Labour mission 'to defeat despair'
Labour leader Ed Miliband is urging his party to show they can "make a difference" at a time when the challenges facing the country are the "greatest in a generation".
In his new year message, Mr Miliband said Labour's "mission" for 2012 is to rise above public cynicism about politics and demonstrate that "optimism can defeat despair".
He accused the Government of surrendering to a "counsel of despair", offering only rising unemployment and years of falling living standards for ordinary families.
The country cannot afford to "stand back and watch" the economy stagnate and jobless numbers grow, he said, leaving a "lost generation" of young people.
In such challenging times it is important the public does not lose faith in the ability of politicians to tackle the difficult problems they are facing, he said.
"Yet just when the challenges facing our country are the greatest for a generation, many people feel politics cannot answer their problems. Some believe things would be the same whoever was in charge. And others fear the Government is in the grip of forces so powerful that nothing can be done," he said.
"It suits the current Conservative-led Government to go along with this idea. Having failed in their promise to make Britain a safe haven, they now say that there is no alternative to rising joblessness and years of falling living standards for working people. It is a counsel of despair.
"When so many are sceptical about politics the easy route for politicians is to join in and accept the cynicism. To say simply that in hard times nothing can be done. But that's not why I came into politics and it's not what the Labour Party stands for.
"My party's mission in 2012 is to show politics can make a difference. To demonstrate that optimism can defeat despair. That politics can rise to meet the challenges Britain faces even when the challenges are so great.
"Throughout our country's history, tough times have seen us not lower our sights but raise them. We need equal ambition for the future if we are to avoid our country heading further and faster in the wrong direction: a lost generation of young people, Britain struggling to compete in the world, and greater inequality," he said. "These are the stakes facing my generation. This is the challenge to which our politics must rise. This is the challenge to which Labour is determined to rise in the year ahead."