Ed Miliband: I'm the best candidate for Labour leadership

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Indy Politics

Labour leadership hopeful Ed Miliband claimed today he had the momentum to win the party's leadership race after a poll put him ahead of his elder brother David.

The younger Miliband said he was the only candidate who fully understood the "scale of the change" needed in the party but added his brother was a "massive asset" to Labour.

Both brothers took to the airwaves today as the leadership race entered its final stages, with shadow foreign secretary David Miliband claiming he was the contender the Tories feared.

A survey of Labour members and trade unionists by YouGov for the Sunday Times showed bookies' favourite David Miliband enjoying a narrow lead on first preferences.

But the pollster calculated that once lower-ranking candidates were eliminated and their second choices redistributed the younger of the two brothers would prevail when the final result is announced on September 25.

Shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband said the party was "making a judgment about the best person to beat David Cameron and I think they are turning to me".

He told Sky News' Sunday Live programme: "My sense is that it's moving towards me in every section of the electoral college, including the Parliamentary Labour Party, and it does depend on people's second and sometimes third preferences.

"I think fundamentally it's about my message and about what I've been saying in this campaign and about the way we need to understand that New Labour was great for its time and we've got to keep some parts of it, about appealing to all sections of the electorate and so on, but we've also got to move on, change, admit some of the things we got wrong and understand the lessons of the last general election."

The shadow energy secretary, who portrayed himself as the "candidate for working people in this country", insisted there had been "no secret deal" with the trade unions for their support.

The younger Miliband is seen as being to the left of his Blairite brother, but he said there were no difficulties between the pair and they had a "very nice chat" after a recent hustings in Bristol.

Ed Miliband said: "I'm hoping very much that he will serve as a member of my team if I win this election. He has said publicly that he would serve and I think he's a massive asset to the Labour Party and a massive asset to British politics and I would want him very much to be part of my team and I hope very much that will be the case if I win."

He added: "He is an excellent candidate but I think I'm the best candidate and the reason I think I'm the best candidate is that I think I have got the better understanding than any of the other candidates of the scale of change our party needs."

In a bid to draw a line under the Blair/Brown years, Ed Miliband said: "A new generation stands ready to take over the Labour Party.

"I believe I'm the best person in that new generation to take the reins of the Labour Party and I'll take it forward, it's not about Brownites or Blairites."

While Ed Miliband was appearing on Sky his brother used an interview on BBC1's Politics Show to insist he was the candidate best placed to take on the Prime Minister.

He said: "The difference I am interested in is between me and David Cameron because Labour needs a leader who can take on David Cameron.

"Every day in this leadership campaign I have set out to show that I am the candidate who can lead Labour to take on David Cameron.

"That is the issue for Labour Party members. They are watching this programme, they have their ballot papers sitting on their kitchen table or their mantelpiece. I am saying to them: vote for a leader who can speak to the public as well as the party; vote for a leader who unites the party from Dennis Skinner to Alistair Darling; vote for a leader who the Tories fear."

David Miliband denied reports that members of his team had nicknamed his brother Forrest Gump, after the simpleton character played by Tom Hanks in the hit film.

"No one on my campaign has ever said that. This is a campaign we have run resolutely on a positive basis," he said.

And he played down portrayals of him as a "geek" - pointing to flattering comments about him made by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"Hillary didn't think I was a geek. So I take on the geek thing, head on," he said.

Mrs Clinton once admitted having a crush on her younger counterpart - telling an interviewer he was "vibrant, vital, attractive, smart".

He also repeated his insistence that the increasingly combative campaign could affect his personal relationship with his brother.

"My brother is a lovely guy. Nothing is going to come between our family," he said.

"We are a small family and small families stick together and you learn that unconditional love and support is a key thing. Nothing will break that family unit."