Labour should say sorry, admits leadership favourite

IPSWICH: Labour should say sorry to former Ipswich MP Chris Mole and party members in the town.

That was the blunt message from David Miliband as he visited the town searching for votes in the Labour leadership contest, which comes to a head next month.

He said: “Make no mistake. Labour did not lose Ipswich because of any failings on Chris’s part or lack of commitment by anyone here.

“Labour lost the seat because of the party’s failure nationally to tell people about our successes and didn’t apologise for our failures like the 10p tax fiasco.”

Mr Miliband, who was Foreign Secretary under Gordon Brown, told a packed audience at the Waterfront’s DanceEast building on Saturday that party members needed someone to challenge the coalition government at every turn – and be ready to become Prime Minister at the next general election.

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He said: “If you look at the history books, it is not a happy sight. We lost power in 1931 and didn’t get back into government for 14 years.

“We lost power in 1951 and were in opposition for 13 years. And we lost power in 1979 and were in opposition for 18 years.

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“We must not allow that happen again. We need to be in a position to win back power whenever and wherever that opportunity arrives.”

Mr Miliband warned that the “free for all” in education and health would lead to serious inequalities opening up across the country.

Asked about proposals to set up free schools in parts of Suffolk, Mr Miliband warned that without guidance from local education authorities existing schools could suffer.

And he warned there could be dangers facing the NHS.

He said: “People forget how bad things were before 1997. You weren’t just on a waiting list for a bed, you were on a waiting list for a trolley in Accident and Emergency.”

Probed about tacking the budget deficit, Mr Miliband said the previous government had the right policies, while the new coalition risked plunging Britain into a double-dip recession.

“They are in danger of turning austerity from a policy into a prophecy,” he said. “Of course we need to reduce the deficit, it is at an unmanageable level.

“But the Labour Government had policies in place to halve it in four years without damaging the economy.

“The new government has torn up that plan and is introducing right-wing policies that will throw us back into recession.”

n Will David Miliband be the next Prime Minister? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail evening

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