ED MILIBAND has claimed that Labour will strengthen the national minimum wage and abolish the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ if returned to power at the next Westminster election.
On the eve of his party’s conference in Brighton, Mr Miliband took to the city’s streets to deliver his message that David Cameron’s Government would stand up only for the “privileged few”.
The Labour leader promised an “economy that works for working people”. The announcements, which also included measures to extend childcare, came as Mr Miliband sought to seize the initiative as a drip-feed of claims from Gordon Brown’s former spin doctor, Damian McBride, threatened to cast a shadow over the conference.
Mr Miliband, who earlier took a stroll along Brighton seafront with his wife Justine and children Daniel and Samuel, said: “This next election is going to come down to the oldest questions in politics: whose side are you on and who will you fight for?”
The Labour leader said: “We are going to scrap the bedroom tax, that’s what I mean by a government that fights for you.
“And we are fighting for all of the low-paid people around our country. One of the proudest achievements of the last Labour government was the national minimum wage, making work pay for people.
“But under David Cameron’s Government people are falling behind, the national minimum wage now paying people £20 less after inflation than it did when David Cameron came to office. That’s just wrong.
“When we see that happening and when we think about one of the big banks, do we really think they can’t afford to pay their cleaners a bit more?”
It was “wrong” that millions of people “are going out to work unable to afford to bring up their families”.
He added: “The Labour government will put it right, we will strengthen the national minimum wage, we will make work pay for the workers of Britain.
“That’s what I mean by a government that fights for you: abolishing the bedroom tax, strengthening the national minimum wage, childcare there for parents who need it.
“That’s what I mean by tackling the cost of living crisis at this conference, that’s what I mean by a government that fights for you.”
Miliband: ‘No regrets on Falkirk’
Ed Miliband has said he does not regret his handling of candidate selection in Falkirk.
Mr Miliband said he had “followed the right process” in dealing with the situation which resulted in a Unite-backed candidate withdrawing despite both her and her union being cleared of wrongdoing.
Mr Miliband told BBC Scotland: “I think with every stage in the process we have followed the correct procedures, we even sent the report to the police to see whether there was any grounds for criminal action.
“The candidate around whom there was controversy is no longer going to be the candidate... the scheme under which people joined has been suspended and we’re embarked on a major reform of our party, so I think… we’ve followed the right process.”
But Brian Capaloff, a member of Falkirk Labour and Unite, told the BBC the lack of an apology was “disappointing”.
He said: “What has gone on has had a very damaging impact on morale. What Ed Miliband needs to do is get on a train and come and meet members here in Falkirk, who have been distinctly absent from any considerations.”