Miliband: 'I'm still discovering things about myself'

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Indy Politics

Four months into what is often described as the toughest job in British politics, Ed Miliband admits he is still "discovering things about myself".

Not everything has gone right and there have been mutterings amongst Labour MPs that he has been slow to map out the party's direction. Yet his aides describe Mr Miliband as the calmest man in the room when there is a crisis. When Alan Johnson quit as shadow Chancellor last week, Mr Miliband conducted his emergency Shadow Cabinet reshuffle from the back of his car as he travelled to the West Midlands. Journalists who interviewed him during his tour got no sense of the crisis management exercise he was secretly carrying out, while insisting publicly how much he enjoyed his job as Leader of the Opposition.

He now knows what Neil Kinnock meant when he talked about the need to remain swan-like and serene above the surface while "paddling like hell" underneath. But he has reasons to be more cheerful about Labour's prospects today than in the 1980s. "People are coming to Labour; we have 50,000 new members since the election. In the Eighties people were running a mile from us."

He is learning how to ride the rollercoaster. "I am a pretty level-headed person when it comes to the ups and downs. I am an eternal warrior against despondency and complacency. It's part of the job description. In the downs, I don't read the newspapers, and I think it comes with the territory. In the ups, I don't say 'roll on Downing Street'. You have got to be the person who recognises that this a long road to travel."