"Britain can do better" states Miliband as he takes centre stage in Brighton

24 Sep 2013

It had been a difficult summer. Trouble with the unions, confusion over his intensions over Syria and low poll ratings all meant that Ed Miliband needed to give more than a well-crafted leader's speech to the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. Labour's main problem of late has been that voters do not know what the party stand for - What is their position on Europe? How do they propose to raise living standards? Do they have a better economic plan ready to boost recovery? We've all been none the wiser. 

 

However, following Mr Miliband's confident address in Brighton, Labour has finally offered some answers. The driving motto underlining the speech was: "Britain can do better than this". Imitating the late American President Ronald Regan, the Labour leader asked the audience: "Are you satisfied with a country divided, a country standing apart as two nations?" Without needing a response, he stated: "Britain needs to build a new One Nation and we're going to make it happen."

Mr Miliband spoke of fighting for ordinary people who had been hit hard with falling wages and poor living standards. "A rising tide used to lift all boats, now it only lifts the yachts," he said, acknowledging the gap that has emerged between rising prices against the average worker's wage. Mr Miliband admitted that he understood why voters had supported the Conservatives under David Cameron in the 2010 election, recognising that they believed they were voting for change. However, change we have not, the Labour leader claimed, highlighting the fact that we are currently living through the slowest economic recovery in one hundred years with the lowest fall in living standards since 1880. As a consequence, during the Conservative Party Conference next week, Mr Miliband suggested that Mr Cameron should perform a "lap of shame" rather than one of honour, given that he believes the cost of living crisis is the Prime Minister's economic policy as a whole, rather than an accident of it.

Dismissing the Tory agenda, Mr Miliband told Labour activists: "David Cameron talks about Britain being in a global race. But what he doesn't tell you is that he thinks the only way Britain can win is for you to lose." This, he believed, amounts to: "The lowest wages, the worst terms and conditions, and the fewest rights at work - a race to the bottom." 

By offering a new 'One Nation' Labour, Mr Miliband proposed the following pledges:

 

  • The promise to build 200,000 new homes per year by 2020 if Labour wins the next election, along with adding a generation of new towns. 

 

  • The vow to freeze energy bills from 2015 to 2017 and to abolish the regulator Ofgem. Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint said Labour would "break up the big six" energy companies who would be governed by a different regulator. 

 

  • Mr Miliband proposed to assist around 1.5 million small businesses in England by reversing a planned business rates rise if Labour wins the next election, claiming that Labour wanted a "fair deal" for those hit by the cost of living. This proposal would save small businesses an average of nearly £450 over two years and would be paid for by cutting corporation tax from 21% to 20% which is due to come into force in April 2015.

 

  • The belief that 16 and 17-year-olds should be entitled to get the vote.


Although what Mr Miliband pledged during his leader's speech was not necessarily a call for a new type of Socialism, the Labour leader attempted to identify with those who have been hit by low wages and poor living standards, with the promise that a Labour government would help the average worker. His speech was always going to be an attack against the Tory "nasty party", highlighting how David Cameron has neglected ordinary voters by rejecting the idea of a mansion tax, thus portraying himself as "out of touch". However, political tactics aside, today we were finally given a long-awaited taster of what a Labour government would offer and why Ed Miliband believes he is the man to lead Britain into a new One Nation era at the 2015 general election.  

By Emily Stacey

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