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.”
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 4 Julian Assange and Edward Snowden join piracy mogul Kim Dotcom’s political campaign in New Zealand
Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Jihadi John': MI5 may have identified Isis militant who killed David Haines but options limited
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: Police will be on high alert on Friday whatever the result
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...
£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...
£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...
£60000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Corporate Marketing Communications M...