UK Politics

Miliband: 'Labour didn't listen on immigration'

Ed Miliband
Image caption The Labour leader said the party has learnt the lessons of the financial crisis

Ed Miliband has admitted the last Labour government did not do enough for ordinary people, becoming distant on issues such as immigration.

He said by the time it left office "too many people of Britain didn't feel as if the Labour party was open to their influence, or listening to them".

The Labour leader said the party failed to rein in excess amongst the elite.

He was speaking to the Fabian Society, where he also outlined new policies designed to help private tenants.

The event was held as Mr Miliband elaborated on his vision of One Nation Labour, as unveiled at the party's conference.

He told the audience that too many people did not feel as if the party was listening to them at the time of the last general election.

"For me, the most obvious example is immigration. I bow to nobody in my celebration of the multi-ethnic, diverse nature of Britain," he said.

"But high levels of migration were having huge effects on the lives of people in Britain - and too often those in power seemed not to accept this.

"The fact that they didn't explains partly why people turned against us in the last general election."

Rogue landlords

BBC political correspondent Ross Hawkins said Labour was hoping the speech would help it move on from its time in office.

Mr Miliband added that if Labour wins the next general election it would have to find ways of achieving change while tackling a lingering deficit.

"One Nation Labour has learnt the lessons of the financial crisis," he said.

"It begins from the truth that New Labour did not do enough to bring about structural change in our economy to make it work for the many, not just the few.

"It did not do enough to change the rules of the game that were holding our economy back."

He said the party was "too timid in enforcing rights and responsibilities, especially at the top, and it was too sanguine about the consequences of the rampant free markets".

During the speech, Mr Miliband also set out plans to tackle issues around housing, adding that Britain was in danger of having two nations - homeowners and tenants.

He proposed a national register of landlords and more powers for councils to tackle rogue landlords.

A "national register" of landlords - which already exists in Scotland - was proposed under the last Labour government.

But this was abandoned by the coalition which said it did not want to impose "burdensome red tape and bureaucracy".

Mr Miliband said he wanted to give proper rights and protections to those who rent.

"That's why we will root out rogue landlords, we will stop people from being ripped off by letting agents and we want to give new security to families who rent."

It would also give greater security to families who rent and remove the barriers preventing longer term tenancies, he pledged.

A Conservative spokesman said Mr Miliband failed to answer how he would deal with the "record deficit" left behind by his predecessors.

"Instead of facing up to the difficult decisions, all Labour offer is more spending, more borrowing, and more debt - exactly how they got us in to this mess in the first place," he added.

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