Miliband calls for improved integration of immigrants to reduce pressures of a multi-ethnic society

Ed Miliband admits last Government made serious mistakes over immigration

The Labour leader Ed Miliband today called for an overhaul of housing and employment policy – and a concerted drive to teach English to recent immigrants – in an effort to improve integration and reduce the strains of a multi-ethnic society.

He admitted that the last Government made serious mistakes over immigration, underestimating the capacity of some communities to adapt to new arrivals. He also conceded that it had blundered by adopting an open-doors policy for new arrivals from the East European countries that joined the EU in 2004.

Under his proposals, Labour would expect migrants to learn English, tackle landlords who cram newcomers into overcrowded houses and ban recruitment agencies from seeking workers only from particular countries or ethnic groups.

Mr Miliband – speaking after this week’s Census highlighted the rapid demographic changes in Britain in the last decade - dismissed suggestions that different communities could live parallel existences.

He insisted: “Separation means isolation and you can’t succeed in Britain if you are isolated. Isolation also breeds ignorance and ignorance breeds suspicion and prejudice – and it sometimes even leads to community to turn on community.”

Speaking in Tooting, south London, the Labour leader protested that Britain was one of the few European countries not to have an integration strategy and argued: “We must put that right.”

He called for money spent on translation services to be switched to English language lessons. He said: “Our goal should be that everyone in Britain should know how to speak English. We should expect that of the people that come here.”

Parents of foreign-born children would be required to take responsibility in home-school agreements for them learning English, and the number of public sector jobs for which proficiency in English is mandatory would be increased.

The party would crack down on landlords who pack new immigrants into tiny properties and would end the use of tied housing and forced indebtedness which lock migrant workers into atrocious housing conditions.

He promised to ban recruitment agencies from advertising only for workers from particular countries and be tougher in enforcing laws designed to eliminate shift patterns which leave people working only with others from the same ethnic background.

"If we work hard, and we work together, we can build One Nation.  that we have a fair nation not an unjust one; a connected nation where everyone has a stake, not a segregated one; a confident nation, not an anxious one.

"A proper One Nation strategy for integration needs to revolve around issues that are central to people's lives including language, housing, and the workplace."

He insisted that - far from being seen as a threat, as figures like the blackshirt Oswald Mosley, Enoch Powell and BNP leader Nick Griffin have portrayed it - the multi-ethnic Britain revealed in the census and in the summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games is a cause for celebration.

He said: “We should celebrate multi-ethnic diverse Britain. We are stronger for it - and I love Britain for it.

“Britain is at its best when it comes together as a nation, not when it stands divided. That's what One Nation is about.

“But at the same time we know there is anxiety about immigration and what it means for our culture. The answer is not to sweep it under the carpet or fail to talk about it, nor is it to make promises that can't be kept. It is to deal with all of the issues that concern people.”

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: Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Day In a Page

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
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before