Ed Miliband says he doesn’t believe in God but respects those who do

Ed Miliband has said spoken of his “great respect" for people of faith despite not believing in God “personally”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live this morning, Mr Miliband also expressed his support for faith schools.

“I don’t believe in God personally but I have great respect for those people who do and different people have different religious views in this country,” he said.

“The great thing is that whether we have faith or not, we are by and large very tolerant of people, whatever their particular view.”

Mr Miliband went on to say that many faith schools were doing a “fantastic job” and refuted the belief of some opponents that they are divisive.

“Many of them also – people don’t often realise this – take people from different backgrounds. It’s really important to say this. Often the faith schools were founded before the state provided education. I want good education in this country so I’m not going to slag off faith schools.

“I think that it’s important that people of different backgrounds and different faiths go to school together and many faith schools do that.”

The new Labour leader has come under increased scrutiny since he was elected on Saturday, becoming the first leader of a major political party in Britain to be living with an unmarried partner and children born out of wedlock.

He was left red-faced earlier this week when it emerged he had not added his name to his son’s birth certificate because he had not been able to find the time.

Although not the first atheist party leader, his views on God have attracted interest after Labour’s years in government came to be characterised by the words “We don’t do God”, an off the cuff remark made by the party’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell.

Mr Miliband admitted that the Labour Party had lost the trust of the people and that unless it was honest about the mistakes it had made, it would not stand a chance of winning the next election.

He said he wanted to see greater responsibility from banks as he hit out at the “cosy cartels” making the decisions to award large amounts of pay to chief executives.

“We want responsibility from those on benefits and from those at the top … We want to look at the way those decisions are being made by chief executives,” he said.

On the Israel-Palestine conflict, Mr Miliband said it was important that Britain facilitate the peace process and help the countries work towards a two-state solution.

Turning to the issue of nuclear weapons, he said there was still a need for Britain to have a nuclear deterrent “because it’s an uncertain world and we can’t predict what will happen in the future”, but he remained open about the future of the Trident nuclear weapons system.

He said: “I want to move to a world of no nuclear weapons but I want to do that through multilateral disarmament so that we all disarm together … We need to look very carefully at whether renewing Trident is necessary or right thing to do.”