NORTH East MP David Miliband last night backed his brother Ed “to the hilt” as Labour leader, during an interview with The Journal.
The former foreign secretary said claims he predicted Ed Miliband would “crash and burn” as Labour leader were “absolute nonsense”.
He said he was not attending his brother’s main speech at the Labour conference because he was trying to get him into Number 10 and did not want to be a “distraction”.
While confirming his hopes of remaining as South Shields’ MP by the “grace” of local people after the 2015 general election, he declined to say if he would like to serve as a minister in any future Labour Government.
Mr Miliband said: “I back Ed to the hilt. People try to make mischief. I’m actually just trying to get a Labour Government elected under Ed’s leadership.”
Asked about joining the shadow cabinet, he said: “I am on the frontline, not the frontbench. I am trying to contribute to ideas, to organisation to fundraising.
“But I also know I have to do what’s right for the party. And it’s not going to be helping the party if in the end, I distract attention from the main message the leader is trying to put across.”
Mr Miliband said he was contributing through his Movement for Change organisation, which is training grassroots community campaigners, and ideas that include measures to tackle youth unemployment.
It was vital to focus on getting Labour elected after getting a “stuffing” at the last general election, said Mr Miliband.
On serving in a future Labour Government, he added: “I am keen, passionate, committed to getting a Labour Government elected.
“Any member of the Labour party who starts dreaming or discussing their Cabinet or ministerial positions at the moment is getting ahead of themselves.”
His comments come after Ed Miliband was asked whether the door was open for his brother to return to the shadow cabinet. “I think he is a huge asset to the Labour party but I’m not getting into all that,” said the Labour leader.
He faced questions on Tory-commissioned polling showing almost two-thirds of Labour supporters (65%) thought his brother David would be a better leader for the party.
Mr Miliband said it was a complement for the Tories to produce the poll, saying: “I’ve got them worried.”
He said people would respect “somebody who has seriousness of purpose and a clarity of ideas”.
The Labour leader also hit back at Len McCluskey – general secretary of his party’s biggest union donor Unite – saying he was “wrong” to oppose a public sector pay freeze insisting Labour under his leadership would be “the party of the private sector” as much as the public.
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls would be “iron” in his resistance to irresponsible spending commitments, he said.
Mr Miliband promised he would reverse the coalition’s cut in the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p “if there was an election tomorrow”.
And he has given banks an ultimatum to separate their investment arms from their retail operations before a Labour Government comes to power or face a new law to force their break-up.
The Labour leader insisted he would repeal the Government’s health reform legislation, although the NHS would not be forced to go through another reorganisation. Last night, a Labour source insisted the door was still open to David Miliband to join the shadow cabinet.