David Blunkett compares Ed Miliband to Clement Attlee: ‘Fantastic leader, not the most vibrant’

Former Home Secretary, backed by ex-Chancellor, expresses concern about Labour’s public appeal

Two senior Labour figures have increased the pressure on Ed Miliband as they voiced concerns about the party's problems in getting its message across to voters.

David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary, compared him to the post-War Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee, who was a “fantastic leader” but “wasn't the most vibrant” public performer.

Alistair Darling, the former Chancellor, raised fears that the party had barely begun to convey a distinctive message to the electorate.

Their remarks came as Mr Miliband struggles to get on the front foot after weeks of complaints within the party over the shadow Cabinet's failure to maintain a higher profile over the summer.

Liam Byrne, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, will today attempt to set the agenda with a scathing denunciation of “chaos” in the benefits system and further initiatives are planned to turn the spotlight on the Government's record.

But Mr Blunkett spelt out his disquiet over Labour's problems in connecting with the public by echoing a complaint by Lord Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister, that Labour had “massively failed” to hold the Conservatives to account this summer.

He told BBC Radio 4:“There is frustration, but there is also a great deal of hope. I would accept what's been said over the last few weeks, including the article by John Prescott on Sunday, that we need to work out how to get a higher profile in circumstances where it is very difficult to get a hearing.”

Asked if the Labour leader had got what it takes, Mr Blunkett replied: “I think Mr Miliband has demonstrated on a number of occasions that he can do it but he won't be able to do it alone and nor should he.

”Clem Attlee wasn't the most vibrant, in public terms, proponent. He was a fantastic leader of the Labour Party.“

He added that Labour must be clearer about its vision and ”engage with people in their own lives“.

Mr Darling stressed the importance of next month's Labour conference for fashioning a distinctive message to the electorate.

”I think everybody in my party is pretty focused on the fact, that come this autumn less than two years away, you need to start making it pretty clear to people what would the difference be if you come to a general election and you vote for a different government. You know that's what we have got to start to do,“ he told the BBC.

Mr Byrne will today claim that blunders by Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, have left taxpayers with a bill of more than £1.4bn.

He will argue that the low success rate of the Youth Contract scheme in finding jobs for participants is costing £457m because they are entitled to higher Jobseekers' Allowance payments.

Mr Byrne will also point to an extra £300m expenditure on the new Universal Credit, as well as £287m from the increasing cost of appeals to decisions by Atos, the company which is reassessing benefit claimants' fitness to work.

He will say: ”The Government's failure will end up costing the taxpayer a staggering £1.4 billion by the end of this Parliament.

“That's bad news for everyone, bad for everyone hurt by failing programmes, bad for the treasury, and bad for the country.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible