Wales politics

Vote 2012: Labour back in touch, says Ed Miliband on campaign trail in Merthyr

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Media captionLabour leader Ed Miliband says lessons have been learnt from past mistakes

Labour leader Ed Miliband has said his party is "back in touch" with people as he hit the local council election campaign trail in Wales.

He urged voters to "send a message" to the Westminster coalition government when they go to the polls in a fortnight.

Labour understood what it had "got wrong" in the past and was back "as the people's party", he said.

Mr Miliband was campaigning in Merthyr Tydfil ahead of the elections on 3 May.

He lent his weight to a Labour "get out the vote" campaign during his visit on Friday.

The initiative was "a recognition that we want as many people as possible to turn out in these local elections because we do want to elect good Labour councils and Labour councillors".

'Make a difference'

"And we want to send a message to Westminster about what they are doing, about the way they are out of touch with people here in Wales."

Labour endured a dire night the last time Wales' 1,200 council seats were contested in 2008, losing ground in stronghold areas.

But Mr Miliband told BBC Wales that Labour was now "back in touch with people".

"We lost the general election badly across the UK in 2010," he said.

"We've understood some of the things that we got wrong. We are changing as a party.

"We are a party in touch with people on the ground and we are a party that wants to make a difference to people's lives.

"It's by being back as the people's party that I think we can make a difference to them."

Despite poor results in the last local elections, held against the backdrop of the 10p tax row, Labour remains the biggest party in Welsh local government and is defending some 340 seats.

Unlike rival parties, Welsh Labour is not publishing a manifesto for the elections, having promised a campaign led by local activists.

But it has also called for voters to use the election as a referendum on last month's Budget when George Osborne cut the top rate of income tax from 50p to 45p.

Mr Miliband said the election was "a chance for people to elect good Labour councillors and Labour councils here in Wales".

"But it's also in the context of a government at Westminster that is cutting taxes for millionaires and raising taxes for millions of people," he added.

The Welsh Conservatives greeted Mr Miliband's arrival by criticising the record of Labour's Welsh government on the social networking website Twitter.

One message attacked ministers in Cardiff Bay for failing to introduce a freeze on council tax.

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