What a very slippery, rubbery individual the leader of the Labour Party is. Flip-flop is an understatement. He can't make up his mind about the EU, he can't make up his mind about the unions, and now he is playing up to people's anxieties about uncontrolled immigration because one of his back room boys has told him that's the way the wind is blowing.
The Census results revealed that the policy of completely open borders has led to unparalleled numbers of people coming to this country, and that white Britons are now a minority in London. Well, surprise, surprise. Who didn't know that? Only somebody who never goes to London. If you stop in the street in London and ask people, "Is this Hyde Park?" the most likely answer you will get is "I don't know, I don't come from here, I just got off a plane" - that's assuming they understand English at all, which half of them don't. Quite a few people seem to be worried about this, and Ed is doubtless worried about UKIP's steady rise in the polls and the by-election results, so he went to Tooting and made a speech that said what a wonderful thing immigration was...BUT. The first part of his speech said all the usual things about how wonderful it is to be multi-ethnic and multi-cultural (note how he puts Christians last in his list of religious beliefs), then the second half said that people are coming in too fast and there is a problem assimilating too many all at once.
When he says "But at the same time we know there is anxiety about immigration. And what it means for our culture. The answer is not to sweep it under the carpet. Or fail to talk about it. Or say that people are prejudiced," this certainly makes a refreshing change. So does this mean Labour supporters will no longer be vilifying UKIP as racist?
Eddie the Unsteady is trying to have it both ways. He is a hypocrite when he says "we must control our borders". The fact is that because we are in the EU we cannot control our borders. And when he says that the answer is to control non-EU immigration more tightly, isn't that racist? After all, the black people are more likely to come from outside the EU.
Ed denied that there is a problem with multi-culturism. "Some people say that what we should aim for is what they call assimilation. They say that people can come here and be part of our culture but only on the condition that they just abandon theirs. Why is this vision so wrong for our country? Because it ignores fundamental truths about the British people and who we are." The example he used was a young woman who had just enjoyed an African-style party in Leicester with her family who came from Sierra Leone. And that was fine - it was her way of being British. Ed asserted that there is nothing wrong with "The reality of our multiple identities."
So does that mean that if her community wants to force her into an arranged marriage or cut off her clitoris that's OK too?
Ed shied away from ugly problems like that.
"We must live together across communities. Overcoming division, without asking people to lose their sense of themselves. A Britain where people of all backgrounds, all races, all ethnicities, all cultures, can practise their own religion, continue their own customs, but also come together to forge a new and better identity. But here is the challenge: to make this work, we’ve all got to work at it. We are one of the few countries in Europe without a comprehensive strategy for integration."
Maybe but we are not the only country in Europe to have problems with assimilation. Many of them feel that there are separate cultures. In Holland legal prostitution, legal drugs and "gay" marriage co-exist uncomfortably with women walking around wearing the burka. In Germany and Sweden the problem of Muslims attacking and terrorizing Jews is a mounting one. What exactly is Mr Miliband's strategy for making people with incompatible views live together and successfully interact?
It is flattering that he has taken some ideas out of the UKIP manifesto. Firstly, to demand that all immigrants learn English, and make this a requirement for those working in the public sector. But he can't do that with EU migrants because they have a right to work here. And what if the communities themselves don't want to assimilate or be integrated? That is a question he did not even raise.
Mr Miliband's speech was superficial and provided no real answers to our problems. Here is a tough question. Will Mr Miliband and the Labour party support Baroness Cox's Arbitration and Equality Bill, which seeks to liberate Muslim women from the self-appointed jurisdiction of Sharia courts? So far it is getting a very rough ride in the House of Lords where only Conservative and some Christian peers support it. Yet there are an estimated 85 Sharia courts operating in Britain. Integration? Assimilation?
When I see you championing this Bill in the House of Commons, Mr Miliband, I will believe that you are more than a vacillating windbag.