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Monday, 5 January 2015

Miliband: "It is a battle to decide who our country works for"

Labour leader Ed Miliband will today launch Labour’s General Election campaign, saying it will offer people the chance to decide who our country works for. He is expected to say: "Today is day one of our general election campaign. This is nothing less than a once in a generation fight about who our country works for. It is a choice between a Tory plan where only a few at the top can succeed and our public services are threatened – or a Labour plan that puts working people first, deals with the deficit and protects our NHS."

Speaking to a rally in Manchester, he will urge activists and supporters to mobilise for an unprecedented 4 million doorstep conversations with voters in the next four months. This is almost twice what was achieved in the last election and more than any party has ever done before. He will set out clear principles for the way this campaign will be conducted so that it can address people’s cynicism and anger towards politics:

  • Fighting for victory on streets and doorsteps – not speaking over their heads with thousands of expensive billboard posters
  • Offering people hope, not falsehood
  • Knowing our values matter more than the millions of pounds being poured into Tory coffers by hedge funds
  • Holding new People’s Question Times in workplaces and communities at least once every week between now and the election

He is also expected to say: “We’re fighting to be the kind of country that we all know we have it in ourselves to be. And we’re going to fight that fight in the right way. We will offer hope, not falsehood. We know the depths of our values matter more than the depth of our opponents’ pockets. We will win this election, not by buying up thousands of poster sites, but by having millions of conversations. I am going to be leading those conversations in village halls, community centres, workplaces right across the country, starting this very week and every week from now until the election. I want you to be doing the same. This year will be making our case, explaining our vision, house by house, street by street, town by town.

"Our campaign is setting the goal of holding four million conversations with people in just four months about how we change our country. That is almost twice the number we’ve ever done before. It is more than any British political party has ever done before. And in every single one of those conversations, we will remind people of what is at stake, not speaking over people’s heads with expensive poster campaigns, but talking directly with them on their doorstep.”

He is expected to say that the Tory experiment has failed and that their record - on living standards, prospects for our children, protecting our public services and dealing with our nation’s debts - is one to run from, not run on.

“For five years, the Tories have shown us their idea. If we just strip the government to its bare bones, give in to the powerful interests and give huge tax cuts to the very wealthiest then all of Britain will somehow benefit. From what they said last week they really think it has been a great success. But that tells you all you need to know about what they think success looks like.

“It’s the first time since the 1920s that working people will be worse off at the end of a parliament than they were at the beginning. At a time when education and training are critical to the chances of earning a decent wage, tuition fees have trebled and apprenticeships for young people are falling.

“And think what has happened to our NHS: longer to wait for to see your GP, longer to wait in A & E, longer to wait for your operation - an NHS without time to care. The Tories have damaged the NHS in these five years. Give them five more and the NHS, as we know it, just won’t be there. And they’ve even failed on the one thing they claim to care about most: the deficit. David Cameron said he would eliminate the deficit by 2015. Well, 2015 is now here - and so is the deficit. It is still here for a very simple reason: because it turns out if you depress wages and lack any real economic plan other than tax cuts for the wealthy, it doesn’t just fail working people, it fails to balance the books. So this Tory experiment has been tried. And the verdict is in: the Tory experiment has failed. Theirs is not a record to run on. Theirs is a record to run from.”

In a direct reference to David Cameron’s 'disastrous' campaign launch on Friday – Mr Miliband will say the Tories now threaten to take you and on a Road to Nowhere.

“And what is their plan for the next five years? We learnt that on Friday.Keep driving along the Road to Nowhere, but press down on the accelerator. Imagine what another five years would mean for you and your family. The Tories telling you about the good economic news. But you and your family not having enough to pay the bills at the end of each month. The Tories telling you that there has never been more opportunity for young people. But your son or daughter can’t afford to go to university and the only other option is a zero hours job. The Tories telling you there is a housing boom, but you not being able to afford a home of your own. The Tories telling you that the NHS has been protected, but you not being able to get your operation in time, and the only choice on offer is to go private.”

He will say Labour is offering a new direction for Britain to succeed with a strong economic foundation and a plan to put working people first by:

  • Rewarding hard work with measures such as a £8 minimum wage, ending the exploitation of zero hours contracts, supporting the wealth-creating small businesses and jobs of the future in green industries, and keeping Britain in Europe
  • Providing opportunities for our children with measures such as training hundreds of thousands of new engineers or raising the quality of vocational education and apprenticeships
  • Ensuring everyone plays by fair rules to ensure vested interests like banks and energy companies are held to account, and immigration is controlled by outlawing the exploitation that leads to undercutting and making sure people contribute before they claim benefits
  • Protecting our vital public services like the NHS with measures such as a guaranteed GP appointment within 48 hours, a one week wait for cancer tests, and a £2.5 billion Time to Care fund to support more midwives, care workers, doctors and nurses.
  • Balancing the books as soon as possible in the next parliament with no proposals in our manifesto funded by additional borrowing, and devolving power to better spending decisions

“Britain can do better than this. Britain must do better than this. And Britain will do better than this. Our plan is based on one simple truth - a truth so different from the Tories’ idea -- that when your family succeeds, Britain succeeds too. That’s why it is a plan that puts working people first. This plan is not simply about a fairer society. It is about a more prosperous one. Because only by putting working people first can we use the talents of all and succeed as a country. The Tories think we succeed with a few at the top doing well. We know we prosper together.”

He will say the General Election is about more than rival political parties because it is a contest between two different visions of how Britain can succeed – a choice at the election as one between the pessimism of this government and the chance to rebuild. "in the next four months, there will be the usual sound and fury. But it will all actually come down to something rather simple, yet far more profound: who we are, how we want to live together, and how we succeed as a nation. We have a government that will say ‘stick to their plan’. They really think this is as good as it gets. They’re the pessimists about what is achievable for Britain and the British people. Between now and the election, they will tell you that change isn’t possible, just as the pessimists have always done down the years."

"But we don’t agree. We have rebuilt before as a country, in the face of even greater challenges, and we can rebuild again. That will be our task. That is what our plan for Britain’s future will do. Let’s go out and fight for the chance to make it happen.” Mr Miliband is expected to add.