Miliband: ‘We can end Tory rule at local elections’
As party launches radical manifesto, former Labour leader says Conservatives are ‘quaking in their boots’ ahead of May 3 vote
23 March, 2018 — By Tom Foot
Ed Miliband speaking at this week’s manifesto launch at the Yaa Centre in Little Venice
FORMER Labour leader Ed Miliband believes there is a “unique opportunity” to bring an end to more than 50 years of “uninterrupted Conservative rule” in Westminster.
Mr Miliband swung into The Yaa Centre in Little Venice on Wednesday night to boost the launch of Westminster Labour’s radical manifesto – as bookies slashed the odds of a dramatic power-shift to even money.
He said the borough’s Tories are “quaking in their boots” at the prospect of a humiliating defeat in what he described as a “crucial election” with national ramifications on May 3.
“This borough is an extreme microcosm of the problems facing Britain,” said Mr Miliband. “We are in the heart of a capital city and, when you are facing the winds of a global economy, you need a council that will stand up for ordinary people. But the Conservatives here are not the fighters against inequality, they are the hand-maidens of inequality.
“Particularly given the history of this borough, particularly the fact you have had uninterrupted Conservative rule since 1964. There is a unique opportunity here. This is a real moment. A crucial election. The Tories are quaking in their boots and they are right to be quaking in their boots.”
He said: “If you think about the gap in life expectancy, the affordable housing crisis this borough faces, low pay, but almost above all that, the crisis that austerity is bringing to this borough.
Westminster North MP Karen Buck speaking at the Yaa Centre
“What the Conservatives are doing is in contrast with the needs of this borough. The 30 per cent affordable housing target they have but are comprehensively failing to meet. The fact you have properties for rent that are out of the reach of so many residents of this borough. The fact they are not delivering on the living wage. The fact they are cutting youth services, eliminating youth services.”
Westminster Conservatives have been rattled by the Labour surge but many are also quietly optimistic about their chances. The have been here before. In 1986, Shirley Porter’s scandal-hit Conservative administration was re-elected by fewer than 100 votes despite a huge effort by Labour to take control of the council.
Labour say they are now targeting five key wards, in particular Lancaster Gate – the ward of deputy leader Cllr Robert Davis. Cllr Davis, the last surviving member of the Porter administration, has recently “stepped aside” from his roles on Westminster Cabinet while an internal investigation into his extensive gifts and hospitality register entries concludes.
Speaking at the Labour launch, Westminster North MP Karen Buck said: “Some of us here were there in 1986. It was the last time that we made a powerful effort to take control of Westminster City Council. We did so on the back of what was seven years of a Thatcher government. We fought that council election incredibly hard, and came within 100 votes of taking control.”
She added: “We have our best chance since the 1980s. And we have a programme that I will be proud to work behind. We can do this. Whatever happens, we are frightening the living daylights out of them.”