Miliband faces fractious party

Members of Ed Miliband's frontbench team who backed his brother for the Labour leadership have warned that he has until Christmas to put his stamp on the political agenda.

He returns to the political fray from two weeks' paternity leave, marginally ahead in the polls but under pressure to show stronger leadership. Labour has been rocked by the court cases against shadow ministers Phil Woolas and Eric Joyce, and reports that Harriet Harman plotted to oust Gordon Brown last New Year.

Alan Johnson, the Shadow Chancellor, yesterday emphasised the need for a fresh approach: "We need to ensure that with a new Shadow Cabinet in place we are not just defending everything we did."

But disagreements with his leader remain, particularly over a graduate tax and making the 50p income tax rate permanent, which Mr Johnson opposes.

"The problem is Ed is the boss, but most of us agree with Alan," said a senior member of the Shadow Cabinet who wants progress before Christmas.

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