I'm no left-winger, says Ed Miliband

By staff writers
26 Sep 2010

The Labour Party's new leader Ed Miliband has moved quickly to emphasise his centrist views and to refute claims that he is too left-wing.

Miliband was elected party leader yesterday (25 September), defeating his brother David in the final round by 50.65 per cent to 49.35 per cent.

He had been described in the right-wing press as "Red Ed" after he positioned himself to the left of most of the other candidates and received backing from trades unions. But this morning (26 September), he insisted that his leadership would not be "about some lurch to the left - absolutely not".

He added that his late father, Ralph Miliband, a Marxist academic, would not recognise the description of his son's views as "red".

But he emphasised that unions have an important role to play in society and said that most union leaders are currently showing a "great sense of responsibility".

He said he would not "oppose every cut the government comes up with". But he has suggested that more of the deficit can be cut by tax, possibly on banks or those on higher incomes, rather than by cuts.

Ed Miliband was congratulated by leaders of other parties.

After sending congratulations, Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams urged Miliband to "ensure Wales gets its fair share of funding". The issue is likely to dominate elections to the Welsh Assembly in May, in which Plaid and Labour will be the main rivals.

Meanwhile, the leadership result seems to have triggered a positive, if cautious, welcome from environmental campaigners. Miliband served as Energy and Climate Change Secretary under Gordon Brown and is seen as being personally passionate about the issues involved.

Andy Atkins of Friends of the Earth suggested that "Ed Miliband genuinely understands that tackling global warming is essential".

But he emphasised that, "Developing a low-carbon future and protecting the planet's natural diversity must be at the core of his leadership".

An immediate challenge for the new leader is the issue of the Trident nuclear weapons system, which the government is planning to renew.

Ed Miliband has said he will back calls for Trident renewal to be included in the current Strategic Defence and Security Review. Such a position could lead to defeat for the government if enough Liberal Democrat MPs decide to vote against it. The coalition agreement allows Liberal Democrats only to abstain on the issue.

[Ekk/1]

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