Ed Miliband on Labour's 'long, hard road' to regain power
Labour leader Ed Miliband has vowed to take on excessive pay in the council house and the boardroom as he prepares to lead Labour out of the wilderness, he told Political Editor Jonathan Walker.
Ed Miliband is under no illusions about the challenge Labour faces to regain power.
“I know it’s a long, hard road”, he says. The Conservatives may not have won an overall majority at the last election, but Mr Miliband is in no doubt that Labour lost, and lost badly.
But he was nonetheless in confident mood, when I met him on the train to Birmingham.
The 40-year-old new leader of the opposition said he believed he could turn around Labour’s fortune and become Prime Minister within five years.
He was travelling up from London for the day to meet workers at Jaguar Land Rover’s Gaydon site, voters in Coventry and party activists in Sandwell, in one of his first regional visits since taking over from Gordon Brown.
It reflected the electoral importance of the region politically, with so many marginal seats potentially for the taking.
The West Midlands is also the home of Labour MPs who Mr Miliband believes could play a key role in turning his party around.
They include Liam Byrne (Lab Hodge Hill), who is overseeing Labour’s policy review, and Gisela Stuart (Lab Edgbaston), whose persistent campaigning in her constituency helped her to keep hold of a seat which the Tories expected to take at the last election.
But although the policy review has barely begun, Mr Miliband is fizzing with ideas about how to change Britain.
Shop floor staff would get a say in the salaries of chief executives under radical plans to take on fat cats in both the public and private sector, currently being examined.
Mr Miliband said: “You can’t have a maximum wage, but you can look at the way decisions are made – often it’s made by cosy remuneration committees – you can look at who sits on the boards of the committees that make those decisions, whether you can have an ordinary worker from the shop floor sitting on that committee. You can look at how transparent companies have been.
“I want all these issues to be looked at, because we want responsibility. We want responsibility from those on welfare, we should also have responsibilty from those at the top of society as well and frankly a lot of the time they don’t show that responsibility.”
He condemned the coalition Government’s spending review, saying Chancellor George Osborne was cutting spending too quickly and appeared to have no plan to support industry.
“You have got to reduce the deficit but it’s got to be part of a vision for a better economy.
“The problem is that they think all you need to do is reduce the deficit and everything else will flow from it. And that is just not the evidence either from around the world or from Britain’s history.
“I’m quite honest about the fact that I don’t think as a government, when we were in power, we did enough to encourage manufacturing.
“There were some good examples of what we did, car scrappage for example, but I think actually we should have done more.
“But it goes to the fundamental question, which is, do you think the problem of our economy today is simply a high deficit?
“Or do you think, yes, we need to reduce the deficit, but there’s a lot more to do than that? We need to rebalance our economy, so we’re not just dependent on financial services, we need to get financial regulation right, we need to have government playing its proper role in apprenticeships and encouraging the jobs of the future.”
Labour accepted there was a need to cut spending on welfare and departmental budgets, but the spending review, which imposed cuts of £81 billion, went too far, he said.