UK Politics

Judge Ed Miliband on what he's done - Harriet Harman

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Media captionHarman: "You can't just look at every nuanced opinion poll"

Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman has rejected the idea of there being an "Ed Miliband problem", urging voters to judge him on "what he has done".

She dismissed "nuanced opinion polls" that suggested a third of Labour voters would rather see David Cameron as prime minister than Mr Miliband.

Ms Harman said the Labour leader had, "from opposition", changed the agenda to address the cost-of-living crisis.

She added that the Labour leader was "in touch with people's concerns".

And Labour MP Diane Abbott told the BBC's Sunday Politics that while "no-one is going to confuse him with George Clooney", Mr Miliband had come up with effective policies.

The Labour leader said his party's local election performance showed it could win at Westminster in 2015, insisting it was ahead in its target seats.

Although Labour topped the share of the vote and gained 338 councillors in the English local elections, election experts say it needed to have done better to show it was on course to win a majority at the general election.

'For the birds'

Ms Harman rejected a suggestion on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that there was an "Ed Miliband problem", pointing out the number of councillors gained in Thursday's elections and the progress the party was making across the country.

She said she was sorry she could not "tear my hair out and agree with you that we are emerging blinking from the rubble".

"I think that might be the case for the other parties, but it's not the case for us."

She urged people "to look at what [Mr Miliband] has done" on cost of living issues such as energy prices..

"The facts are that Ed Miliband is in touch with people's concerns and we are putting forward those policies," she added.

She also said the "unprecedented situation" of having the Tories and Lib Dems in coalition, and UKIP moving forward, meant easy predictions for the general election based on past trends were "for the birds".

"The facts are that we are moving forward," Ms Harman said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ed Miliband says Labour's local election performance shows it can win the general election

Asked if that meant the party had nothing to learn from Thursday's elections, she said they were listening, especially to Labour voters who might have switched to UKIP.

The deputy Labour leader said people had "looked me straight in the eye" on the doorstep and told her they normally voted Labour but were switching to UKIP this time "because I think you need a shake-up".

"So basically it's not a pro-UKIP vote, it's like an anti-politics, you've got to get your act together vote," she said.

Mr Miliband is due to visit Thurrock where his party lost control of the council after a surge in support for UKIP.

He had hailed the Essex town as evidence Labour was "winning back trust" when it took the town hall last year.

But the council was left with no one party in control after UKIP took two Labour and three Tory seats on Thursday.

The Thurrock constituency is one of Labour's top target seats for 2015.

Polling data compiled by Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft on the voting intentions of 26,000 people in 26 Conservative-Labour battlegrounds suggested there could be an average 6.5% swing from the Conservatives to Labour in these marginal seats.

This would be enough to oust 83 Conservative MPs and secure Labour a healthy Commons majority.

Mr Miliband said he was determined to attract voters "from every walk of life".

"The local elections show Labour can win because it is our party which is winning where it matters in dozens of our target seats for the next election," he said.

"From Cambridge to Redbridge, from Crawley to Amber Valley, people are electing Labour councils to meet their desire for change."