UK Politics

Labour winning back voters under Miliband - Chuka Umunna

Labour leader Ed Miliband with shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna on a south London estate
Image caption Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has defended Ed Miliband's leadership credentials

Labour has been winning back support all over the country since Ed Miliband became its party leader, shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna says.

He said almost 2,000 Labour councillors had won back seats and the party had "tens of thousands" of new members.

The party had made "huge progress" but had a "lot more work to do", he said.

Earlier, Labour deputy leader Lord Prescott said the party had failed to get its case across. The Tories said this was more evidence of "discontent".

Writing in the Sunday Mirror, Lord Prescott said Labour had wasted an opportunity to set the news agenda, and urged Mr Miliband to "kick out" under-performing shadow cabinet members.

He called for a "radical change" to shape up the policy of organisation and delivery alongside a clear set of policies and principles.

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

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Media captionChuka Umunna MP: "We have made huge progress ... but of course we've got a lot more work to do"

Mr Umunna dismissed recent criticism of the party as "hysteria" and insisted Labour were capable of winning the next general election.

"We have got a big job to do. We are looking to make history - to achieve the remarkable feat of being re-elected to office after one term in opposition and so we are seeking to do something very big," he told BBC News.

"We all know we can do it, but of course we have got a lot more work to do over the 90-odd weeks before the next general election to put our case forward to the British people - but that is precisely what we have been doing all over the summer."

He said it was difficult to foresee every policy detail that would be in a manifesto for the 2015 election.

"I have been on the road with my leader since he became the leader of the Labour party and seen the fantastic response that he gets from people all over the country," he added.

During a campaign visit to a south London market earlier this week, Mr Miliband was pelted with eggs.

He did his best to laugh it off, saying: "I'm always looking for new ways to connect with the voters."

'Grown-up politician'

Further criticism this weekend came from Labour peer Lord Glasman - who was given his peerage at Ed Miliband's request.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he said the party "gives the impression of not knowing which way to turn" and that it was time for the party leader "to show he is a grown-up politician big enough to lead this country".

Earlier this month, the shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said Labour must "put its cards on the table" and produce attention-grabbing policies by next spring or risk losing the next election.

He called for his party to "shout louder and speak in a way that captures how people are feeling and thinking".

But Mr Umunna said Mr Burnham's comments had been "overplayed".

"The point that Andy was making is of course by the time of the next general election we need to ensure that people know what Labour's agenda is."

Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps said Labour grandees were lining up to "take a shot" at a "weak" Mr Miliband.

He said: "The Labour leader's deepening summer of discontent is further evidence that he's not even capable of leading his own party, let alone standing up for the hard-working people of Britain."

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