Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Milband calls for fairer economy

Labour leader Ed Miliband

Too much of Britain's economy is based on "irresponsible capitalism", Labour leader Ed Miliband has told delegates at Welsh Labour's conference in Cardiff.

He used his speech to re-state his anger over sky-high bankers' bonuses and criticise David Cameron's Westminster Government for "making a terrible mess" of Britain amid widening gaps between the rich and the poor.

The Labour leader also said he believed devolution had strengthened the UK and it was vital Scotland, which is to have a referendum on independence, did not leave the union.

He said: "We need change to our economy, so that it doesn't just work for those at the top - but works for all Britain's working people. Too much of our economy is based on irresponsible capitalism."

Mr Miliband was the main attraction at Welsh Labour's annual get-together, which is being held at the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff, this weekend. He began by telling the 400 or so crowd of his delight to be back in "Labour Wales". The party holds 30 of the 60 seats in the Welsh Assembly.

Despite heavy criticism from rivals for the Welsh Government's "inaction", Mr Miliband was quick to praise First Minister Carwyn Jones's administration for its "solidarity, responsibility and a sense of the common good".

However, the main nuts and bolts of the Labour leader's speech was devoted to the economy and the greater need for fairness. He criticised RBS, which was bailed out by the taxpayer, for "failing small businesses" while bosses got a "seven-figure bonus" just for doing their job.

He also repeated calls for reform of the banking system - and denied such a move would be anti-business: "We need finance that serves industry, not industry that seems to serve finance. An economy that works for working people means a banking system that realises its duty is to provide that lifeblood of finance for small businesses."

Mr Miliband said there was a widening gap between the rich and the poor, and added that wages were not going up, but the cost of living had risen dramatically - citing increasing household bills, daily bank charges and "inflation-busting" rail fares. Mr Miliband insisted his party in power at Westminster would bring about reform in these areas by changes to the law.

As well as attacking Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osbourne, Mr Miliband appeared to save his most scathing remarks of his speech for Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan. He claimed the Chesham and Amersham MP was more interested in opposing a high-speed rail service going through her constituency than fighting for "the unemployed of Cardiff or the small businesses of Swansea".

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