Ed Miliband was urged by Lord Mandelson yesterday to be clearer next year about the direction in which he is taking Labour – and to tell fewer jokes in the Commons.
Lord Mandelson, one of New Labour's architects, signalled his fears about the "dangers" of Mr Miliband's planned policy platform, but said the crucial thing was for his ideas to become "better defined".
Lord Mandelson said: "We want to see more definition about what the new project is all about, perhaps more policies, fewer jokes at Prime Ministers Questions."
He told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "He's a chap with views, he has a position in politics and he has a project. That needs to take shape and become better defined."
The pressure on Miliband eased last week when Labour comfortably won the Feltham and Heston by-election. However, opinion polls suggest its national support is slipping, with one survey yesterday putting it six points behind the Tories.
Mr Miliband faced embarrassment yesterday when a Labour speechwriter, Asher Dresner, said he was a "turn-off" for voters.