polish workers, he called for a ban on recruitment agencies advertising jobs for just one national group.