Ed Miliband told to hire Mandelson to fix Labour’s woes

Ed Miliband told to hire Mandelson to fix Labour’s woes

Lord Mandelson should be brought back to take charge of Labour’s spin operation, Ed Miliband has been told, as MPs warned of growing unrest in the party’s ranks.

By Tim Ross, Political Correspondent1:35PM BST 11 Aug 2013

The Labour leader is said to be planning a major reshuffle of his Shadow Cabinet after a dismal summer in which a succession of senior figures have warned over the party’s falling poll ratings.

Andy Burnham, the Shadow Health Secretary, warned this weekend that Labour must “shout louder” and produce a compelling programme of policies by next Spring to stand any chance of winning power in 2015.

His comments followed attacks on the “confused” nature of Mr Miliband’s leadership, while Jim Fitzpatrick, the shadow transport minister, admitted that the narrowing poll lead over the Conservatives was a cause for “concern”.

The Labour leader returns from a two-week holiday in the south of France on Monday and will be urged to stamp his authority on an increasingly fractious parliamentary party.

Graham Stringer, the MP for Blackley and Broughton, criticised the shadow cabinet for their “deafening silence” during the summer and said he was “genuinely worried” about the lack of activity from Labour’s high command.

The public has no idea what Labour’s policies are on welfare, housing and education and voters must be given a clear sense of direction within weeks, he said.

“I think the party is genuinely worried about the lack of activity in the Shadow Cabinet,” he said.

“I think a huge opportunity is being missed. And I suppose the second worry is that I don’t believe that members of the Shadow Cabinet are lazy in any sense. I think it is stemming from the lack of coherence and cogence of our policies.”
Mr Stringer said he was not questioning Mr Miliband’s role as leaders but warned that the sense of unity among MPs was “a bit of a mirage”.

He said Lord Mandelson or another individual “of his ability” should be brought back to take charge of the party’s communications.

“There’s no doubt that when Peter Mandelson held that kind of position in the past the Labour party was more cogent and coherent in getting its message across,” he told BBC Radio 4’s World this Weekend.

“Whether a) he’s willing, or b) he’s the right person, I don’t know. But somebody of his ability needs to be in that position and that person has to have stature to be able to keep the discipline between different senior spokespeople so that the message is consistent across the board.”

John Mann, the Labour MP for Bassetlaw, called for “iron discipline” from his colleagues, and told Labour MPs to “stop whinging” or face the sack.

Writing on Twitter, he suggested that Mr Miliband should fire shadow ministers who show public disloyalty. “Message to Ed: give them the boot.”

Lord Bassam of Brighton, Labour’s chief whip in the House of Lords, also weight in to the row.

He told his colleagues to concentrate their fire on the Tories rather than each other.

By 2015, the Tories “will have gone a long way to wards making Britain a more elitist, more divided, less fair society,” he said. “Only Labour can challenge this.”

In an interview in The Guardian on Saturday, Mr Burnham warned that Mr Miliband’s best chance of winning the next general election was with bold policies.

The remark risks being seen as a tacit warning over the Labour leader’s personal unpopularity with the public. The Conservatives intend to make the next general election a direct choice between whether voters want David Cameron or Mr Miliband as Prime Minister.

The Observer reports that Mr Miliband is concerned about a “lack of dynamism” on Labour’s frontbench and is planning to announce a reshuffle in the first weeks of September, before the party’s annual conference in Brighton.

However, Shadow Cabinet sources have privately criticised Mr Miliband over his absence during the summer so far, for failing to “take the fight” to the Conservatives.

One is reported to have described the Labour leader’s approach as completely “bonkers”.

Younger MPs from the 2010 intake are said to be in line for promotion in the reshuffle.