22 Sep 2013

Ed Miliband: ‘reprehensible’ McBride is ‘of the past’

Ed Miliband distances himself from the “reprehensible” actions of Damian McBride, as he tries to prevent the former Labour spin doctor’s memoirs from over-shadowing his party’s conference.

Mr Miliband said on the Andrew Marr Show that Mr McBride’s account of Labour in-fighting and briefing against colleagues were “practices of the past”, and that he leads a “unified party.”

As Labour’s annual party conference kicks off in Brighton, Mr Miliband said he had even complained about Mr McBride to Gordon Brown, Labour leader at the time.

I was concerned about the activities of Damian McBride and indeed I complained to Gordon Brown. Ed Miliband

“I think that people who know me would say that I am someone who has never engaged in the factionalism and was never engaged in the briefing,” he said.

“That wasn’t my style of politics. It has never been my style of politics and I find it reprehensible and not something I would engage in.

“I am someone who is deeply committed to the Labour Party and deeply committed to Britain and that is the way I have always approached my politics.”

‘Concerned about McBride’

He added: “The way I’ve run this party is on the basis of a unified party not a disunited party and a party that doesn’t engage in all those practices of the past.

“I was concerned about the activities of Damian McBride and indeed I complained to Gordon Brown. I was worried that there were indications that he was briefing against colleagues and I didn’t think that was the way politics should be practiced.

“You know how it is in politics. People tell you these things are going on and you have enough suspicion that they are so that was something I made clear to Gordon.

“This is about the way I run our party, learning the lessons of the past.”

Mr Miliband has opened his party’s conference with a message that Labour, if elected, will create an “economy that works for working people”, and has criticised the Conservative party for representing the interests of the “privileged few”.

‘Low wage brutish economy’

On Sunday, Mr Miliband set out a plan which would force firms to train a British apprentice for every non-EU overseas worker they bring to the UK.

As many as 125,000 new apprenticeships could be created over five years under the foreign worker plan, Mr Miliband said.

“I want a high wage British economy, not a low wage brutish economy,” Mr Miliband told the Sunday Mirror. He said immigration was a force for good but only if done “in the right way”.

“We are saying we shouldn’t stop people bringing people over from abroad if they have something particular to contribute, and there would have to be criteria for that, but also you’ve got to show your responsibility as an employer to train the next generation,” he said.

Under Labour, the punishment for “systematic abuse” of the minimum wage by employers would also increase tenfold, from £5,000 to £50,000, he said.

On Saturday, Mr Miliband took to a stage on the streets of Brighton to pledge an end to the so-called “bedroom tax”, and a strengthening of the minimum wage.

His party has been pushing the line that it will end the “cost of living crisis”.

Economic trust?

However, an Ipsos MORI poll for Channel 4 News revealed on Saturday that Labour are lagging behind the Conservatives in terms of trust over handling the economy.

The poll suggested 38 per cent of people would trust the Conservatives over economic policy, with just 20 per cent backing Labour.

Read more: Political Editor Gary Gibbon on Ed Miliband and the economy

On Sunday, Conservative Treasury minister Sajid Javid released analysis by treasury officials which suggested there was a £27.9bn “black hole” in funding Labour’s policies.

Mr Miliband rejected the claim. He told the Andrew Marr Show: “Let me be clear, we have said in 2015/16 that Labour won’t be borrowing more for day to day spending.

“We have been absolutely clear about that. The next Labour government will be facing different circumstances from the last.

“Ed Balls and I have both said times are going to be tough and frankly I think Treasury ministers should be worrying about the cost of living crisis facing families and not making up things about the Labour party.”