UK Politics

Get behind my mission, Miliband tells bosses

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Media captionEd Miliband: "What I seek to offer is a clear mission for the country"

Labour leader Ed Miliband has stepped up efforts to woo the business community, telling bosses they are vital to his mission to change Britain.

Setting out plans for a national infrastructure commission to get big projects such as airports and roads built, he vowed to combat the "short-termism" that blighted the UK economy.

And he promised to bring prosperity to all parts of the country.

The Conservatives say Labour's plans will result in higher taxes and debts.

In his second major intervention on the economy this week, the Labour leader promised "gold-standard" vocational education for young people who do not go to university and pledge to keep the UK in a reformed European Union if he becomes prime minister.

'Faith in business'

Mr Miliband has come under pressure on both the economy and Europe in recent days, amid claims about a lack of ambition and radicalism in policymaking and calls for the opposition to match the Conservatives' offer of a referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union in 2017.

On Wednesday, a secret recording of Labour policy chief Jon Cruddas criticising the party leader emerged.

He said Mr Miliband was being "gamed out every day, every week" because of what he called "the news cycle, the media, levels of intrusion, the party management side".

He also said the party needed a "deeper sense of national renewal".

A Labour party spokesman said the party was united in "putting forward to the most radical plans for generations" after Mr Cruddas's comments.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Labour claims the UK is "lagging behind" other countries on infrastructure

Speaking at a conference organised by the Policy Network think tank, Mr Miliband said many of the problems facing Britain predated the 2008 banking crisis and subsequent recession and would not be resolved by the return to growth in the economy.

"Unless we change the way we do things, we simply will not create the high-paying, high-skilled jobs needed to improve the condition of our country, and the rewards of growth will be unfairly shared," he said.

"Labour will build a prosperity in which all can share fairly, right across Britain. And, in so doing, we can rebuild faith in business and in politics in Britain for the future. That is the central mission for the government I want to lead in 10 months' time."

'Clear vision'

Labour has said it will have to cut spending if it regains power and has pledged to balance the books by 2020.

It has also said it will raise the top rate of tax to 50% for the lifetime of the next Parliament to help reduce the deficit.

Mr Miliband - who has faced criticism that his policies are anti-business told bosses: "I know we won't always agree on everything and I won't just tell you what you want to hear either."

But he added: "What I seek to offer is a clear mission for the country, a genuinely 'one nation' mission, which can tackle the big problems we face. A mission we can share. You as British business are vital to that mission because of your entrepreneurship, your inventiveness, your ability to change people's lives through the power of your ideas and your businesses."

The BBC's Business Editor, Kamal Ahmed, said Mr Miliband believed his trump card as far as business was concerned, was his commitment to stay in the European Union.

Sir Roger Carr, chairman of BAE Systems told the BBC: "I think the important thing, whatever political party is in power, is that they remain very clear that being pro business is the only solution for the recovery and continued growth of this economy."

For the Conservatives, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: "It's the same old Labour, just offering more spending, more borrowing and more taxes.

"When even his own top adviser says he's not up to the job, it's clear Ed Miliband is too weak to take the difficult decisions needed to secure Britain's future.

"Rather than playing short-term political games with the new north-south railway - HS2 - Labour should back it, back HS3 in the North, and back our national infrastructure plan."

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