Labour lost way, says Miliband ahead of policy review

Ed Miliband Ed Miliband is launching a major Labour policy review

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Ed Miliband will launch a major review of Labour Party policy by telling his MPs the party has "lost its way".

Signalling a break with New Labour's focus on economic growth, the Labour leader will say voters were feeling "squeezed" even before the recession.

He will add they felt Labour lost touch with their aspirations and stopped offering a "route to a better life".

The two-year review aims to give the party a fresh platform to fight the next election.

It will be headed by Cabinet Office Minister Liam Byrne and will draw on expertise from outside the party in an echo of a similar exercise carried out by David Cameron when he was elected leader of the Conservative Party in 2005.

'Opportunities'

Key issues that need to be resolved at an early stage include where the party stands on tax - with Mr Miliband still apparently at odds with shadow chancellor Alan Johnson over whether the 50p top tax rate should be permanent and what form a graduate tax should take.

The policy review is being launched on Saturday at a special meeting of Labour's National Policy Forum, in Gillingham, Kent.

Start Quote

We need to move beyond New Labour”

End Quote Ed Miliband Labour leader

In his strongest criticism yet of the Blair-Brown era, Mr Miliband will say: "Over the last 13 years we saw a tremendous expansion in opportunity. But people's ability to take advantage of those opportunities did not keep pace.

"And so, even before the financial crisis, people came to feel squeezed - by an economy that demanded more and more of them, by public services which didn't keep pace with their rising expectations, by the pressures on family and community life outside of their control."

And he will add: "The hard truth is that New Labour which set out to help people have a better life lost its way and people felt that we were no longer offering them a route to a better life.

"And it is our job now to learn the lessons of that defeat so we go into the next election with a new solution for the future that provides better answers to the questions people ask of us - how will we help them find security?

"How will we help them achieve their hopes and dreams.

'Few hints'

"We need better answers to those questions. Because more of the same from us will not close the gap between what people want out of life and what they can achieve at the moment.

"That is why we need to move beyond New Labour."

Mr Miliband has given few hints about the shape of the policy platform which may emerge from the review, beyond saying that he backs social mobility and fairness.

But his focus on the "squeezed middle" has been ridiculed by the Conservatives, who have claimed he does not know who they are.

They claim the Labour leader used six different definitions of the phrase in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday.

These ranged from "people who are working hard" to "those not on six-figure salaries, who are in the middle of the income distribution".

Tory chairman Baroness Warsi said it is no wonder that Labour's policies are a "blank sheet of paper," adding: "The only thing he knows for sure is that he is a socialist and will stick up for the trade unions."

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