David Lammy: 'Labour should be pro-immigration and not try to compete with Ukip'

The Independent:

Labour MP David Lammy has warned that his party should not try to compete with Ukip and remain pro-immigration.

Speaking on London Live this morning, he explained his stance, “Look, I think we’ve got to be a pro-immigration party. I’m very clear on that, I don’t think we should race to the bottom or compete with Ukip.”

However, Lammy was quick to defend the plans announced by Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Rachel Reeves yesterday that would prevent jobless EU migrants in Britain from claiming benefits for two years, rather than the current three months.

The MP for Tottenham and Labour’s London Mayoral candidate said that the policy was “quite different” from being anti-immigration.

He said the proposal “really is about who is entitled to draw on the insurance scheme that is welfare and I think that there is a sense that if you pay into the system, you should be entitled to draw,” Lammy said.

“So there have got to be some rules on who can draw and at what stage,” he added.

The proposals go further than those outlined by the Conservatives and it is hoped that they will deter so-called benefit tourism.

Lammy also defended Labour leader Ed Miliband, who was taken to task by pop star Myleene Klass over the party’s Mansion tax proposals on ITV’s Agenda on Monday night.

“Ed Miliband has had a tough week. He’s been pummelled. But guess what? The polls are showing that Labour is up 4 per cent,” he said.

Lammy went on to say that there is support for Miliband, “I was out of London in Wellingborough last week. Actually, people were positive about Ed Miliband.”

Despite voting for Miliband’s brother David in the Labour leadership elections in 2010, Lammy said he fully backed Ed.

“He’s our leader and what I see in him is resilience, I see someone who is standing firm. I see someone who is communicating on issues that matter: energy freeze, the NHS, really taking it to the opposition.

“He’s got the toughest job in the country but he has my full loyalty as we head towards this general election.”

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