Miliband accused on job creation


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Business leaders were quick to react to Mr Miliband's speech, with one group accusing him of not understanding how jobs were created.

John Walker, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses said: "After such a pro-small business speech from the Shadow Chancellor yesterday, we are disappointed that the Labour leader does not understand how jobs and apprenticeships are created in the real world.

"Small businesses already struggle to win public sector contracts and insisting that they must offer an apprenticeship will mean that they miss out on more. While more than 60% of apprenticeships take place in small businesses, until firms win more business they will not have the confidence to take on additional staff. Policies such as this will only make the problem worse."

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: "With growth weak, Ed Miliband is looking for a new business model, but he must be careful not to characterise some businesses as asset strippers. We need businesses to create the wealth and jobs upon which our country's economic recovery will depend.

"Equally, businesses must be responsible. The companies I meet are working tirelessly to create wealth and jobs in extremely tough times.

"Ed Miliband is right to encourage long-termism in business. Responsible businesses are those committed to investing in their workforce and innovative products and services."

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: "Ed Milliband is right to separate the wealth creators from the asset strippers and to side with the producers against the predators. He is right to stand up for the NHS.

"He is his own man not afraid to stand up against the likes of Murdoch and the rest of the elite. He will be listened to by the electorate because the issues he raises are major issues. He is on the side of the British people and he wants to stop the rip offs from wherever they come."

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the Engineering Employers Federation, said: "Today's speech was a good start in setting out the type of economy that a future Labour government would seek to create.

"Industry will be encouraged by its emphasis on the long term investments in skills, innovation and new technology we need to create a more balanced and stronger economy. It will also welcome its aim to create the most competitive tax and regulatory environment.

"But Industry will be anxious that Labour sticks to these principles as it develops its thinking and that its relationship with business is based on partnership rather than being overly intrusive and bureaucratic."

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said: "It was a very passionate, personal speech and gave an insight into his personality. We saw Ed the man, Ed the husband, Ed the father and Ed the son of people who fled persecution.

"It was a reflection on his priorities and the things he wants to change. He was asking people to take a fresh look at Labour."

Shadow leader of the House Hilary Benn said: "Ed showed us his character today. It was a speech to the nation saying, 'This is who I am, this is where I came from.'

"In the end, it's character that people judge us on and he has absolutely got the character to lead the nation."

Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman claimed it was "a remarkable speech" which highlighted issues Mr Miliband believes need to change.

She added: "He stepped forward and said, 'Even those issues are big changes, they need to be done."'

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "Ed's passionate speech hit the right buttons. It showed he genuinely cares about Labour values, public services and our great NHS, values that will resonate with the people of this country.

"His plans would help to offer young people hope - with jobs and higher education. He recognised the role that every working person plays in creating wealth in our economy, and that includes public sector workers, and putting fairness back at the heart of sustainable economic growth is key to creating the kind of society we want to leave to our children."

Deborah Hargreaves, chairman of the High Pay Commission, which has launched an inquiry into boardroom pay, said: "Ed Miliband is right to slam the take what you can get culture at the top of some of our biggest companies and right when he calls for a break-up of the cosy boardroom remuneration committees.

"It cannot be fair that top executives are taking massive pay awards year in, year out even while they ask their workers to take redundancies or real-term pay cuts."

Grassroots activists welcomed the speech. Anne Snelgrove said: "It was brilliant. Ed really had to pull it out of the bag today and he did. He was very assured, confident and the speech was full of content."

Maz Patel said: "He really talked to the people of Britain."

Margaret Pritchard said: "I loved the way he came across on the NHS; so passionate and committed."

Len McCluskey, leader of Unite, said it was the speech of a prime minister in the making, and the best by a Labour leader since the days of the late John Smith.

He welcomed references to equality and justice, the need for investment in manufacturing, and attacks on the "greed culture" of those at the top of business.

"We haven't heard that from a Labour leader for a very long time. We will have to see a lot more detail, but we have seen a man on a mission. There is definitely a phoenix rising from the ashes, into a people's party."

Comedian Eddie Izzard said: "I thought it was a lively speech and very positive. I thought he was spot on with what he was saying about people who build businesses and train people. I am all for that."

John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Ed Miliband is right to say that all parties must be pro-business, and that wealth creation is critical to Britain's future. Yet talk of 'good' versus 'bad' companies misses the point. All businesses that create wealth, pay their taxes and comply with the law are good companies.

"So many businesses across the UK have the local community in their DNA. There are civic-minded businesses at the heart of all our towns and cities. Many of these companies aren't household names, but they are getting on with delivering growth, exports and employment.

"Much of what Ed Miliband said today is encouraging. But it is still unclear whether the politicians fully understand that all the good things we want to see from our public services depend fundamentally on wealth creation by businesses of all shapes and sizes."

George Guy, acting general secretary of construction union Ucatt, said: "Mr Miliband's total commitment to creating decent apprenticeships is particularly welcome in the construction industry, where short term thinking is creating a growing skills crisis."

Miles Templeman, director general of the Institute of Directors, said: "We would like to know how Ed Miliband plans to identify and reward 'good' companies over 'bad' ones. In practice, we think he would find this neither straightforward nor desirable. He should have more faith in customers and investors to decide.

"In the modern business place price is not the sole determining factor affecting people's buying and investment decisions. Consumers and investors are better equipped and better informed than ever to impose discipline on firms than any government.

"Instead of proposing that the state makes choices that are likely to be simplistic and wrong he would be wiser to find ways of boosting competition so that the customer remains king."

Conservative Party co-chairman Baroness Warsi said: "What we heard today was a weak leader telling his party what it wanted to hear.

"He's moved Labour away from the centre ground and come up with no solutions to the something for nothing culture that he helped Labour create.

"All he promised was more of the same spending, borrowing and debt that got us into this mess in the first place."

Source: PA