Ed Miliband is being urged by a key adviser to halve the number of universities in Britain and replace the rest with vocational institutions if Labour wins power.
The plan by the academic Lord Glasman would see elite universities stripped of their medical, legal and accountancy schools which would be transferred to the new colleges. This, he said, would remove any suggestion that the vocational skills were "second class".
In wide-ranging comments – which will be seized upon by Labour critics – Lord Glasman also suggested that Polish people should be banned from working in Britain, said that Mr Miliband "loathed the humiliation of people" brought about by capitalism, and that Westminster should become the seat of a new English Parliament with the British Parliament relocated to the North of the country.
The peer is the intellectual leader of Blue Labour, a new group within the party engaged in a battle with its right for Mr Miliband's ear as the party attempts to formulate new policy in the run up to 2015.
"Labour have [in the past] neglected the fundamental problem with capitalism which is that it is an exploitative system that puts relentless pressure on human beings," said Lord Glasman, adding that there "is now is a genuine conversation about capitalism within the leadership. Ed has definitely got more problems with New Labour [than his brother David]. You don't usually see it but there is a genuine, angry insurgent side to him."
A spokesman for Ed Miliband declined to comment on the proposals.
Launched in 2009, it gets attention because of the close relationship between its founder Maurice Glasman and both Miliband brothers.
Philosophy: Glasman describes Blue Labour as "a new politics of reciprocity, mutuality and solidarity". Some of his ideas are controversial: capping immigration, fighting global capitalism and expressing sympathy with the concerns of English Defence League.
Key supporters Two Labour leaders who never were: James Purnell and Jon Cruddas.
Chance of becoming policy 2/5
New Labour by another name, it has published essays by leading figures concentrating on how to build on past achievements, rather than decry them.
Philosophy: Eyecatching initiatives include the removal of 50 per cent pension tax relief, mutualising of banks owned by the taxpayer and directly elected mayors in six major English cities without referendums.
Supporters Six former Cabinet ministers and eight current shadow ministers contributed to the book including Douglas Alexander, Alan Milburn and Peter Mandelson.
Chance of becoming policy 3/5
This group – less clearly defined than the others – is a loose collation of those who would rather New Labour had never existed.
Philosophy Broad policies include redistributive taxation and an ethical approach to profit and sustainable re-industrialisation to replace banking as the driver for the economy.
Key supporters Some in the union movement such as Len McCluskey of Unite, the old Labour "campaign group" of MPs
such as Jeremy Corbyn and others on the left.
Chance of policy 2/5