The home secretary is taking a draconian approach to slashing net immigration
Labour has been criticised for its weak response to multiple anti-immigrant proposals at Tory conference.
On a day when Jeremy Hunt proposed pushing foreign doctors out of the NHS, and Amber Rudd argued for slashing foreign student numbers and ‘shaming’ companies by forcing them to publish lists of foreign workers, Labour’s only response was this tweet from its press office account:
— Labour Press Team (@labourpress) October 4, 2016
Critics, including Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, lined up to denounce the response. Many claim it simply fans the flames of anti-immigrant sentiment, and that Labour should be challenging the premise that immigration needs to be cut so drastically, rather than highlighting the Tories’ failure to reach an unnecessary target.
Is this really Labour’s response to the Tories’ increasingly intolerant language about ‘foreigners’? https://t.co/iVws3Yuyim
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) October 5, 2016
Sort yourselves out Labour press FFS https://t.co/ffPkIqEGqj
— Ellie Mae O’Hagan (@MissEllieMae) October 4, 2016
The answer from Labour on anti-migrant rhetoric? Fight fire with fire and say the Tories aren’t being tough enough. https://t.co/g7YBiQucMg
— Alex Hudson (@alexhuds) October 5, 2016
The goal of reducing immigrants to the tens of thousands was first introduced by David Cameron in January 2010, a few months before his election. His government failed to make any progress towards the target, prompting speculation that the May government would drop it.
However, Amber Rudd reiterated the government’s commitment to reaching the goal in her speech to Conservative conference yesterday:
“As you know, the Conservative Party was elected on a Manifesto commitment to reduce net migration to sustainable levels. This means tens of thousands, not the hundreds of thousands. And my commitment to you today is that I’ll be working with colleagues across Government to deliver this.”
Clearly, the conclusion of the new government has not been that the target was socially and economically unfeasible, but that the Cameron government had failed to take a sufficiently draconian approach.
The Conservative conference has showcased a new approach to immigration policy, driven by populism and xenophobia rather than evidence. If it’s to be considered a credible opposition force, Labour will need a robust response.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.