Gordon Brown's leadership has come under withering attack from a former Minister who accused the Government of a "frantic search" for vote-winning ideas.
Nick Raynsford, who admitted Labour was in a "deep hole", warned that desperate attempts to "buy" support would only attract public contempt. The former housing minister's intervention will pile more pressure on Mr Brown as he plots an autumn fight-back based around an economic recovery package.
Mr Raynsford likened Labour's plight to that faced by the Tories under Margaret Thatcher in 1990, but pointed out that the Conservatives won the following election in 1992. His observation will be seen as a call to remove Mr Brown as the Tories won that contest under John Major.
Writing in the New Statesman, he urged Ministers to abandon the "frantic search for some magic populist policy solution".
The Greenwich MP added: "There is no single 'Get out of Jail' card and it is foolish to believe such simplistic solutions will do the trick. Indeed some are counter productive, inviting the public's contempt by implying a desperation to 'buy' support by ditching unpopular taxes or offering dubious incentives."
His comments come after a series of policies – including imposing a windfall tax on energy giants and suspending stamp duty – have been floated within Whitehall.
He failed to mention Mr Brown in his article, but pointedly praised the call by David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, to "start winning the argument over our record". Mr Miliband infuriated the Prime Minister's allies two weeks ago as he staked his claim to the leadership by calling for Labour to take the fight to the Tories.