Prescott: Labour 'has failed to get its case across'

Labour leader Ed Miliband during a campaign visit in East Street market in Walworth, south London Ed Miliband met people at a south London market earlier this week

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Labour has "massively failed" to get its case across to the public this summer, the party's former deputy leader Lord Prescott has said.

Writing in the Sunday Mirror, he urged leader Ed Miliband to "kick out" under-performing shadow cabinet members.

His comments follow criticism from some Labour MPs about the party leadership.

Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint, meanwhile, has told the Observer the personal popularity of party leaders is not the key to winning elections.

Lord Prescott, who served as deputy prime minister under Tony Blair from May 1997 to June 2007, said "this summer, we massively failed to get our case over to the public and hold the Tories to account".

"A wasted opportunity," he added.


Lord Prescott is full of football analogies, advising Ed Miliband to be more like Sir Alex Ferguson. He tells the Labour leader to give his shadow ministers "the hairdryer treatment" and "kick 'em out" if they're under-performing. But besides talented players, a good football manager needs a strong overall game plan and tactics. And those are the things which some within Labour fear are missing.

The Labour peer Lord Glasman - who was given his peerage at Ed Miliband's request - says the party "gives the impression of not knowing which way to turn". In isolation, remarks such as that from the likes of Lord Glasman - or even Lord Prescott - wouldn't amount to much in the grand scheme of things. The reason they have gained more prominence is because they come on top of similar comments by others, including the shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, who recently urged Labour to "shout louder".

Party leaders, like football managers, all have occasional grumbles about their team's performance. It may well blow over once the summer holidays are over. But Ed Miliband is undoubtedly under pressure from his own side to make a strong start when the new political season kicks off.

"The Tories worked hard to put together a planned communication grid of issues and activity, fronted by their cabinet ministers and led by the prime minister," he said.

"But all Labour had was a second team of junior spokespeople with most of Ed's shadow cabinet away on holiday at the same time.

"Bar a push on the cost of living, we didn't set agendas, we followed the news and got nowhere."

Lord Prescott, who added that "even shadow cabinet ministers stopped tweeting at the end of July", said he had "led all the Labour summer campaigns" and he and his team "always planned well ahead with our news grid".

"During summer I met every day with my team looking at the upcoming stories and messages we were going to deliver to the media and public," he added.

He said that, ahead of the general election in 2015, "a radical change is now required to shape up the policy of organisation and delivery alongside a clear set of policies and principles so people know what we stand for".

"There are millions of people looking to us as the only alternative to this heartless coalition."

'Hairdryer treatment'

Using one of a series of football analogies, he said: "So my message to Ed is this - you're our Alex Ferguson.

"If members of the shadow cabinet aren't pulling their weight, give them the hairdryer treatment and kick 'em out.

Start Quote

At the very time when Labour should be showing the way ahead, it gives the impression of not knowing which way to turn”

End Quote Lord Glasman

"Ed also needs a good captain to ensure the team works together on the pitch.

"We need a stronger attack and a much better defence - time is running out."

He said the party could "still turn it around and win in the second half".

"But we need the very best team, week in, week out."

Lord Prescott's comments follow criticism of Mr Miliband from some in his own party including shadow health secretary Andy Burnham.

He told the Guardian that Labour needed to "shout louder" and put its "cards on the table", producing attention-grabbing policies by next spring.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Labour peer Lord Glasman, who has advised Mr Miliband in the past, said it was time for the party leader "to show he is a grown-up politician big enough to lead this country".

"At the very time when Labour should be showing the way ahead, it gives the impression of not knowing which way to turn," he said.

"When the Labour battle bus should be revving up, it is parked in a lay-by of introspection."

But defending her leader, shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint told the Observer that, ahead of the general election, Mr Miliband would be "the first to say we need to redouble our efforts to win the confidence of the public".

"Individual popularity poll ratings are always given prominence but the truth is that, when it comes to the election, that's not always a significant factor.

"Think back to Labour leaders in the past who were popular but couldn't win elections.

"Margaret Thatcher was unpopular but won elections - sometimes these things are overplayed."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    Too many issues to list with current (and recent) politicians of all parties but here are two:
    1) A very small number have any real life experience outside the researcher, safe seat career path bubble. Far too sheltered.
    2) Carrying out the will of the people has become tell the people what they want to hear then do what the politician wants to do, usually for their personal grandisement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    What annoys me the most is how they bang on about how the current government's policies aren't working. But when you look around, the rest of the world is in the same situation as us. What do they expect 5% growth here when Germany who is doing better than most can only manage 0.7%
    Their only answer seems to be to borrow more money to create jobs. That didn't work in the 70's and it won't work now

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    You would have thought the first thing to do is get a plan!
    There are only two options for Britain; carry on inflating/devaluing like the Cameron and Blair administrations, or start investing for productivity and competitiveness while giving confidence through sound monetary policy.
    All Labour have on the table is the Cameron/Blair "light" which has got us nowhere for so long!

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Labour born out of the unions need to get back to their roots and remember who their natural supporters are and start to represent them again.
    I'm a natural labour supporter but after Blair et al I feel I have no party to vote for.
    Bring back Real Labour and tackle this toxic government which is now in place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Life long socialist but as there is no longer a socialist party I have no one to vote for ! Conservatives in red ties ! I know a lot of people like myself feel this way. Too many in politics for the wrong reasons - infamy and self gain.


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