UK Politics

Miliband urges Labour to inspire with national mission

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Media captionEd Miliband: "We made progress in the elections but people want more from us"

Labour leader Ed Miliband has said his party needs to inspire people with a sense of "national mission" if it is to regain power at the next election.

Mr Miliband told a conference in London that Labour had to be honest about its past mistakes.

He pledged to tackle the "new inequality" that has grown up between the very wealthy and the rest.

Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats said Mr Miliband's speech offered "no alternatives".

In elections earlier this month, Labour was defeated by the SNP in key Scottish heartlands, dropping from 46 seats to 37 at Holyrood, and losing some of its most senior figures.

The party fell just short of an overall majority in Wales, but did make strong gains in town halls in the north of England at the expense of the Lib Dems.

'Depth of betrayal'

Mr Miliband told Labour supporters at the Progress think tank that despite the set-backs, Labour was winning back voters.

"We have started to win back trust but we have many more people to convince.

"We won back the Lib Dem voters who had left us," he said, but added that the party had yet to convince Conservatives who had "yet to feel the same depth of betrayal of this government".

He also said that the party had to admit past mistakes such as its policy on immigration.

"Eastern European immigration did place downward pressure on wages. People can argue about the extent. We were too relaxed about that," he said.

'Shrivelled view'

Mr Miliband also highlighted the inequality between "those at the top and everyone else" which grew under the Labour government and said "humility" was needed to acknowledge it.

"Inequality is no longer an issue just between rich and poor. But between those at the top and those both in the middle and on lower incomes," he said.

"Since 2003, those at the top have seen their living standards continue to rise at extraordinary rates, while those of the rest have stagnated," he added.

Contrasting his own vision of "better, optimistic politics" with that of the coalition, he said that all David Cameron was offering voters was "a shrivelled, pessimistic, austere view of the future".

However, BBC political correspondent Carole Walker said Mr Miliband had not managed to spell out in his speech how it was that he would deliver such a future.

"He has to flesh out what it is that Labour is going to do," she said.

'Staggeringly vacuous'

Conservative party deputy chairman Michael Fallon said Mr Miliband had failed to set out a different option for voters.

"The coalition government is taking the tough but fair decisions to deal with Labour's legacy," he said.

"Until Ed Miliband can offer a credible alternative, he won't be able to rebuild the trust of the British people."

Lib Dem party president Tim Farron said it was a "staggeringly vacuous" speech which confirmed that Labour "still offers no alternative".

He added: "While they continue to reflect, we will get on with taking the tough decisions needed to get this country back on track and right the wrongs of the last 13 years."

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