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MPs 'don't want to remove Miliband'

There is "frustration" in the Labour Party but there is no appetite to replace Ed Miliband, a senior MP has said.

Former minister Margaret Hodge said Labour MPs "want to do better" and the party needs to focus on giving clear and simple messages about the issues that matter to people.

She said Mr Miliband needs to "relax" and be himself because "actually, he's a really nice guy" but he needed to improve on his communication.

Mrs Hodge said she did not see a letter reported to have circulated among Labour MPs calling for Mr Miliband to stand aside and said there was not "a mood" to replace him.

Shadow cabinet minister Rachel Reeves also hit out at the anonymous sources behind the recent round of speculation about Mr Miliband's leadership, saying "the only people it serves are our political opponents".

Mrs Hodge told the New Statesman: "There isn't a mood, an appetite, to replace him. There's a frustration. We want to do better.

"But this so-called letter that was around? I never saw it. Nobody approached me."

Asked how Labour could be more effective, she said: "Clear messages. Simple messages. Consistent messages. Focusing on what matters to people. If you go back to 1997, we had five very simple pledges."

She said if she could say one personal thing to Mr Miliband it would be "relax" and "be yourself - actually, he's a really nice guy".

Asked what the party leader could improve on, she said: "Communication."

Mrs Hodge, who chairs the powerful Public Accounts Committee, said it was "important to have leaders who've had life experience".

When it was suggested to her that Mr Miliband was a career politician she replied: "So is David Cameron."

Shadow work and pensions secretary Ms Reeves told the New Statesman that the party's MPs were not "commentators" and there was no role for anyone briefing against the leader anonymously.

"If you're going to talk to the press you should put your name to it," she said.

"Members of the shadow cabinet, members of the Parliamentary Labour Party aren't commentators, we are participants . . . I don't think there is a role for anyone briefing against our party. The only people it serves are our political opponents."

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