Bryant’s speech sets out Labour’s thinking ahead of Party Conference season

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration will be hosting a fringe meeting at the Labour Party's Annual Conference on 23 September with Chris Bryant to discuss if his party can reframe the debate ahead of the General Election 2015.
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Chris Bryant’s speech last week infused some new policy direction into mainstream debate. It was a serious speech about migration that didn’t play directly into the prevailing media portrayal of migrants.

Impressions of the speech differ, however, political commentators like the Telegraph’s Dan Hodges allege that Ed Miliband wheeled out Bryant to play dog-whistle politics about immigrants taking jobs away from the million or so unemployed youngsters in the UK. The Independent’s Dominic Lawson accuses him of trying to outflank the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) on EU migration. The Daily Mail’s Peter Hitchens slammed the speech as a replay of ‘bigot-gate’ in 2010. MRN’s Ruth Grove-White said the speech widened the current immigration debate.

Setting the immediate ground rules that harpooned the ‘racists’ allowed him to outline Labours thinking on immigration. But the media seemed to have little interest in the detail of the policy apart from screaming headlines about apologising over past mistakes and his blunder over Tesco and Next. Surprisingly the anti-immigration lobby were given little airtime.  

Bryant’s comments about the EU Freedom of Movement Directive were very interesting. It was not a pursuit to place the Labour party at the centre of the sometimes bewildering arguments on Europe but an attempt to further fuel the docudrama in the Conservative Party over the issue. He demanded that the Coalition government consider reforming the various routes of entry, in particular, family migration - the only route available to EU citizens (including British citizens exercising their treaty rights) who can’t meet the UK’s own family migration income requirement.

By attempting to stab at reforms to freedom of movement, the Labour Party wants to reignite the perennial dog-fight between the Tories and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), especially now that pollsters are riverdancing about a resurgent Conservative Party neutralising the UKIP appeal. The Labour Party is engaged in cynical puppet mastery, whether they succeed in getting UKIP and the Tories at loggerheads over Europe again is dependant on pursuing the areas they believe the government is currently failing on when (or if) the Immigration Bill is read this parliament.

The One Nation Labour vision of immigration was set out as follows:

  • Double the fines for minimum wage breaches and for illegal employment of illegal migrants; And give local authorities power to enforce the minimum wage.
  • Introduce mandatory registration of commercial landlords.
  • Introduce real-time online notification of all notices of marriage where one or other person is under an immigration control.
  • Extend the notice period [for marriage] to either 20 or 25 days and if the Home Office detects any anomalies the period can be extended to 60 or 90 days, during which the Home Office can do full and proper investigations. If the marriage does prove to be sham the person under the immigration control would be removed.
  • Tackle illegal entry, to end exploitation, to encourage integration, to strengthen the economy and to protect the taxpayer.

These policies attempt to increase the administrative monitoring of immigration. Apart from bland proposals such as ‘tackle illegal entry’, the rest aim to manage and control the numbers entering and leaving. The coming months will give the Labour Party the opportunity to expand on these areas. Clear pressures of trying to find a balance between a hostile political environment, existing unfair policies, and polling that suggest Labour is not seen as the party that can deliver tough immigration policies will be points strongly under consideration.

This is one of the starting points for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration fringe meeting at this year’s Labour Party conference. The event will take place in Brighton on 23 September with presentations from Chris Bryant MP, Yasmin Qureshi MP, John Mann MP, Alan Travis (The Guardian) and others.

The fringe meeting will be held outside of the secure zone and participants do not need a pass or accreditation to attend. You can find out more and sign up here.

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And he pointedly refused to make any promise to scrap or reform the current scandalous visa settlement rules.

waste of time.

The trouble is all political parties are the same when it comes to policy. Any change in policy is not about fairness, or what is right, or with the publics interest at heart because, its all about winning votes at the next election at any cost. Todays politicians will tell you anything you want to hear just to gain a vote. It does mean to say though, he is telling the truth about what he as told you. Labour screwed up big time on immigration over the period they were in office and, I cannot see them doing anything different given another opportunity in the near future.

