Miliband "proud" of Welsh Labour's youth jobs record

Ed Miliband admits that the contents of his own bookshelves are sometimes a mystery to him.

I had expected to find a few philosophical textbooks in between a few weighty tomes that only a policy wonk would describe as a page-turner.

Instead, I found Michael Crick's biography of Sir Alex Ferguson - The Boss - amid less unexpected volumes. Ed Miliband is probably unique among Leeds United fans in keeping a book about the Manchester United manager in his office - "it's not in honour of our Manchester conference", he assured me.

Wales is now the only corner of the UK that has a Labour government so I used the interview to focus on its record. Could Ed Miliband name one area for which the Welsh government is responsible where Wales leads the rest of the UK?

"I certainly think when it comes to tackling youth jobs the Welsh assembly government (sic) led by Carwyn Jones is way outperforming the Westminster government, what they're doing, because they're, with Jobs Growth Wales, putting young people back to work - 4,000 young people a year.

"That's exactly what our conference is about, how do we rebuild Britain and how do we rebuild our economy so we get our young people back to work, we can tackle the standard of living crisis that people face and help small businesses. I think there's huge amount of learning we can do from what the Government is doing in Wales."

I pointed out that last month's official figures showed that the number of people aged between 18 and 24 claiming jobseeker's allowance has quadrupled in Wales during the last year - from 1,130 this time last year to 4,455 now.

The Labour leader said: "I think what you've got is a government in Wales which is fighting against and leaning against what the Westminster government overall is doing and I think within that they're making a big difference.

"And I congratulate what the Labour government in Wales is doing for youth unemployment, for enterprise, because, of course, we've got an economy that's been put back into recession by the Westminster government but you've got a government led by Carwyn saying, "look, that's not our agenda, we're going to try to make as much of a difference as we can and I think they're totally right to do it and I'm very proud of what they're doing".

With the Scottish Labour Party thinking of ditching its commitment to universal benefits such as free prescriptions, I asked Mr Miliband whether it giving millionaires in Wales free prescriptions was a sensible priority.

"I doubt we'll be able to afford free prescriptions in England but this is the point of devolution. And the point of devolution is that on a whole range of devolved issues people in Wales, local people, can make their judgements. They elect a government to do that.

"And you know, in a way I'm a politician who's very comfortable with devolution and different solutions in different parts of the country. What I know is that an economic strategy led from Westminster which was different would help Wales and I look forward, I hope after the next general election, if we win that election to be Carwyn's partner in helping the Welsh economy rebuild. I know that's what Carwyn wants to see too."