Coalition government dividing the nation, says MIliband
The Labour leader embraced Disraeli's "One Nation" vision and delivered a keynote speech at the party conference in Manchester yesterday.
The 65 minute speech was delivered to the party faithful without notes, but the Labour leader was clearly addressing the nation. It was designed to articulate Labour’s plans to capture the centre ground in British politics.
Ed Miliband went into the conference with polls showing that he is "not Prime Ministerial”, however after yesterday’s speech even his harshest critics have acknowledged that the Labour Leader has finally found his voice.
The leader of the opposition tore into the coalition government, especially the Tories, by accusing them of attempting to divide the country. He said that the Cameron government was attempting to create “two nations” in Britain.
“It’s not the Britain you believe in. It’s not the Britain I believe in. It’s not the Britain this party will ever be satisfied with … we’re going to change it.”
Invoking Disraeli’s “One Nation” and the way the transformational Atlee Government used that particular phase, the current Labour leader went on to say: "Every time Britain has faced its gravest challenge, we have only come through the storm as one nation. Too often governments have forgotten that lesson. The task now was to come together, to join together and to work together as a country."
He sent an olive branch out to business, calling for the private sector to work with the government to improve skills among the workforce and make Britain more competitive in the global market. However, he reminded his audience, especially those in the hall, that he will continue to argue for the centre-left philosophy of mutualism in society.
Miliband said that tackling inequality would be a key task of the Labour government, should the party finds itself in power after the 2015 general election.
"I will never accept an economy where the gap between rich and poor just grows wider and wider. In one nation, in my faith, inequality matters. It matters to our country," he argued, and highlighted that the most fortunate in society must bear the biggest burdens.
This said, Miliband's speech was far from perfect. It contained factual inaccuracy, when he accused the PM of writing a cheque to himself and all millionaires with tax cuts. Tax cuts are for those earning over a million pounds and not those who have assets over million pounds. But the Labour leader did not worry about the technicalities of the hyperbolic statement, which was greeted with rapturous applause within the hall.
Many commentators in today’s papers found similarities with Tony Blair’s speeches at party conferences during his tenure as Labour leader – some noting with irony that Miliband has worked hard alongside Gordon Brown to remove Mr Blair from office.
Light on policy but high on rhetoric was the consensus among most commentators today.