David Miliband: look at issues, not personalities

Front-runner rejects leadership speculation and accuses Jeremy Vine of being “obsessed” with the pol

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary and the man widely regarded as the front-runner for the Labour leadership, should it change hands after the election, has remained tightly loyal to Gordon Brown in an interview in the past few minutes on BBC Radio 2.

Miliband repeatedly accused Jeremy Vine of being "obsessed" with opinion polls and with personality, and sought to deflect questions about the leadership, preferring to discuss the major policy differences between the parties.

He stressed that Labour has a "strong leader and a strong team", of which he is a part, and praised Brown and the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, for making the right calls on the financial crash, including the move to nationalise Northern Rock, which, he pointed out, was backed by the Tory shadow business secretary, Kenneth Clarke, but opposed by the Conservative leadership.

On the national debt, Miliband pointed out that Britain's liabilities were lower than those of the United States, Germany and Japan.

Miliband appeared to side with Brown and Tony Blair over Ed Balls and Peter Hain on the question of tactical voting, saying he wants to "maximise the number of Labour MPs".

Following the interview, my colleague Mehdi Hasan came on the programme to offer analysis, saying that Miliband was "right to make it about policy", but adding that he was the "man to beat" in any future leadership contest.



James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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