Business blow for Miliband

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LIKE it or not, Peter Mandelson has better understanding about how to win elections than the current Labour leadership. He knew that Tony Blair could not win in 1997 until the party had convinced business executives about its economic strategy.

The same should be applying to Ed Miliband. He should be convincing private firms that they will be able to invest in Britain under a future Labour government without being taxed out of existence. Yet Lord Mandelson claims that the Doncaster North MP has failed to make it “sufficiently clear” that his party does not wish to harm business. However, his colleague Lord Myners, a former City Minister, goes much further – he says Mr Miliband is not sufficiently interested in the views of senior business executives.

Such scathing observations, reinforced by individuals like Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, suggesting that Labour is taking its core vote for granted, explain why Mr Miliband remains on the back foot from both a political and economic perspective. For, without a decade of sustained industrial investment, Britain will not be able to bring public spending under control – the reason why the Opposition is so distrusted.

It’s all very well for Mr Miliband to promise a freeze in household fuel bills, for example, but such an approach will not make it any easier for Britain to overhaul its creaking energy infrastructure – hence Lord Mandelson’s new warning about the dangers of ‘predatory capitalism’. At least the coalition parties are trying to overhaul the country’s infrastructure while creating record numbers of new jobs and bringing the deficit down. Rather than mocking David Cameron and Nick Clegg, perhaps Mr Miliband – and Ed Balls for that matter – should start to show some humility. Or, as Lord Mandelson would no doubt advise them, start coming up with some credible policies of their own.

Life and death: Dilemma over ambulance calls

IN many respects, Yorkshire Ambulance Service finds itself in an invidious position when it comes to dispatching staff to 999 calls. Like all NHS organisations, it needs to maximise the use of its resources and emergency care assistants now play an important role in complementing the work of paramedics.

It also makes sense to send such staff to those callouts which are not deemed to be a matter of life and death – long gone are the days when every ambulance could be crewed by two fully-trained paramedics as a matter of course.

Yet many will sympathise with Unite, which is opposing the Trust’s decision to send ECAs to the most serious calls – and for a paramedic to follow separately.

Their concern is understandable. These medical professionals are trained in first aid and basic life support; they are not allowed to administer drugs – and time is invariably of the essence when an individual’s life hangs in the balance.

However, the solution is not the threat of industrial action – such a stand-off is invariably counter-productive – but a more constructive dialogue between the Trust and the various trade union leaders.

For, if Trust chief executive David Whiting is to be taken at his word, ECAs have an enhanced role at other ambulance services and there “will be few occasions” when they will not have paramedic back-up. If this is so, the challenge is reassuring the public that the Trust will respond to each and every call with an appropriate level of medical support.

Honouring all: Thumbs up to national heroes

WHAT unites inspiring individuals like rugby league legend Kevin Sinfield and school crossing patroller Sue Yardley, who lead Yorkshire’s recipients in the Queen’s Birthday Honours?

It is their willingness to put others first – whether it be the longstanding Leeds Rhinos’ talisman dedicating his MBE to past and present team-mates or Mrs Yardley braving all weathers to help pupils cross the road outside Scholes Elmet Primary School on the outskirts of Leeds.

Their commitment epitomises the very best of Yorkshire life and is shared by their fellow award recipients. They all deserve a collective thumbs up – the gesture that became the symbol of the heroic Teenage Cancer Trust fundraiser Stephen Sutton, who receives a posthumous MBE just weeks after he succumbed to the disease after raising £4m in the final years, months, weeks and then days of his tragically short life. Without the enthusiasm of such tireless people, Britain would be a much poorer place.