Miliband tells party to win back the east

Labour leader Ed Miliband arrives to appear on the Andrew Marr show in Brighton. PRESS ASSOCIATION P

Labour leader Ed Miliband arrives to appear on the Andrew Marr show in Brighton. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday September 22, 2013. The interview which took place at a cafe on the promenade happens ahead of Labour's annual party conference which starts today. See PA story LABOUR stories. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Labour will not take back the keys to Number 10 without winning back the east, party leader Ed Miliband told activists, warning candidates they face the fight of their lives.

Ipswich and Waveney are among the seats the party “has to win back”, senior Labour figures said at a reception on the eve of their party conference.

Prospective candidates and party members from across the region were told by Mr Miliband: “To win this election we need the right policies and you will see us putting those in place this week, but need something else. We need all of you.

“We know we took a drubbing in the Eastern region at the last general election. We know a Labour government goes through the Eastern region. If we do not get the votes and the seats in the Eastern region we are not going to have a Labour government.”

Labour’s Chris Mole and Bob Blizzard both lost their seats to the Conservatives in 2010 and Mr Blizzard will be trying to win back his seat, along with Ipswich Labour candidate David Ellesmere in 2015.

Mr Miliband said: “We are in the fight of our lives and we are going to win the fight of our lives because the future of the country depends on it.

“We are going to fight for the people paying the bedroom tax and we are going to end the bedroom tax.

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“We are also fighting for the low paid workers across the country.”

He thanked Eastern region members for “all the unity you have shown, all the loyalty you have shown, all the doors you have knocked on”.

“To win the fight of our lives we’ve got to know it, we’ve got to show it and we’ve got to win. We are going to do it.”

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls, who is the East of England champion for the Labour Party because of his Norwich links, admitted the party had not done well enough at the last election.

He said: “Our problem at the last election was that we didn’t win that argument with Labour voters particularly in the Eastern region.

“Since 2010 we have been making good progress winning back councils.

“There was also an issue that people felt the region wasn’t being listen to enough by the last Labour government.”

He added: “I think that in the Eastern region immigration was a particular issue and also house price inflation and getting onto the housing ladder.”

But he said: “We will only win if we have the right long term plan and that does not mean making promises we can’t pay for.”