Ed Balls: Brown failed to heed my warning on immigration
The Labour leadership contender Ed Balls claimed that he had warned Gordon Brown for 18 months that he needed to address voter concerns over immigration and indicated his Gillian Duffy gaffe was symptomatic of his refusal to engage with the issue.
By Andrew Porter, Political Editor
Published: 7:00AM BST 07 Jun 2010
The former schools secretary admitted that Labour had got it wrong over allowing almost unfettered immigration from eastern Europe a decision that led to British workers having to accept lower pay and worse conditions.
His intervention will be welcomed by union bosses who were livid at Mr Browns refusal to hold good to his promise of British jobs for British workers. Union chiefs and trade union members will have a key say in the race to succeed Mr Brown.
But it is Mr Ballss claim that he warned Mr Brown, his friend and boss for almost 20 years, that will attract much attention. Not least because he claimed that the incident in which Mr Brown called Gillian Duffy, a lifelong Labour supporter, bigoted was symptomatic of his refusal to engage with the issue.
Mr Balls told the BBCs Politics Show: On immigration, I said to him that you should be talking about immigration the last year and a half and that we were making a mistake by brushing it under the carpet. And to be honest, I think Gordons answer to Mrs Duffy showed hed not been having the conversation, because what she said was the kind of things being said by Labour supporters, and in some cases former Labour supporters over the last year and a half which was: 'Look, were not racist, and we support our EU membership and we know that immigrations important for the NHS, but look what its doing to my community, to my childs job prospects, our housing queues.
He was immediately backed by the biggest private sector union, Unite.
Les Bayliss, Unites assistant general secretary, said: Ed Balls is absolutely correct. We need to tighten up on regulations to protect domestic workers ability to get jobs and to earn a decent living, while at the same time allowing skilled workers from the EU to come here without fear of being cheated by unscrupulous employers.
Mr Balls is third in the running for Labour leader behind David and Ed Miliband. All three have enough nominations to run while Andy Burnham said yesterday he expects to reach the 33 nominations needed before Thursdays deadline.
In a sign that the four main contenders for the leadership are keen to make themselves stand out following accusations that they are all very similar all in their 40s, Oxbridge-educated, and former New Labour advisers Mr Burnham said his schooling was far from privileged. He told Sky News: People keep saying everyones backgrounds the same, but mine is different.
I mean there wasnt much privilege about going to a Merseyside comprehensive in the 1980s, I can assure you of that.
At two hustings meetings today, one at the GMB union and the other this evening in front of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Mr Burnham will stress that he will base his plan for Labours renewal on policies based in his own life experiences.
Mr Burnham told The Daily Telegraph: I am an instinctive politician. My policies would be based on my own life experiences because that way I feel we can deliver a vision that appeals to the country not just the Labour Party and the trade union movement.
We need to be clear and we need to appeal to those voters that Labour has lost.
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