Wales politics

Welsh Labour conference: Ed Miliband's praise for Carwyn Jones

Labour leader Ed Miliband has praised his Welsh party for demonstrating an alternative to the policies of the coalition government in Westminster.

He told delegates at the Welsh Labour conference in Cardiff that First Minister Carwyn Jones was "the best man to stand up for Wales".

Labour was "governing in its own right once again", with different priorities.

He repeated a call for "responsible capitalism", saying the economy must be made to work for everyone.

Attacking bankers' bonuses were "not about the politics of envy, it's about a culture of responsibility".

"It's a lesson that too many parts of our country have forgotten," he said.

"It's a lesson we know in our hearts - that we succeed or fall together. That's what it's all about.

"But I tell you this - it's not a lesson that Carwyn Jones's government has forgotten."

On the economy, he said a Welsh government fund would create jobs for 4,000 young people.

The Welsh government was hiring 500 police community support offices "because he (Carwyn Jones) understands the importance of tackling crime and police on the beat".

He also credited Mr Jones with the "right decision" to spare Welsh students from big hikes in university tuition fees.

Rallying cry

Opponents in the assembly have criticised Labour for inaction since last May's assembly election.

But Mr Miliband portrayed last year's election result - which put Labour back in power, but left it one seat short of an outright majority - as a step towards regaining Downing Street.

"We need a Labour government in Westminster as a partner to a Labour government in Wales," he said.

He attacked Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan, saying she was standing up for her Buckinghamshire constituency, "but not for the unemployed of Cardiff".

Devolution had worked to the benefit of the UK he said, but added that everyone had a "duty... to fight for our United Kingdom".

His rallying cry comes as the SNP government in Edinburgh prepares to hold a referendum on Scottish independence.

Image caption Ed Miliband repeated his call for 'responsible capitalism'

Mr Miliband called for an economy "not just working for the people at the top, but for all the working people of the country".

"I call it responsible capitalism".

The public was angry at bonuses at the Royal Bank of Scotland because banks were carrying on with "business as usual" while living standards were being squeezed.

RBS chief executive Stephen Hester has waived his award of £963,000 in shares.

But Mr Miliband said he would like to introduce bankers to a young girl he met a few miles from the City of London who could not get a job and who had been offered less than the minimum wage to work in a chip shop.

A Labour government would insist that companies take on apprentices when they get state contracts, he said.

It would also put ordinary employees on remuneration committees.

"If you can't look ordinary workers in the eye and justify your salary and bonus you shouldn't be getting the salary or bonus."

He attacked "unfair" overdraft charges, the way those who could least afford it paid the most for energy and train companies that were "laughing all the way to the bank".

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