UK Politics

Ed Miliband urges 'patriotism' in UK business policy

Labour leader Ed Miliband has called for more "patriotism" in manufacturing policy to boost British industry.

In a speech to the manufacturers' organisation EEF, he said protectionism should be avoided but "pride and patriotism" were needed in order for British business to succeed.

He said government should support a Made in Britain mark for products.

Mr Miliband also defended his leadership of Labour following criticisms on a BBC phone-in show.

One BBC Radio 5live listener accused him of being a "laughing stock" and he was also urged to step aside to make the party electable.

But Mr Miliband dismissed the criticism, saying: "I won't say it's trivial but, no, I am not affected, because you come into this job knowing that you get lots of commentary, lots of criticism.

"That's life. That's what you come into this gig for. What matters to me is the people I meet and the issues that I talk about."

He also praised previous Labour Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as "good sources of advice".

'Not embarrassed'

Mr Miliband's speech on manufacturing came ahead EEF being expected to release details at its national conference of its submission to the Budget later this month, including calls for a target to cut the regulatory "burden" on business.

It will also suggest a 1% reduction in the employer national insurance contribution rate for firms hiring 18 to 24-year-olds.

In his speech, Mr Miliband said protectionism should be avoided because it is "what governments reach for when they don't believe firms can compete".

However, he added that governments underestimate the need for "pride and patriotism - infusing everything from government to culture - if British business is to succeed".

The Labour leader said: "We should not be embarrassed about the need for more patriotism in our economic policy.

"It is patriotic to have an active government using all the means at its disposal to give competitive British firms every chance to succeed.

"That patriotism should be rooted in our knowledge that British firms can and do compete with the best in the world, in the belief that they deserve our backing, and in supporting fair competition so that British firms can make it on to the pitch to compete in the first place.

"There are three words we don't hear enough, or see enough. Those three words are 'Made in Britain'.

"This is not about a backward-looking 'Buy British' campaign. This is not about making consumers feel bad if they don't buy products from British businesses. It's about something else: we can't recognise or celebrate our strength in manufacturing unless we know what is designed, invented and made here.

"There should be a standard Made in Britain mark that is backed, not just by industry, but backed by the government."

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