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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions
Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions