Milburn admits Labour is 'top-down'

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Indy Politics

Alan Milburn, the former health secretary, said Labour has run a "top-down" government which has failed to deliver its promises on devolving power.

Friends of Mr Milburn, an arch-Blairite who has clashed with Gordon Brown, believe he is unlikely to run in elections for the Labour leadership and deputy leadership, because he stood down from the Cabinet for a second time after last year's general election.

In a speech last night, Mr Milburn articulated the Blair camp's belief in a further round of public service reforms about which Brownites are sceptical.

Calling for a "new way of doing politics", Mr Milburn proposed policies "that empower the individual citizen to take greater control over their own lives". He said the "progressive purpose" of further reforms might require discrimination in favour of society's poorest.

Mr Milburn said New Labour abandoned the "top-down approach" by rejecting old-style nationalisation. "There remains at the heart of New Labour an unresolved ambivalence about the role of the state. As a parent, I don't want power in the hands of councils or schools. As a patient I don't want it in the hands of managers or hospitals. I want it in my hands."