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Dull Labour 'worse than Foot era'

Published 25/05/2015

Former Labour minister Kim Howells says the party must change or dwindle
Former Labour minister Kim Howells says the party must change or dwindle

Labour could "dwindle to a very small numbers of MPs" if the party does not adopt radical change, a former minister has said.

Kim Howells, who served in Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's governments, said Labour was in its "deepest crisis" and attacked former leader Ed Miliband's stewardship for being "dull".

The former Pontypridd MP told the BBC: "It's probably at least as bad as under Michael Foot's leadership when we were in real dire straits.

"If the Labour Party doesn't come up with fresh thinking, with some radical analysis of what's going on in society and what people need out of society, it could well dwindle to a very small number of MPs.

"I think the problem was it was unmitigated gloom and that unmitigated gloom that Miliband promulgated was because nobody is thinking in a radical way within the Labour Party.

"It's dull it's boring, it does not inspire anyone. Most of the creative thinking at the moment is coming from the right."

His intervention came after former Labour deputy prime minister Lord Prescott backed Andy Burnham in the party's leadership race.

Meanwhile, Mr Burnham's rival Yvette Cooper tried to present herself as a unity candidate for the party, warning against being dragged to the left or right by Mr Burnham or Liz Kendall respectively.

Shadow international development secretary Mary Creagh is also in the race and revealed she was "confident" of securing the required 35 nominations from Labour MPs to appear on the leadership ballot paper.

Lord Prescott said he believed the timetable for the contest - which will see the winner announced at a special conference on September 12 - was too short to allow a proper discussion of the party's future.

The disastrous result on May 7 showed Labour required "fundamental change both in our organisation and the development of our ideas".

"Unfortunately I don't think there is enough time for that debate in the timetable we have got at the moment and therefore, to that extent, it is limiting the debate when it should be even more than that," he told BBC Radio 4's Today.

He questioned the language being used by would-be leaders.

"What the hell does that mean, 'aspiration'? I hear a lot of the candidates talking about it. They've clearly got aspiration, but what the heck does it mean?" he said.

Asked if it was "meaningless", Lord Prescott said: "I think they will recognise that shortly."

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