Labour conference sees new battle over age-old issue

Doncaster MP Ed Miliband with his family Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Apparently there's a new 'economic dawn' breaking. The Deputy PM Nick Clegg insisted to me last week he isn't joking - he's adamant that Britain's economy is on the turn. And there are lots of figures to back him up - house prices rising, unemployment falling, GDP growing. Well, that's if you live in the south.

In our region and further north, things aren't moving along quite so nicely. In fact the latest unemployment figures for Yorkshire and the Humber show a rise in those out of work. But more importantly, wages here are rising nowhere near as fast as prices, and they haven't done for the best part of three years.

That is all fertile ground for the Labour leader from Doncaster. That is why you will hear Ed Miliband say 'cost of living' over and over again this week. Whether it's axing the bedroom tax, providing 8am to 6pm childcare for parents, or increasing traineeships, all of the policies he's (finally) announcing this week tap into the issue of living standards.

But if we can't afford certain things anymore, then how can the government? The coalition are already arguing that Miliband will have to spend an extra £28bn on his latest promises, though Labour insist they'll claw the money from elsewhere in the existing budget. This is the Tories taking the debate back to their strongest ground - austerity and the accusations that Labour over-spent.

Paul Brand at Westminster Credit: Calendar

And so, an interesting battle will emerge this week. Labour will present themselves as the party that can take hold of this supposed 'economic dawn', spread it across the country and do it fairly, making sure everyone benefits.

But the Tories (and to a similar extent the Lib Dems) want to rein Labour back in, saying Miliband will throw away the recovery before he's even had chance to think about how to make it a fair one. This is the new battleground of British politics, though fundamentally it is the same old row: who can we trust with our economy?