Ed Miliband lacks ‘courage’, says former minister

Barbara Roche is adamant that Labour’s leader must confront Ukip on immigration – and soon

Ed Miliband must have the “courage” to take on the threat from Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party directly, or risk a setback for his party at next month’s European elections, a former Labour minister says today.

In The Independent on Sunday, Barbara Roche, chairman of the Migration Matters Trust and a minister in Tony Blair’s government, writes that Mr Farage has become “Labour’s Voldemort – he whose name cannot be mentioned” because Mr Miliband doesn’t want to tackle Ukip on immigration.

She believes it is a “tragedy” for Labour that the only British politician who has had the “courage” to take on Ukip is Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. While the Deputy Prime Minister was trounced in his two debates with Mr Farage, at least he had been “prepared to fight” for what he believed in, Ms Roche says. She advises Mr Miliband to make a positive, progressive case for immigration and acknowledge the benefits that migrants bring to Britain.

Opinion polls suggest that at the European elections next month, Labour and Ukip will fight it out for first place.

The continuing surge of Ukip in the polls and Mr Farage’s overwhelming triumph in the recent debates forced David Cameron to mention Mr Farage by name for the first time in a major speech when he addressed the Conservative spring forum last week. Yet, as Ms Roche points out, Mr Miliband has failed to attack Mr Farage or his party directly : “When it comes to the central contest between the two parties that most polls have in first and second place – Labour and Ukip – Labour has been wholly absent.

“In March, Ed Miliband mounted his biggest intervention to date on Europe, yet avoided any mention of Labour’s closest challenger. It’s as if Nigel Farage has become Labour’s Voldemort – he whose name cannot be mentioned. The reason is simple: immigration.… Battles don’t win themselves; they require politicians prepared to fight for what they believe in.”

Last week, Yvette Cooper, Labour’s home affairs spokesperson, made a speech on immigration, but Ms Roche said it was “convoluted” and failed to acknowledge that immigrants put more into Britain’s economy than they take out – a net contribution of more than 4p on the basic rate of income tax.

A ComRes poll for the IoS last week put Ukip on 20 per cent, their highest rating in terms of a general election prediction.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all