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Ed Miliband rounds off his campaign with his greatest hits

After a contest that has transformed his standing in the party if not the country, Ed Miliband ended his campaign with Labour's strongest themes.

Ed Miliband delivered a greatest hits style final address to the party faithful as he brought his campaign to a close with a rally in Leeds.

Norman Tebbit described the Conservatives’ 1987 election campaign as finishing "exactly as planned on the ground where Labour was weak and we were strong – defence, taxation, and the economy" and this was Miliband’s attempt to do so for Labour: the NHS, standing up to the rich, understanding the concerns of the little guy.

But he had another brief, to avoid echoes of another rally in Yorkshire that haunts Labour still: Neil Kinnock’s triumphalist display in Sheffield in 1992. That unexpected defeat haunts Labour still – the growing panic in the party that I wrote about yesterday probably has more to do with that defeat than anything that will happen tomorrow.

This was short on triumphalism and long on exhortations to join the campaign’s final push. Labour have hit their target for four million conversations with room to spare – they have now racked up five million and will likely hit six tomorrow on polling day.

It capped off a campaign when Miliband – who many in Labour feared and the Tories hoped would be a drag on the party – at last did what his closest advisors and earliest supporters always hoped he would: present “the real Miliband” to the public at large. His standing is still spooking undecided voters in the marginals – they have gone from “contempt to caution” in the words of one Labour candidate in the battlegrounds – but he has transformed his internal standing within the party and exceeded expectations in the press.

That may not change the final result. As Neil Kinnock recalled in his recent interview with George: “I got the prize for the campaign and still didn’t win.” But if the worst happens it may well be enough for Miliband to emulate Kinnock not in 1992 but in 1987 – and stay on after an electoral defeat. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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How tribunal fees silenced low-paid workers: “it was more than I earned in a month”

The government was forced to scrap them after losing a Supreme Court case.

How much of a barrier were employment tribunal fees to low-paid workers? Ask Elaine Janes. “Bringing up six children, I didn’t have £20 spare. Every penny was spent on my children – £250 to me would have been a lot of money. My priorities would have been keeping a roof over my head.”

That fee – £250 – is what the government has been charging a woman who wants to challenge their employer, as Janes did, to pay them the same as men of a similar skills category. As for the £950 to pay for the actual hearing? “That’s probably more than I earned a month.”

Janes did go to a tribunal, but only because she was supported by Unison, her trade union. She has won her claim, although the final compensation is still being worked out. But it’s not just about the money. “It’s about justice, really,” she says. “I think everybody should be paid equally. I don’t see why a man who is doing the equivalent job to what I was doing should earn two to three times more than I was.” She believes that by setting a fee of £950, the government “wouldn’t have even begun to understand” how much it disempowered low-paid workers.

She has a point. The Taylor Review on working practices noted the sharp decline in tribunal cases after fees were introduced in 2013, and that the claimant could pay £1,200 upfront in fees, only to have their case dismissed on a technical point of their employment status. “We believe that this is unfair,” the report said. It added: "There can be no doubt that the introduction of fees has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of cases brought."

Now, the government has been forced to concede. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Unison’s argument that the government acted unlawfully in introducing the fees. The judges said fees were set so high, they had “a deterrent effect upon discrimination claims” and put off more genuine cases than the flimsy claims the government was trying to deter.

Shortly after the judgement, the Ministry of Justice said it would stop charging employment tribunal fees immediately and refund those who had paid. This bill could amount to £27m, according to Unison estimates. 

As for Janes, she hopes low-paid workers will feel more confident to challenge unfair work practices. “For people in the future it is good news,” she says. “It gives everybody the chance to make that claim.” 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.