Mary Riddell and Tom Whitehead, Telegraph (London), July 18, 2011
Lord Glasman, the leading policy adviser to the Labour leader, said the country should “draw the line” on immigration and even renegotiate EU rules that allow free movement for migrant workers.
He told The Daily Telegraph that Britain is “not an outpost of the UN” and the needs of the British people must be put first.
The comments are the most drastic yet for any of the major political parties and would effectively end immigration in to the UK.
However, the Labour party was last night quick to distance itself from the suggestions, insisting Lord Glasman’s views were “his own”.
Immigration has been thrust back on to the political agenda by both Labour and the Conservatives.
David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has pledged to reduce net migration flows to the “tens of thousands” and his Government has imposed an annual cap on non-EU workers.
In a speech earlier this month Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said mass immigration poses the biggest threat to the Coalition’s attempts to get millions of people off benefits as foreign workers take low paid jobs.
And in September, Mr Miliband said the last Labour government “made mistakes” over immigration.
The last administration oversaw one of the largest immigration flows in the country’s history and more than three million migrants were added to the population during its 13 years in power.
Lord Glasman believes the time has now come for a dramatic change where migrants would only be allowed in to the UK on a case-by-case basis and if their specific skills are needed.
In an interview with this newspaper, he said: “We’ve got to reinterrogate our relationship with the EU on the movement of labour.
“The EU has gone from being a sort of pig farm subsidised bloc to the free movement of labour and capital.”
He added: “Britain is not an outpost of the UN. We have to put the people in this country first.”
Asked if that meant stopping immigration virtually completely for a period, he said: “Yes. I would add that we should be more generous and friendly in receiving those [few] who are needed. To be more generous, we have to draw the line.”
It is almost certain Mr Miliband would never adopt such a drastic policy.
A senior Labour source said: “Maurice Glasman is a friend and colleague. His views are his own.
“Ed Miliband has made clear that the previous Labour Government made mistakes on immigration but we will set out our views clearly and after careful thought some time in the future.
However, the source added: “We cannot turn our backs on the free movement of labour across Europe, especially as more than one million Britons work abroad.”
In a wide-ranging interview, Lord Glasman also said Gordon Brown displayed “a mix of high moralism and low cynicism”, while Tony Blair “had a slightly demented view of modernisation”.
He said New Labour was “almost Maoist” in its approach to modernisation.
He said David Miliband could have won the Labour party’s leadership if he had agreed a partnership with the unions.
And he compares the Jewish settler movement to that of Islamic jihadist supremacists.
The full version of this interview will be published in the forthcoming issue of Fabian Review.