Recall that Jonathan Portes was the author of Labour's secret policy paper "Migration: An Economic And Social Analysis" which was mentioned in the famous Andrew Neather article.
I wrote the landmark speech given by then immigration minister Barbara Roche in September 2000, calling for a loosening of controls. It marked a major shift from the policy of previous governments: from 1971 onwards, only foreigners joining relatives already in the UK had been permitted to settle here.
That speech was based largely on a report by the Performance and Innovation Unit, Tony Blair's Cabinet Office think-tank. The PIU's reports were legendarily tedious within Whitehall but their big immigration report was surrounded by an unusual air of both anticipation and secrecy. Drafts were handed out in summer 2000 only with extreme reluctance: there was a paranoia about it reaching the media.
Eventually published in January 2001, the innocuously labelled "RDS Occasional Paper no. 67", "Migration: an economic and social analysis" focused heavily on the labour market case. But the earlier drafts I saw also included a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural. I remember coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended - even if this wasn't its main purpose - to rub the Right's nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date. That seemed to me to be a manoeuvre too far.
Ministers were very nervous about the whole thing. For despite Roche's keenness to make her big speech and to be upfront, there was a reluctance elsewhere in government to discuss what increased immigration would mean, above all for Labour's core white working-class vote. This shone through even in the published report: the "social outcomes" it talks about are solely those for immigrants.Source