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Labour MPs 'have jitters at Miliband as election nears'

By Staff Reporter

Labour MPs are having "jitters", a shadow cabinet minister admitted, as Ed Miliband faced continued pressure over his leadership.

Caroline Flint insisted the Labour leader had managed to pull the party together to focus on the issues affecting the country, but conceded that some of her colleagues had concerns.

Mr Miliband has endured a turbulent few days following a wave of criticism and reports of plots, including claims that 20 shadow ministers are poised to call on him to quit.

Ms Flint, shadow energy secretary, told BBC One's Sunday Politics: "Look, some of my colleagues are having jitters and part of that is that we've always said that this is not a done deal, this election, this is going to be hard fought, and we said that from 2010 and Ed has been saying it since he was elected our leader. We have to fight for the right to represent the country in Westminster."

Labour sources dismissed claims of a leadership crisis as overblown and insubstantial.

"There are clearly people in all parties who are unhappy and nervous about the four-party dynamic.

"The difference is that in the Conservative Party they have had two MPs defect to Ukip," they added.

Senior figures are ready to strike if former home secretary Alan Johnson signals he is prepared to step into the breach, according to The Observer.

The number of Labour MPs prepared to act has "reached a critical mass" but they want a coronation rather than a difficult leadership contest, sources told the newspaper.

A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times found that only 34% of people who voted Labour at the last general election believe Mr Miliband is up to the job of Prime Minister, compared to 51% a month ago. It found just 18% of voters thought Mr Miliband was doing a good job, while 73% said he was doing badly.

Former Labour leader Lord Kinnock dismissed the "so-called threat" to his leadership as insubstantial because it has come from anonymous sources.

He added: "The portrayal of him as being remote, cerebral, weird if you like, this word that's greatly doing the rounds, that's a total contrast to the man as he really is and it's when he's in situations when he really can communicate that, that's when he comes across and people are deeply and genuinely impressed."

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