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Ed Miliband has been accused by a disgruntled Labour Party member of allowing feuding with his brother David to hold the party back.

Minal Supri, a special constable from Leeds, said that the rift between the Milibands was "a cloud hanging over Labour".

But the party leader insisted that his brother had been "incredibly supportive" and was a "massive asset" to Labour.

"I have always said I would be happy to have him back, I want to have him back, but in the end he has got to decide what is the right thing for him to do," he said.

The exchange came as Mr Miliband fielded questions from members of the public in a special session at Labour's Liverpool conference designed to open up the party to the views of non-members.

He asked his audience for "hard questions please" and spoke on issues ranging from the EU to strikes, the Arab Spring, energy pricing and the economy. But a large proportion of the questioners turned out to be party members.

Star of the show was 15-year-old Jasmin Beckett, from Liverpool, who won the hearts of the audience and praise from Mr Miliband with the story of cuts at her school, Holly Lodge Girls' College.

Ms Supri asked Mr Miliband: "Don't you think it's time to bring David out of political Siberia and for once end all the rumours and innuendo about backbiting? Because this party is not going to win if people focus on that and that is what the media is focusing on."

Mr Miliband acknowledged that last year's leadership contest - when he defeated the former foreign secretary - had been "difficult for us".

Speaking to the Press Association later, Ms Supri said: "I wanted a straight answer and I didn't get one. We want the party to unite and Ed to put an end to this once and for all. This is a cloud hanging over Labour."

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