The meeting, inspired by an article written by Kate Green MP for Progress, included high-calibre panellists such as ex-minister for Europe, Denis MacShane MP, Labour’s National Policy Forum vice-chair, Kate Green MP, New Statesman editor, Mehdi Hasan, public opinion expert, Dr Rob Ford, GMB activist, Kamaljeet Jandu, and chaired by Jack Dromey MP, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration and Shadow Minister for Communities & Local Government.
On the first day of conference (25 September) the Labour Leader Ed Miliband made a conciliatory plea to working class voters that the party “underestimated the level of immigration from Poland” and urged a rethink of accession states and the possible impact EU movement can have on a “short-term fast buck economy.” Jack Dromey’s article in the New Statesman contextualised the wide-ranging (and sometimes difficult) debate about the strength of feeling low-paid British workers have over immigration in the UK but that a ‘positive case’ should be set out that dispels myths and addresses the concerns of voters who deserted the party for the BNP, UKIP and Tories over immigration policies.
The panellists made impassioned pleas to the Labour faithful that a conflation of issues, such as crime correlating with migration [of particular immigrant communities], will never help with the attempts that try to establish a comprehensive intelligent debate with the electorate. We should, however, have a continued fundamental commitment to human rights and be strongly mindful of what public opinion genuinely asks of migration policy. The party should never shy away from the complex debate it needs to have with voters that, in the long-term, fair and deliverable policies can help invigorating the economy and win public confidence.
As part of the APPG’s work to establish a robust political debate that also sets out a collective cross-party vision on immigration, each panellist outlined a concrete set of proposals on how the party should move forward on immigration.