Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband

Labour leader Ed Miliband has expanded on his One Nation vision with a speech about multicultural Britain.

Diversity in the UK was a central theme of his speech at Samaj Hall in Tooting, south London. Miliband spoke of the need for Britain to control its borders during a time of mass migration.

Acknowledging public anxieties, after a Census this week revealed that one in eight people in England and Wales was born overseas, Miliband admitted that the last Labour government had "made mistakes".

"Over the last 15 years, migration to Britain has been faster and more extensive than it has ever been in our history, with many people coming here, especially from those countries new to the European Union," he said.

"The last Labour government made mistakes. As I have said before, the capacity of our economy to absorb new migrants was greater than the capacity of some of our communities to adapt.

"We have said we will learn lessons from Eastern European migration and ensure maximum transitional controls in future."

Drawing on his family background as the son of Jewish migrants, the Doncaster North MP also attacked the coalition government for cutting services designed to foster community cohesion.

More had to be done to intergrate immigrants into British society, he added.

"Separation means isolation and you can't succeed in Britain if you're isolated. Isolation also breeds ignorance and ignorance breeds suspicion and prejudice."

The Opposition leader also pledged that a future Labour government would look at revising the government's current cap system which is designed to cut non-EU immigration.

Summoning up memories of past political battles over national identity, Miliband sought to co-opt traditional Tory rhethoric designed to capture middle England - crucial for election success - and repudiate the notion that immigrants have to subsume their own beliefs and practices into British culture.

"One Nation doesn't mean one identity. People can be proudly, patriotically British without abandoning their cultural roots," he said.

While condemning the Coalition government for damaging the fabric of multicultural Britain, the speaker pledged to properly find education for youngsters amid the closure of SureStart schemes and benefit cuts.

Miliband also took aim at businesses which hire immigrant labour and imposed conditions akin to segregation on the workforce, or which hired only from certain ethic groups.

"A Labour government would work with business to build a more integrated economy," he said.

Full transcript of Miliband's speech.