Labour conference: Miliband war on 'fast buck' society

Ed Miliband Ed Miliband was elected leader of the Labour Party a year ago

Ed Miliband has declared war on "predatory, asset-stripping" companies, in his speech to the Labour conference.

The Labour leader said he wanted the UK to become a country where responsible "grafters" were rewarded.

And he called for an end to the "fast buck" culture he claimed had created a "quiet crisis" in the UK.

It was Mr Miliband's biggest speech since becoming Labour leader just over a year ago.

And although it contained no new policy announcements, he will be hoping to seize back the political initiative amid falling opinion poll ratings.

'Lost trust'

Mr Miliband began by saying the government's "austerity plan" was failing and people needed to know there was a credible alternative.

But he said Labour had "lost trust on the economy" - and he was determined to restore it, by saying the next Labour government would "only spend what it can afford" and manage public money properly.

"If this government fails to deal with the deficit in this parliament we will deal with it in the next," he said, promising "disciplined" new fiscal rules.

The Labour leader urged David Cameron to "put the politics aside" and understand that protecting the UK economy matters more than protecting "a plan that has failed".

Delegates cheered as the Labour leader said he wanted to regain the trust of the British people and win the next general election.

Among the ideas Mr Miliband talked about were tax incentives for companies that make a contribution to the economy through training and long-term investment.

He drew a distinction between genuine wealth creators like Rolls Royce - which, he said, should be championed and encouraged - and "asset-stripping predators" such as Southern Cross care homes.

Start Quote

Opposition leaders - whether Labour or Tory - declare that they are on the side of hard working people who do the right thing.”

End Quote

He also floated the idea - already being piloted by two Labour councils, Manchester and Newham in London - that people who make a contribution to the local community will be allowed to jump housing queues.

Mr Miliband argued for a "something-for-something" culture in schools and call for a new effort to get children from poor backgrounds to university.

The Labour leader has been criticised this week by union leaders who are angry at his failure to back their planned "day of action" on 30 November over cuts to their members' pensions.

He has also faced criticism from some of his own MPs, including ex-minister Tessa Jowell, that voters are not listening to the party.

A ComRes poll in the Independent on Tuesday showed 37% of the 1,000 voters questioned said they backed the Conservatives, against 36% for Labour and 12% for the Liberal Democrats.

Just 24% agreed that Mr Miliband was a credible prime minister-in-waiting, against 57% who said he was not.

Fred Goodwin

But Mr Miliband said he believed that, in the wake of the banking crisis and the summer riots, voters were crying out for a new kind of society in which the responsible and the "grafters" - those who work hard - were properly rewarded.

He talked in his speech of a "quiet crisis" in Britain and the "failure of a system" which too often rewarded "not the right people with the right values, but the wrong people with the wrong values".

He singled out former RBS boss Sir Fred Goodwin, telling delegates he should never have got a salary three times that of former Rolls Royce boss Sir John Rose, and adding: "We shouldn't have given Sir Fred Goodwin that knighthood either."

Start Quote

Ed Miliband can't deliver on these promises because his party left the country on the brink of bankruptcy”

End Quote Baroness Warsi Conservative Party co-chairwoman

He said he wanted to see a "something-for-something" culture, where reward was linked to effort and told delegates that the current benefits system did not reward those who shared those values.

"We must never excuse people who cheat the welfare system. The reason I talk about this is not because I don't believe in a welfare state but because I do. We can never protect and renew it if people believe it's just not fair."

He called for a "new bargain" based on British values and a "new era of wealth creation in this country".

However, Conservative Party co-chairwoman Baroness Warsi blamed Labour's 13 years in office for "the 'something-for-nothing' culture.

"If Ed Miliband was serious about turning that around, he wouldn't be opposing our reforms to the welfare system to make work pay," she said.

She argued that, under the previous Labour government, small businesses had been "strangled" with red tape and social mobility had stalled, and accused Mr Miliband of opposing government plans to address the problems.

"Ed Miliband can't deliver on these promises because his party left the country on the brink of bankruptcy. This is opportunistic rhetoric from a weak leader."


More on This Story


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 977.


    Actually if we want to be particular we left ourselves with the highest personal debt problem in Europe through thinking all through the 80,s 90, Noughties that we could have everything and pay later well as we have seen pay later has now come. Never a borrower nor a lender be etc. Do you really need to move house and borrow so much money?

  • rate this

    Comment number 973.

    Very good speech which was much better than Gordon Brown's best.

    He has distanced himself from JP Morgan's Tony Blair by being a champion against the vested interesst of powerful lobby groups

    Whereas the coalition leadership is like a Russian Doll:

    Nick Clegg in the pocket of David Cameron in the pocket of Rupert Murdoch in the pocket of Lord Ashcroft and the banking lobby.

  • rate this

    Comment number 934.

    Listening to Ed you would think that finally someone has come to their senses and then you remember Tony Blair and all his brilliant speeches. Sorry Ed but you are only talking this way because you want to get Labour into power.
    Once you've done so all the big promises will turn into nothing more than aspirations.
    I believe the day I hear someone in power speak like this.
    Not until.
    I learned

  • rate this

    Comment number 740.

    Women up the road from me just recieved her new 61 plate 4x4 curtosy of the state. It's her 3rd new car.
    She is in her 30's works part time, plays tennis, goes to the gym, runs up and down the street with her kids yet she has the 4x4 for a back problem.
    All because of Labours culture "something for nothing".
    Is it any wonder voters are hacked off with Labour when this sort of abuse takes place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 698.

    Ed, Nobody is going to take you seriously when you complain about problems created by your own party.
    The tories have at most provided a convenient excuse for some. The real causes have been brewing for much longer than the coalition have been around.


Comments 5 of 16


More Politics stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.