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Labour leader 'has very clear plan'

Ed Miliband has hit back at critics of his leadership, insisting he has a "very clear plan" but acknowledging that restoring public confidence in Labour will take time.

In an interview with The Guardian at the end of a tough week for the Opposition, Mr Miliband rubbished suggestions of splits within the shadow cabinet over the need to accept some spending cuts.

And he struck a combative note over executive pay ahead of announcements expected this weekend by David Cameron on the issue - saying voters will never believe the Prime Minister wants a "more responsible capitalism".

"These are the hard yards of opposition. We have taken the hard road, not the line of least resistance," Mr Miliband said when confronted with criticisms of his 15-month tenure.

Labour peer Lord Glasman, the architect of the Blue Labour philosophy who has advised the leader in the past, complained this week that the party appears to have "no strategy, no narrative and little energy". Under Mr Miliband, the Opposition "show no signs of winning, the economic argument", he added.

But Mr Miliband defended his record as "the guy who took on Murdoch" over phone hacking and called for a shake-up of capitalism to remove "predatory" firms.

"I always knew it was going to be a fight. It is one I relish - I never expected it to be anything else," he said. "What is the most important thing for a leader of the opposition to have? It is to establish an argument about what is wrong with the country and what needs to change. I have a very clear plan and I have set out very clear themes."

The Conservatives seized on remarks by shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy that Labour needs to show "credibility" by explaining where it would make cuts as signs of dissent against the leadership.

But Mr Miliband said Mr Murphy's announcement that he would accept £5 billion of the Government's military cuts was "exactly what (shadow chancellor) Ed Balls said he wanted shadow ministers to do".

"There are lots of cuts we are not going to be able to reverse. That is the way it is. To say otherwise would not be credible," Mr Miliband added.


From Belfast Telegraph