Ed Miliband loyalists hit back at ‘hysteria’ of party critics

Chuka Umunna says Labour will turn up volume after Lord Prescott becomes latest to vent frustration

Senior Labour figures will launch a renewed drive to “turn up the volume” this week after weeks of damaging sniping at Ed Miliband and his Shadow Cabinet over their low profile during the summer.

Lord Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister, fuelled the turmoil as he protested the party had “massively failed” to get its case across and hold the Conservatives to account in recent weeks.

Chuka Umunna, the shadow Business Secretary, accused Lord Prescott and other internal critics of falling victim to “hysteria” and insisted: “We are talking loud and of course we will be turning up the volume even louder as we get towards the general election.”

Labour will seek to regain the political initiative by spotlighting large rail fare increases and excessive rent rises, while Mr Umunna is also planning to highlight the rapid of growth in employers demanding that staff accept “zero-hours” contracts.

But the stresses within the party were underlined by Lord Prescott’s comments in the Sunday Mirror.

He attacked its strategy during the parliamentary recess, complaining that Labour “didn’t set agendas; we followed the news”, and challenging Mr Miliband to sack under-performing Shadow Cabinet members.

His comments infuriated senior party sources. One said: “Everybody is entitled to their opinion – even the person who ghostwrites John Prescott’s articles.”

The academic Lord Glasman, the Labour “guru” who was awarded a peerage by Mr Miliband, added to criticism of the leadership.

“At the very time when Labour should be showing the way ahead, it gives the impression of not knowing which way to turn,” he said.

“When the Labour battle bus should be revving up, it is parked in a lay-by of introspection. It is time for Ed Miliband to show he is a grown-up politician big enough to lead this country.”

Miliband loyalists are drawing comfort from Labour’s opinion poll lead, although Caroline Flint, the shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, admitted his lack of personal popularity was an issue facing the party.

“Individual popularity poll ratings are always given prominence, but the truth is that, when it comes to the election, that’s not always a significant factor,” she told The Observer.

“Think back to Labour leaders in the past who were popular, but couldn’t win elections. Margaret Thatcher was unpopular but won elections.”

Aides insisted Mr Miliband – who suffered an unfortunate return from his summer holiday last week when he was hit by an egg while campaigning – was calm in the face of the disquiet. They said he was focusing on Labour’s conference next month at which he would set out his direction of travel.

A ComRes poll has given Labour a nine-point lead over the Conservatives, enough to put him in Downing Street with a handsome majority, but also found his popularity had fallen to a new low, with just 22 per cent of voters viewing him as a good leader.

In broadcast interviews, Mr Umunna insisted the party would not be blown off course by recent squalls, including a call by the former Home Secretary Jack Straw for the Labour leadership to “turn up the volume”.

The phrase has unfortunate connotations as the former Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith, promised he was “turning up the volume” shortly before quitting.

Mr Umunna said: “There has been some hysteria around over the August weeks and the facts are this – since Ed Miliband became the leader of the Labour Party, we have been winning back support all over the country.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project