Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Blunkett fears about Labour message

A poll of Labour voters found that a third think Ed Miliband should not lead the party into the next general election

David Blunkett has become the latest senior Labour figure to voice concerns about the party's failure to get its message across and warned that Ed Miliband is unable to secure electoral success on his own.

The former home secretary appeared to compare the Labour leader to post-war prime minister Clement Attlee, who he said "wasn't the most vibrant" public performer. He said Mr Miliband needed to be "on the ball" at all times and suggested the party must begin setting out policies soon to give voters a clear idea of its vision.

A number of senior Labour figures have spoken out about the party's performance in recent weeks, including former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott, who wrote at the weekend that they had ''massively failed'' to get their case across to the public and to hold the Conservatives to account over the summer.

Mr Blunkett told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There is frustration but there is also a great deal of hope. I would accept what's been said over the last few weeks, including the article by John Prescott on Sunday, that we need to work out how to get a higher profile in circumstances where it is very difficult to get a hearing.

"Above all, and I think we need to do it from this conference, I hope for a staged approach so that the conference in the spring about changes internally and our relationship with the trade unions will actually also be a conference as a springboard where we can announce further policies so that when we get to the manifesto in 2015, people will actually know what we stand for."

Asked if the Labour leader has got what it takes, he said: "I think Mr Miliband has demonstrated on a number of occasions that he can do it but he won't be able to do it alone and nor should he. Clem Attlee wasn't the most vibrant, in public terms, proponent. He was a fantastic leader of the Labour Party."

Mr Blunkett said Labour must be clearer about its vision and "engage with people in their own lives".

"I think you have got to conclude that collectively... we need to ensure that people are clear about how the individual policies that are announced and are being developed... that we join those up so the links are clear to people about what kind of perspective we have, a vision for the future, and how we engage people in their own lives because they are fed up with people making promises that they don't believe will be carried out."

Mr Blunkett said it was made clear earlier this year that the "oldies" would not be called back to the front bench but suggested that senior figures could work more with the current younger team. He said: "It was made clear earlier in the year that the oldies wouldn't be coming back so we need to find new ways of being able to contribute."

It comes as a survey found that one in three Labour voters thinks Mr Miliband should not lead the party into the next general election. The research also found that only two out of every 10 voters are satisfied with the Labour leader's performance.

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