The North East has warmly backed Labour leader Ed Miliband after a policy heavy conference speech.
Mr Miliband won a show of support from the region just a day after it emerged less than 17% of voters saw him as the right man to lead the party. With that exclusive Journal poll in mind, Labour made a show of support for the leader. That included a show of support from those who have criticised his relationships with the unions and some aspects of his leadership.
Former regional minister Nick Brown said he welcomed Mr Miliband’s commitment to standing up for consumers with a freeze on energy bills, but urged caution over the impact on renewable energy.
The Newcastle East MP said: “It is right to protect consumers in this way but it is also right to protect investment in renewable energy with the certainty the industry needs, especially as there are North East jobs dependant upon that.”
Tynemouth’s Alan Campbell said he was glad to see Mr Miliband single out the North East not just as an example of those who have suffered but of those who have plenty to give to the UK.
The deputy chief whip added: “People are feeling the pinch here in the North East, and I don’t think we have seen yet the benefits of any recovery.
“He showed he wants the whole of the country to benefit from economic recovery, not just London, and he was clear that a Labour Government would be prepared to step in when big business was not operating in the interests of the consumer. I think that was a brave thing to say and I think it was the right thing to say.”
There was also praise for the speech from South Tyneside Council leader Iain Malcolm, who had been hailed at a Monday night fringe meeting as a key council figure by Mr Miliband. Mr Malcolm said the speech should boost the leader’s poll ratings ahead of an expected visit to the region next month.
He added: “Ed made a particular point to praise the people of the North East in his speech, and the contribution the region makes to the national economy. He received loud cheers from Northern delegates and we are looking forward to welcoming Ed to the region in October.
“We are not complacent, and we take no vote for granted. Ed has been the subject of bitter personal attacks during the summer but I think he has demonstrated he has the determination to win the next election, not just for Labour, but for Britain.”
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery also backed Mr Miliband, saying the speech showed Labour was providing for ordinary families. Mr Lavery, who has been critical of Mr Miliband’s union reforms, said it was right the party used this moment to address voters rather than internal funding issues.
He added: “There is a time for that later, and I’m sure both sides will come together then, but here it was right we showed people we are on their side. I thought it was a fantastic speech. On jobs, on energy, on child care, we will make a real difference.
“We will get to a position where every child has the chance to start the day at a breakfast club, to go to school with food in their belly.”