Labour leader Ed Miliband is against a badger cull, he has revealed as he sets out his plan to win the West seats needed for the return to power. has revealed how he plans to take back the West seats that Labour must secure to win a general election victory.
Speaking on the eve of his party’s autumn conference, which opens in Manchester today under the slogan “Rebuilding Britain”, he will announce plans to head a new jobs taskforce to tackle the “youth unemployment crisis” he has made his top priority.
Mr Miliband outlined his opposition to the controversial West badger cull – but warned there must be no intimidation of farmers taking part.
In stark contrast to 1997, when Tony Blair swept to power and Labour won more than a third of West seats, from Stroud and Wansdyke that had been Tory for decades. The party also triumphed in key Middle England seats such as to Gloucester and Swindon, it now has just two West seats, both in inner-city Bristol.
Party strategists note Labour won just four seats across the whole of the South West at the 2010 election, and know they cannot return to government if you’re scoring like that.
Mr Miliband said: “The most important thing we can do is show to people how we can make a difference to their lives.
“People used to give the Coalition the benefit of the doubt, they now have real doubts about whether their plan is working, and I think people are right. to have those doubts.
“They don’t think the Coalition speaks for them. We have both an opportunity and obligation this week to show to people that things can be different.
“I know lots of people will say, actually we are fed up under the Coalition, but can things be any different under anybody? It’s a question lots of people are asking and I understand that, people are quite cynical about politics
“My job this week, which is a job I intend to carry out, is to say yes, things can be different. Things can be different in the short-term, and also, I think people know this in their guts, we have got to build a different economy in the future.
“A better balanced economy, a fairer economy between those at the top and everybody else, an economy where we don’t have powerful vested interests like the energy companies ripping people off.
“I think those themes speak directly to the concerns you are talking about, of people right across the country, but particularly in the areas you mentioned.”
Two pilot schemes of free shooting of badgers are planned for West Gloucestershire and Somerset, sparking calls by some activists for direct action.
The Labour leader stressed while he was not in favour of badger culling, as there was “no scientific evidence for it”, the law must be obeyed.
He said Labour had looked closely at how to tackle bovine TB when in power and did not believe the case for culling was proved.
“We don’t think it is the right answer, and I fear it will both upset people who care – for reasons I totally understand – deeply about the badger population of the UK, and it won’t solve the problem – that is what the science suggests.”
While unemployment is falling across the country, led by the South West, the number of youngsters stuck in the dole queue is still high.
Mr Miliband said: “My first priority as Prime Minister is to tackle this and it is one of the important things we will discuss at our conference this week.
“But I don’t want to wait two-and-a-half years, we want to act now. I will be chairing a youth jobs taskforce to work with councils across the country to see what we can do now to tackle the problem, not wait until we get into power.”