UK Politics

Ed Miliband: I'll be methodical leader

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Media captionEd Miliband: I am methodical

Ed Miliband has told the BBC he intends to be "methodical" as Labour leader and not make rash promises - to win over a public that has lost trust in politics.

In an interview with BBC political editor Nick Robinson, he refused to promise to put taxes back up on the rich if his party wins power.

Labour has criticised the government for reducing the top rate of income tax rate from 50p to 45p for high earners.

Mr Miliband said he would announce tax policies at the next general election.

He has faced criticism from union backers after backing a cap on public sector pay rises and at the start of the year faced rumblings over his leadership amid a poll bounce for the Conservatives after David Cameron's EU veto.

However in recent weeks it has been the government that has been under fire, over Budget decisions on tax, its handling of a threatened fuel strike and its efforts to deport radical cleric Abu Qatada to Jordan.

'Long way'

Labour has been particularly critical of decisions made in the Budget to reduce the rate of tax people pay on earnings over £150,000 - something the government says is making Britain uncompetitive and is not raising enough to justify damaging the economy.

But Mr Miliband, in an interview ahead of the local elections on 3 May, said the Budget had "cut taxes for millionaires" and, along with a faltering economy, had meant the government had "lost the benefit of the doubt in people's minds".

He said he had a "long way to go" before he would feel like the next prime minister as Labour had "lost trust" in the 2010 general election.

But he added: "I think we now have the opportunity to be heard."

"Part of my mission is to show the Labour Party is changing, changing because circumstances are changing - there's less money around - and changing because we recognise some of the things we didn't get right when we were in government."

He said the party had to show it was "not just for the easy times but a party for the tough times too" - showing it could make a difference even when money was tight.

Asked if he would support a further £10bn cut in the welfare budget - a possibility Chancellor George Osborne alluded to in the Budget - he said he would cut the welfare budget by getting people "back to work".

'Phoney promises'

And challenged on whether he would put taxes on the rich back up, he said he would not make "promises I can't keep", adding that he would have to look at the "whole situation in the round" at the time of the general election.

"You have got to look at the needs of your economy, the needs of your society, the needs of your public services... if we were fighting an election tomorrow we would be restoring the 50p tax rate."

He said Labour would set out its full tax plans at the time of the next election: "Maybe this is something about me as a person, methodical, rigorous, not making promises that I can't keep, talking about the big issues that matter to our country."

"Of course the rich should pay their fair share but the judgement you make about the specific decisions you make at an election. That's what oppositions always do."

He argued that "phoney false promises" were behind the "low ebb" at which politics found itself and rejected suggestions his stance was unexciting.

"Yes, you make promises - you make promises at the right time. Yes you show the difference you would make but in a sober, serious and genuine way."

The Bradford West by-election - which saw Labour beaten by Respect candidate George Galloway in a surprise win - had highlighted "deep issues" with people not trusting politicians, he said, arguing parties faced "a plague on all your houses".

He repeated pledges to stand up to "vested interests" - train companies, energy companies and News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch - and be "on people's side".

But he said he did not accept his message was not getting through: "I don't believe that. What I've learnt about this job is you go through ups and downs. One minute people are writing you off and the next minute people are anointing you. You should ignore both those things and stick with what you know and what you believe."

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