A recent direct mail leaflet sent to voters has caused divisions within the Labour party, after it put forward a 'tough new approach on immigration'.
Leaflet and controversy over immigration
The four page leaflet 'Building an NHS with time to care' mostly covers Labour's plans for healthcare. However, one section has the title 'Labour's tough new approach to immigration'. In this section it is claimed that the Conservatives have lost control of who is coming into the country, and promises that Labour will hire 1,000 extra border staff to police immigration. The leaflet also says that 'People who rely on public services have a right to expect that staff, like nurses and care workers, can speak English.'
Labour officials have stated that the leaflets were posted out to Labour voters who the party thinks may be considering switching to UKIP. One official said that 'Our best argument with Labour-Ukip switchers is the NHS.'
Immigrant voters angry about leaflet
Concerns have been raised that the publication could alienate migrant voters. Labour MP David Lammy has said, 'We are a pro-immigration party and should stay that way, engaging in the debate on immigration but not on UKIP's terms.' He added, 'Forty per cent of London's nurses are immigrants... they tell me there is no way they could pass their three year qualification if they couldn't speak English.'
Four million immigrant voters
With the general election in May approaching, Labour are expected to continue their campaign of promoting the NHS; January 2015 was 'health month' in the campaign calendar. Rightly or wrongly it is also widely believed by the main political parties that being "anti- immigration" is a vote winner. Therefore, it seems likely that Labour and Conservative anti- immigration rhetoric will continue.
The next General Election will see a record number of immigrants eligible to vote; four million in total. Immigrant voters are more likely to vote Labour than Conservative. Therefore the Labour Party may have more to lose by being seen to be anti immigration than the Tories.