Putting it right? The labour party's big shift on immigration since 2010
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© 2014 The Political Quarterly Publishing Co. Ltd.Under pressure from voters, and from other parties, Europe's centre-left has had to re-evaluate its position on migration. The UK Labour party is no exception. Public concern about large-scale immigration clearly contributed to its heavy defeat at the 2010 general election. Since then it has been slowly but surely hardening its stance on the issue, although this is by no means unprecedented: while the rise of UKIP may have upped the ante in recent months, Labour has a long history of adjusting policy in this area so as to remain competitive with its main rival, the Conservative party. Labour is now asking itself whether it will be possible to do this without challenging one of the fundamental precepts of EU membership-the right of free movement of people. Whatever the result of this internal debate between the party's 'beer drinkers' and its 'wine drinkers', Labour may still have difficulty in neutralising immigration as an issue since, for the most part, it continues to insist on giving an essentially economic answer to what for many voters is actually a cultural question.