'Out of power for a generation' warns Labour group

A new group of Labour politicians warned today that the party appeared “intellectually exhausted” and could be out of power for a generation unless it produces fresh ideas soon.



The group, including nine former ministers, fired a warning shot at Gordon Brown by urging him to ensure that Labour fights the next general election on a forward-looking manifesto. They denied that their joint pamphlet and “Labour Future” website was part of a plot to oust the Prime Minister before the general election.

The group’s opening statement said Labour faced a "strong" chance of being swept out of office for a generation, as it was during 18 years of Tory rule from 1979. Despite Mr Brown's efforts to set out his vision, there remained a "widespread perception that Labour... is intellectually exhausted.

"It is a strong perception and it needs to be countered with a positive agenda and intellectual confidence," it said, suggesting Labour lacked "a clear progressive agenda".

Malcolm Wicks, the Prime Minister’s envoy on international energy matters, who is leading the initiative, told a press conference: “We are not some partisan faction within the Labour Party. We have to be honest about it: we are in something of a malaise.”

He admitted that a betting man would not bet on Labour winning the next election. "We have got to come up with fresh thinking and fresh policies if we are to be credible as I believe we can be in terms of the next election,” he said.

Charles Clarke, the former Home Secretary, who has called for Mr Brown to stand down, insisted the new group was about stimulating ideas - not destabilising the Prime Minister.

"It is unfortunate and also inaccurate to interpret it as an act which is inspired by a desire to change the leadership. It is not," he said. "My views are well known on this subject and I am not resiling from them or repeating them. I don't think Gordon Brown would regard this as an enemy act. I think he wants to engage in this kind of debate and we need more of it.”

Ideas put forward by the 10 individual members of the group include reducing the role of the Navy and RAF to fund Army operations, a minimum alcohol price, scrapping child-related tax credits to provide universal services for young people, earmarked taxation and more charges for public services.

Although the group will avoid direct criticism of Mr Brown, Labour MPs are privately discussing his future again. He received a rough ride on Monday when he addressed their weekly private meeting and urged them to make any repayments demanded by Sir Thomas Legg, the former Whitehall mandarin auditing the claims of all MPs.

Some Labour insiders say the anger of the party’s MPs about the Legg review, ordered by Mr Brown in May, has increased the chances of a new push to topple the Prime Minister.

But others say that backbenchers, who have staged two unsuccessful attempted coups, would need heavyweight support from Cabinet ministers to succeed, and there is little sign of that at present. Some MPs believe the party will have a “final window of opportunity” to change its leader before the election after next month’s Pre-Budget Report.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Travel
Suite dreams: the JW Marriott in Venice
travelChic new hotels in 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect