UK Politics

Hain: Ed Miliband getting stronger as Labour leader

Ed Miliband is "going to get stronger" as Labour leader, his close ally Peter Hain has told the BBC.

The shadow Welsh secretary said people "underestimate" Mr Miliband who had shown he was "prepared to be tough".

Mr Miliband has dismissed as "tittle tattle" reports that his brother, and former leadership rival, David and others are unhappy with his leadership.

On Saturday Mr Miliband said in a speech the party had to change if it was to regain power.

He has faced much speculation about his leadership since winning the job last September - narrowly beating his brother, who had been long considered the favourite for the job and who had the backing of more Labour MPs.

Over the past few days he has been setting out plans to change the way Labour MPs are chosen for his front bench - currently they are voted in through a ballot of all MPs. Mr Miliband wants to be able to choose the team himself.

'Getting into stride'

Mr Hain, one of the senior Labour MPs who backed Ed Miliband for the leadership, told BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show that the shadow cabinet plan was evidence Mr Miliband was "prepared to be tough".

"I think people are underestimating him. I think he's getting into his stride. His speech yesterday showed that and I think he's going to get stronger," he said.

He rejected suggestions Mr Miliband wanted to change the way Labour's shadow cabinet was chosen to see off critics in his own shadow cabinet.

Mr Hain said the old system meant MPs who wanted to get on had to engage in a "popularity contest".

"The best way to do this is to pick the best people. He's got a good team, but in the future he wants the very best team, the team that's able to take on and beat the Tories, and that's why he's driving this through."

He also said Labour was "in a much better position to win the next general election than people suppose".

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan also backed Mr Miliband's leadership in an interview on Sky News. He said: "Ed's a good, strong leader and I'm sure he'll help take us back to government at the earliest opportunity."

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