One of Gordon Brown's closest political allies has admitted that Labour has spent the last six months engaged in "self-harm" and not "sorting out the problems of the country".
Alistair Darling, the Trade and Industry Secretary, has said that voters are "pretty uncertain" about Labour and called on the party to "get our act together" and "put our house in order".
In an interview with The Independent on Sunday, he said Labour's defeat in the Labour stronghold of Blaenau Gwent was "symptomatic of a broader problem" and "a clear warning to us".
Although he refrained from blaming the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, for the defeat, his words will be interpreted at Westminster as a call for an early transition to a government led by Brown.
He said Labour's message over the last six months "has been blurred far too often".
He added: "There have been far too many distractions, far too many things that frankly are self-harm. There have been a number of issues where we have not been seen demonstrably to be sorting out the problems the country faces."Reuse content