John O'Neill

Miliband’s people

Miliband's people
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Have you met Ed Miliband recently? Then he probably namechecked you in his speech earlier today. Unless you talked about the deficit or immigration, that is.

Here's the full list of people he met:

1. Josephine – a cleaner who hadn't decided how she would vote in the Scottish independence referendum.

I was on my way to a public meeting. I was late as politicians tend to be. And just outside the meeting I met a woman and I was supposed to be going into the meeting but I wanted to stop and ask her how she was voting. I did that to everybody on the street. One vote at a time. I said to her “how are you voting?” she said “I haven’t decided yet.”

Turned out her name was Josephine. She worked as a cleaner in the building. I asked her what the company was like that she worked for. She said the company was decent but the wages were rubbish. She hadn’t decided because life was so incredibly tough for her. She didn’t want to leave but she thought it might be the best thing to do.

2. Xiomara – a young woman who works in a pub near where Ed lives. She thinks all politics is rubbish.

She lives at the opposite end of the country from Josephine. She’s separated by at least a generation. But they share a common experience. Xiomara couldn’t afford to go to college. So she got a job in the pub kitchen nearby, washing dishes. She’s worked incredibly hard and she’s worked her way up to be one of the chefs.

But like for Josephine, life by Xiomara is incredibly tough. And by the way, she thinks politics is rubbish. And let’s not pretend we don’t hear that a lot on the doorstep. What does she see in politics? She sees drift. She doesn’t think we can solve her problems, now we’ve got to prove her wrong. And it’s not just that people like Xiomara and Josephine are struggling with the problems of today and millions of other people.

3. ‘Two young women who were in the park’. They wanted to see Benedict Cumberbatch. They got Ed instead. He says ‘It's not that funny’.

They seemed excited to see me and they came over. And – it’s not that funny – one of them actually said “so it is true, you do meet famous people in this park.” And the other one said “yeah it is.” And then the first one said “no offence, we were hoping for Benedict Cumberbatch.”

But anyway, one of them said something which really stuck with me. She said this, she said: “My generation is falling into a black hole.” And she said about her parents’ generation: “they’ve had it so good and now there’s nothing left for us.” She wasn’t just speaking for herself, she was speaking for millions of people across our country. Millions of people who have lost faith in the future.

4. Gareth – is high up at a software company, but he's not paid enough that he can afford to buy a home for his family. Ed met ‘his colleagues as well’.

He’s got a five year old daughter, he’s earning a decent wage, he can’t afford to buy a home for himself and for his family, he’s priced out by the richest. He thinks that unless you’re one of the privileged few in Britain the country is not going to work for you and your kids are going to have a worse life than you.

— Softwire Technology (@SoftwireUK) September 23, 2014

5. Elizabeth, an apprentice auto-electrician. She was in the conference hall (another where we have proof of life).

I met somebody called Elizabeth the other day. Where is she? She’s here. Elizabeth, why don’t you stand up for one second. Elizabeth is an apprentice.

She’s an auto-electrician. I think it’s fair to say Elizabeth that you are breaking through in what’s been pretty much a man’s world. Now, let’s have another round of applause for her and the great job she’s doing. She is one of the lucky few. Actually Elizabeth’s school, because I met her yesterday, Elizabeth’s school helped her to get an apprenticeship. But so many other schools don’t do that. In fact, lots of the people I meet who are on apprenticeships say ‘my school said apprenticeships were rubbish and they wouldn’t help me but now I’m doing it, it’s really great for me’. Frankly there aren’t enough of them and they aren’t high-quality enough.

6. ‘An amazing man called Colin’. In his 80s, he died a few weeks after Ed met him in hospital. Ed says it's his duty to Colin to make sure the NHS is there when we need it.

I mentioned earlier on that I spent a couple of days at a hospital in Watford earlier on this year. And while I was there I met an amazing man called Colin in his 80s, who sadly died a few weeks later. But I will always remember my conversations with him. You see he remembered the foundation of the NHS, he remembered what life was like before the National Health Service. And I remember him saying to me: “Ed the problem then was you were on your own. On your own having to pay for medical treatment.” Friends we are so proud of our National Health Service. And I know my duty to Colin and to the British people. It is to make sure our NHS is there when we need it.

7. Rosie, an NHS doctor from Devon.

It came home to me the other day, when I met Rosie, a doctor from Devon, and she said to me: “what we need is someone who will stand up for working people, for everyday people, because you will have the power and we won’t.”