Miliband pledge to young generation

Ed Miliband has pledged to deliver a brighter future for young people as he kicked off Labour's conference.

Lambasting the coalition Government for having "something against" the next generation, Mr Miliband said they were suffering high unemployment, huge housing costs and tuition fee hikes.

He hinted that his party could go further than its existing commitment to cut the maximum annual university fee from £9,000 to £6,000. He also called for more focus on vocational training and reiterated his desire to see the voting age brought down to 16.

The comments came in a question-and-answer session at the East Manchester Academy before the official opening of Labour's gathering in the city. Mr Miliband struck a cautious tone during the town-hall style event, repeatedly insisting that Labour would not be able to reverse all the coalition's spending cuts and unpopular measures.

He said: "Whoever wins the next election will be faced with a huge deficit. If it is a Labour government, we will have to make difficult decisions. We will not be able to reverse all the cuts. We will take decisions about priorities, like putting jobs ahead of pay rises. But don't believe those who say that all politicians are the same, because our decisions will be different. We would always put the interests of millions of working people ahead of tax cuts for millionaires."

Mr Miliband said the coalition was currently borrowing money to "keep people idle", rather than investing in generating economic growth. "I'm not going to wave a magic wand," he said. "But I do believe we could make a difference."

He described young people's futures as his "number one priority". The party is due to announce it is forming a Youth Employment Taskforce, designed to help more young people find work and monitor the impact of coalition policies.

Mr Miliband said: "I do wonder what this Government has got against young people. First of all we have got to get young people working again. Secondly... we have got to find a way to help all young people have a future, all young people have a career. All young people who go to university and those who don't. Graduate unemployment is a terrible problem, but also what is the career path of someone who doesn't go to university?"

He dismissed Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg's tuition fees apology, pointing out that he had only said sorry for pledging not to raise fees. And he signalled that Labour was hardening its position against the charges, with the possibility of a straightforward graduate tax on the table.

Mr Miliband said: "We have said that if we were in government tomorrow we would cut the tuition fee to £6,000, the maximum tuition fee. In my view that is not enough. I think it is a start. It is what we can afford, we have shown a way of doing it and it would reduce the debts that people are going to face."