Ed Miliband 'must do better in South to win general election' warns former Blair adviser

Blair adviser issues a warning to Miliband after party’s gains are put in shade by Ukip victories

Ed Miliband has been warned that Labour is not doing well enough in the south of England to be confident of winning an overall majority at the 2015 general election.

Although Labour made some gains in the South in last Thursday’s council elections, these were eclipsed by the dramatic advance by Ukip, undermining Mr Miliband’s rebranding of his party as “One Nation Labour.”

Nigel Farage’s party won more seats than Labour in areas such as Kent and Essex, which include several key marginal seats Labour needs to win to regain power in 2015.

Patrick Diamond, a senior adviser to both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown when they were Prime Ministers, warned that Labour’s performance last week was “patchy” and “underwhelming”.

Writing in The Independent today, he says: “The truth is that Labour is still not doing well enough to be confident of victory. It is an inescapable fact that if the party is to win the next election, it has to do much better in southern England.”

Labour’s spell in the political wilderness between 1979 and 1997 was blamed partly on what was dubbed the party’s “southern discomfort”, which was relieved when Mr Blair broadened Labour’s appeal beyond its traditional supporters. Mr Diamond, who has studied Labour’s problem in the South, says Mr Miliband is right to argue that the public have moved on from New Labour.

But, after last week’s breakthrough by a right-wing populist party, he warns  that the Labour leader would be  wrong to think that people have shifted to the left.

“People no longer see policy issues in conventional ‘left’/’right’ terms,” says Mr Diamond. “Indeed, they are increasingly uncomfortable with the false choices implied by what passes for political debate at Westminster.”

Mr Diamond says: “The lesson of history is that Labour triumphs when, as in 1945, 1964 and 1997, it is seen as a party capable of uniting a broad spectrum of constituencies and classes.

“This means reaching out beyond narrow, partisan and tribal lines, demonstrating that Labour is a national party capable of governing in the national interest.”

He adds: “Winning voters’ trust to manage the economy competently, spend responsibly and tax fairly need not be achieved at the expense of improving conditions for those most in need, tackling inequalities of income and wealth. In challenging times, Labour must be a party capable of offering a hand up to those who want to get on, as well as a helping hand to those in trouble.”

Labour insists it is fighting back in its target constituencies in the South --  winning seven out of eight council seats in Hastings and three out of four in Harlow. It gained 12 seats in Hertfordshire, where Ukip gained none.

Harriet Harman, Labour’s deputy leader, told The Independent yesterday that Mr Miliband is making progress in the South, admitting this is  necessary both politically and electorally. “If you purport to lead  the country, you have to lead the whole of the country, not just pile up votes in sections of it to get yourself into Number 10,” she said. “The progress is very encouraging, but obviously we have further to go. We are building from a low base, or no base, in some areas.”

After Ukip’s success, Mr Miliband may come under pressure to drop his opposition to an EU referendum. But  Ms Harman said: “We need to look at their voters and their issues of concern, and to inspire their confidence – not just look at Ukip’s policies and adjust ours.”

Research by Ipsos Mori suggests that Ukip is most popular among men, working-class people and older voters. Its support is strongest in the South, South-east and Midlands.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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 Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform