Diane Abbott challenges Labour stance on UK immigration

23 Aug 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Labour frontbencher Diane Abbott has questioned her party's stance on UK immigration, accusing leader Ed Miliband of being swayed by polling.

The shadow health minister said in an interview with Progress magazine that while Mr Miliband has his “heart in the right place”, he is being influenced by the fact that “the polling … shows what the Tories are doing on immigration is popular”.

The coalition government, led by the Tories, has been cracking down on UK immigration since it came into power. Prime minister David Cameron has stated that he wants to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands” before the next election.

In Ms Abbott's view, the shadow cabinet is being too strongly swayed by public opinion, which is currently somewhat anti-immigration and needs to pay more attention to the benefits that migration can bring.

She said: “Not that many members of the shadow cabinet represent a diverse London constituency and views about race and immigration are different once you step outside London if you think about it.

"So I think Ed himself means well and is doing his best but as a party we should do [more] because, it's what I said, it's a downward spiral.”

A Labour source gave a party stance on immigration to the BBC: "Ed Miliband made clear in his speech that immigration has brought Britain huge benefits. But immigration can also affect public services, jobs and wages and Labour must deal with those issues."

Ed Miliband himself gave a speech at the start of the year in which he stated that Labour 'didn't listen' when it came to the topic of immigration. The party has been previously criticised for its past open door approach to migration, particularly when a large number of Eastern European workers moved to the UK following the extension of the EU boundaries and labour rights.