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Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper told a fringe meeting at the Labour Conference yesterday that a Labour government would scrap the Conservatives’ net migration target, the Guardian reported.
David Cameron has pledged to cut net migration to “the tens of thousands” under the target.
According to the Guardian, Cooper said Labour would replace the Government’s net migration target with a much more strictly defined series of targets and controls. She said that overseas students would not be included, and she stressed that asylum seekers must be treated entirely separately from migrants.
Cooper said the target had completely distorted the Government’s policy on immigration.
The Guardian quoted her as saying: “We would not have a net migration target because choosing net migration to focus on is the wrong thing. We think immediately what should happen is that students, international university students, should be taken out of the net migration target straight away. What you should instead have is a series of different controls and targets for different kinds of immigration.”
Cooper said Labour recognised that a system “which is far more sensible about the different kinds of immigration that we face and how it will work internationally” was needed.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Ed Miliband said that he did miss out references to immigration in his Conference speech yesterday.
According to BBC News, Miliband said that “one of the perils” of delivering a speech without a script was “not remembering every detail”.
The New Statesman reported yesterday that the original text of the speech featured a longer section on immigration, which was mentioned just once in the speech as delivered.
The New Statesman noted that the following was part of the section left out:
“One Nation Labour has changed from New Labour — businesses have a responsibility to pay their taxes, respect their customers and treat their workers fairly.
“Because together we can and on our own we can’t. Those who can work have a responsibility to do so. Because together we can and on our own we can’t.
“Immigration benefits our country but those who come here have a responsibility to learn English and earn their way. And employers have a responsibility not to exploit migrant workers and undercut wages.
“Because together we can and on our own we can’t. Government, business, working people acting together. Living up to their responsibilities. A new ethic. A national effort. Labour’s plan for Britain’s future.”
Cooper says Labour got things wrong on immigration, promises stronger border controls
In a speech made today at the Labour Conference, Yvette Cooper spoke in-depth on immigration and said that while Labour had got things wrong on immigration in the past, a new Labour Government would bring in stronger border controls to tackle illegal immigration.
Cooper said Labour would not engage in an “arms race of rhetoric” on immigration and called the Government’s infamous ‘Go Home’ vans a disgrace, but she said it is not racist to be worried about immigration or to want stronger controls.
You can read the section on immigration from Cooper’s speech below:
“I know some people think it is right wing to be worried about immigration. But remember it is the reactionary right who want to build a wall to keep the world out.
It is the free market right who want a wide open border – in the interests of cheap labour, the right wing politics of division and the right wing politics of exploitation. Neither will ever be right for Britain, for working people, or for Labour
We know our country is built on centuries of migration. From Nobel prizewinners to Olympic medal winners, from the designer of the mini to the founders of Marks & Spencers. But immigration has to be controlled and managed.
We know in a global economy, we need to draw on international talent and investment but the system has to be fair.
We won’t engage in an arms race of rhetoric. Just practical policies that help. We will never do what the Tories did last year to send round “Go Home” Ad Vans to intimidate and stigmatise British citizens. That was a disgrace.
Yes, Labour got things wrong on immigration – on transitional controls for Eastern Europe, on the impact on jobs, but look at what this government is doing now.
David Cameron promised “no ifs no buts” he would meet his net migration target. Theresa May boasted last year that her progress on her target was “an achievement to be proud of”.
Yet net migration is the same now as when they came to office. Their target is in tatters.
And people are more worried than ever because here’s what’s got worse. More exploitation, more insecurity, border controls reduced, fewer foreign criminals sent home, fewer firms fined for employing illegal migrants. Yet for the first time in decades the number of international university students who bring billions into Britain went down. It’s the worst of all worlds.
That’s why a Labour Government will bring in stronger border controls to tackle illegal immigration.
Proper entry and exit checks, so visas can be enforced and criminals stopped. We will set smarter controls and targets – to reduce low skilled migration and tackle abuse, yet make sure we have the University students and top talent we need.
We will never turn our backs on those fleeing persecution and I’m proud our party forced the Government to accept vulnerable Syrian refugees. But those who come to work and live need to contribute not claim benefits, and abide by the law. Rules must be fair and they must be properly enforced.
And we need radical reform when it comes to Europe.
To stop the growing crisis at Calais, strengthen restrictions on new countries, change benefit rules so people can’t claim when they first arrive, change deportation rules to make it easier to send home EU citizens who commit crimes and to change employment rules to stop employers exploiting cheap migrant labour to undercut wages and jobs. Not free movement, but fair movement.
We’ll outlaw agencies who only recruit abroad, we’ll close the loopholes in the minimum wage, we’ll increase fines for employing people here illegally. And we should do more.
Take the Eastern European workers brought here by a gang to work. Their wages were stolen, they slept on bug ridden mattresses six to a room, they had dogs set on them if they complained, and they were held in the back of a transit van for five days at a time.
The police tried to stop it but said they couldn’t prosecute because the men were here legally and they’d consented to work, so there was no crime. People treated like animals, used to undercut local wages and jobs. Responsible businesses losing out.
No crime? Conference, this is not the economy we want or the Britain we believe in. So the next Labour government will make this exploitation a crime.
And Conference we need to do more to stop the criminals trading in humanity here and across the world. To stop clothing woven with the sweat of slaves reaching our fashion rails.
Seafood stained with the blood of slaves reaching our supermarket shelves. The Government’s Modern Slavery Bill doesn’t go nearly far enough. There can be no half measures. A Labour government will demand action from major companies throughout their international supply chains. It’s time to stamp out this evil trade.
Only Labour will tackle the exploitation of immigration that hits wages and jobs. The Tories, Liberal Democrats and UKIP would make things worse. The coalition has already made it harder to enforce employment rights.
As for UKIP don’t let them ever tell you they’ll sort out problems on immigration. They’d make it harder to get France to sort out the Calais crisis.
They’d ditch the European Arrest Warrant and make it harder to send foreign criminals back home.
They’d cut employment rights and make it harder to stop employers exploiting immigration to undercut local pay.
Don’t let them ever, ever tell you they stand for working people: when their plans hit jobs, scrap your rights at work, charge you to see your GP and cut taxes for millionaires by more than David Cameron. That’s not helping working people, that’s hurting working people.
Let us be clear about this – it is not racist to be worried about immigration or to want stronger controls. But when a UKIP candidate says Lenny Henry should leave the country because of the colour of his skin, that is racist. We will never let racism go unchallenged.”