Former insider Damien McBride claims Labour leadership lacks fight
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Thursday 19 June 2014
A former adviser to Gordon Brown has launched a searing attack on Ed Miliband’s inner circle and Labour’s election team, saying it has no experienced “generals” for the day-to-day battle with the Conservatives.
Damian McBride, who resigned as a Downing Street adviser after being linked to a plot to smear senior Conservatives, said: “Just like David Cameron, Ed Miliband has been guilty of recruiting his innermost circle of advisers entirely in his own image. That’s alright in peacetime… But with an election to win – an election Labour can win – Ed urgently needs to add some ‘wartime consiglieres’ to the mix.”
He described Team Miliband as “well spoken, well read, well connected and quite genial” but said they were “not fighters”. He suggested they did not understand the ammunition needed to win the election and would rather attend a symposium held by Thomas Picketty, the left-wing French economist.
The criticism added to the pressure on Mr Miliband from inside his party, where there is growing concern about about his personal ratings and Labour’s shrinking opinion poll lead.
Writing on his blog, Mr McBride painted a picture of a divided Shadow Cabinet with “a handful of close, like-minded, unchallenging [Miliband] allies sitting with him on one side of the curtain, and the majority twiddling their thumbs on the other side waiting to be told what’s going on.”
Yesterday Mr Miliband admitted he faced a “tough fight” but insisted he could “defy the odds” by taking Labour back to power only five years after he lost it. "I relish the next 10 months, I relish the opportunity to fight for my vision for the country,” he said.
PLS KEEP He hit back at criticism from New Labour figures including Lord Mandelson, saying the party could not act as "continuity Labour", picking up from where it left off in 2010. He said it needed to tackle the problems left unsolved by New Labour such as inequality and in-work poverty.
Mr Miliband said: “I didn't take this job because I thought it would be a walk in the park, I fought for this job because I thought it was important and I thought I had something distinctive to say about how we can change this country.”
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