Ed Miliband made a powerful speech yesterday at the University of London, where he pledged to take on “vested interests” and “powerful forces” to win the next general election.
Describing the current state of the country as “deeply unequal, deeply unfair, deeply unjust”, he said he was determined to change the “zero-zero economy” where some people are on zero hours contracts and those at the top are paying zero tax.
He said Labour would fight for workers on zero hour contracts and his government would crack down on tax avoidance. “No vested interest, whoever they are and however powerful they are, from banks to energy companies, should ever be able to hold our country back.”
He also noted his need to have a thick skin, given the increased level of attack on him over the past week, and suggested that “every tactic” would be used between now and the election “to try to destabilise, distract us and throw us off course”.
Apparently unable to criticise the speech itself, the Independent emphasised Miliband’s use of a teleprompter (no one has ever spoken with one before?) and illustrated the article with: “In pictures: Ed Miliband trying to look normal”.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail called the speech “make or break”, as though people were planning to take away his leadership if they didn’t like it, and contrived to snap him by the “Exit” sign.
Over at the BBC, a generally positive pre-speech article by Nick Robinson, saying that Ed is here to stay as the leader, is given the ambiguous headline “Ed Miliband is going nowhere”.
Others, like LBC (devising a red herring of the highest order), promoted Nigel Farage’s nonsensical demand for a televised pre-election, one-on-one debate with the leader of the opposition (on what basis, we do not know).
Twitter wasn’t fooled though, with #6monthstowin trending all day, and #webackEd still among the top 10 most tweeted hashtags.
How unequal are things really?
An Oxfam report earlier this year (‘A Tale of Two Britains’) showed that the richest 5 families in Britain are wealthier than the bottom 20 per cent of the population.
Moreover, according to Oxfam, although the UK is the world’s sixth largest economy, “1 in 5 of the UK population live below our official poverty line”.
One of the key reasons for this is the ‘tax gap’: the government itself estimates the amount of missing tax money the Treasury is owed to be around £34 billion last year.
And then there are the banks. Fines of £2.6 billion for what the BBC euphemistically calls “Forex failings” and the Telegraph refers to as “foreign exchange manipulation” (a.k.a “criminal fraud”?). But no criminal charges for the bankers.
Channel 4’s economics editor Paul Mason, for one, is tired of reporting the same news about the banks ripping us off. A video of him standing outside the banks has gone viral.
Ed’s got the answers
In contrast to the austerity policies that have left the country in such dire straits, Ed’s made three promises to voters about what a Labour government will do:
- Undo the damage the Tories have done to the country: scrap the Bedroom Tax, the Health and Social Care Act and the gagging law and reverse the Tories’ £3bn tax cut for millionaires.
- Take on the powerful vested interests that hold millions back: force energy companies to freeze gas and electricity bills, scrap letting fees and stabilise tenancy agreements, raise money from tobacco companies, tax avoiders and a mansion tax to fund the NHS, reform banks so they support small businesses and stop recruitment agencies hiring only from abroad.
- Start to rebuild a fairer, better Britain: raise the minimum wage, promote the living wage by giving tax breaks to companies that pay it, ban zero-hours contracts, bring in a lower 10p income tax rate, support working parents with 25 hours of free childcare for 3- and 4-year-olds and get 200,000 homes built every year.
What’s not to like about that?