UK Politics

Ed Miliband felt 'responsibility' to run for leadership

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Media captionEd Miliband on his vision for the future of the Labour Party

Ed Miliband has told the BBC that it is "more than a little odd" for him and his brother to be fighting each other for the leadership of the Labour Party.

But in an interview for the BBC News Channel he said he would have been "abdicating his responsibility" if he had not gone for the job, even though it meant competing with his elder brother David.

He admitted "clearly some members of the cabinet did have doubts" about whether Gordon Brown should have ever been Labour leader, but said he was one of the "least tribal" people in New Labour.

In the period when Tony Blair was prime minister, Ed Miliband was part of Gordon Brown's inner circle.

But he says he was known by the Number 10 team as the "emissary from a different planet", someone who could communicate between Blairite and Brownite factions rather than "a briefer" who sought to undermine Tony Blair.

He admitted though, that Gordon Brown and his team had believed an agreement had been made in 2004 that Tony Blair would stand down.

"There was a feeling that agreement had been made that Tony Blair might stand down, in the end he didn't, and I supported him loyally."

He has been accused of tacking to the left during the leadership contest just to appeal to Labour members.

But he rejected that suggestion, saying: "You don't need to be left wing to think that people need a decent amount of money for going to work, you don't need to be left wing to think that some of the excesses in the banks are something we should do something about and not simply signal that they can carry on.

"This is where I have a problem with some of what New Labour did, because we got stuck in our own orthodoxies and dogmas."

Asked about his proposals for Labour's future, he said: "We still have, despite our great achievements, an unequal society, a vastly unequal society; vastly unequal in terms of income, wealth and the power people have over their lives.

"That's why I'm campaigning for a living wage at this election, not just a minimum wage of £5.85 an hour, but moving towards a living wage of more than £7 an hour. That's why I'm saying we need to take action on pay at the top income scale, because I think we are damaged by these huge differentials that there are."

Mr Miliband, who has just won the backing of the GMB leadership, was also critical of the coalition government's policies. He said: "We have a big choice as a country. We can decide that the only issue that matters is the deficit, and whatever happens to our economy, whatever happens to our society, the only thing that matters is the deficit.

"If they'd said that after 1945, we wouldn't have had a National Health Service.

"I think it is profoundly dangerous to our economy to be making the kind of cuts they are making this year and I think their balance on tax and spending is wrong because I think it is too weighted to spending cuts."

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