Immigration is important to Britain, but it has to be managed and controlled so the system is fair. Britain has benefited from the ideas and talents of those who have come here from abroad over many centuries, but reform is needed to strengthen border controls, tackle exploitation and bring fairer rules if we are to remain an outward looking and diverse nation.
Too often debate about immigration has been polarised and unhealthy – with the Tories and UKIP engaged in an arms race of rhetoric that exploits people’s fears and creates division on the one hand, and, on the other, some liberal commentators and business advocates saying concern about immigration is irrational.
Instead of ramping up the rhetoric, we need a practical sensible debate on the reforms this country needs. The Labour Party is the only political party with proposals to stop local workers and responsible businesses being undercut by unfair exploitation of migrants. And following reports the government are deporting fewer foreign criminals and have failed to tackle the situation in Calais, the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper is today announcing plans to recruit an additional 1,000 border and enforcement officers. These additional staff will be tasked with providing additional checks at borders, tackling illegal migration and ensuring visa rules are properly enforced.
Stronger border controls and enforcement are vital for a progressive approach. People need to have confidence that fair rules are being enforced, otherwise consent in the whole system is compromised.
Labour will never engage in an arms race of rhetoric on immigration, but put forward practical and workable policies that will make a difference.
Not making promises that aren’t kept or weakening enforcement of the rules – as the Tories have.
Not sowing the seeds of division, whilst offering measures that would make matters worse – as UKIP have.
And not dismissing the problems out of hand – as the Liberals do.