Ed Miliband Says He 'Did Not Share' Blair Jeers After Mixed Reaction To Speech
Labour leader Ed Miliband said that his party would stay "in the middle ground of politics" and rejected claims that he had mocked Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
In his speech to the party's conference in Liverpool on Tuesday Miliband attacked "bad businesses" that were just out to make "a fast buck" while promising to stop excessive pay for executives and to impose tougher regulation on banks.
The speech was criticised by former Labour trade minister and CBI chief Lord Jones who said it was "divisive and a kick in the teeth" for business.
In a series of interviews on Wednesday Miiband said he was not anti-business, and clarified that the real target was "good business practices and bad business practices".
"People understandably are nervous of change, nervous of doing things differently, and its my job ... to convince them we do need change," Miliband said.
Miliband said that he "did not share" the jeers that erupted around the Labour conference hall when he told delegates that "I am not Tony Blair". However he reiterated the message that he was his own man in a "new era".
"Labour's changing," he said. "Look Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were towering figures... it's a different era, the challenges are totally different.
"Tony Blair was elected leader 17 years ago. That's an era ago and we are in new era."
In an interview with Sky News the Labour leader added:
"I'm my own man, I'm in charge and I'm going to do things in my own way ... We're in a different world now and it requires different solutions.
"What I tried to do was to set out a big argument about how Britain needs to change. We have seen a whole series of crises hit our countries over the last few years, from the banks to the riots to what call the quiet crisis hitting ordinary families – the squeeze on living standards.
"I think we have to change the way our economy works, the way our benefits system works, to reward those people. That’s the argument I was making, that we need big change in the way our country works. I think it’s a big argument and an important argument for our country."
Miliband also told Sky that his party took responsibility for the 2007/8 financial crisis, and admitted that "there would have to be cuts if we were in government".
However he said that the focus had to be on kickstarting growth while returning to the core values that the British people shared.
On BBC Radio 4's Today programme Miliband added that he agreed with some elements of Vince Cable's speech to the Liberal Democrat party conference, particularly on the need for greater transparency in business. However he said that Labour stood apart from the other parties in its commitment to infusing business with a moral sense of social justice.
"This isn't abut heavy-handed government because actually it's much worse if you don't get the rules right at the start and then the government has to step in," he said.
"Everybody knows that the relationship between finance and industry has been a long standing issue in British capitalism."
On the reaction to his second speech as leader, which has not all been positive, Miliband told Daybreak: "The papers will take care of themselves."