Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

The immigration arms race

Who is tougher on immigration? Neither the Tories nor Labour want to be left behind by Ukip, and have descended into an arms race over who can best crack down on EU migration. Today Ed Miliband’s party launched a two-pronged attack on the subject, with Yvette Cooper speaking in the morning about her plans to hire 1,000 additional border guards by imposing a charge on visitors from certain countries including the US, and Rachel Reeves announcing plans for a clampdown on EU migrants claiming out-of-work benefits.

Amusingly, Reeves gave her policy to the MailOnline as an exclusive, just a few days after Ed Miliband spoke about dark forces out to get the Labour party. Those ‘dark forces’ can be pretty handy when they’re read by swing voters…

The immigration debate between the mainstream parties can now be summarised thus: 1. No-one talks about immigration and so it’s time we talked about immigration. 2. Of course, immigration is pretty good, but some people think bits of it are bad, and therefore we need to talk about immigration. 3. Other people who talk about immigration are polarising the debate in an unhelpful way. 4. Here are our very tough measures on immigration which are tougher than the other party’s measures.

If you’re lazy, you can apply that to any speech from a minister or shadow frontbencher for the next few months. But it’s worth reading or listening to Cooper’s speech because it showed that the Shadow Home Secretary remains on good form after her clever politicking in the European Arrest Warrant last week and her strong party conference speech in September. The announcement itself about the border force did appear to unravel before she’d stood up, but Labour should, on balance, be happy with the write-up it gets from today’s interventions.

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