BRITAIN’S opposition leader Ed Miliband has attacked two high-profile Australians during a passionate speech to supporters at the party’s annual conference in Brighton.
Conservative spin doctor Lynton Crosby and media mogul Rupert Murdoch were singled out for criticism during Mr Miliband’s hour-long speech that was delivered without notes.
The Labour leader, who is hoping to become prime minister in May 2015, said the conservative government was out of touch with ordinary people. To make Britain better again “we need a race to the top” not the bottom, he said.
Mr Miliband promised his government would strengthen the minimum wage while simultaneously tackling the exploitation of migrant workers who often undercut home-grown labour.
But he insisted the party would not respond to concerns about immigration by becoming isolationist. “If people want a party that will cut itself off from the rest of the world, let me say squarely — Labour is not your party.”
The conservatives have increasingly appealed to voters’ perceived prejudices on immigration since Mr Crosby was put back in charge of the Tory election campaign.
The Australian strategist is referred to as the Wizard of Oz in the British press after he helped former Liberal prime minister John Howard win four consecutive terms.
The Tories have even considered following Australia’s lead by processing asylum seekers in offshore desert camps.
But Mr Miliband on Tuesday had a message for British PM David Cameron concerning his spin doctor’s approach. “You can tell your Lynton Crosby it might work elsewhere but it won’t work here,” the Labour leader said. “Britain we are better than this.”
The opposition leader in July accused the prime minister of bringing big tobacco into Downing Street by hiring Mr Crosby shortly before shelving plans to introduce plain packages for cigarettes. The polling guru’s lobbying firm previously worked for tobacco giant Philip Morris.
Mr Miliband in Brighton also told the party faithful he’d shown leadership in standing up to Mr Murdoch in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.
“It hadn’t been done in the past, but it was the right thing to do, so I did it,” he said of the push for tougher press regulation.
Mr Miliband added: “The real test of leadership is not whether you stand up to the weak – that’s easy. It is whether you stand up to the strong and know who to fight for.”
His headline policy announcement commits Labour if elected to freezing gas and electricity prices for homes and businesses for 20 months. – AAP