New Labor leader Ed Miliband outlines party platform

Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Derek Scott, economic adviser to former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair from 1997-2003, talks about the opposition Labour Party's new leader Ed Miliband and his support from the trade unions. He speaks on Bloomberg Television's "The Pulse" with Andrea Catherwood.
By Anthony Faiola
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, September 28, 2010; 7:03 PM

LONDON - Ed Miliband, 40, laughed off suggestions that he is a left-wing "Red Ed" while outlining a party platform stressing working-class rights Tuesday in his first major speech as head of Britain's opposition Labor Party.

Miliband, who on Saturday bested his brother, former foreign minister David Miliband, to earn Labor's top job, sought to distance himself at the party's conference in Manchester from the pro-business, pro-American platform of "new Labor" forged by Tony Blair in the 1990s. At the same time, he signaled that he, too, would position himself as political centrist and was by no means endorsing a return to the days when Labor politics were closely identified with violent union strikes.

Miliband bluntly said Britain was wrong to go to war in Iraq, saying the special relationship with the United States should not be nurtured to the exclusion of British "values." He indicated that under his leadership, the Labor Party, which suffered its worst defeat in decades last May under former prime minister Gordon Brown, would vigorously challenge the drastic budget cuts planned by the new coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Addressing the new conservative prime minister, David Cameron, he said: "You were the optimist once, but now all you offer is a miserable, pessimistic view of what we can achieve. And you hide behind the deficit to justify it."

© 2010 The Washington Post Company