Miliband makes 'new bargain' pledge
Ed Miliband has taken aim at "predators" in the business world and excessive pay at the top of industry as he promised to reshape Britain's society and economy so that it rewards hard work and responsibility.
In his most important speech yet, to his party's annual conference in Liverpool, Mr Miliband said Labour was offering a "new bargain" to the British people to replace the "fast buck" culture which has held sway over the past three decades.
A Labour government would use tax, regulation and contracts to favour companies which invest in their communities, offer apprenticeships and training and create wealth for the nation, while penalising those which simply seek to make money by asset-stripping.
Workers' representatives would be installed in every company's remuneration board to put a brake on "unjustified rewards" at the top and action would be taken to break up the "rigged market" in energy which delivers massive profits to a few giant companies and swollen bills to consumers, said Mr Miliband.
And the welfare system would be reformed to ensure that work pays and that benefits go to those who genuinely deserve them.
His speech was applauded by union bosses such as the GMB's Paul Kenny, who said he was "right to side with the producers against the predators", and Unite's Len McCluskey, who hailed it as the best by a Labour leader since the late John Smith.
But business organisations voiced concern, with the Federation of Small Businesses warning that the Labour leader did not understand "how jobs and apprenticeships are created in the real world" and the CBI questioning his characterisation of some firms as asset-strippers. Miles Templeman of the Institute of Directors said that any attempt by the state to choose between "good" and "bad" businesses was likely to be "simplistic and wrong".
Mr Miliband sought to distance himself from the legacy of his predecessors as Labour leader, telling delegates: "I'm not Tony Blair. I'm not Gordon Brown either ... I'm my own man and I'm going to do things my own way."
It was a mark of how far Blairite influence has waned in the party that his reference to not being the former PM was greeted with loud cheers from parts of the Echo Arena. But Mr Miliband was careful to say that he was "proud" of the achievements of the administrations of Blair and Brown, whom he described as "great men who, in their different ways, achieved great things".
However, he said that the former Labour government "changed the fabric of our society but we did not do enough to change the values of our economy", allowing the continuation of the trickle-down economics and the elevation of finance over industry that had begun under Margaret Thatcher.