IN a speech on immigration in the Wirral, north-west England, on Saturday, Ed Miliband pledged a Labour government would make sure everyone in Britain spoke English.
He said that ‘everyone in Britain should know how to speak English. It is something we should expect from everyone who comes here, especially those who work in public services in public facing roles, and nowhere is that more true than in our NHS . . .
‘So in the future all healthcare professionals will be required to speak English to a sufficient standard so they can care effectively for patients. And we will legislate to give all the healthcare regulators, not just some, clear powers to enforce this rule.’
Claiming it was not ‘prejudiced’ to be concerned about immigration, he said: ‘As prime minister, I will always put working families first and that’s why we’ll have proper controls and rules,’ he said.
He set out five principles to help tackle the issue: ‘Securing our borders; restoring the principle that you contribute before you claim; achieving integration in our communities; ending the undercutting of wages of local workers through the exploitation of migrant workers and rebuilding trust by only making promises we can keep and proposing solutions that will work.’
Miliband said a Labour government will establish a special Home Office Enforcement Unit with more than 100 staff to root out the illegal exploitation which undercuts wages and conditions for local workers.
On Sunday he was appealing to ‘one nation’ Tories. In an interview with the Observer, Miliband said Labour is now a party of ‘fiscal discipline’ and social conscience that would tackle inequality and keep the UK firmly at the heart of Europe.
He said: ‘I am a politician of the Left, but I am positioned where the mainstream of politics is positioned. I am on the centre ground of politics.’
Describing Cameron as ‘ideologically beached’ and with no answers about how to tackle inequality, Miliband added: ‘I want to reach out to Tory voters, to Liberal Democrat voters, to UKIP voters, to non-voters . . . to people who feel that David Cameron can’t answer the challenge of our time, who worry about our place in the European Union, who really think to themselves, “we can do a lot better as a country”.’
Asked what he could offer Tories worried about the rightward drift of their party, Miliband said: ‘Who is going to stand up to tax avoidance? Who is going to stand up to energy companies? Who is going to stand up to banks? That is absolutely something I think will appeal to Tory voters.’