No return to tax and spend, Ed Miliband tells Labour forum

Ed Miliband: ''Higher spending is not actually the answer to the long-term economic crisis''

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Ed Miliband has said there will be no return to the tax and spend policies of past Labour governments.

The Labour leader told activists at the party's national policy forum that higher spending would not solve the UK's economic problems.

He said Labour would be more radical than in the past - and there was a need to "fundamentally reshape our economy".

He also said the public sector should be able to "challenge" to run rail lines, which were privatised in 1993.

Start Quote

All Ed Miliband offers is more wasteful spending, more borrowing and more taxes”

End Quote Sajid Javid Culture Secretary

The national policy forum in Milton Keynes will see Labour finalise many of the policies it will argue for at next year's general election.

'Traditional answer'

Mr Miliband said Labour would offer a "binding commitment to balance the books".

"We will get the national debt falling as soon as possible in the next Parliament and we will deliver a surplus on the current budget," he said.

Mr Miliband said the solution to Britain's economic problems "cannot be our traditional answer of spending to fix the problem".

"Unless we fundamentally reshape our economy, we will only ever be able to compensate people for unfairness and inequality," he said.

He said Labour would "mend the link between hard work and reward".

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Analysis
A line of pound coins
By Iain Watson, BBC political correspondent

Polls suggest Labour still lags some way behind the Conservatives when it comes to being trusted with the economy.

So Ed Miliband didn't just deliver a blunt message to his activists on public spending - he wanted to tell a wider audience a future Labour government wouldn't plunge Britain deeper into the red.

But a lack of money wouldn't lead to a lack of ambition.

He admitted that in the good times the last Labour government hadn't fixed some of the underlying flaws in the economy before the financial crash hit.

So he promised to be radical in government - compelling employers to pay a higher minimum wage and encouraging more house building.

But that won't deliver his promised budget surplus in the short term and he didn't set out what cuts he would make to achieve this.

And Labour would still borrow to invest.

The coalition claims there would still be a hefty deficit if Ed Miliband becomes prime minister.

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Mr Miliband said Britain could not keep spending billions "subsidising" those on low pay, and said the "living wage is an idea whose time has come".

The living wage - calculated as the basic cost of living in the UK - is more than the current minimum wage.

Mr Miliband said: "For the first time, we will make an offer to every employer in the country - you will get a tax cut on condition that you move to pay the living wage."

He also said Labour would:

  • build "at least 200,000 homes a year by the end of the next Parliament"
  • freeze energy bills
  • stop the "abuse of zero-hours contracts"
  • increase the minimum wage by more than average earnings during the next Parliament
  • abolish what Labour has described as the "bedroom tax"
  • give "more powers over tax, welfare and jobs" to the Scottish Parliament. He urged Scots to vote to stay part of the UK in September's referendum
  • devolve power to communities across England in the "biggest devolution of power in England that any of us has ever seen"
  • ensure "care and co-operation, not profit and privatisation" of the NHS. "The first thing we will do is repeal their Health and Social Care Bill," he said.

Mr Miliband said rail privatisation had too often "put the profits into the private sector and put the risk on to the government".

"We know East Coast [mainline, which has been publicly run since 2009] has worked in public hands, so on the basis of value for money let's extend that idea and let the public sector challenge to take on new lines," he said.

Mr Miliband said Michael Gove, who left the role of education secretary in David Cameron's cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, had been thrown "overboard" by the prime minister.

He said Labour would end the "centralisation" and "lack of accountability" in Tory education policy.

'No plan'

Commenting on advance excerpts from Mr Miliband's speech, Conservative Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: "The reality is Labour haven't learnt the lessons from their mistakes.

"All Ed Miliband offers is more wasteful spending, more borrowing and more taxes.

"That's exactly what got us into a mess in the first place, and hardworking taxpayers would pay the price.

"It's clearer than ever that Ed Miliband has no long-term plan to secure Britain's future and is just not up to the job."

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  25.  
    @nigelfletcher 11:35: Nigel Fletcher, ex-Conservative adviser

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  30.  
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  31.  
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  32.  
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  40.  
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  61.  
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  64.  
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  65.  
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  66.  
    10:19: Line-up

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  67.  
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  68.  
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  69.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 10:08: Get involved

    Adam Rees: Labour keep banging on about the Tories privatising the NHS. I've been hearing it for as long as I remember. It's still free at the point of use. There are some NHS services provided by private companies for sure but who introduced it for the very first time? Labour!

