Nearly two months after becoming Labour leader, Ed Miliband has given his first major interview to the Guardian.
In it, he promises to launch the “long, hard road” back to power with profound change to the Labour Party and a focus on inequality. A commission on party organisation will be launched this weekend, examining the role of the unions and the rules under which he was elected leader. Amid stories of in-fighting and apparent public disagreement from the shadow chancellor Alan Johnson over university funding and the top rate of tax, Miliband responds to the criticism that he has been too inactive since becoming leader, and reaffirms his support for the 50p tax rate.
On the slow start
It’s about digging in, and it’s not about short-term fixes, nor shortcuts to success. There is a long, hard road for us to travel.
On the deficit
I don’t agree with what the Tories say about us overspending. They are on a mission and we know what their mission is and we have got to take them on. Their mission is to say ‘This deficit is not the result of an international banking crisis, it is the result of a crisis in government’.
On the 50p tax rate
[Asked if the 50p rate was simply necessary to cut the deficit] No, it’s about statement about values and fairness and about the kind of society you believe in and it’s important to me.
One of the things that gets me out of bed in the morning and that I care about is that Britain is a fundamentally unequal society and that’s the reason I said what I said about the 50p rate.
On the role of the state
I think it’s very clear that as we are reformers of the market — we should also need to be reformers of the state. I don’t consider myself a sort of statist. The top-down idea of the state is as much of a problem as an idealised view of the market and in a way they have their similarities. Both treat people not as people but as kind of objects.
On reforming Labour
I am talking about change as profound as the change New Labour brought because the world itself has changed massively, and we did not really change fundamentally as a party, or come to terms with the changes, and have not done so since 1994.