Tony Blair talks with Ed Miliband during a Loyal Address service to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Hall in London on March 20, 2012. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Miliband will follow Blair's advice on an EU referendum but not on immigration

He has broken unambiguously with the open borders stance adopted by the former PM.

"The Master", as some Conservative ministers like to refer to him, emerged on the Today programme this morning to offer his response to Ukip's "political earthquake". Tony Blair advised Ed Miliband to "stay firm" by refusing to match David Cameron's guarantee of an in/out EU referendum and implied that the Labour leader was wrong to have apologised for his party's failure to impose transitional controls on eastern European immigration.

He said: "I personally would very strongly support the position we took, both in Europe and in immigration more generally. Remember, I fought the 2005 election on a campaign against immigration from the then Conservative leader."

Miliband certainly agrees with Blair on the first point. As I've previously reported, he will not bow to pressure from some Labour MPs to change his stance on an EU referendum (which is to only hold a vote in the unlikely event of a further transfer of powers to Brussels). Miliband rightly believes that he would derive little or no political benefit from doing so (the issue is not a primary concern even for Ukip voters) and is not prepared to risk the opening years of his premiership being dominated by a referendum that he could lose (an event that would almost certainly force his resignation).

But he will not be taking Blair's advice on immigration. Miliband has abandoned the globalist, open borders stance adopted by Blair in favour of a Blue Labour position that supports greater regulation of labour markets as well as of financial markets. Having apologised for Labour's failure to control eastern European immigration in the past (an issue that rose dramatically in significance after Blair's departure from office) , he has pledged to apply the "maximum transitional controls" to future member states. Alongside this, he has vowed to ban recruitment agencies from only advertising for migrant workers and to require large domestic firms to train a British apprentice for each worker they employ from outside the EU.  The stance advocated by Blair - a full-throated defence of the benefits of high immigration and EU integration - is identical to that taken by Nick Clegg; it would prove politically suicidal for Labour.

Where Miliband has also departed from Blairism is in supporting greater market intervention to address the problems - stagnant wages, extortionate prices and excessive rents - for which anxiety over immigration is frequently a proxy.  Expect to hear more on the need for change when the Labour leader gives his first substantial response to the local and European election results in Thurrock (the scene of a Ukip victory over Labour last week) today.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Donald Trump vs Barack Obama: How the inauguration speeches compared

We compared the two presidents on trade, foreign affairs and climate change – so you (really, really) don't have to.

After watching Donald Trump's inaugural address, what better way to get rid of the last few dregs of hope than by comparing what he said with Barack Obama's address from 2009? 

Both thanked the previous President, with Trump calling the Obamas "magnificent", and pledged to reform Washington, but the comparison ended there. 

Here is what each of them said: 

On American jobs

Obama:

The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.  We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.  We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.

Trump:

For many decades we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

Obama had a plan for growth. Trump just blames the rest of the world...

On global warming

Obama:

With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

Trump:

On the Middle East:

Obama:

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 

Trump:

We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

On “greatness”

Obama:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.

Trump:

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

 

On trade

Obama:

This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year.  Our capacity remains undiminished.  

Trump:

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland