By Tim Shipman 01:10 14 May 2013, updated 19:14 14 May 2013
- Former minister admits Labour deliberately engineered mass immigration
- Between 1997 and 2010 net migration to Britain totalled 2.2million
Labour sent out ‘search parties’ for immigrants to get them to come to the UK, Lord Mandelson has admitted.
In a stunning confirmation that the Blair and Brown governments deliberately engineered mass immigration, the former Cabinet Minister and spin doctor said New Labour sought out foreign workers.
'We were sending out search parties for people': Former Labour Cabinet Minister Peter Mandelson has admitted that his party actively encouraged immigration to the UK while in government
He also conceded that the influx of arrivals meant the party’s traditional supporters are now unable to find work.
By contrast, Labour leader Ed Miliband has said his party got it wrong on immigration but has refused to admit it was too high under Labour.
Between 1997 and 2010, net migration to Britain totalled more than 2.2million, more than twice the population of Birmingham.
The annual net figure quadrupled under Labour from 48,000 people in 1997 to 198,000 by 2009.
Lord Mandelson’s remarks come three years after Labour officials denied claims by former adviser Andrew Neather that they deliberately encouraged immigration in order to change the make-up of Britain.
Mr Neather said the policy was designed to ‘rub the Right’s nose in diversity’.
He said there was ‘a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural’.
Senior Labour figures have been reluctant to concede they deliberately engineered the influx of migrants who have transformed communities over the past decade.
But, at a rally for the Blairite think-tank Progress, Lord Mandelson said: ‘In 2004 when as a Labour government, we were not only welcoming people to come into this country to work, we were sending out search parties for people and encouraging them, in some cases, to take up work in this country.’
He said: ‘The problem has grown during the period of economic stagnation over the last five, six years.’
When Labour encouraged new arrivals ‘we were almost. a full
employment economy’ but, he admitted: ‘The situation is different obviously now.
‘We have to just realise. entry to the labour market of many people of non-British origin is hard for people who are finding it very difficult to find jobs, who find it hard to keep jobs.
‘For these people immigration tends to loom large in their lives and in their worlds, now that is an inescapable fact, and we have to understand it, address it, engage with people in discussion about it.’
Former prime minister Tony Blair
Former prime minister Gordon Brown seen leaving the Leveson inquiry in London
His words are far franker than Mr Miliband’s. Asked earlier this month whether ‘too many people were allowed to come’, he replied: ‘I wouldn’t put it that way, no.’
MANDELSON NOW. AND THEN
'I think we have to realise that the entry of migrants to the labour market is hard for people who are finding it very difficult to get jobs, or to keep jobs'
Lord Mandelson yesterday
'Migrants are filling gaps in our labour market that Britons are not available to fill or unwilling to fill. There has not been an adverse effect on employment of British nationals'
Mandelson in March 2009
Tory chairman Grant Shapps said: ‘Peter Mandelson’s candid admission that Labour were purposefully letting immigration spiral out of control when in government is yet another damning indictment on their record on immigration.’
Sir Andrew Green of Migration Watch said: ‘This is an astonishing admission from the highest level that Labour’s mass immigration policy was entirely deliberate.
‘It will be a very long time before their own working class supporters forgive them for the enormous changes that have been imposed on their communities.’
Gordon Brown yesterday accused the Tories of emulating Enoch Powell by using immigration to head off the growing electoral threat from UKIP.
Mr Powell’s 1968 ‘rivers of blood’ speech ignited huge controversy in the debate on immigration.
Former prime minister Mr Brown – who once called for ‘British jobs for British workers’ – told a pro-union rally in Glasgow: ‘A party that was anti-Powellite on immigration is now becoming very close to being Powellite on that issue.’