Labour appears to have "no strategy, no narrative and little energy", an influential peer who has advised the party leader has claimed.
Lord Glasman reignited debate about Ed Miliband's leadership in a highly critical analysis in which he urged him to do more to take on the Tory/Lib Dem coalition.
As his comments were seized on by political opponents, the architect of the Blue Labour philosophy denied attacking Mr Miliband - insisting his comments also made clear he remains "fully supportive" of the party leader, and that he had been quoted out of context.
He also played down his influence, but Tory co-chair Baroness Warsi said he had exposed Labour as "weak and shambolic".
The peer's strongly-worded assessment of the state of the party after Mr Miliband's first 15 months in charge, published in the New Statesman, came after a survey of Labour activists found a majority thought Mr Miliband was doing a poor job.
While Lord Glasman backed him to show the necessary "leadership and courage" this year and praised some of his achievements, he said he had "not broken through" so far. "He has flickered rather than shone, nudged not led," he wrote.
"On the face of it, these look like bad times for Labour and for Ed Miliband's leadership. There seems to be no strategy, no narrative and little energy. Old faces from the Brown era still dominate the shadow cabinet and they seem stuck in defending Labour's record in all the wrong ways: we didn't spend too much money, we'll cut less fast and less far, but we can't tell you how."
The Opposition "show no signs of winning the economic argument" and had failed to demonstrate that Labour offered any constructive alternative, he went on. "We show no relish for reconfiguring the relationship between the state, the market and society. The world is on the turn, yet we do not seem equal to the challenge."
Baroness Warsi said: "Ed Miliband's guru - the man he put in the Lords - has come clean about Miliband's weak and shambolic leadership. And he hammers home the truth that Ed Miliband and Ed Balls are losing the economic argument because they refuse to accept that Labour spent too much and borrowed money we didn't have.
"It's apparent from Lord Glasman's critique that Ed Miliband is simply not up to the job."