Blair ally Patrick Diamond tells Ed Miliband: cost of living will not win Labour the 2015 election

There is a common belief Labour can somehow coast to victory

Ed Miliband has been warned by a prominent Blairite that his campaign on the “living standards crisis” will not win Labour the 2015 election because the party lacks credibility on the economy.

Patrick Diamond, a former Downing Street policy adviser to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, said Britain’s return to growth and an expected rise in wages next year would hand George Osborne the “trump card” unless Labour acts quickly.

He expressed fears that the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement this month might prove to be the moment Labour lost the next election.

Writing for The Independent’s website, Mr Diamond accused the Labour leadership of giving the impression it is “coasting” to victory in 2015 because the Coalition is unpopular and of failing to reach out to the non-Labour voters his party needs to win.

Although Labour’s poll lead suggests it will regain power in 2015, Mr Diamond’s stark public warning lifts the lid on simmering tensions inside the party. Allies of Mr Blair are worried that the strategy pursued by Mr Miliband and Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, will crumble as a recovering economy boosts the Conservatives’ prospects.

Mr Diamond wrote: “Months of adept opposition campaigning on ‘the cost of living’ have been brutally swept aside by a slew of positive economic data – alongside the hard economic choices with which the Chancellor is confronting Labour.”

He added: “Unless it can adapt its position in response to fast-changing events, the hallmark of any adroit opposition, Labour will be behind before the contest is properly under way.

“The party is at risk of falling victim to fundamental strategic miscalculations. Off the back of a less severe defeat in 2010 than widely anticipated, there is a common belief Labour can somehow coast to victory: all it needs to do is sit tight and watch the Coalition parties grow unpopular in the face of indiscriminate public sector cuts.”

New Labour figures like Mr Diamond fear that Mr Balls wants to leave key announcements on the party’s tax and spending policies until January 2015. “With an election looming, the party cannot afford to waste the next year. There is not a moment to lose,” he said. “If Labour is serious about becoming a party of government in 2015, it needs to get its act together – fast.”

Mr Diamond, a senior research fellow at the Policy Network think-tank, claimed the memory of Mr Blair “continues to paralyse the Labour leadership: as a result, he is air-brushed out of history”. He said: “What Labour must do is move on definitively from the Blair-Brown era. That requires a more sober, objective assessment of New Labour’s successes and failures than anything offered so far.”

Mr Diamond said that for Labour to have a chance of victory in 2015, key strategic decisions must be taken – to ensure a credible account of how the party will bring the public finances back to surplus in the next Parliament, a manifesto commitment to balance the books and a compelling growth strategy. He echoed recent calls by Mr Osborne and David Cameron by calling for “a leaner, smarter, more strategic state”.

Labour leaders insist they have made progress in regaining their reputation for economic competence and say their living standards campaign shows the party is in touch with millions of people.

Last week, Mr Balls launched a “zero-based spending review”, saying he wanted to put the nation’s budget back into surplus. But he hinted that he might not reveal the detail of his spending cuts until after the election and said he would not be drawn into an “auction” with Mr Osborne on welfare cuts.

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions