LABOUR leader Ed Miliband has claimed that he tried to convince Gordon Brown to sack his controversial spin doctor Damian McBride, and said he has never been engaged in the sort of briefings against colleagues mentioned in McBride’s memoirs.
Mr Miliband said he had urged Mr Brown to sack the controversial figure amid suspicions about his behaviour, which he said were “not my kind of politics”.
And he insisted that he led a “unified” party and had laid down the law from the moment he became leader that such tactics would not be tolerated.
Mr McBride’s account of vicious Labour in-fighting, briefing against rival ministers as members of the Blair and Brown camps fought with each other, has cast a shadow over the party’s conference.
Ex-cabinet minister Dame Tessa Jowell said Mr Brown must publicly state that he did not know about the activities of Mr McBride or have his own reputation tarnished.
During an appearance on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Miliband was asked whether he could “look into your heart during that period and say to yourself that you were completely clean”.
“I think that people who know me would say that I am someone who has never engaged in the factionalism and was never engaged in the briefing,” he said.
“That wasn’t my style of politics. It has never been my style of politics and I find it reprehensible and not something I would engage in.
“I am someone who is deeply committed to the Labour Party and deeply committed to Britain and that is the way I have always approached my politics.”
Questioned on whether he had turned a blind eye to the behaviour, he said: “Absolutely not.
“We can’t have that. It diminishes politics in the eyes of the,public and it diminishes our democracy in the eyes of the public.
“I’ve got no tolerance for it.”
Mr Miliband said: “The way I’ve run this party is on the basis of a unified party not a disunited party and a party that doesn’t engage in all those practices of the past.
“I was concerned about the activities of Damian McBride and indeed I complained to Gordon Brown.
“I was worried that there were indications that he was briefing against colleagues and I didn’t think that was the way politics should be practised.
“You know how it is in politics. People tell you these things are going on and you have enough suspicion that they are so that was something I made clear to Gordon.
“This is about the way I run our party, learning the lessons of the past.”
‘Brown is not innocent’
Dame Tessa, who claimed to be a victim of smears from Mr Brown’s faction, said the former prime minister was “not an innocent” and it was “inconceivable” that he would have been unaware what was happening.
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday she said: “’Whitehall’s ministerial code is absolutely clear - ministers are responsible for the actions of their special advisers.
“Gordon is not an innocent, it is inconceivable he did not know what Damian was doing.
“Damian clearly felt it was implicitly sanctioned.”
Mr Brown should be “ashamed” of hiring Mr McBride, she said.
“In the absence of a very clear statement by Gordon that he didn’t know about it, it damages his reputation,” Dame Tessa said. “Only Gordon can deal with that.”
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, whose husband Ed Balls was a key Brownite, said Mr McBride was “out of control”.
She told Sky News’ Murnaghan programme: “I think this is ... about a kind of politics that really is appalling, that we should never go back to.
“It is something that happened some years ago, but I think it’s a sign of how much the Labour Party has changed, the very different climate, the very different way in which Ed Miliband is managing things and operating things now, that’s a good thing, we don’t want to go back to the navel gazing of the past.”