Alan Johnson has warned that Labour must distance themselves from frontbench ministers associated with Gordon Brown's 2010 election defeat.
In an interview with Total Politics magazine, the former Home Secretary and shadow chancellor said that Labour must learn from the post-defeat Tory party of 1997 if they are to stand a chance at the next election.
“That’s why people like Michael Howard were kept out of the way. It took a time for them to come back again,” he said.
“To try and turn it round in one five-year Parliament is really tough, and you’re kind of not helped by the same team or loads of the same team being on the frontbench.”
Ministers with close associations to Brown currently serving in the shadow cabinet include Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liam Byrne. Shadow leader Ed Miliband was also closely associated with the former PM's administration.
Johnson went on to warn that his successor at the exchequer, Ed Balls, faced a "tough" task of overcoming his links to Brown.
As part of his Treasury staff, Balls has been unfairly singled out as contributing to the financial crisis, said Johnson.
He went on to warn Miliband against blaming trade unions for his current difficulties as he faces allegations of union corruption within the party and that class war was "dead-end" politics.
A former trade union leader himself, Johnson rejected Miliband’s suggestion that Labour’s close relationship with the unions was “the problem” facing Labour.
The comments come at the end of a damaging month for Miliband with Labour's ratings taking a battering in the aftermath of election rigging allegations by Unite in the Falkirk byelection.