Labour adviser: It's time Miliband toughened up

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An adviser to Ed Miliband today urges him to show stronger, more courageous leadership and admits that Labour is failing to win the economic argument.

In a highly critical article about Labour's performance under Mr Miliband, Lord Maurice Glasman says: "On the face of it, these look like bad times for Labour and for Ed Miliband's leadership. There seems to be no strategy, no narrative and little energy.

"Old faces from the Brown era still dominate the Shadow Cabinet and seem stuck in defending Labour's record in all the wrong ways – we didn't spend too much money, we'll cut less fast and less far, but can't tell you how."

Although he pledges his support for Mr Miliband, the Labour peer says candidly: "He has not broken through. He has flickered rather than shone, nudged not led. It is time for him to bring the gifts that only he can bring.

"He should leave behind stale orthodoxies and trust his instinct that change is essential. He must show the kind of courage needed to steer the ship of state through uncharted waters. Now is the time for leadership and action.

"So far Ed has honoured his responsibilities, but has not exerted his power. It is time that he did so." Lord Glasman, a plain-speaking academic and community organiser, has no formal role in Mr Miliband's team, but the Labour leader nominated him for a peerage and has consulted him on his strategy.

Writing in today's New Statesman, Lord Glasman also criticises Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, by saying Labour is "stranded in a Keynesian orthodoxy, with no language to talk straight to people". He adds: "Endogenous growth, flexible labour-market reform, free movement of labour, the dominance of the City of London – it was all crap, and we need to say so." He writes: "Labour is apparently pursuing a sectional agenda based on the idea that disaffected Liberal Democrats and public-sector employees will give Labour a majority next time around. But we have not won, and show no signs of winning, the economic argument. We have not articulated a constructive alternative capable of recognising our weaknesses in government and taking the argument to the Coalition."

Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott delivered a blunt rebuke to his fellow Labour peer via Twitter. He wrote: "Glasman. You know sod all about politics, economic policy, Labour or solidarity. Bugger off and go 'organise' some communities. Those who can, do, those who can't, 'advise'."

Lord Glasman tried to defuse the debate last night, issuing a statement claiming his article had been quoted "out of context".