Just watched the whole of Miliband's speech. Overall summary: Uninspiring and missed the target audience. Regardless of your intentions, going to the TUC and bigging up a 19th century Tory isn't going to get them on the edge of their seats... He'd have been as well going on about how Thatcher was really to the left of many of Labour's policies, now and under the last Labour government.
On the substance of the speech though:
He's promising to get the young people of Britain working again. Go on then Ed, we're listening... how will you do that? Ah, government funded schemes that you'll fund by taxing bank bonuses. The ones they're already paying 45% tax on. Where will you set it? Back to 50%? 60? 98%? Is that anyone who is in the finance industry or just people earning over £500,000? What about the other industries where directors get huge bonuses? What about other seriously high earners, e.g. footballers? Bank bonuses get a bad name but if someone gets a £1m bonus now, they're paying £450,000 of it directly to the state. It's a nice easy target and soundbite for Miliband in front of a union audience but it's not that practical in reality. Ed complained about bankers bonuses being up this year, yes it sounds distasteful when the country is in quite severe austerity measures but then increased bonuses = increased tax revenues = a quicker end to austerity measures, how else does the government make money? What if the bankers decide to convert most of the bonuses to salaries or share options, many are already doing that.
Also, he announced a policy of companies having to offer compulsory apprenticeships if they want a major government contract. Is that just manual and blue collar contracts or does it include the white collar industries? Take bin men as an example, most areas now have outsourced contracts for this work, how do you apprentice as a bin man? There are surely many better, less blunt, ideas, e.g. scrap Employers NI for all youths employed in a certified apprenticeship scheme or provide tax credits for training costs in a company that lead to an accreditation. Simpler than simply holding a quite blunt tool of "offer apprenticeships or don't get a government contract". Carrot rather than stick is always better.
Then there's a new "British Investment Bank" that's legally obliged to loan money to businesses. Surely that's going to have extortionate interest rates to cover the defaults of the bad debts such a policy inevitably brings.
Next, investing in housing. is this going to be state housing, increasing the council housing stock across Britain? If so, good. If not, where's the money going? What's it going to do for Britain?
He actually gets it right on zero hours contracts, he highlights the key points about how they're being exploited and will stop them. He also highlighted when they're appropriate. He's not going to ban zero hours contracts, just stop the exploitation. So, there's a good point Ed. One out of a speech isn't bad.