Labour's 'secret plan' to lure migrants
The Government has been accused of pursuing a secret policy of encouraging mass immigration for its own political ends.
By Tom Whitehead, Home Affairs Editor
Published: 10:00PM GMT 09 Feb 2010
Voting trends indicate that migrants and their descendants are much more likely to vote Labour Photo: PA
The release of a previously unseen document suggested that Labours migration policy over the past decade had been aimed not just at meeting the countrys economic needs, but also the Governments social objectives.
The paper said migration would enhance economic growth and made clear that trying to halt or reverse it could be economically damaging. But it also stated that immigration had general benefits and that a new policy framework was needed to maximise the contribution of migration to the Governments wider social aims.
The Government has always denied that social engineering played a part in its migration policy.
However, the paper, which was written in 2000 at a time when immigration began to increase dramatically, said controls were contrary to its policy objectives and could lead to social exclusion.
Last night, the Conservatives demanded an independent inquiry into the issue. It was alleged that the document showed that Labour had overseen a deliberate open-door policy on immigration to boost multi-culturalism.
Voting trends indicate that migrants and their descendants are much more likely to vote Labour.
The existence of the draft policy paper, which was drawn up by a Cabinet Office think tank and a Home Office research unit, was disclosed last year by Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett.
He alleged at the time that the sharp increase in immigration over the past 10 years was partly due to a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multi-cultural.
However, the full document was made public only yesterday following a Freedom of Information request by Migrationwatch, a pressure group. A version of the paper was published in 2001, but most of the references to social objectives had been removed. In the executive summary alone, six out of eight uses of the phrase were deleted.
Labour has overseen an unprecedented rise in immigration, which has led to a rise of about three million in the UK population since 1997. Until recently, it accused opponents who called for tougher controls of playing the race card. Labour was forced to change its rhetoric amid concerns that the economic and social reality of immigration had alienated voters in its heartlands.
Gordon Brown pledged to secure British jobs for British workers as the recession led to a rise in unemployment and, just four months ago, he was accused of a U-turn when he insisted that it was not racist to discuss the issue.
The document released yesterday suggested that Labour originally pursued a different direction. It was published under the title Migration: an economic and social analysis but the removal of significant extracts suggested that officials or ministers were nervous over references to social objectives.
The original paper called for the need of a new framework for thinking about migration policy but the concluding phrase if we are to maximise the contribution of migration to the Governments economic and social objectives was edited out.
Another deleted phrase suggested that it was correct that the Government has both economic and social objectives for migration policy.
Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of Migrationwatch, said the document showed that Mr Neather, who claimed ministers wanted to radically change the country and rub the Rights nose in diversity, had been correct in his account of Labours immigration policy.
Labour had a political agenda which they sought to conceal for initiating mass immigration to Britain, he said. Why else would they be so anxious to remove any mention of social aspects?
Only now that their working-class supporters are deserting them in droves have they started to talk about restricting immigration.
Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, accused the Government of having a secret policy. This shows that Labours open-door immigration policy was deliberate, and ministers should apologise, he said. This makes it all the more important that there is a proper independent inquiry in the origins of this policy and whether ministers have been deceiving people.
Jack Straw, who was home secretary when the paper was drawn up, has adamantly denied any secret plot and insisted that he had been tough on immigration.
Phil Woolas, the Immigration Minister, said the policy changes introduced in the 1997-2001 Parliament toughened immigration rules. The reports confirm there is no evidence to back the idea there was an open-door policy, he said. The Government was criticised at the time for tightening the policy.
Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, will announce today moves to make it harder to earn citizenship.
Related Articles :
Labour changes its tune over immigration limit as election looms
Judge criticises Britain's 'pitifully inadequate' immigration controls
The deceit of Labour's immigration policy
Mothers go on hunger strike at immigration centre after being separated from children
Immigrants 'exploiting loophole at Stansted Airport to enter the country'
Border Agency cannot perform basic functions, warns watchdog