Miliband raises stakes in energy battle

Labour leader Ed Miliband: "I am standing up for the British people."

Has Ed Miliband come up with a bright new idea to cut electricity and gas bills or is he - as the energy companies claim - risking the lights going out across Britain?

His promise. Their warning. It is a very high stakes battle as he made clear when I interviewed him today.

"We will have scare stories from the energy companies like we had scare stories from the banks - threats, scare stories about regulation. I am not going to tolerate that.

"The Conservative Party will support them but I am in a different place. I am standing up for the British people."

Both sides agree the country simply doesn't produce enough power.

Both agree new power stations are needed but the companies say a price freeze will cut their profits, slash their investments and could therefore lead to power cuts.

One of the country's biggest investors - Neil Woodford of Invesco Perpetual - today called Labour's plan "economic vandalism..insane and warned that "the lights will go off, the economy will shut down."

I put it to the Labour leader that four years of uncertainty would undermine any hope of building new capacity.

"As soon as we get into government, there will be a great degree of certainty because there will be a price freeze until the beginning of 2017 and we will reform the market," he replied.

"And what I said to the companies, they should become part of the solution, not part of the problem".

This conference ended as it always does with a rendition of the red flag.

The party's leader awoke this morning to a string of headlines which revived the old label Red Ed..The reason - the list of things he says he wants to force companies to do: price controls, land seizures and new regulations for companies who want to hire new workers.

But Ed Miliband says his approach is the "best way forward" for the country.

"Small business tax cuts, stopping a race to the bottom in skills so we build up a skilled workforce, dealing with some of the problems of housing which are a problem for business. This is good for business, this is good for Britain what we are talking about."

Lord Jones - a former head of the CBI who was trade minister under Gordon Brown - today added his voice to those warning Labour about its new direction.

"It's a return to ideological tribal socialism...at a time when we need to be globally competitive...it might appeal to the party faithful but won't create jobs or prosperity in Britain."

Ed Miliband rejects that criticism. He insists that he is standing up for ordinary people in the face of abuses.

He believes that after the banking crisis that is where the new centre ground is.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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