UK Politics

Labour MP attacks party's 'deafening silence' on policy

Ed Miliband
Image caption Labour leader Ed Miliband faces disquiet from backbenchers after seeing his party's poll lead cut

Labour needs to do more to produce clear policies ahead of the next general election, one of the party's MPs has told the BBC.

Graham Stringer told Radio 4's The World This Weekend there had been a "deafening silence" from the shadow cabinet on policy matters.

Though "enormously loyal" to leader Ed Miliband, Mr Stringer said the leadership lacked coherence.

His comments come after a senior MP said Labour need to "shout louder".

Mr Stringer said: "The real worry is the almost deafening silence there has been from the shadow cabinet at a time of the year which is traditionally a ripe time for the opposition to attack the government - while the government are on their holidays and thinking about other things.

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Media captionGraham Stringer: "The party is genuinely worried about the lack of activity in the shadow cabinet"

"The opposition has always used that as a way to put policies into the public's mind and to have a go at anywhere the government has failed. I think the party is genuinely worried about the lack of activity in the shadow cabinet."

Mr Stringer insisted: "I don't believe that members of the shadow cabinet are lazy in any sense - I think it is stemming from a lack of coherence and cogency of our policy."

He added it was "not quite clear" what the party's policies were on welfare, housing and education.

BBC political correspondent Susana Mendonca said Ed Miliband, recently returned from holiday, knew that the pressure was now on for him to set out what Labour stood for.

She said that with the party's poll lead shirking by three points to 7%, there had been disquiet on the backbenches.

On Saturday, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the party would run out of time to regain public support unless it came up with bold policies by the spring.

But Mr Stringer stressed that Labour did not have that long and needed to set out its case by the party conference in late September.

Pre-conference reshuffle

Meanwhile, a report in the Observer newspaper suggested Mr Miliband was set to reshuffle the shadow cabinet in the first few weeks of September, ahead of the party conference.

When questioned about the report, Mr Stringer said it was important for the shadow cabinet to be clear on policy and to get "the right people into those positions".

Labour Whip Jon Ashworth told Radio 4's The World This Weekend he disagreed with Mr Stringer's analysis and insisted that Labour had been strong in attacking the coalition government.

However, he said he agreed that the party needed to work harder to get its message across, adding that the autumn conference would be used to set out the "direction of travel" ahead of the 2015 general election.

Mr Stringer's comments come after fellow backbencher John Mann called on the party's MPs to end public criticism of the leadership.

On Saturday, Mr Mann wrote on Twitter: "Time for iron discipline amongst Labour MPs. Stop whinging. Message to Ed: give them the boot."

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