27 Sep 2011

Labour targets ‘fast buck culture’

As an opinion poll puts Labour one point behind the Conservatives, Ed Miliband promises a “new bargain” for Britain in his Labour conference speech.

Labour leader Ed Miliband (Reuters)

It comes amid gloomy news for the party from a ComRes opinion poll which puts Labour behind the Conservatives for the first time in almost a year.

Mr Miliband will tell conference today that a Labour government would offer rewards and incentives to businesses which give something back to Britain, while penalising “asset strippers” who make money without contributing to the communities in which they operate.

He will set out the terms of a “new bargain” on both welfare and the economy which will offer “something for something” to individuals and businesses which do the right thing.

In a speech influenced by the experience of the banking crash, the phone-hacking scandal and riots in England’s cities, Mr Miliband will say that the country is facing a “quiet crisis” caused by “an economy and a society too often rewarding not the right people with the right values, but the wrong people with the wrong values”.

He is expected to say: “Labour will always stand as the voice of the people, our people. Their values will be heard. And we will challenge the vested interests that benefit when the wrong values are rewarded.

“Never again should they be able to take advantage of a system which doesn’t work to the values and instincts of decent people in our country.

“We need a new bargain, based on a different set of values.”

Welfare shake-up

Mr Miliband will say that councils should give priority in allocating scarce social housing to people who work and contribute to their communities over benefit claimants and troublesome tenants.

Under his proposed shake-up of the welfare system, social housing would no longer be allocated purely on the basis of need.

Councils like Newham and Manchester have already started giving additional housing points to people in work.

Mr Miliband’s proposal would require all authorities to operate similar schemes.

While praising those who get rich by “hard graft”, Mr Miliband will say: “The wealth of our nation is built by the hands not just of the elite few, but every man and woman who goes out and does a day’s work.”

And he will add: “Let me tell you what the 21st century choice is: are you on the side of the wealth creators or the asset strippers? For years as a country we have been neutral in that battle.

“They’ve been taxed the same. Regulated the same. Treated the same. Celebrated the same. They won’t be by me.”

‘Opportunistic rhetoric’

Responding to reports of Mr Miliband’s speech, Conservative Co-Chairman Party Baroness Warsi said: “It was Labour’s 13 years in office that gave us the ‘something for nothing’ culture.

“If Ed Miliband was serious about turning that around, he wouldn’t be opposing our reforms to the welfare system to make work pay.

“It was under Labour that small businesses were strangled with red tape. If they were serious about supporting small businesses, they wouldn’t be opposing our plans to cut regulation and make it easier for small businesses to create jobs.

“And it was under Labour that social mobility stalled. If they were serious about giving pupils real chances, they wouldn’t be opposing the pupil premium or our plans for more good school places.

“Ed Miliband can’t deliver on these promises because his party left the country on the brink of bankruptcy. This is opportunistic rhetoric from a weak leader.”