Purnell says Labour is living on 'nostalgia'

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James Purnell, who quit the Cabinet in protest over Gordon Brown's leadership, broke cover yesterday to accuse Labour of being stuck in the past. In his first interview since resigning, he challenged the party to shake off its "nostalgia" for its 1990s heyday under Tony Blair and to start rebuilding.

He says: "All those Blairite, New Labour labels ... for me it's a bit like Britpop. I feel nostalgic for it, it was right for its time, but that time was 1994."

The former Work and Pensions Secretary will next week launch a three-year project through the think-tank Demos on the party's future direction. The left-wingers Jon Cruddas and Alan Simpson will contribute.

Mr Purnell, who insists he does not wish to return to the political front line, says he wants to "try and be as radical on the left as on the right". He told The Guardian he had no regrets over his decision to resign: "The moment when it became a really simple decision was when I stopped worrying about what would be the consequences of different things and when I realised I just had to be true to myself. I couldn't go on the telly the following morning and say something I couldn't believe.

"The thing I worked out is that I really loved policy and I love leading an organisation like Department for Work and Pensions. Politics, I don't miss as much. Journalists, I don't miss as much."