Ed Miliband denies giving in to “the politics of desperation” after shrugging off criticism about his headline Labour conference speech, saying: “let the chips fall where they may”.
Referring to Tuesday’s address at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, which has been badly received by business leaders, Ed Miliband said: “What I did yesterday was risky. It was definitely a risk, but what I’ve learned about this job is that you have to say it how you see it.
“Let the chips fall where they may.”
Asked whether that smacked of desperation, Mr Miliband said: “It’s not the politics of desperation. It’s the politics of authenticity.”
I stood for this job as leader and I took a risk, I took a risk including in my own family. Ed Miliband
He added: “I’m looking forward to the General Election. I’m looking forward to taking the argument to the Tories.”
Mr Miliband admitted the decision to stand against his brother David for the Labour leadership had been a “risk” to his family.
He said: “I stood for this job as leader and I took a risk, I took a risk including in my own family and I did it because I felt I had big things to say about how this country needed to change. Fundamental change from top to bottom reflecting the values of the people of Britain in our economy, in our welfare state.
“I am so certain I am right to be doing this and I am so certain this is what our country needs.”
The Labour leader, who has been criticised for failing to define himself as a party leader with a distinctive voice, said he had not spoken to Gordon Brown for several weeks, adding: “All the past leaders would say that – Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, Neil Kinnock – do your own thing.”
Mr Miliband appeared to tone down the rhetoric of his headline speech to the Labour Party conference on Tuesday, when he said he wanted to reward the “producers” who create wealth and jobs and punish the “predators” who feed on economic turbulence.
Asked to define which industries or companies he considered to be “predators”, he said: “You can’t say one industry is predatorial. Not all banks are bad but some banks engaged in very bad practise. People were skimming hundreds of millions of pounds and it did great damage to the economy.”
He said it was the job of government to change the rules on how the economy operates, saying: “Let’s break the dominance of the energy companies. Let’s change the way banks work. It’s about an economy which builds the long-term wealth we need.”
Mr Miliband insisted Labour were not bending the rules on receiving donations after the party came under fire for negotiating a £1m payment from property tycoon Andrew Rosenfeld.
The Financial Times reported that the businessman, who was criticised over his role in the collapse of retail chain Allders in 2005, has recently returned to the UK after living in Geneva for five years.
Mr Miliband said: “We are not flouting the rules. He is not a tax exile – just be careful. I think this is very unfair.”
He said he would not seek to change the privileged tax status of some of Britain’s top private schools despite vowing to “break the closed circles of Britain” in his speech to Labour delegates.
Mr Miliband said: “It’s very difficult to take away the charitable status for a whole host of complicated reasons. I don’t think you can abolish public schools in a free society.
“Am I going to abolish public schools? No.”
But he added: “We do need to change the way the class system works. We do need to open it up.”