Ed Miliband will on Monday declare day one of Labour’s general election battle as he promises to run a campaign of “hope, not falsehood” that will see him holding weekly question-time sessions with voters.
The Labour leader will list three priorities for government as putting working people first, dealing with the deficit and protecting the NHS at a rally in Manchester, where he will challenge activists to engage 4 million voters in conversation between now and May.
He will also mock David Cameron’s first Tory campaign advertisement, saying the poster depicts a “road to nowhere” and a prime minister who wants everything to carry on as usual.
“We have a government that will say ‘stick to their plan’. They really think this is as good as it gets. They’re the pessimists about what is achievable for Britain and the British people. Between now and the election, they will tell you that change isn’t possible, just as the pessimists have always done down the years,” he will say.
Miliband’s strategy of getting activists to speak directly to voters is designed to address people’s cynicism and anger towards politics that has seen many turn to the UK Independence party (Ukip).
He will say Labour intends to “fight for victory on streets and doorsteps – not speak over people’s heads with thousands of expensive billboard posters” like the Conservatives.
Miliband will also claim Labour values “matter more than the millions of pounds being poured into Tory coffers by hedge funds”.
Labour has a stubborn, though narrow, lead in the vast majority of surveys but both Cameron and Miliband concede the election is going to be an extremely close fight.
With Cameron fighting to win back Tory voters who have defected to Ukip, the prime minister hinted on Sunday that his party could be open to holding an earlier European Union referendum and twice refused to speculate on the possibility of a deal with Nigel Farage’s party after the election.
A senior Tory source later played down this idea, saying the difficulty of negotiations would mean it could probably only be done a few months early.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg will also attempt to add his voice to the political fray this morning with a press conference in which he will claim voters need to back his party if they want another coalition.
Presenting the Lib Dems as the occupants of the “centre ground”, he will say Conservatives are like mobile phone salesmen who signed you up to a contract then cut the number of calls you could make, while Labour is like an ex-boyfriend leaving late night voicemails asking for one more chance.
Ukip will also begin to flesh out its policies in more detail soon, with its leader Nigel Farage promising a series of speeches on areas outside his usual topics of the EU and immigration.
In an interview with the Sky News Murnaghan programme, Farage said a key Ukip policy in health was getting rid of doctors with poor English from the NHS – even though they are already required to pass a language test.
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