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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Miliband To Face The People

Ed Miliband is to face direct questions from members of the public at Labour's national conference next week as part of his effort to show that the party is listening to ordinary people.

Some 2,000 members of the public, recruited through the local media, have been invited to submit questions on any subject which will be put to the Labour leader without any pre-checking, said party sources.

The question-and-answer session on Wednesday comes as Mr Miliband seeks to change the party's rulebook to allow non-members to take part in the election of future leaders by becoming "registered supporters".

The Labour leader hopes to secure the change at an eve-of-conference meeting of the ruling National Executive Committee on Saturday, when he will also push for the abolition of elections to the shadow cabinet.

In a foreword to the conference agenda, Mr Miliband argues that the party must use next week's gathering - taking place in Liverpool under the slogan Fulfilling the Promise of Britain - to show it has "the confidence to change".

In his keynote speech on Tuesday, he will tell his party that it is time to "rip up the rulebook" in order to challenge an economic and political settlement that has become the consensus over the past decades.

In a video message to supporters, Mr Miliband said there is a "quiet crisis" among the "hard-working people of Britain" over living standards, worries about their children's futures and irresponsibility in society.

He said: "We've got to change those things - we've got to do it by taking on the vested interests that hold our country back, from the banks to the energy companies. We've got to stand up for the grafters, the hard-working majority in Britain."

Writing in the conference magazine, Mr Miliband accused the Conservatives of being "out of touch" with ordinary people and too close to a "powerful and privileged few", of making "reckless choices" on issues such as NHS reform and the cuts programme and having "no vision for a better Britain".

"It is up to Labour to be the voice of those families whose living standards are being squeezed ever tighter, who worry that their children will find it tougher to get on in life and feel angry that irresponsible behaviour is rewarded," wrote Mr Miliband.

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