     
  70.  
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  71.  
    @iainmartin1 10:06: Iain Martin, Journalist

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  72.  
    10:00: Air strikes

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  73.  
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  74.  
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    Douglas Carswell
     
  75.  
    @Freeman_George 09:50: George Freeman, Conservative MP

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  76.  
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  77.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 09:45: Get involved

    Bob, Cambridge: It never ceases to amaze me when the general election is close by how the Tories send out sweeteners to get voters to stay. No chance Mr Cameron we all know what your party is about and always has been and that is to persecute the poor for the mistakes of the rich.

     
  78.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 09:41: Get involved

    Henry Francis Naudi in London: Whatever the main political parties may say about the NHS and their determination to improve it, the fact of the matter is that the main reasons for a 'distressed' NHS are (1) massive wastage in bureaucracy and admin; and (2) leeching of the NHS by people who are either not entitled to it for free or who manage to get round it by not paying their dues.

     
  79.  
    09:36: Joe Shute, for The Telegraph

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  80.  
    09:30: What channel? Dave, maybe?

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  81.  
    @_James_Lyons_ 09:26: James Lyons, Daily Mirror Deputy Political Editor

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  82.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 09:25: Get involved

    Colin in Gloucestershire: If we really want to keep the health service as it is people MUST take responsibility for themselves. Smoking and use of other drugs maybe your 'god given' right but it should not be the responsibility of the rest of the community to pay for the consequences. Even if Cameron can deliver on this promise, which will only come about by painful cuts elsewhere, that will only delay the day that society will no longer be willing to support people unwilling to take responsibility for themselves.

     
  83.  
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  84.  
    09:18: Coming up at conference

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  85.  
    Tweet: @BBCPolitics 09:17: Get involved

    @thisisamy_ tweets: So ukip, 'the anti-establishment, people's party' attracts another millionaire donor. Yup, they're definitely on your side.

     
  86.  
    @andyburnhammp 09:16: Andy Burnham, Labour MP

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  87.  
    @matthancockmp 09:16: Matt Hancock, Conservative MP

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  88.  
    09:15: Defence announcements

    In other news, the Ministry of Defence has announced it has awarded £3.2bn of contracts to support the management of the UK's naval bases, securing about 7,500 jobs. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon is due to make a speech to conference later this morning, so it's likely he'll make reference to this.

     
  89.  
    @Nigel_Farage 09:14: Nigel Farage, @UKIP Leader

    tweets: Arron Banks recognises that it is the European Union that is holding Britain and her businesses back. See blog post

     
  90.  
    09:13: Prop developer

    During his speech on Tuesday, London Mayor Boris Johnson wielded a brick to demonstrate his determination to get more homes built. Will David Cameron do something similar?

    Boris Johnson
     
  91.  
    09:12: Tory donor joins UKIP

    UKIP continues to cast a shadow over Conservative conference this week. One of the Tories' long-time donors is to announce later that he is joining Nigel Farage's party. Insurance entrepreneur Arron Banks has given the Conservatives more than £250,000 since David Cameron became leader - but will today present rivals UKIP with a £100,000 check. Mr Bank has also indicated he would like to stand as a candidate. The move comes after two Conservative MPs defected to UKIP - one as recently as Saturday, on the eve of Tory conference.

     
  92.  
    @Mike_Fabricant 09:10: Michael Fabricant, Conservative MP

    tweets: Another sunny day in Brum for #CPC14. An omen? See photo

     
  93.  
    09:08: Happy talk?

    David Cameron is expected to use his speech to show voters his party has more to offer them than austerity, and that with five more years the Conservatives, under his leadership, can improve people's lives.

     
  94.  
    09:06: Where is he?

    Samantha Cameron is in Birmingham to offer her husband support as he speaks later. Before that there's the obligatory walkabout.

    Samantha Cameron
     
  95.  
    09:05: More on the NHS

    The promise to protect NHS funding from departmental spending cuts is a repeat of the policy on which David Cameron fought the 2010 general election. Mr Cameron will say that a strong NHS is only made possible by a strong economy.

     
  96.  
    09:03: Midnight oil

    David Cameron has been working overnight on his speech. We are told he will deliver it using a script, rather than performing an attempted elephantine memory trick. This follows ridicule of Ed Miliband when he forgot a couple of passages of his address to the Labour conference last week.

    David Cameron
     
  97.  
    09:02: NHS spending pledge

    It is being reported that David Cameron will use his speech to pledge a yearly real-terms increase in NHS spending over the course of the next five-year Parliament, if his party secures victory at the election.

     
  98.  
    09:00: Good morning

    Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the final day of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham. The day will culminate in the highlight of any party conference: the leader's speech. David Cameron will address party activists at 11.15 BST, in what will be his final conference speech before the general election.

     

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