In an effort to shed perceptions that Labour was soft on immigration, Miliband said that in the past his party had been “too timid” about insisting that newcomers learn English when they arrive in the UK.
“It’s something we should expect from everyone who comes here and it’s especially important that people who work in public services in public-facing roles should be required to speak English,” he told an audience at Pensby high school in Heswall, Merseyside.
Miliband said the need for people to speak English was “nowhere … more true than in our NHS”, which has a significant proportion of nurses and particularly doctors who have qualified overseas. Of the 267,150 doctors registered with the General Medical Council on 6 January this year, 97,915 (36.7%) were foreign-trained, including 34,120 specialists.
“I will never demean or devalue their contribution to our country, but it is vital that people who come to fill those roles don’t just have the right medical skills but can communicate with those for whom they care,” Miliband said.It is interesting that the Guardian clumsily headlines this as "New immigrants must speak English, says Ed Miliband."
Miliband isn't saying that all immigrants to Britain MUST speak English. That would be silly and unenforceable.
The only concrete part mentioned was: "A future Labour government would pass laws to ensure all health workers spoke English well enough to care for patients before they could start work, he said, and regulators would be given powers to enforce the rules."
So doctors, health workers and the like will have to prove competency in English.
I imagine he has this case in mind.
It isn't great to hear him flirting with the xenophobia and hating of the right; but I think he's just about managed to avoid ctually blundering into anything actually evil.
It's pretty obvious tactics really - clearly designed to broaden his appeal to the moderate Conservatives who might be frustrated with Cameron, annoyed by his profligate promises and rudderless campaign, and who might, just might, be responding to the message that Miliband's Labour party is responsible and listening to them.
I don't liek it, but I've always understood how First Past The Post compromises politicians. I'll swallow this rat. Just don't offer me too many more.