i Editor's Letter: Miliband didn't say anything to challenge his own party

For my liking, he also didn't talk enough about the economy

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The Independent Online

Here’s my tuppence from Manchester - a view from the crowd where Ed Miliband made his pitch to become Britain’s Prime Minister. He was boldest on the NHS, social care, Europe, energy (no carbon in electricity by 2030!) and taking on big interests (the media, energy suppliers). His plan to tax mansions and tobacco firms to fund 36,000 more NHS nurses, doctors and midwives is cute, if the sums add up. And Labour is on to an easy winner with votes for 16- and 17-year-olds. (The Shadow Justice Secretary, Sadiq Khan, today challenges David Cameron to enfranchise 1 million teens ahead of May’s general election.)

For my liking, though, Mr Miliband didn’t talk enough about the economy, the deficit or the cuts looming in 2016. He must persuade more undecided voters that Labour can be trusted with the recovery. He didn’t really say anything to challenge his own party.

Creating hundreds of thousands of extra apprenticeships - building on the work of the Coalition - is laudable. It requires the support of teachers and a transformation in the standing of vocations, showing teenagers how vocational learning is linked to prosperity and comfortable social standing. Regardless of who’s in power, we must tell more success stories from the trades - and with that “we” I include the i paper.

One minor rant. Political leaders should be made to produce the members of the public they crowbar into their speeches. Yesterday we heard of Josephine the cleaner, Xiomara the chef, Gareth the software guy, Colin from Watford, sadly deceased, two women in a park (reliably on-message), Rosie the doctor from Devon and lastly Elizabeth the electrical apprentice, who received three rounds of applause for both existing and being there on stage.

As well as the aspiration peddled by Mssrs Miliband and Cameron, the next few weeks will see us return to the politics of fear. Out of Downing Street will come the horrors conjured by Lynton Crosby of a financially incontinent Labour frontbench. The Opposition, meanwhile, will peddle the prospect of an NHS flogged off during the tennis drinks break as Mr Cameron plays doubles with oligarch donors. There’s so much at stake that the next seven months of British politics will be brutal and fascinating.

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