‘Sticking plaster’: Labour ‘deliberately loosened immigration controls,’ says think tank

Britain's opposition Labour party leader Ed Miliband.(Reuters / Luke Macgregor)
Labour policies were responsible for two thirds of the extra 3.6 million immigrants that moved to the UK between 1997 and 2010, a study has revealed.

A damning report by the think tank Migration Watch slated Labour’s policies, calling them a “sticking plaster,” which failed to address the root causes of the issue.

They say that after 1998, Labour introduced a “deliberate policy of loosening immigration controls in almost every sector – a policy that was not declared in any of the three election manifestos.”

According to the report, “These policies accounted for two thirds of the 3.6 million net foreign migration under Labour,” the report adds, a figure which “is four times higher than during the previous 13 years and is equivalent to the population of Britain’s five largest cities outside London – Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, Sheffield and Bradford.”

The report also pointed out that the total doesn’t include illegal immigrants.

They add that in 2003, then-Home Secretary David Blunkett asserted there was “no obvious limit” to the number of migrants that could come into the country.

The think tank said the failure to impose transitional controls on citizens of the European Union ‘A8’ Eastern European states had “led to one of the largest peacetime movements of people in Europe.”

Lord Green of Deddington, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: “This is a fascinating but very sad story of how a small but determined group appear to have manipulated immigration policy while deterring any opponents with false allegations of racism.

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“There is nothing to suggest that Labour now have the political will to get the scale of immigration down to a sensible level, rather the reverse.

“Whatever the Labour leadership may be saying now, the pressures from pro-immigration groups in and around any future Labour government would very likely lead to the gates being thrown open once more.”

Immigration has become a sore-point for all the major parties, with the UK Independence Party (UKIP) capitalizing on pressure to bring numbers down.

The latest figures show that in spite of Cameron’s “no ifs no buts” pledge to cap net migration at 100,000, it is still on the rise, with a net figure of nearly 300,000 moving to the UK in the past 12 months.

This may prove damaging to the Conservatives as they have over promised and/or underperformed. Labour are, however, unable to capitalize on the Conservative failure as their legacy on the issue is as close to toxic as is possible,” the report reads.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has previously said there could be “no doubting” how seriously his party took the issue, after a leaked memo warned campaigners to “move the conversation away” from immigration.

He has promised a “sensible approach” to immigration controls, not “false promises or false solutions,” and said Labour would “always respond to concerns (about immigration), not dismiss them.”

Labour’s immigration policy states: “The Tories have let people down.”

"David Cameron promised to get immigration down to the tens of thousands, ‘no ifs, no buts,’ but net migration is rising, not falling. It’s now at 260,000, higher than it was when David Cameron walked into Number 10, and the Tories’ target is in tatters.”