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Miliband kicks off Labour Party conference

Labour kicked off its party conference in Manchester yesterday, its last full gathering before the 2015 general election.

Party leader Ed Miliband got things started when he delivered an unexpected speech to a gathering outside the Midland Hotel. He said that the country “doesn’t work for most people” and insisted that Britain “needs a change in government”.

He also indicated that he was moving on from the temporary alliance forged with the coalition parties over the referendum in Scotland.

“The last few months have been about keeping our country together. The next eight months are about how we change our country together,” Miliband said. “And we know that yearning for change is there right across our country. Constitutional change matters, but we know that something else matters even more: this country doesn't work for most working people and we, the Labour Party, are going to change it.”

He went on to lay out his priorities for the conference, saying it was about families “treading water” unable to benefit from the economic recovery, and about young people who worry about the future. He also stressed the NHS and how it was “sliding backwards” under the current government.

Following Miliband’s speech yesterday was a women’s conference where senior female party members spoke, including deputy leader Harriet Harman, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper and equalities minister Gloria De Piero.

The main conference gets under way today and the highlight is expected to be an address from the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls.

Balls is expected to attempt to improve Labour’s economic credibility in the polls. Among the plans he will announce are a 5% pay cut to ministers, a cap on child benefit increases at 1% for the first two years of the next parliament and a commitment to balancing the books, getting the budget in surplus and the national debt falling.

He will also reiterate his promise to reinstate the 50p top rate of income tax and a levy on homes above £2m.

He is expected to say: “Unlike the Tories we will always ask those who have the most to make the biggest contribution. Now cannot be the right time to give the richest 1% of people in the country a £3bn tax cut.”

(Image: c. Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

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