Ed Miliband dismisses Labour leadership talk

Ed Miliband dismissed the latest criticisms of his leadership as "Westminster tittle-tattle" today as he promised to make Labour the party of society's "grafters".

Mr Miliband used a keynote speech to launch a twin-pronged attack on both excesses in the boardroom and abuses of the benefit system.



He suggested companies could be required to include a staff representative on their remuneration committees while people who were in work could be given priority in the allocation of council housing.



But after a weekend dominated by reports of unrest among Labour MPs and claims of a continuing rift with his older brother David, whom he defeated for the leadership, he was again forced to defend his own performance as leader.



In response to repeated questions by journalists, he said that such matters were of no interest to ordinary voters.



"Ordinary people up and down this country inhabit a different world. People aren't interested in who said what to whom in the Labour Party," he said.



"I am here because I was elected by my party. The gossip and tittle-tattle of Westminster is irrelevant to most people's lives."



The latest wave of speculation about his leadership was sparked by an unauthorised biography by Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre which alleges he and his brother were barely on speaking terms after falling out as a result of last year's leadership contest.



David Miliband was forced to issue a statement, insisting that he stood "fully behind" his brother and urging the party to do the same.



Speaking today at a south London community centre, Ed Miliband insisted they talk "all the time" and dismissed suggestions that he lacked his brother's wholehearted support.



"I think that is totally untrue," he said. "The reason David issued the statement that he did is precisely to avoid the sort of nonsense and tittle-tattle that is around."



He received some respite when Tony Blair - who was widely assumed to have supported David Miliband for the leadership - offered his public backing.



"I'm content to give Ed my 100% support. I hope and believe he will do well," the former prime minister told BBC Radio 4's The World At One.



In his speech, Mr Miliband emphasised the need for "responsibility" at all levels of society. People were angry, he said, that their taxes were being used to fund bankers and "some people on benefits who aren't bothering to work".



"For too many people at the last election, we were seen as the party that represented these two types of people," he said.



"Labour - a party founded by hard-working people for hard-working people - was seen, however unfairly, as the party of those ripping off our society.



"If you believe in wealth creation and the welfare state like we do, we must acknowledge the only way to protect both of them is through responsibility. We must be once again the party of the grafters."



In an allusion to Peter Mandelson's famous assertion that he was "intensely relaxed" about people becoming "filthy rich", he said: "We were intensely relaxed about what happened at the top of society. I say - no more."



He called for a boardroom culture that rewarded "wealth creation, not failure" - pointing to the contrasting records of former Rolls-Royce chief executive Sir John Rose, who created wealth and jobs, and Sir Fred Goodwin, who presided over the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland.



"At the time the financial crisis hit, Fred Goodwin was being paid over three times more than Sir John Rose. What greater evidence could there be of the failure to link pay and performance in our boardrooms?" he said.



He said Labour was looking at imposing a requirement on companies to include a staff representative on remuneration committees and to publish the ratio of the pay of its top earner compared to its average employee.



On benefits claimants, Mr Miliband said he was not trying to "demonise" people but to reward those people who "give something back" to their communities.



He pointed to the example of Manchester, where people who volunteer or who work or have been good tenants in the past are given priority in the allocation of council housing.



"This approach means that rather than looking solely at need, priority is also given to those who contribute - who give something back," he said.



"It is not about punishing people. It is about rewarding people who do the right thing in their communities."



Employment Minister Chris Grayling said Labour was responsible for the state of the benefits system.



"Labour created a welfare system where work didn't pay, where families were sometimes better off apart and where average earners paid for benefits claimants to live in houses they could never afford themselves."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there