Video: John Rentoul on Labour’s leadership problem

John Rentoul, chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, talks about one of Ed Miliband's more difficult weeks

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The Independent Online

As senior Labour figures rally behind Ed Miliband today, John Rentoul analyses the party's leadership problem ahead of next May's general election.

Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham, who are seen as the most likely successors to Miliband if he were to leave, both dismissed speculation about a coup and pledged their loyalty to the Labour leader.

For Rentoul, Alan Johnson is the man to watch, arguing that if the former postman were to lift a finger, Ed Miliband would be gone by the middle of next week. Rentoul points to Johnson's popularity among MPs and across the country.

However, Johnson doesn't want the role and he lacks confidence.

So what about Cooper and Burnham, even though they have backed Miliband? Rentoul says that Labour will not gain much of an election boost if it were to choose either of those candidates.

At least three MPs are understood to have told Dave Watts, chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, that Mr Miliband should stand down amid growing fears that the party faces defeat next May.

Peter Hain, the former Cabinet minister, told BBC Radio 4: "Ed Miliband is on course to win [the election]. But … if the mutterers continue to mutter then all they will do is stop places like Neath [Hain’s South Wales constituency] from being liberated from this destructive, uncaring, unfair government that is destroying people's lives."

With Miliband unlikely to step down or be ousted, all that this week has achieved is yet a further weakening of Labour morale.