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BAE plea ends Labour conference

Labour's annual conference has ended with calls for the Government to protect jobs at BAE Systems, as some of the 3,000 workers being laid off by the defence giant visited the gathering in Liverpool.

Party leader Ed Miliband called on ministers to "get stuck in" on the workers' behalf, while Unite union leader Len McCluskey said the Government could prevent job losses by investing in an upgrade to the Typhoon fighter jet.

Deputy leader Harriet Harman said the conference had been "overshadowed" by bad economic news, including the job losses at plants in Lancashire and East Yorkshire.

In her traditional end-of-conference address, she told delegates: "People are worried - here and throughout the country. Worried about their job, the prospects for their kids, about what's going to happen in their local area. And there is only one party leader who understands that. It isn't Nick Clegg. And it certainly isn't David Cameron. It's our Labour leader - Ed Miliband.

"He spoke up for the squeezed middle and he's right. He's understood people's fears for their children - and their ambition for them too. He shares the anger that the bankers are getting off scot-free and he's said that as prime minister he would end reckless irresponsibility from the bottom right to the top."

She added: "The two Eds both acknowledged what we all know, that not everything we did in government turned out right. And people need to know that over the past year we've taken a hard look at what we did and we've learnt lessons. But it's time now to move on. Because we've got important work to do."

Seven workers from BAE's Brough and Samlesbury plants were given a standing ovation as they took seats in the front row to hear Mr McCluskey make an emergency statement on the job losses. The Unite general secretary said the solution to BAE's problems was "in ministers' hands".

Responding to Ed Miliband's suggestion that train companies were "ripping people off", the chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, Michael Roberts, said: "Ed Miliband is at best suffering from amnesia or at worst displaying rank hypocrisy.

"Train companies are subject to rules laid down by the Department for Transport, rules that were created and rigorously implemented by successive Labour transport secretaries.

"At a time when Britain needs the private sector more than ever to boost economic growth, this unsubstantiated slur seems to confirm an anti-business bias at the very top of the Labour Party and is a unwarranted insult to the tens of thousands of people who work on the railways day in and day out to help keep the country moving."

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