David Miliband outlines his seven-point plan for Labour

 

Labour needs “restless rethinking” of its purpose and its policies if it is to return to power, former leadership candidate David Miliband said today.

In his most high-profile foray into the political frontline since being defeated by his brother Ed in the 2010 poll, the former foreign secretary set out a seven-point plan for the party.

He said that Labour must admit "loud and clear" where it got things wrong in power, but - in what may be seen as a defence of New Labour against his brother's criticisms - he insisted that the party must assert that the gains made between 1997 and 2010 "far outstripped the mistakes".

Mr Miliband was careful to praise his younger brother's leadership, but his decision to set out his own thoughts on Labour's future direction will inevitably spark speculation that he has not ruled out a return to the party's top ranks.

His intervention, in an essay in the New Statesman, came as Labour's former Chancellor Alistair Darling told the same magazine that the party needs to present its policies "in a sharper way".

Mr Darling said: "In politics if you make an assertion that something needs to change I think you have to have an example of how you do it. In relation to growth, I think that's absolutely critical.

"Do we have to do more to present this in a sharper way? Of course we do."

Mr Darling said he would like to see David Miliband in the shadow cabinet, though he accepted that he was right to fear comparisons with his younger brother.

"I would like him back on the front bench. For his knowledge, and his judgment," said the former chancellor.

"When I've seen him on various programmes talking about foreign affairs, he talks with authority. I understand his reluctance. There's always comparisons. He is probably right to take a rain-check. Certainly, he would be a gain."

David Miliband told the New Statesman that Ed should be given credit for preventing disunity in the Labour ranks since its disastrous 2010 general election defeat. And he said his brother had shown he understands the need for a policy rethink and had spoken "powerfully and correctly" about welfare.

But he warned that there were elements within Labour who wanted to respond to defeat by retreating to "big state" social democracy.

And he said the party had "a lot to be concerned about" in terms of its prospects of electoral victory in 2015, when Conservatives will be boosted by their financial advantages and boundary changes which will favour them.

David Miliband wrote: "We will win again only when two conditions are met.

"First, that we fully understand in a deep way why the electorate voted against us in 2010. Second, that we clarify the kind of future we seek for Britain, and the means to achieve it, in a way that speaks to the demands of the time."

Labour must show they are "reformers of the state and not just its defenders", he said.

"The weaknesses of the 'big society' should not blind us to the policy and political dead end of the 'Big State'," he wrote.

"The public won't vote for the prescription that central government is the cure for all ills for the good reason that it isn't."

Mr Miliband's seven-point plan also included: balancing the aim of equality with an embrace of the ideas of merit, rights and responsibilities; support for devolution of power to local communities; "a politics of economic growth, not just redistribution and regulation"; and continued modernisation of party structures - possibly including open primaries for mayoral candidates.

Labour must learn from Tony Blair's example when he became leader in 1994 that it can update its approach while remaining true to its beliefs, said David Miliband.

"After 1994, we did not say that it was a great pity we had to compromise our principles to meet the electorate halfway; we said that it was vital to reform the statement of our principles to reflect what we believed," he wrote.

"The same was true in a range of policy areas, including health, education and crime. We changed our policy better to fulfil our values, not abandon them.

"That is what we have to do again - not because we have changed but because the world has changed. Rethinking, not reassuring."

PA

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
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

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering