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Six weeks before the general election, Gordon Brown suddenly realises that Labour's uncontrolled immigration policy has been wrong

Gordon Brown morose 2010 PoliticsHome reports the contents of this week's Downing Street podcast thus:

Gordon Brown has said the government's points-based immigration plans will "radically" change immigration by refusing entry to "people who cannot contribute to the economy in the way we need." He confirmed that no non-EU unskilled workers would be allowed into Britain "this year and for the foreseeable future".

It would appear that Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, is stupefied at the Prime Minster's gall on this subject. He has just issued the following statement:

“If it wasn’t such a serious issue you would have to laugh. After 13 years of an open door immigration policy Gordon Brown now admits we need controls. His Government has not offered any serious controls, so Britain will have to wait for a Conservative Government to introduce an annual limit on work permits, effective controls on student visa abuse, restrictions on those coming here to get married, and a Border Police Force.  Then we will get immigration under control, to the benefit of everyone including new and recent arrivals."

You can listen to the Prime Minsterial pocast here.

7.45pm update:

CCHQ are pointing to the following disingenuous statement by Brown in his podcast:

"Some people talk as if net inward migration is rising. In fact, it is falling – down from 237,000 in 2007, to 163,000 in 2008, to provisional figures of 147,000 last year"

They explain:

To do this he used two different sets of statistics that should not be directly compared without caveats. For 2007 and 2008 he used Long-Term International Migration estimates. These include data from the International Passenger Survey, the Irish border (separate until recently), incoming asylum seekers and migrants who arrive on short-term visas but stay longer, or vice versa.

For 2009 he only used the Provisional International Passenger Survey estimates. These do not include asylum seekers or people who overstay their initial visa. Unsurprisingly, this gives a smaller figure. This figure should not be directly prepared to the full Long-Term International Migration estimates without extensive caveats. It may well be that when the Long-Term International Migration estimates for 2009 are released they will reveal that Gordon Brown’s ‘trend’ is nothing of the kind.

Jonathan Isaby