UK opposition leader kicks off election campaign
LONDON (AP) — Britain’s opposition leader launched the Labour Party’s campaign for the May 7 election on Friday, bringing supporters to the top of a tower with a commanding view to offer a vision for the future.
Standing atop the ArcelorMittal Orbit — a spiraling steel structure coincidentally painted in the party’s same trademark red — Miliband seemed energized by what Labour perceived as a favorable performance in the first public forums of the campaign on Thursday.
With Labour running neck-and-neck with the Conservatives, Miliband says Labour is facing “a tough fight yesterday and we’re facing a tough fight today.”
Speaking to some 100 supporters to Olympic Park — a favored spot for political leaders trying to tap into the feel-good factor and patriotic fervor generated by the games —Miliband chose to rally support for the National Health Service.
The service, cherished in Britain, is facing severe strain from tight budgets and rising medical costs. It is also considered a strong issue for Labour.
He pledged to increase funding for the NHS and place a cap on private profits for large outsourced health-care contracts offering services to the NHS. The new money would come from new taxes on expensive properties — the “mansion tax” — and tobacco companies, together with a crackdown on tax avoidance. He argued the Conservatives were failing to give the service enough money to function properly.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Miliband’s proposal to limit profits would result in chaos for the NHS.