Ed Miliband: I have 'clear plan' for Labour party

Ed Miliband Mr Miliband said it would be a fight to win back public faith in the party's handling of the economy

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Ed Miliband has defended his leadership of the Labour party, insisting he has a "very clear plan" for the future.

In an interview with the Guardian, he also denied there were splits in the shadow cabinet over the need to accept some of the coalition spending cuts.

Mr Miliband said he "always knew" that being in opposition was "going to be a fight" but that it was one he relished.

It comes after Labour peer Lord Glasman said the party appeared to have "no strategy, no narrative".

The opposition "show no signs of winning the economic argument" under Mr Miliband, he told the New Statesman earlier this week.

'Westminster tittle-tattle'

Mr Miliband told the Guardian it would take time to win back public faith in Labour's ability to handle the economy.

Analysis

It hasn't been Ed Miliband's best week - first he was described as "lacking strategy" by one of his own peers. Then of being weak when he didn't sack Diane Abbott over her tweet... and then there was his own "blackbusters" Twitter faux pas.

So today begins the fightback. But is it enough? Mr Miliband says he is a man of "steel and grit". But far from being Superman - he's been trailing in the popularity stakes to David Cameron.

His party has been winning by-elections but their main concern is how to appear credible on the economy.

As Lord Glasman's criticism this week showed, there are clearly questions being asked within the party about how to do that.

And with the economy at the forefront of people's concerns nationally, he will only have done enough when he has rebuilt Labour's economic reputation.

He said: "I always knew it was going to be a fight. It is one I relish - I never expected it to be anything else.

"What is the most important thing for a leader of the opposition to have? It is to establish an argument about what is wrong with the country and what needs to change.

"I have a very clear plan and I have set out very clear themes."

He added: "You discover things about yourself in this job, which is that I am someone of real steel and grit, which is why I stood for the job in the first place when many people said I should not."

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy has said that Labour needed to show "credibility" by explaining where it would make budget cuts.

But Mr Miliband said Mr Murphy's announcement that he would accept the government's £5bn military cuts was "exactly what [shadow chancellor] Ed Balls said he wanted shadow ministers to do".

"There are lots of cuts we are not going to be able to reverse. That is the way it is. To say otherwise would not be credible," he said.

The Labour leader also said that re-gaining public faith in the party's handling of the economy was "an incredibly important task".

"[That is] not something that takes place in six months or a year. We - Ed [Balls] and I - get this more than anyone, that this is an important task for Labour."

In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme, shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna dismissed speculation over Mr Miliband's leadership as "Westminster tittle-tattle".

"We are facing real severe difficulties and people feel insecurities and it is the big issues people care about and that's precisely what Ed's been talking about," he said.

"If he hadn't been talking about them, we would not have won the five by-elections, we wouldn't be polling around 40%. Actions speak louder than words at the end of the day."

Banking pay

Mr Miliband challenged David Cameron to match Labour's pledges on banker bonuses.

"If one of the big battlegrounds of British politics is going to be who is really going to take action on executive pay, I say 'bring it on'. I promise you they are not going to steal a march on us in this area.

"Does anyone really believe that David Cameron came into politics to create a more responsible capitalism? The public are not going to buy it."

Mr Miliband also questioned the prime minister's stance on executive pay ahead of an expected announcement this weekend and asked whether "he would do what Labour would do if we were in office now".

He added: "[We would] put an employee representative on every remuneration committee, make firms publish their pay ratios, empower pension companies and investors and have another year of the bank bonus tax to get some of our young people back to work.

"There can't be any more foot-dragging and backsliding. If David Cameron wants a more responsible capitalism - responsibility at the top and the bottom - then this would be a start."

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