Opposition Labour leader calls time on 'fast buck' Britain

27th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

British opposition leader Ed Miliband told his Labour party Tuesday he was determined to smash the "something for nothing" culture that he blames for the country's economic and social ills.

Miliband sought to convince the centre-left party that he had an alternative vision to Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition government's spending cuts, as he sought to establish his credentials as a possible future premier.

Speaking at the party's annual conference, held in Liverpool, northwest England, Miliband sought to set himself up as a values-driven leader with a vision for a remodelled 21st century Britain.

The 41-year-old, who beat his elder brother David to the Labour leadership a year ago, has so far struggled to make his mark.

He admitted Labour needed to take responsibility for some of the things that went wrong during 13 years in power from 1997 to 2010 under prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, as Britain's budget deficit grew during the boom years.

"People need to know where I stand. The Labour Party lost trust on the economy," Miliband said.

"I am determined we restore your trust in us on the economy. I am determined to prove to you that the next Labour government will only spend what we can afford."

Attacking the pervasive "fast buck" culture, he said the newspaper phone hacking scandal and the August riots in cities around England pointed to "something deep in our country -- the failure of a system."

"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 added: "It's my job, it's our job, it's our party's mission to say: no more. It's all got to change. We need a new bargain based on Britain's values.

"Britain's values in our economy, in our society, and in the way our country is run.

"So let's confront head-on the big challenge we face of building a new bargain in our economy. Built on values of hard work, something for something, in it for the long-term."

Miliband took to the stage against a backdrop of poor opinion polls.

A ComRes survey for The Independent newspaper showed 37 percent of the 1,000 voters questioned backed the Cameron's Conservatives, with Labour on 36 percent and the Liberal Democrats, the junior partners in the governing coalition, on 12 percent.

Only 24 percent thought Miliband was a credible prime minister-in-waiting, against 57 percent who said he was not. Only 54 percent of Labour voters agreed.

© 2011 AFP

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