Brother David enters the fray: Labour needs a cultural change


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Indy Politics

Labour must undergo a cultural change to ensure that Ed Miliband becomes prime minister, his brother David Miliband said last night.

The former Foreign Secretary told a fringe meeting at the conference: "We need to understand the changes in our country, broaden our coalition, and set out to govern in a new way... The truth is we need a different kind of politics. These are not normal times and normal politics will not do."

A year after his younger brother pipped him at the post in Labour's leadership election, David is not staying at the conference to hear his brother's speech tomorrow. Instead, he will attend a conference in the United States about China's rise as a superpower. But last night, David dismissed speculation about tensions between them as "hooey and nonsense". Asked why Labour is not doing better, he told BBC Radio 5 Live: "It's year one of a Tory government and year one of a Labour opposition and this is... a five-year drive. And my best advice [after] being in politics for 15 or 20 years, is that one year into a parliament don't look at the opinion polls. What counts is how you're rebuilding yourself and reaching out to the public and how you're engaging the biggest issues facing the country and that's what we're doing."

Later he told a fringe meeting organised by the Movement for Change group, which he has set up to help Labour reach out to the community, that his brother had led the party "with strong purpose and conviction."

He went on: "People say Labour needs more policy. And we certainly need to re-think, come up with new ideas, understand the future, learn from the past. But I think he is also right to recognise that more or new policy is not the place to start."

He said outrage is important for opposition but it must be combined with insight and imagination to turn opposition into government.

He said Labour's future depends on a coalition of the people, not coalitions of convenience. The prize would be for Labour to "become a national interest not a sectional interest."

He warned: "It was the old politics that got us into opposition. Narrow conversation. Conducted in code. Trapped by the past. It will only be a different kind of politics that gets us into government."

Urging Labour to "take on" David Cameron over his "big society", he said the party should not be shy of taking responsibility and decisions, and must focus on the future not the past.