Demonstrators protest outside Scottish Labour's Gala Dinner this evening. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Ed Miliband's speech to Scottish Labour's Gala Dinner: full text

"I will fight with you with every fibre of my being over these months to show how we can change Scotland," says the Labour leader. 

“We meet here after a tough week for our party in Scotland and after an extraordinary year when Scotland has gone through a profound debate about its future.

“We meet here proud that in September we won the battle to keep our country together.

“And we meet here above all determined to fight to show the Scottish people that Labour can be the change they want to see.

“We heard in the referendum about what the people of Scotland want. There is a deep desire for economic and political change.

“The referendum rejected separation. However much the SNP may try and rewrite the result, the Scottish people voted for us to stay together.

“It means democratic change with more powers for a stronger Scottish Parliament.

“That’s why we are entering the Smith Commission in good faith, working to the timetable that Gordon Brown set down during the referendum campaign.

“We will deliver a Parliament with more control over tax, jobs and welfare.

“We will deliver on a new Scotland Act in our first Queen’s Speech.

“And we will do what the SNP has not done and will never do: deliver an agenda that meets the needs of working people in Scotland.

“We’ll reintroduce a 50p tax rate for people earning over £150,000.

“We’ll tax bankers’ bonuses to pay for guaranteed jobs for our young people.

“We’ll end exploitative zero hours contracts.

“We’ll freeze gas and electricity bills until 2017 and tackle the rip off energy markets.

“And we’ll increase the minimum wage to £8 an hour.

“A pay rise for 100,000 Scots.

“We are just over six months from the general election.

“I look forward to working shoulder to shoulder with whoever the party in Scotland elects as leader to win that election.

“Over its history we have seen the Scottish Labour Party fight for the values our movement holds dear.

“We face a tough fight but no tougher than the fights we have faced in the past.

“The fight for workers’ rights 100 years ago which Scottish Labour led and won.

“The fight for an NHS which Scottish Labour led and won.

“The fight to get rid of the Tories in 1997 and establish a Scottish Parliament which Scottish Labour led and won.

“And the fight to keep our country together which Scottish Labour led and won.

“In the next six months I know the Scottish Labour Party will fight every hour and every day to deliver the changes the working people of Scotland need to improve their lives.

“And I will fight with you with every fibre of my being over these months to show how we can change Scotland.

“Together let's win this fight to change Scotland and change Britain.”
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Staying in the EU would make it easier to tackle concerns about immigration, not less

Brexit is not only unlikely to deliver the control people want, it may actually undermine people’s faith in the system even further.

As Theresa May prepares to set out her latest plan for Brexit in Florence on Friday, those on all sides of the debate will wait to see if there are answers to fundamental questions about Britain’s future outside of the EU. Principle among those is how the UK immigration system will work. How can we respond to Leave voters’ concerns, while at the same time ensuring our economy isn’t badly damaged?

We must challenge the basic premise of the Vote Leave campaign: that dealing with public’s concern about immigration means we have to leave the EU and Single Market.

In fact the opposite is true. Our study into the options available to the UK shows that we are more likely to be able to restore faith in the system by staying within Europe and reforming free movement, than by leaving.

First, there are ways to exercise greater control over EU migration without needing to change the rules. It is not true that the current system of free movement is "unconditional", as recently claimed in a leaked Home Office paper. In fact, there is already considerable scope under existing EU rules to limit free movement.

EU rules state that in order to be given a right to reside, EU migrants must be able to demonstrate proof that they are either working, actively seeking work, or self-sufficient, otherwise they can be proactively removed after three months.

But unlike other continental systems, the UK has chosen not to operate a worker registration system for EU nationals and thus has no way of tracking where they are or what they’re doing. This could be changed tomorrow, if the government were so minded.

Other reforms being discussed at the highest levels within Europe would help deal with the sense that those coming to the UK drive down wages and conditions. The UK could make common cause with President Macron in France, who is pushing for reform of the so-called "Posted Workers Directive", so that companies seeking to bring in workers from abroad have to pay those workers at the same rate as local staff. It could also follow the advice of the TUC and implement domestic reforms of our labour market to prevent exploitation and undercutting.

Instead, the UK government has chosen to oppose reform of the Posted Workers Directive and made it clear that it has no interest in labour market reform.

Second, achieving more substantive change to free movement rules is not as implausible as often portrayed. Specifically, allowing member states to enact safeguards to slow the pace of change in local communities is not unrealistic. While the principle of free movement is a cornerstone of the European project, how it is applied in practice has evolved. And given that other countries, such as France, have expressed concern and called for reform, it is likely to evolve further.

The reforms to free movement negotiated by David Cameron in 2016 illustrate that the EU Commission can be realistic. Cameron’s agreement (which focused primarily on benefits) also provides an important legal and political precedent, with the Commission having agreed to introduce "safeguards" to respond to "situations of inflow of workers from other Member States of an exceptional magnitude over an extended period of time".

Similar precedents can be found within a number of other EU agreements, including the Acts of Accession of new Member States, the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The UK should seek a strengthened version of Cameron’s "emergency brake", which could be activated in the event of "exceptional inflows" from within the EU. We are not the first to argue this.

Of course some will say that it is unrealistic to expect the UK to be able to get more than Cameron achieved in 2016. But put yourself if in the shoes of the EU. If you believe in a project and want it to succeed, moral imperative is balanced with realism and it hardly needs pointing out that the political context has radically shifted since Cameron’s negotiation.

In contrast, a "hard Brexit" will not deliver the "control of our borders" that Brexiteers have promised. As our report makes clear, the hospitality, food, manufacturing and social care sectors heavily depend on EU workers. Given current employment rates, this means huge labour shortages.

These shortages cannot be wished away with vague assertions about "rejoining the world" by the ultra free-market Brexiteers. This is about looking after our elderly and putting food on our tables. If the UK leaves in April 2019, it is likely that the government will continue to want most categories of EU migration to continue. And whatever controls are introduced post-Brexit are unlikely to be enforced at the border (doing so would cause havoc, given our continued commitment to visa-free travel).  Instead we would be likely to see an upsurge in illegal migration from within the EU, with people arriving at the border as "visitors" but then staying on to seek work. This is likely to worsen problems around integration, whereby migrants come and go in large numbers, without putting down roots.

We can do this a different way. The important issues that most drive public concern about EU migration - lack of control, undercutting, pace of change - can be dealt with either within current rules or by seeking reform within the EU.

The harsh truth is that Brexit is not only unlikely to deliver the control people want, it may actually undermine people’s faith in the system even further.

Some will say that the entire line of argument contained here is dangerous, since it risks playing into an anti-immigrant narrative, rather than emphasising migration’s benefits. This is an argument for the ivory tower, not the real world.

There is a world of difference between pandering to prejudice and acknowledging that whilst EU migration has brought economic benefits to the UK, it has also created pressures, for example, relating to population churn within local communities.

The best way to secure public consent for free movement, in particular, and immigration in general, is to be clear about where those pressures manifest and find ways of dealing with them, consistent with keeping the UK within the EU.

This is neither an attempt at triangulation nor impractical idealism. It’s about making sure we understand the consequences of one of the biggest decisions this country has ever taken, and considering a different course.

Harvey Redgrave is a senior policy fellow at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change and director of strategy at Crest Advisory.