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
Image caption Ed Miliband met people at a south London market earlier this week

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.

"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.

"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."

More on this story