Labour Party conference: Ed Miliband to launch attack on ‘forces of division’ as Johann Lamont set to portray First Minister as heir to Margaret Thatcher
LABOUR will today claim it is the only party that can “rebuild Britain” and prevent the United Kingdom from breaking up, in three keynote speeches from Scottish and UK leaders.
• Labour Party set to back Union in annual conference while attacking ‘forces of division’
• Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont to paint Alex Salmond as heir to Margaret Thatcher
The party figureheads north and south of the Border will deliver a co-ordinated series of attacks at the Labour Party’s annual conference in Manchester on the forces of “division” in the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition at Westminster and the SNP Scottish Government.
UK Labour leader Ed Miliband will attempt to present himself as a prime minister in waiting and the leader of a party with the ideas to bring the UK out of recession and prevent Scottish independence.
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont will portray SNP First Minister Alex Salmond as the heir to Margaret Thatcher.
And shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran will launch a personal attack on Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, whom she will brand the “missing minister”, only to be found in voting lobbies delivering Conservative policies.
Mr Miliband is bidding to turn around his low personal approval rating, highlighted in a ComRes poll today that shows just 22 per cent believe he would make a good prime minister, compared with 39 per cent for David Cameron.
In a speech aimed at revealing personal experiences that have shaped his politics, the Labour leader will say: “My family hasn’t sat under the same oak tree for the last 500 years. My parents came to Britain as immigrants, Jewish refugees from the Nazis.
“I would not be standing here today without the compassion and tolerance of our great country, Great Britain, a country that my parents saw rebuilt after the Second World War.”
He will add: “I was born at my local hospital, the same hospital where my two sons were born. And I went to my local school with people from all backgrounds.”
Mr Miliband will talk about the motivation and good teaching he received: “My school taught us a lot more than just how to pass exams: it taught people how to get on with each other, whoever they are and wherever they are from.”
The Labour leader’s emphasis on his ordinary background stands in stark contrast to those of Old Etonians Prime Minister David Cameron and London mayor Boris Johnson, and follows allegations that the Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell called a police officer a “pleb”.
Mr Miliband will also tell the conference that maintaining the Union is “one of the biggest issues” he faces.
And he will claim that “only Labour can save the UK”, which he will say is threatened by the divisions proposed by the SNP and economic divisions pushed by the Tories.
Mrs Lamont is expected to use her speech to respond to claims that Scottish Labour’s review of free university tuition, free NHS prescriptions and the council tax freeze amount to backing the cuts agenda of the Conservative-led government at Westminster.
She will describe how she “campaigned against Thatcher’s cuts to Scotland in the Eighties” in an attempt to emphasise her background as a left-winger and long-standing supporter of devolution.
Mrs Lamont will also criticise what she claims has been co- operation between the SNP and the Tories on the Scottish Government’s budget in the last parliament.
She will say: “Every day we see more clearly that the costs of Salmond’s slogans are being borne by hard working families struggling to make ends meet, borne by the elderly and vulnerable seeing their care slashed, borne by the student who can’t get a place in further education.”
And she will attempt to portray the SNP and Mr Salmond as the heir to Margaret Thatcher and her governments north of the Border.
She will say: “Now, last week, when I pointed out that Scotland’s families are paying for Salmond’s unsustainable tax break for the rich, I was accused of being a Tory. I’m not sure if the cap fits with someone who campaigned against Thatcher’s cuts to Scotland in the Eighties. Not sure the cap fits with someone who campaigned for a Scottish Parliament to protect Scotland from future Tory governments.
“And I am not sure the cap fits with someone who sees in everyday life the consequences of a Tory government cutting too far and too fast, while we have a SNP government content to amplify the cuts rather than protect people from them.
“It was Alex Salmond who said that Scotland didn’t mind Thatcher’s economic policies. It was Alex Salmond who relied on the Tories to put through four budgets.
“It was Alex Salmond who cheered David Cameron into Number 10 because it suited his political argument, in full knowledge of the consequences.”
Ms Curran will tell Labour Party members they are in “the fight of their lives”, as she tries to rally the party ahead of the independence referendum in 2014.
She will also focus her fire on Mr Moore as a “missing” minister only to be found in the voting lobbies passing Tory policies.
“Where is Michael Moore?” she will ask. “He is missing.”
On the referendum, she is expected to say: “We know that when we fight, we win. And we are in the fight of our lives. Because in 2014, Scotland faces a decision about whether to break up Britain.
“On the one side two parties that play the politics of division. And on the other a Labour Party that sees the strength in all of us to work together and succeed.”
However, party divisions have already emerged over Labour’s policy on income tax north of the Border.
As Mrs Lamont said Scottish Labour might raise income tax, Edinburgh South MP and shadow business minister Ian Murray called for them to be cut.
SNP MSP and Holyrood finance committee member Bruce Crawford said: “Johann Lamont plunged her party into total confusion last week on cuts to services, and this week it’s tax rises.
“A shadow Labour business minister is calling for income tax to be cut, while Johann Lamont is talking about putting tax up. What on earth is going on inside the Labour Party?
“Johann Lamont is supposed to be the leader of the MPs, but they don’t seem to listen to her, and she doesn’t seem to consult them,” Mr Crawford said.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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