Saturday 18 November 2017

Miliband makes 'One Nation' call

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband kisses his wife Justine on stage after delivering his keynote speech at the party's annual conference in Manchester
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband kisses his wife Justine on stage after delivering his keynote speech at the party's annual conference in Manchester

Andrew Woodcock London

Ed Miliband made a bold grab for the political centre ground, using his keynote speech to Labour's annual conference to promise to "rebuild Britain as 'One Nation'".

In a bravura 65-minute performance, delivered without notes, Mr Miliband won warm applause from his audience in Manchester and the approval of commentators outside the hall as he called on Britons to come together in the fight to overcome the economic downturn.

He made no bones about stealing his 'One Nation' slogan -- first used by Conservative prime minister Benjamin Disraeli -- from the Tories, insisting that David Cameron had forfeited his right to claim that "we are all in this together" because of the way he has governed since 2010.

Denouncing Mr Cameron's government as a "miserable shower" who had allowed state borrowing to rise, destabilised the NHS and cut taxes on millionaires while increasing them for pensioners, he said: "If the medicine isn't working, change the medicine . . . change the doctor too."

In a speech which was light on policy proposals, Mr Miliband put forward plans to end the requirement on businesses for quarterly reporting, in order to encourage long-term investment and planning.

He challenged the banks to separate their retail and investment arms by 2015 or be forced to by law. And he confirmed plans for a new technical baccalaureate to provide "gold-standard" vocational education, including English and maths, to the age of 18.

But it was an address devoted to introducing Mr Miliband to voters as a person and to getting across his vision of how a Labour administration would govern under his leadership.

Hitler

Britain showed the One Nation spirit when it came together to fight Hitler's Germany in the Second World War and to rebuild the war-battered country under Labour PM Clement Attlee.

Mr Miliband told delegates: "I didn't become leader of the Labour Party to reinvent the world of Disraeli or Attlee but I do believe in that spirit, that spirit of One Nation.

He said the coalition had delivered "the longest double-dip recession since the war" and branded Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats "shameful" for agreeing to cut the top rate of income tax from 50p to 45p.

"This Prime Minister said we are all in it together," said Mr Miliband. "Don't let him ever tell us again we're all in this together."

Irish Independent

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