Saturday 17 January 2009

Ed Miliband defends Government over Heathrow

Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband has defended the Government’s decision to allow Heathrow expansion, pointing to how the move is tied into a framework of carbon reduction targets.

Questioned from the floor at the Fabian New Year Conference, Miliband told how he believed the Government had taken the right position on Thursday over a third runway, allowing airport expansion only within a strict “carbon framework”.

He called for a mass pressure to achieve a breakthrough on climate change targets at the forthcoming Copenhagen summit, and highlighted that no other Government had committed to the targets on aviation that have been set down by the UK.

The quickening pace of globalisation is helping drive aviation expansion, and the green challenge “accentuates the fairness challenge”, he argued.

In his keynote speech, Miliband set out three lessons: “that markets need government”; that we “recognise and speak up for areas outside the market which we value”; and we must “champion a different type of state”.

The cabinet minister started by setting out the scale of ideological change and re-assessment that has taken place amid the economic crisis of the past six months.

He argued the government has been “doing better than it was” because its bold response to the turmoil “has been willing to overturn the status quo”.

The economic events have “shaken the foundations of our domestic politics”, said Miliband – with new ideas and institutions needed in response.

He compared the scale of the political shift with that of 1978, with the Winter of Discontent, and in 1948, when the NHS was created.

Pointing to an end to the consensus for the deregulation of markets, Miliband said of the crisis: “This was not caused by government, it was caused by a lack of government.”

The financial crisis had blown apart the Tory proposition that “Conservative means do not lead to progressive ends,” he added.

Sadiq Khan, the new chair of the Fabian Society, had earlier declared that the next general election “will be about and should be about a battle of ideas”.

Read the transcript here.

For up-to-the-minute updates on the latest from the conference, visit the Fabian micro-blog at:

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