Ukip needs to address the “racists” in its party, said the shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna, yesterday, while admitting immigration is “a concern” in the party.
Labour has recently increased the tone of its rhetoric on immigration, backing an extension of the time to six months that EU migrants must be in the UK before claiming out-of-work benefits.
After Labour narrowly avoided disaster last week, when the party was only 617 votes away from losing the safe seat of Heywood and Middleton to Ukip, Ed Miliband sought to calm fears by promising a “hard-headed” approach to immigration that would include stronger border controls, laws to end exploitation, and reforms to ensure that immigrants “earn the right” to claim benefits in the UK. A close source denied this meant that the party is turning to the right or “aping Ukip”.
In pictures: The rise of Ukip
In pictures: The rise of Ukip
1/8 1993: Alan Sked forms Ukip
History professor Alan Sked had been active in anti-EU politics for a while beore he founded Ukip in 1993. He resigned from the party after the 1997 election, concerned that it was attracting far-right members, and has been critical of Ukip since. Picture: Reuters
2/8 2005: Kilroy defects
Former TV presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk founded Veritas in 2005, after a failed bid to become leader, and took many of Ukip's elected members with him. But the party slowly lost its popularity and didn't put forward any candidates in the last election. Picture: REUTERS/Kieran Doherty REUTERS KD/RUS
3/8 2010: Farage becomes leader, again
Farage had led Ukip from 2006 until 2009, when he stood down to fight against the Speaker, John Bercow, for his Buckingham seat. He failed to win the election and returned to lead the party in November 2010. Picture: REUTERS/Kieran Doherty
4/8 2010: Ukip fights for election
Nigel Farage was injured in a plane crash on polling day in the 2010 general election, but his party increased its success in the votes. It fielded 572 candidates and took 3.1% of the vote, though failed to win any seats. REUTERS/Darren Staples
5/8 2013: Eastleigh gains
Ukip's candidate Diane James got the highest ever number of votes for any candidate from the party, but was beaten by the Liberal Democrats. The surge in support gave Ukip confidence ahead of local and European elections later in the year. Picture: Reuters
6/8 2013: Bloom kicked out
Godfrey Bloom, who served as an Ukip MEP from 2004 to 2014, had the whip withdrawn in 2013 after sexist comments and an attack on a journalist. He sat as an independent MEP until 2014, when he ended his term in office. Picture: REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
7/8 2014: European election success
Ukip got a higher proportion of the vote than any other party in 2014's European elections, adding 11 new MEPs and taking its total to 24. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
8/8 2014: Carswell defects
Douglas Carswell defected from Ukip at the end of August, and was followed by Mark Reckless at the end of September, who resigned from the Tories amid rumours of many more defections to come. Picture: REUTERS/Toby Melville
In an article in The Observer yesterday, Mr Miliband said the ability of new migrants to claim benefits must be based on principles of “contribution, responsibility and fairness”.
Labour’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, echoed this on The Andrew Marr Show: “If people want to claim contributory benefits they should have been here long enough to pay into the system before they get [anything] out.”
Interviewed on Sky News, Chuka Umunna said: “Of course, there are racists in Ukip. That is unfortunate and something they need to address. They say terrible things about different parts of our society.”Reuse content