Ed Miliband launches Labour election bid: 'We will win by having millions of conversations'

Miliband will pledge to contact more voters than any party has ever done in an election campaign

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The Independent Online

Ed Miliband will kick off Labour’s “long election campaign” on Monday with a pledge by the party to speak directly to four million voters over the next four months.

Mr Miliband will attempt to make a virtue of Labour’s lack of financial firepower by promising to fight a localised campaign based on its strong activist base.

He will pledge that Labour members will individually contact more voters than any party has ever done in an election campaign, while he will hold weekly public “question-time” events across the country over the next four months.

In a speech to activists in Manchester, Mr Miliband will attempt to contrast the Conservatives’ poster campaign launched last week with Labour’s approach.

“We will win this election, not by buying up thousands of poster sites, but by having millions of conversations,” he will say. “This year we will be making our case, explaining our vision, house by house, street by street, town by town.

“And in every single one of those conversations, we will remind people of what is at stake, not speaking over people’s heads but talking directly with them on their doorstep.”

Mr Miliband will also attempt to counter the Tories’ message on the improving economy by suggesting that the benefits of growth have only been felt by a few.

Labour’s election poster was attacked by Tories who claimed it was wrong as it referred to cuts as a share of GDP

“The Tories are telling you about the good economic news. But you and your family are not having enough to pay the bills at the end of each month,” he will say. “The Tories telling you that there has never been more opportunity for young people. But your son or daughter can’t afford to go to university and the only other option is a zero-hours job.”

But writing for The Independent’s website today Patrick Diamond, a former adviser to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, warns that with falling oil prices and signs that wages are growing this message may seem out of date by next May.

“Labour cannot afford to shackle itself to a narrative of ‘unremitting economic pessimism’,” he writes. The rhetoric of a ‘cost-of-living crisis’ may well feel past its sell-by date by the time of the election in May.

“To capitalise on George Osborne’s and David Cameron’s mistakes, Labour cannot afford to rest on its laurels as political battle resumes. Ed Miliband must now accelerate his party’s shift into the political centre-ground if Labour is to have any chance of securing a parliamentary majority in May.”

Labour also came under fire from the Conservatives for a poster claiming that the “Tories want to cut public services back to the levels of the 1930s”.

Downing Street and independent commentators pointed out that the statement was wrong – as it failed to mention that the cuts were as a share of GDP rather than real terms.

“Labour’s poster is misleading,” said the editor of The Spectator, Fraser Nelson. “It uses share of GDP in language that makes the reader believe it’s talking about real money. But given that George Osborne used precisely the same trick to pretend that he has halved the deficit, he is in no position to complain.”

In his speech, Mr Miliband will claim that the “Tory experiment” has “failed” and that only Labour can bring economic prosperity to all. 

“Theirs is not a record to run on,” he will say. “Theirs is a record to run from. And what is their plan for the next five years? We learnt that on Friday.

“Keep driving along the road to nowhere, but press down on the accelerator. Imagine what another five years would mean for you and your family.”