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Sir Albert condemns ‘abhorrent’ immigration leaflet, only to discover it was written by Labour MP

Sir Albert condemns ‘abhorrent’ immigration leaflet, only to discover it was written by Labour MP

🕔14.Apr 2015

When he was asked to condemn a strongly worded “anti-immigration” leaflet Sir Albert Bore, the Labour leader of Birmingham city council, did not hesitate to do so.

Such language vilified people coming to this country to seek work and it was “abhorrent” that any political party should seek to do so, he said.

Unfortunately for Sir Albert, it quickly transpired that the leaflet in question had been published by Hodge Hill Labour MP Liam Byrne as part of a proposed Manifesto for Immigration Reform.

Sir Albert was the victim of a classic Tory ambush at the full city council meeting.

In fact, Conservatives could hardly hide their delight when Tory councillor Peter Douglas Osborn rose to ask Sir Albert whether he would condemn a leaflet being delivered in Shard End that spoke of making sure immigrants “earn their right” to stay here, learn English, work hard and obey the law.

Sir Albert said he would join with Cllr Douglas Osborn in deprecating the leaflet, sincerely regretted that such a thing could be happening in Birmingham and hoped the author would apologise.

Amid howls of laughter from the Tory benches, it was explained to Sir Albert that the leaflet was being pushed through doors by Labour activists in Shard End where the United Kingdom Independence Party could be on the verge of winning a council seat by toppling deputy council leader Ian Ward.

In what will go down as one of the more embarrassing episodes in his long political career, Sir Albert seemed unaware of Labour’s latest tough stance on immigration.

If in Government the party proposes to mount stronger border controls,  introduce full exit checks, to count people in and out of the country and ban recruitment agencies from hiring only from overseas.

Labour will require people working in public services to speak English. The party will prevent migrants from claiming benefits for at least two years, and will stop child benefit being sent to families living abroad.

Grim-faced Labour councillors heading to the tea room at the council meeting were left shaking their heads in disbelief at what had just happened. The gaffe could hardly have come at a worse time for Sir Albert who will face a challenge to his leadership next month from backbench Labour councillor John Clancy.

Last year Mr Byrne, a former immigration minister, urged Labour to place proposals for stronger controls at the heart of its General Election manifesto and not to be afraid of raising the issue on the doorsteps. Mr Byrne said:

I think we can quite safely put it higher up the list of things that we prioritise in some of our messaging.

Labour is in the right place on the argument; people want us to make a bit more noise about it. It is a vote winner, no question.

The party’s new stance on immigration has not gone down well with many members. In particular, a mug setting out the immigration controls Labour says it will impose caused a storm with MP Diane Abbott describing the merchandise as “shameful”.

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