Labour would govern for the whole country says Ed Miliband

 

Ed Miliband said Labour would govern for the whole country "not just for the wealthy few" as he launched Labour's English local elections campaign.

Ed Miliband said Labour would govern for the whole country "not just for the wealthy few" as he launched Labour's English local elections campaign.

The Opposition leader used a meeting of activists in Birmingham to rally his troops following last week's shock by-election defeat at the hands of George Galloway.

He faces a crucial test of support on May 3 - with elections in England, Scotland and Wales - and goes into the campaign with healthy national opinion poll leads over the Tories.

With the Government enduring a fraught period amid controversy over a top rate tax, panic buying at the petrol pumps and cash-for-access claims, he would hope to score well at the ballot box.

However the shock Bradford result - where Respect's Mr Galloway won by 10,000 votes, overturning a 5,000 majority - threw a question mark over the strength of support for the party.

In a speech Mr Miliband said: "Labour is changing so that we can change the country."

He went on: "This Government has abandoned the pretence that they can govern for the whole country.

"They have betrayed middle Britain. They are spending their time listening to their donors, the people who give millions of pounds to the Conservative Party, cutting taxes for millionaires, not the millions of people of this country.

"We are determined to govern for the whole country, not just the wealthy few. They are the values that the people of Britain demand."

Seeking to capitalise on the unpopularity of last month's Budget, he said: "We wouldn't be cutting the 50p tax rate for millionaires, we would actually be spending the money to make sure those pensioners' tax allowances were put back in place.

"And we wouldn't be doing something this Government has done, which is to return £1.6 billion in extra pension tax relief to those earning over £150,000 a year at the same time as they are cutting tax credits. Friends, that's just the wrong choice, it's the wrong priority, it's the wrong values and Labour would be making different choices, showing different values and different priorities."

He accused the Government of cutting police numbers and weakening powers to tackle anti-social behaviour, insisting Labour would bring about a return to "common-sense policing".

The coalition had also presided over a "jobs crisis", he said, and vowed the Labour-run councils would provide a "last line in defence" against NHS reforms.

He was joined by shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman and shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn.

Quizzed about Labour's prospects at the ballot box, he said the party had "a long way to come back" after its poor performance at the 2010 general election.

"I think we are making progress. And I think we are making progress in being an effective opposition and I think we are making progress in starting to set out the alternative that we are."

He added: "I'm not in the commentary business, I'm in the making a difference business and that's what these local elections are about."

There was a "wall of scepticism" among the electorate about politicians, he conceded.

"The way I think we break it down is by being clear about what we're offering and not over promising.

"The scale of our challenge is to convince people that actually we're not all the same and that politics can make a difference."

Conservative Party co-chairman Baroness Warsi said: "Ed Miliband conveniently forgets Labour left our country in an appalling mess, which this Government is having to clear up.

"It was Labour who squeezed hard working people by doubling council tax, it was Labour who tied police to their desks with bureaucracy rather than getting them out on the beat, and it's Labour who won't commit to increase funding to the NHS.

"The Conservatives in government are dealing with Labour's debts, helping families and pensioners with the cost of living and protecting our NHS.

"But all Ed Miliband had to offer today was billions of pounds of more spending, more borrowing and more debt - exactly how he and his old boss Gordon Brown got us into this mess in the first place."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent