Labour Manchester conference: New York's left-wing mayor Bill de Blasio is to be the star speaker


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Indy Politics

Bill de Blasio, the left wing mayor of New York City, will be the star guest speaker at the Labour Party’s annual conference in Manchester next week.

He will speak about the urgent need to tackle income inequality on the final day of the conference on Monday. He will also hold private talks with Ed Miliband, an admirer of his ability to win an election on a progressive platform.

Mr Miliband’s invitation is bound to provoke renewed Conservative claims about his own left wing prospectus at next May’s general election. Mr de Blasio has been been dubbed by his critics as “as red as Ken Livingstone”. The Tories, who have branded Mr Miliband “Red Ed”, are bound to point out Mr Blasio’s support for higher taxes and claims that he is “anti-business”. In his inaugural speech, the Mayor said: “We are called to put an end to economic and social inequalities”.

Mr de Blasio won a landslide victory in 2013 to become the first Democratic mayor of New York since 1993. His role as “international speaker” at the Labour conference will see him follow in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton.

The Mayor said: “The fight against income inequality doesn’t stop at a city limit, a state line or an international border. It’s an issue that confronts us all, in every corner of the world, and it demands a unified response. To truly lift up more people, families and communities struggling to make it in tough economic conditions, we must truly have a shared vision, and a shared strategy.”

Mr Miliband said: “There have always been close links between the Labour Party and leading Democrats. But I am particularly pleased that Bill de Blasio has agreed to speak at our pre-election conference this year. I followed his election campaign closely and I have been impressed by the work he has done since taking office in January for everyday New Yorkers so they can begin to share in, as well as create, a successful future for their great city.”

The Labour leader added: “We both recognise we face a generational challenge to ensure that hard work is properly rewarded, that young people get a fair shot in life, and that the cost-of-living crisis for working families is tackled. It is an international challenge for progressive leaders in the United Kingdom, in the United States, and across the developed world.”