Miliband makes One Nation pledge

Labour leader Ed Miliband delivers his keynote speech to delegates at the party's annual conference in Manchester

Labour leader Ed Miliband delivers his keynote speech to delegates at the party's annual conference in Manchester

First published in National News © by

Ed Miliband has made a bold grab for the political centre ground, using his keynote speech to Labour's annual conference to promise to "rebuild Britain as One Nation".

In a bravura 65-minute performance, delivered without notes, Mr Miliband won warm applause from his audience in Manchester and the approval of commentators outside the hall as he called on Britons to come together in the fight to overcome the economic downturn.

He made no bones about stealing his One Nation slogan - first used by Conservative prime minister Benjamin Disraeli - from the Tories, insisting that David Cameron had forfeited his right to claim that "we are all in this together" because of the way he has governed since 2010.

Denouncing Mr Cameron's Government as a "miserable shower" who had allowed state borrowing to rise, destabilised the NHS and cut taxes on millionaires while increasing them for pensioners, the Labour leader said: "If the medicine isn't working, change the medicine... (and) change the doctor too."

In a speech which was light on policy proposals, Mr Miliband put forward plans to end the requirement on businesses for quarterly reporting, in order to encourage long-term investment and planning. He challenged the banks to separate their retail and investment arms by 2015 or be forced to by law. And he confirmed plans for a new Technical Baccalaureate to provide "gold standard" vocational education, including English and maths, to the age of 18.

But it was an address devoted to introducing Mr Miliband to voters as a person and to getting across his vision of how a Labour administration would govern under his leadership.

Drawing an implicit comparison with Mr Cameron's privileged Home Counties upbringing and Eton education, the Labour leader recalled his childhood as the son of Jewish refugees from Nazism and his schooldays in a north London comprehensive.

He said: "It is this upbringing which has made me ... who I am - a person of faith, not of religious faith, but a faith nonetheless. Here is my faith. I believe we have a duty to leave the world a better place than we found it. I believe we cannot shrug our shoulders at injustice and just say that is the way the world is, and I believe we can overcome any odds if we come together as people."

Britain showed the One Nation spirit when it came together to fight Hitler's Germany in the Second World War and to rebuild the war-battered country under Labour PM Clement Attlee. And in this summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games, "we succeeded because we came together as a country, we worked together as a country, we joined together as a country. That is why we achieved more than we imagined possible".

Mr Miliband told delegates: "I didn't become leader of the Labour Party to reinvent the world of Disraeli or Attlee but I do believe in that spirit, that spirit of One Nation. One Nation: a country where everyone has a stake. One Nation: a country where prosperity is fairly shared. One Nation where we have a shared destiny, a sense of shared endeavour and a common life that we lead together. That is my vision of One Nation, that is my vision of Britain, that is the Britain we must become."

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