Okay, I need to start with the bad on this one. And there is plenty to get through, so get comfortable.
For a start, the leak. If you haven’t heard, an internal Labour Party briefing has been leaked to the press, one that said the party should not talk about immigration on the doorstep and focus on other concerns. That people were not in the end going to vote Labour because they thought the party would be tough on immigration; better to fight UKIP in areas where they need fighting on issues Labour poll strongly on, like the NHS.
If you’ve seen it, you’ll recognise the document as being highly sensible and pretty much bang on. Yet because the Labour leadership have foolishly decided to talk endlessly about migration, both Miliband and Cooper rushed to disown the thing, Miliband declaring it a “not very well drafted” document. All told, pretty shambolic stuff here from Labour, but hey, what’s new.
Then there was the backdrop behind Miliband, one which read: Controlling Immigration Fairly. It looked like something out of “1984” to me and made the whole speech (sorry, sorry, I forgot. It wasn’t a speech, but rather an “opening remark” according to the Labour press team) uncomfortable for me to watch. Then there was the fact that every journalist in the land schlepped all the way to Great Yarmouth only for Miliband to take none of their questions (a bad move on a day there was a leak in particular). Finally, there was the fact that yet another major Labour figure was giving a speech (sorry, sorry, I keep forgetting…) on immigration. We’ve had Yvette blabbing on about it a few weeks back, in what we thought was her taking the bullet for Ed and now we have….Ed taking a bullet for the hell of it. I never thought I’d say this, but could the Labour Party shut the f**k up about immigration, please?
Right, now I’ll get onto the good stuff about the “speech”. Ed defended Britain’s membership of the European Union without reservation, calling a Brexit a bad idea. He focused on the exploitation angle, talking about cracking down on employers who took on illegal migrants. This is far and away Labour’s most resonant message on immigration, and should really be the focus of everything they say on the issue. Because everyone knows that illegal economic migration can’t take place unless people are willing to hire illegal migrants under the table. It also speaks to Labour’s core messages of looking after the poor and defenceless.
After that, I’m struggling to find things to praise in the Great Yarmouth “opening remarks”. Should Ed Miliband have given this speech (there, I’m just calling it what it is now)? Of course not.