Labour 'hijacked by liberal elite'
A Labour MP has launched a strongly worded assault on his party's leadership, claiming Ed Miliband is seen as "more of a toff than David Cameron" by voters.
Simon Danczuk claimed Labour had been hijacked by a "liberal elite" from London which had refused to tackle issues including immigration, and the party's poll ratings showed "we're getting something wrong".
The Rochdale MP said Mr Miliband will "cost me votes" on May 7 because of his unpopularity with the electorate, claiming voters would prefer to go for a pint with the Prime Minister than the Labour leader.
Mr Danczuk told the New Statesman: "Any Labour politician that says to you they knock on a door and Ed Miliband is popular are telling lies. It's just not true.
"I spend four hours knocking on doors on a Sunday - they (constituents) say things like, 'you're doing an all right job as MP but I don't want Ed Miliband as Prime Minister, so I won't vote for you'. So it'll cost me votes.
"You get it on the doorstep. If we're having a straight conversation about this, he (Mr Miliband) has an image of being more of a toff than David Cameron. That's how the public see it.
"And what they mean by that is that he's seen as more aloof. They'd prefer to go for a pint with David Cameron than they would with Ed Miliband, that's the reality of it."
Mr Danczuk criticised the leadership over the handling of Mr Miliband's decision to pose with a World Cup edition of The Sun.
Mr Miliband apologised after Labour figures in Liverpool expressed anger at h is decision to be pictured with a copy of the newspaper.
Mr Danczuk said: "(Deputy leader) Harriet Harman came out and said he was right to pose with The Sun newspaper and he was right to apologise for posing with The Sun newspaper.
"And it's that sort of double speak from politicians: how could he be right on both counts? That turns people off politics. So when somebody hears a politician say that, you know what they think, if you pardon the language: 'what a f****** knob'. That's the reality of it."
He suggested the party would "undoubtedly" have chosen a different leader in 2010 if it had been aware of the anti-politics mood of the country.
"I do think the party has almost been hijacked by what I've described previously as a north London liberal elite," he said.
"It's just so disconnected. So it's not even just about whether we have MPs from a working background, it's the whole party and travel of direction for the party. We don't speak on immigration because we're afraid of upsetting certain sections of the London Labour Party. You know, what about Rochdale where we have 600-800 asylum seekers? Where immigration is a massive problem."
He added: " The fact that we're only on 33% in the opinion polls doesn't suggest that swathes of country are behind us, does it? Never mind is it neck and neck - it's just a third of the country that are even thinking about voting for us.
"That tells us something. We're getting something wrong. We'll have to start getting something right."
He said the "north London elite" view of the world "just doesn't play in Rochdale, Rotherham, Runcorn or anywhere else beginning with an 'r' outside the M25".
"We should be winning Rugby shouldn't we? Why aren't we winning Rugby - we won't win Rugby. Why won't we win Rugby? It's ridiculous."
Mr Danczuk later insisted that the comments in the interview did not fully reflect his views and blamed them on "feeling emotional" after a "very difficult day".
In a series of Twitter messages he said: " That NS interview does not fully reflect my views. We all have off days. I'd had a very difficult day and was feeling emotional.
"I do not meet anyone on the doorstep who is enthusiastic about David Cameron. I want Ed Miliband in Downing Street.
" The wider point, which was what the interview was supposed to be about, still stands. Politics needs to reconnect with working people."
Tory chairman Grant Shapps said: " Simon Danczuk has joined the growing number of Labour MPs who know that Ed Miliband just isn't up to the job.
"He is a weak leader who it utterly out of touch with the lives and concerns of hard-working taxpayers.
"Not only is Ed Miliband 'aloof', his short-term gimmicks would cause chaos and damage the economic security upon which British families depend."