ED Miliband yesterday issued a direct challenge to the City, saying the first objective of a Labour government would be to “sort out our banks”. He also pledged to end quarterly results for listed companies, a move he said would end short-termism.
The Labour leader used his speech at the party’s Manchester conference to call on banks to split their retail and investment arms: “Either you fix it yourselves between now and the election, or the next Labour government will once and for all ensure that the high street bank is no longer the arm of a casino operation and we will break you up by law.”
He also blamed “the pressure for the fast buck from City investors” as the reason that businesses fail to invest in the long term and pledged to remove the legal reporting burden for public companies. He also attacked “predator” firms. In a speech widely praised for its delivery, Miliband spoke for more than an hour without notes and made a pitch for the centre ground by declaring Labour were now the “one nation” party – a phrase traditionally associated with Tory Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.
But the speech was light on policy detail, with the Labour leader preferring to spend the address positioning himself as a more down-to-earth alternative to Prime Minister David Cameron, with repeated references to Miliband’s comprehensive school education and his parents’ immigrant background.