When I made as inquiry to MP Richard Burden about the immigration policy concerning the "English Test". His only concern is that My Chinese wife might get lost in Birmingham and, basically suggested Myself and, My wife don't have any intellect.

my MP , SIR george Young , will not even answer my questions and even agree to meet me at one of his surgeries to debate and discuss Theresa May's obnoxious english test which is just about enhancing Tory re-election prospects at the 2015 election as you alluded to above . It has got nothing to do with integration etc as the Tory ministers claim ( red herring) as any linguistic expert will confirm that it is MUCH easier to learn a language in the country where it is spoken and, in our cases, we would be helping our spouses to improve quickly and would pay for english classes in UK for them too. sad that the recent thrust of MRN etc has been about the income test and the english test has been forgotten about although this affects just as many genuine couples .
As you say . the labour party would not change much but might just tinker a bit on the income test . No chance I fear of a return to the pre 29.11.2010 position which was more than adequate to ensure only genuine applicants who would not be claiming benefits got a visa . It only changed for political purposes and to keep the members of the nasty Tory party in their cushy, well paid jobs .

we are father of only son, living in the UK, married UK white girl. and a British citizen. we are at our 65. need to live closer to our son. now racist political parties, like consrvertive and UKIP working againts migaration of family members. now my Visiting visa also cancelled when i arrived at Hethrow Air port, because changing cIrcumstances. for finding reason to cancelled my valid visa. ansked me to leave within three days. we left with tears of departing our grand children. what a barbaric immigaration officials. they are like demi gods. i have given appeal form. but i did not want to beg this barking canines.

i like british people. most of the people are very smiling and helpful people other than immigaration official. god bless them. thank you sirs for canclling my visa. any one read please answer me.

B. rajenthiran,
Yes, sadly we all suffer and are up against heartless politicians like Theresa May and David cameron who do not have a modicum of compassion or basic human kindness with regard to family immigration and whose siole aim is to reduce net immigration numbers to enhance their chance of re-election in 2015. You do not state your circumstances but the following might apply to you . Sadly it is the only way you could enter the UK for settlement I think . Others who post here might have more experience of your type of situation . best wishes to you.
You can apply to join a settled person in the UK if:

You need long-term personal care to perform every day tasks, such as washing and cooking.
The care you need is not available in the country where you are living, either because it is not available and there is no person in the country where you are living who can reasonably provide it or it is not affordable.
Your sponsor can show that he or she is able to provide adequate maintenance, accommodation and care for you without having to rely on public funds. Your sponsor will need to sign a sponsorship undertaking form to confirm that they will be responsible for your care without relying on public funds for a period of at least 5 years.

"The Labour Party is engaged in cynical puppet mastery, whether they succeed in getting UKIP and the Tories at loggerheads over Europe again is dependant on pursuing the areas they believe the government is currently failing on when (or if) the Immigration Bill is read this parliament."

Can I ask why you doubt that the immigration bill will go through parliament in the autumn? The government has clearly stated many times that that's what will happen.

Also if Chris Bryant plans to abolish the £18,600 minimum earnings limit, why doesn't he just say so now?

As for Theresa May and David Cameron being heartless politicians, to be fair you can't manage immigration and borders efficiently by being nice and caring. If they listened to every single case, they probably would want to make an exception and let them stay from a personal point of view. Trouble is if they did that for everyone, they would not have any border control or immigration management policy.

re. your final paragraph, you completely overlook TWO things . Firstly , May's rules were brought in on 29.11.2010 purely to enhance Tory re-election prospects and the rul;es before that date for family immigrants were very secrching and more than adequate to ensure that a genuine relationship existed and the applicant and UK partner were self sufficient and would not therefore ever need to claim benefits . Secondly , would Cameron or may support the draconian rules if a member of their own family or a close relative was not allowed to live in the UK with their NONE EU spouse because that spouse was unable to overcome one of the obstacles put in their way by the heartless Theresa may ? Of course not and that says it all ! What happened to compassion and basic human kindness when framing the rules and surely it is about RIGHT and WRONG ! A UK man with a none EU wife who was not good at passing exams or did not have a good memory is not allowed to live here with his wife but a man whose wife had those attributes is - can you see how UNFAIR that is and politicians are always using the word FAIR when justifying some policy of theirs ??

just to add that it is akin to what one would expect from Hitler or Stalin in the way families are torn apart !