Miliband pledges to take on the powerful

Ed Miliband says he has found a new centre ground for British politics
Ed Miliband says he has found a new centre ground for British politics

By Alex Stevenson

Labour leader Ed Miliband has pledged to tackle Britain's "vested interests" as part of his bid to win over voters.

Speaking as delegates gathered in Liverpool for the party's second autumn conference in opposition, Mr Miliband singled out the 'big six' energy companies who were "ripping off" ordinary people and train companies who overcharge passengers.

"What I'm interested in doing this week and what I'm determined to do is show to Britain's hard-working families that Labour is back as a party of them," he said.

"Because they are families who are worried about the economy, who are seeing their living standards squeezed and are worried about their kids. We are going to take on interests, however powerful, who are holding them back."

The Labour leader has struggled in his first year as leader to define the broad social group he calls the "squeezed middle", who work hard but are finding their living standards hit by the struggling economy.

Twelve months after winning Labour's leadership election against his older brother David Miliband, Ed Miliband has now offered another clue as to his ultimate plans for the party's direction.

"I think there is a new centre ground in politics," he said in an interview with the Observer newspaper.

"And this is where I am moving on from New Labour. The old centre ground said you would demand responsibility at the bottom, but you don't talk about it at the top because there are vested interests that are too powerful to take on.

"You can't take on Rupert Murdoch, you can't take on the energy companies, you can't take on the banks. There's a new centre ground about saying inequality is not just a problem because of the gap between the rich and poor, but between the rich and everybody else."

The focus on energy bills prompted a sceptical reaction from some quarters. Friends of the Earth's policy and campaigns director Craig Bennett said the best way to deal with the problem would be by tackling Britain's dependency on fossil fuels.

"A comprehensive energy efficiency drive and huge investment in the UK's rich green energy potential must become a national priority - and this will boost the economy and create tens of thousands of new jobs," he commented.

"Our homes, businesses and communities must also be given bigger incentives to generate their own green power, and help free themselves from the shackles of the Big Six."


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