Ed Miliband slammed by own MPs as Labour leader told he is 'not an asset on the doorstep' for his party

Mr Miliband faces questions over the party’s narrow by-election victory in the Labour stronghold of Heywood and Middleton

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Indy Politics

Ed Miliband’s performance came under a strong attack from a Labour MP today as the Labour leader prepared to try to settle his party’s nerves over the threat from Ukip.

Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley and Broughton, said  Mr Miliband was “not an asset” on the doorsteps, urging him to sack some of his close advisers and reshuffle his Shadow Cabinet to bring back more experienced figures.

His pre-emptive strike came ahead of the weekly meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party tonight, at which Mr Miliband faces questions over the party’s narrow victory over Ukip in last week’s by-election in Labour’s Heywood and Middleton stronghold.

Mr Stringer told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If you go on the doorstep, Ed isn’t an asset to us. I don’t think that is even a controversial thing to say, rather sadly. They [voters] think he doesn’t understand the problems they are suffering.”

The MP stopped short of saying Mr Miliband should quit but argued that he should dismiss some of his inner circle. “I would sack quite a lot of the people [around him]. I think  the team is hopeless around him. They give him very bad advice,” he said. While the Shadow Cabinet had decent , good, hard-working members, “collectively they don’t have the breadth of experience that Ed needs for advice.”

Mr Stringer added: “The Labour Party has appointed too many people who have very little experience of the world.”   For example, Labour had  chosen too many people as MPs who were former advisers to ministers and who had  “been parachuted into seats where they have got no roots, and it has meant there is a disconnect with parts of the party –particularly the leadership—with what is really happening in many of the communities that we hope to represent.”

In the by-election, Mr Stringer said, Labour focused on the NHS but voters were talking about immigration. “You can’t hope to win elections if you don’t talk about what the people are talking about,” he warned. “We have a problem about  communications and credibility,” said Mr Stringer. “People have to believe what we say….at the moment, they simply don’t.” David Blunkett, the former Labour Home Secretary, said Mr Miliband should emphasise a team approach rather than go head-to-head with David Cameron at next May’s election. “The offer is a Labour government, not a Labour presidency,” he told The Guardian.

Defending  the Labour leader, Mr Blunkett said: “There is no point Ed Miliband being something he is not. I think he needs to build on two strengths: one is the idea of having a conversation with people rather than performing in front of them in a kind of parade; and secondly, building a team.”