NEW opposition leader Ed Miliband laid out his comeback plan yesterday, promising he would learn from a humbling election defeat, the economic downturn and the divisive war in Iraq to guide the Labour Party back to power in Britain.
The 40-year-old, who narrowly defeated his brother David to win the post, has pledged to overhaul the party’s pro-business, Washington-friendly platform and to strike a humbler tone than predecessors Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Speaking to the party’s annual conference in Manchester, Miliband said he would heed the mistakes that led to Labour’s ouster in May’s national election after 13 years in office.
“We need to learn some painful truths about where we went wrong and how we lost touch,” Miliband told activists. “We must not blame the electorate for ending up with a government we don’t like – we should blame ourselves.”
Miliband won applause for airing his personal doubts about the 2003 invasion of Iraq, pledged a more critical tone in dealings with the United States, and chided Israel for its deadly raid on a flotilla of Gaza-bound ships in May.
“This generation wants to change our foreign policy so that it’s always based on values, not just alliances,” he said, referring to Blair’s close ties to George W Bush – a partnership he previously has said dented trust in the Labour Party.
Miliband said he supported Britain’s role in Afghanistan, but had disagreed strongly with the invasion of Iraq. “We were wrong to take Britain to war and we need to be honest about that,” he said.
“Our alliance with America is incredibly important to us, but we must always remember that our values must shape the alliances that we form and any military action that we take,” Miliband said.
The new leader pledged to support a two-statesolution in the Middle East and said he would “strain every sinew” to persuade Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza. Miliband also praised his brother David, the 45-year-old ex-foreign secretary who will announce today whether he’ll join the party’s new leadership team.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved