“We offer the best future for young people” – Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband promised that Labour offers the best future for students after signing a Welsh ‘cost of living contract’ in Cardiff last week.
Speaking to gair rhydd, the Labour leader also congratulated Cardiff University on their Living Wage pledge as well as asserting his confidence looking ahead to the 2015 general election.
Miliband joined Carwyn Jones and some of Labour’s Cardiff candidates for both the european and general election to walk through the city centre meeting members of the public.
Asked about what a Labour government would mean for young people, Miliband told gair rhydd: “I think young people should vote Labour because we offer the best future for young people. Whether that’s on jobs – where Carwyn has already shown the way forward with jobs growth Wales.
“On education and tuition fees – again where Carwyn’s showing the way with Educational Maintenance Allowance. The proposals we’ve got around zero hours contracts and around wages, Labour is showing that it’s got the best future for young people.”
“We’re the only party talking about the biggest issue in this election; parents fearing that the next generation is going to be worse off than the last. That is the deep sense of inequality and the cost of living crisis that people are feeling.”
Although Labour are consistently ahead of the Conservatives in opinion polls, his own approval rating is behind that of the party. Miliband brushed off these concerns, instead suggesting that: ‘’ The polls go up and down, but I’ve been incredibly consistent in saying let’s look at the deep problems the country faces and let’s show we’ve got solutions.
“We’re now at a very advanced stage of showing what those solutions are, and I think day by day people are getting more of a sense of what a Labour government would mean for young people, for issues on housing, energy prices, the world of work – a whole range of issues where we’re showing the way.
“Learning from some of the things that are being done in Wales, like Jobs Growth Wales, which has been fantastically successful, with 12,000 jobs available for young people [shows] the difference you can make.”
Despite UKIP’s sharp rise to prominence, Miliband dismissed the idea that they are a viable alternative for the working class, saying: “UKIP is a party that says it wants to charge people to go and see their GP. I don’t think that’s a party that represents working people.
“I think we have good answers for the people of Wales. Derek Vaughn (Labour’s Welsh MEP) shows what you can do as a member of the European parliament, fighting for Wales.
He is widely credited with winning £500m for Wales in structural funds. He was the person who led the way for Wales in the European Parliament. He shows the difference Labour MEPs can make.
Miliband explained his party’s stance on the relationship with the EU. Labour’s position is in contrasts with that of the Conservatives, who have pledged a referendum on membership if they are in government by 2017, and with UKIP who’s core message is one of opposition to the EU.
The Labour leader said that he doesn’t believe exiting the EU is a priority in any sense, but pledged a referendum should there be a change in the current situation. He confirmed: “If there’s a transfer of powers from the UK to the EU; we would hold an in/out referendum. That’s a guarantee for the British people.
“David Cameron has only made the commitment he has because, frankly, he was pushed into it out of weakness and not strength. I think what matters is the national interest.”
Following his walk through Cardiff city centre, Miliband was invited into a coffee shop on Greyfriars road where he spoke with a small number of journalists. Once he had finished talking, he was confronted by a member of the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Victims Support Group, who asked him to support their campaign for a public inquiry about the care of patients. The Labour leader said he would discuss the matter with the Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones.
Speaking about the NHS – something Cameron has repeatedly used to attack Welsh Labour – Miliband said: “I think the NHS right across the UK is facing big challenges, and I think Carwyn has been the first to say there are challenges.
“I think there are some areas where the Welsh NHS has done well, like with cancer treatment for example, and I think that’s widely acknowledged.
“The very authoritative Nuffield Trust came out in the last couple of weeks and said you can’t say that any particular part of the UK leads another. I think Carwyn is very aware of the challenges, as is Mark Drakeford, the Health Minister.”
Having discussed the importance of the Living Wage as one of the parts of the Cost of Living Contract, Miliband was pleased to hear of Cardiff University’s pledge to pay all it’s staff at least the Living Wage, and warmly congratulated the institution at the end of the interview.