Brown Takes Australian Approach On Immigration

Brown takes Australian approach on immigration

April 14, 2010

LONDON: The British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has appealed directly to a middle England spooked by rising unemployment, adopting what he describes as the ''tough Australian immigration points system'' as a key plank of Labour's election manifesto.

Launching the government's re-election platform in Birmingham, Mr Brown aimed squarely at disaffected Labour voters, noting the party faced ''the fight of our lives'' and describing the poll as the ''fight for your future''.

In his manifesto yesterday, the Conservative Party leader David Cameron put people power at the heart of the Tories' election campaign, urging voters to pull together to create a brighter future for Britain – and to pull the Tories out of the wilderness.

Mr Brown ruled out income tax rises, pledged to rebuild the economy and create jobs, restore voter faith in the system and renew society with more parental leave, childcare and tax cuts for low-income parents of toddlers.

For his part, Mr Cameron said the Tories would give people the power to ''sack'' badly behaved MPs, to elect police chiefs and to set up their own local schools.

The art deco cover of Mr Brown's manifesto and accompanying posters , featuring a rising sun and family in fields sparked immediate debate; they are reminiscent of Labour's ''Greet the Dawn'' election posters of 1923 when the party formed a minority government with the support of the Liberals.

Bloggers commented on the similarity of the sun with Mao Zedong's famous posters.

Beneath the slogan ''A Future Fair for All'', Mr Brown sends the message that immigration policies and student visas may get significantly tougher.

''There will be no unskilled workers coming into Britain from outside the EU,'' he said, adding that skilled and semi-skilled jobs would be advertised for a month in local job centres before they could be ''thrown open to overseas candidates''.

The manifesto echoes John Howard's words on illegal arrivals, stating that ''coming to Britain is a privilege and not a right''. It promises citizenship ceremonies and a requirement for English-language proficiency.

Mr Cameron also received his first rebuke from business over his plans to cut immigration.

The lobby group representing the world's biggest companies and banks told the Financial Times that the restrictions appeared to appeal to a ''populist'' voice but would alienate significant emerging economic powers and harm London's international economic standing.

''How we build our links with the Far East and BRIC economies [Brazil, India, China] is absolutely fundamental to London's future,'' Baroness Jo Valentine, chairwoman of the business body London First, said.

The Labour Party's key reform promises will focus on the public service in a move to decentralise power and give communities greater say in how they are run.

Parents would be given the power to demand new school leadership if their principals are failing; they could set up a system of takeovers and mergers by more successful schools.

The process would also be applied to failing police regions and National Health Service hospitals would become foundation trusts. This would allow efficient institutions to take over management of less successful ones.

''There are no big new spending commitments, but there is a determination for every penny to be used wisely and, as present plans make clear, to give the maximum protection to front-line public services,'' Mr Brown said.