Zero credibility on immigration

ED MILIBAND makes a constructive contribution to the evolving debate on immigration with his call to halt the “exploitation” of migrants in order for employers to avoid paying the minimum wage to UK citizens.

It remains to be seen how this policy will work in practice – some will contend that labourers from Eastern Europe will be even more tempted to try their luck at a time when most people want tighter restrictions on new arrivals to Britain.

Mr Miliband’s problem, however, is one of credibility. The Doncaster North MP is, after all, the man who omitted to mention immigration during a disastrous party conference speech in which many Labour supporters lost faith in their leader.

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And then there was the embarrassment of yesterday’s damaging document which advises the party’s candidates to focus on “moving the conversation on” if questioned about immigration policy. This will lead many to conclude that Labour has learned little from the 2010 campaign when Gordon Brown reacted to voter Gillian Duffy’s comments about the last Labour government’s “open door” policy by referring to the pensioner as “a bigoted woman”. It is not bigoted to question a policy that is having such a profound impact on the future of this country – and the BBC’s veteran presenter John Humphrys alluded to this when he accused the Corporation of being “institutionally nervous” when it comes to issues of multi-culturalism.

However the leaked memo also makes it harder for Mr Miliband to make a positive case for Britain staying in the European Union on business grounds. If the Labour leader is so convinced about the veracity of his argument, he should have the courage to take the fight to Ukip.

Sporting own goal

A patronising view of Yorkshire

THE BBC’s patronising portrayal of Yorkshire and the Grand Départ at the Sports Personality of the

Year ceremony could not have been more condescending or sneering. Just because the Corporation did not have the television rights to the Tour de France, this did not excuse the race being afforded about a minute’s worth of token coverage in a lavish jamboree lasting nearly two-and-a-half hours.

After all, this was the biggest sporting event of the year in this country and attracted five million spectators – a point which appeared lost on the BBC, which appeared to have no concept of the event’s magnitude. Even more regrettable was the stereotypical tone of its coverage, with images accompanied by the Last of the Summer Wine theme tune. All that was missing to complete the insult was a hapless Gary Lineker sporting a flat cap.

This own goal failed to recognise that cycling is now a mainstream sport, a point that Sir Chris Hoy made when he accepted his much-deserved lifetime achievement award, and that Yorkshire is a forward-thinking county with the confidence to bid for major sporting events. In many respects, the whole show was emblematic of the Corporation’s worst excesses.

Rather than showcasing the very best of the sporting year, and the interviewing guile of great presenters like Des Lynman providing an insight into the personalities of star performers, it has become a celebrity-led show where money is no object when it comes to production.

Presumably this is why the BBC has no money to show some actual sport on a Saturday afternoon, a point that needs to go the heart of upcoming negotiations about its Charter renewal. It has much to prove.

Exam dividend

Object lesson in common sense

JONNY Mitchell’s call for closer links between schools and businesses carries more credence because of his experience at Dewsbury’s Thornhill Community Academy.

As viewers of Channel Four’s series Educating Yorkshire will testify, this is not a school where the majority of pupils progress to A-levels and then university – the tried and tested route into employment. Achieving the Government’s benchmark of five GCSE grades is a challenge for many.

Yet, as Mr Mitchell says, a better working relationship between pupils, teachers and employers could help to motivate students to achieve the grades that will enable them to pursue their chosen career. Though the headteacher berates the Government for not listening, this should not preclude schools, like Thornhill, from leading by example and forging better links with

local firms. For, if this yields better exam results, it will be harder for Ministers to ignore this object lesson in common sense.