VIDEO: Miliband back in Derby for election push
LABOUR leader Ed Miliband was back in Derby yesterday for his third visit to the city in a month.
As voters prepare to go to the polls in the local elections tomorrow, Mr Miliband and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls spent an hour meeting workers at train-maker Bombardier with Derby MPs Chris Williamson and Margaret Beckett.
But Mr Miliband said his numerous visits to the area were neither a sign of nervousness nor confidence in his party's chances of taking control of Derby City Council.
"There are elections happening across the country and I have gone round lots of the areas talking about the issues that matter," he said.
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"I think Labour candidates in Derby are running a good campaign on the local economy, children's centres and care homes and what we can do here, at Bombardier, which is an incredibly impressive company, to make sure it is properly supported."
Labour has backed Bombardier since the Coalition Government came under attack for awarding the £1.4 billion Thameslink contract to rival German manufacturer Siemens, putting at risk the future of train-making in the country.
Mr Miliband said he did not want to see similar mistakes made with the £1 billion Crossrail deal, which Bombardier is in the running for.
He said: "The Government has a responsibility to make sure that, in future, choices they make about contracts take proper account of the role that Bombardier can make, not just to manufacturing here in Derby but across the country."
Mr Miliband was quick to draw a line under whether Labour had got it wrong when it originally drew up the tender documents for the Thameslink deal, however.
He said: "We always took the view that the Government, even at preferential bidder stages, could have changed their course. What the workforce has said is that they want to move on. It is a resilient workforce. They have confidence in their product and they need the support of Government to make the responsible, fair and right decisions."
On the tour of the production line, some workers, including Kevin Thomas, did not let the opposition leader off the hook.
Mr Thomas, 45, from Spondon, has worked at Bombardier for 12 years.
He said: "I asked him a few questions about why we didn't get Thameslink and he seemed apologetic but I'm not convinced. All the politicians seem to come here now the horse has bolted, saying they support us and support British manufacturing."
Indeed, it was a statement Mr Miliband made in front of the television cameras moments later.
He said: "I think the most important lesson of Thameslink is that, if we want an economy that works for the working people and not just a few, then we have got to support British manufacturing."
He said that if the Government did that, it would also help to provide much-needed employment. On his tour, he met young people working on the production line.
Mr Miliband said: "I met some apprentices and asked them what their mates were doing and they said they were on the dole. The fact is 50,000 young people are out of work for more than a year and it is a scandal and totally unnecessary. They could be doing something about it.
"If I was Prime Minister, I would be saying to all British companies, let's get behind an effort to get our young people jobs."