Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Kinnock condemns Labour 'cowards'

Labour leader Ed Miliband has been faced with sharp criticism from his own party in recent weeks

Former Labour leader Lord Kinnock has lashed out at "cowards" within the party over criticism of Ed Miliband's performance.

Mr Miliband has dismissed the negative comments about his leadership as "noises off" but Lord Kinnock warned the party's MPs and peers they could damage Labour's poll chances because "in politics, division carries the death penalty".

Lord Kinnock, who endured bitter criticism both from political opponents and from within a deeply divided Labour Party during his time as leader, insisted that Mr Miliband was not "disturbed or destabilised" by the attacks.

He claimed issues over whether Mr Miliband was "ugly", "a geek" or if he committed "fratricide" against his elder brother and former leadership rival David were "entirely irrelevant".

Mr Miliband has endured a difficult start to 2012, with Lord Glasman, the architect of the Blue Labour philosophy who has advised the leader in the past, complaining the party appeared to have "no strategy, no narrative and little energy" and former Cabinet minister Alan Johnson stating that Labour's "message is not getting through" to voters.

Lord Kinnock acknowledged that Mr Miliband had to "draw more and more attention to huge achievements in the course of the last 14 or 15 months".

But in an interview with BBC Radio 4's The Week in Westminster, Lord Kinnock aimed a fierce attack at "Mr Anonymous" - the off-the-record Labour critics of Mr Miliband.

Lord Kinnock said the attacks on Mr Miliband were "in some ways much worse" than anything he experienced during his time at the head of the party "because it is less justified".

"Ed is highly intelligent. His intellectual strength is one of his greatest accomplishments. He is courageous," Lord Kinnock said.

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