Labour’s immigration policy went down well didn’t it?

It appears that Labour’s immigration policy went down like a cup of cold sick on a chilly winter’s morning.

Accusations of race-baiting are swirling around Labour’s immigration policy despite a direct effort to distance itself from such claims.

The party yesterday unveiled its plan to cut the number of new immigrants by up to 30,000 a year by tightening rules around student and work visas.

Labour leader Andrew Little has stressed its policy is not about ethnicity or race.

But both United Future and the ACT Party reject that, calling it a blatant pitch towards populism.

United Future leader Peter Dunne said Labour’s plan was “really all about race and pandering to a certain section of the vote”.

“It’s a nod and a wink to try to get New Zealand First on side.

“But frankly it’s going to have a detrimental effect on a number of tertiary institutions in terms of their funding [and] also in terms of the skillset coming into New Zealand.”

Forget that. The whole premise that net migration of 70,000 is bad is where it starts off on the wrong foot. Most of those are Kiwis returning…not a whole bunch of immigrants. It is Net MIGRATION…not net immigration.

The left wing squealers on Twitter are aghast. The Greens aren’t happy either and Little’s comments are just confusing.

But Mr Little said Labour was committed to maintaining New Zealand’s reputation as a tolerant, diverse society that welcomed migrants.

“When new migrants come here, they enrich our country and make New Zealand a better place. To achieve that, we have to create the social and economic conditions that make successful settlement here.”

The Green Party is worried some might see the policy as a pitch to xenophobia, but has come to Labour’s defence.

Co-leader James Shaw said he did not think that was where Labour was coming from.

“They’ve done a lot of work and they’ve come a long way from where they were in this debate.

“My sense is that they are trying to reframe the debate as one about how we manage this for the sake of the people who are coming here.”

About the only politician who is happy is Winston Peters. He knows his immigration credentials are believable and he is likely to be the only one who benefits from disillusioned former Labour voters.

Meanwhile, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said Labour had finally seen the light.

“But when we were saying it, we were being dumped on by all and sundry, and now all of a sudden the lightbulb’s gone off.

“They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery and that’s about the size of it.”

So, another policy flop from Labour. Another “game changer” dead less than 24 hours after launching. If it wasn’t for MMP then these muppets would be done.