If you can't beat them, join them? Ed Miliband urged to beat Ukip with EU immigration curbs

 

Political Editor

A close ally of Ed Miliband has urged Labour to combat the threat from Ukip by proposing curbs on migration to Britain from other European Union countries.

John Denham, the former Cabinet minister, said Labour should abandon its “politically correct” approach to immigration and listen to people with Labour values who are worried about the issue.

Mr Denham, formerly Mr Miliband’s parliamentary aide, said: “Many of the EU citizens who entitled to come here are people we would reject if they came from anywhere else… If voters ask good questions, ignoring them is not a wise political strategy.”

Writing on the LabourList website, Mr Denham argued: “For the foreseeable future, it would be better if fewer EU migrants came here. That way we can create a more balanced labour market and reduce future pressures on services and housing. So we should work actively to reduce the number of EU migrants coming to the UK, and move closer to the relationship we have with the rest of the world.”

He called on Labour to “lead the debate” about changing EU rules on free movement rather than defend the current system. He added: “This won’t be a swift argument to win, but we will get more credit for trying than for avoiding the issue. [Angela] Merkel won’t let Germany pay for southern Europe. Why should we cope with the migration consequences if Eurozone failure?”

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is seeking some curbs on free movement after arrivals from southern Europe scuppered the Tories’ hopes of reducing net migration to under 100,000 a year by next year, but Labour has called only for delays to free movement rights when new member states  join the EU.

Mr Denham’s intervention will fuel a heated debate in Labour’s ranks after Ukip captured more working class votes than Labour had expected in last month’s Euro elections. Allies of Mr Miliband believe there would be little chance of persuading the other 27 EU members to reduce migration. “We want realistic and credible reforms, not pie in the sky options,” one said.

Tony Blair meanwhile has accused Nigel Farage of "traducing" Britain ,"deceiving" voters and fuelling grievances about immigration and Europe. He urged politicians not to pander to "unpleasant prejudices" and an "attitude which says we don't like foreigners".

Speaking at the London Business School, the former Prime Minister said: “It's very dangerous and wrong for the leaders of British politics to think you are going to address the concerns of people who are worried about jobs, their future... to play into an idea that what's holding them back is someone else is coming along and taking their opportunity from them. It isn't true.”

David Cameron said freedom of movement was not an "unqualified right", adding: “When new countries join there should be much longer transitional controls, particularly when you've got countries with very different economic levels so we avoid the large migrations of the past.”

The Conservatives are on course to win Thursday’s by-election in Newark, according to a poll by Lord Ashcroft, the party’s former deputy chairman. It puts the Tories on 42 per cent, Ukip on 27 per cent and Labour on 20 per cent. A national poll by him shows  Labour on 34 per cent, the Tories on 25 per cent, Ukip on 19 per cent and the Liberal Democrats six per cent, their lowest since the Coalition was formed.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever