Labour MPs, activists and supporters are heading up the M6 to Manchester this weekend for the start of their party's annual conference. Tom Watson the West Bromwich MP will address the gathering tomorrow afternoon in his role as Deputy Chairman and campaigns coordinator.
The theme will be"rebuilding Britain" at a time of deep recession. Some Midlands industries such as Jaguar Landrover are weathering the storm and taking on staff but others such as the public sector are taking a battering.
The Labour party will be reaching out hoping to convince Midlands voters who turned against them in 2010 to come back to the fold.
Ed Miliband will announce two key policy initiatives, a crack-down on high fees charged by pension companies and proposals for a tough new energy regulator to replace Ofgem.
He is expected to say:
The current system of regulation is not working. We’ll rip it up to stop you getting ripped off. A new regulator with legal powers to keep prices down.We’ll make sure when the big energy companies pay less for the power they buy, you pay less for the energy you buy.
– ED MILIBANDLiam Byrne the Birmingham Hodge Hill MP and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary will unveil details of a Youth Employment Taskforce aimed at helping thousands of young people get into work.
The Conference will also hear from Joy Squires the prospective parliamentary candidate for Worcester who will talk about empowering communities. She will be part of a video presentation showing a cleanup campaign in parkland near where she lives.
Later in the week the party will be showcasing the work of Birmingham City Council who have introduced a living wage initiative guaranteeing pay rates for low income earners.
But the biggest question of all - has Labour Leader Ed Milliband got what it takes to seize back power from the coalition in 2015?