Miliband puts faith in ground troops in Yorkshire marginals

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ED Miliband believes Labour’s boots on the ground will prove decisive in the party’s battle to win a string of Yorkshire marginal seats.

The Labour leader insisted he was unconcerned that seats such as Pudsey, Calder Valley, Dewsbury and Keighley were still too close to call after months of campaigning.

Labour leader Ed Miliband, his wife Justine (centre) and Caroline Flint (front right) during a rally in Norton, Doncaster.

Labour leader Ed Miliband, his wife Justine (centre) and Caroline Flint (front right) during a rally in Norton, Doncaster.

He was speaking to The Yorkshire Post in Woodlesford, near Leeds, where he had earlier told activists they could hold the key to a Labour victory.

Labour candidate Veronica King is trying to overturn the 4,521 vote majority secured by the Conservatives’ Alec Shelbrooke in the Elmet and Rothwell seat which includes Woodlesford five years ago.

“What I know is that five years people ago people wrote us off and we would be out for two terms and we are in a position to win this election and I think we are going to win this election,“ he said.

“The reason I said that to the folks who are here and the reason I say it wherever I go is that we have a very significant advantage as this election comes down to the wire which is that Tories are essentially a virtual party.

“They don’t have people who will voluntarily knock on doors for the Tory party, they have people they pay to deliver leaflets.

“In the end that tells and we are seeing that in the information we are getting. People are more likely to have seen a Labour person knocking on their door, more likely to have seen Labour literature despite the Tories advantage in terms of money because people make that difference.”

Over the weekend, Labour launched a poster claiming tax and benefit changes under the current Government were costing the average family £1,100 a year.

It is the latest in a string of figures from the major parties which some commentators have suggested will lead to voters switching off from the campaign.

“I think there may be an element of truth in that, but I think the key issue for people is what is the picture of the last five years and what is the picture of the next five years,” Mr Miliband said.

“You’ve got David Cameron and Nick Clegg going around saying we’ve cut taxes for people. People think ‘hang on a minute that doesn’t accord with my reality, that’s not what I feel, and they’re right not to feel that because actually taxes have gone up as the poster shows.

“Clearly you are going to get a blizzard of figures in an election campaign but I think the question for people is what paints a picture of reality?”

The Conservatives’ pitch to Yorkshire voters centres on the ambition to turn the North into an economic “powerhouse” by improving connections between towns and cities so together they can compete on the global economic stage.

But Mr Miliband described the Conservatives’ claim to have the North’s interests at heart as “ludicrous”.

And he rejected the suggestion that his position was undermined by Labour-run Manchester’s decision to embrace George Osborne’s offer of substantial devolution in return the city adopting an elected mayor.

“It is understandable that council leaders are going to try and work as best they can with the Government of the day but [Manchester City Council leader) Richard Leese and all our other council leaders will say they are desperate to get this Tory government out.

Mr Miliband faced minor embarassment this weekend when notes left behind in the dressing room ahead of the TV debates showed he hoped to come across to voters as a “happy warrior”.

The phrase - originally from a Wordsworth poem but often used by US politicians including Barack Obama - was among the motivational messages and prepared answers to likely questions published by The Sun on Sunday.