UK Politics

Labour can dominate centre ground - Douglas Alexander

Douglas Alexander

Labour's election supremo Douglas Alexander has dismissed reports of splits and insisted the party is on track to dominate the centre ground.

With some polls cutting Labour's lead, the Mail on Sunday said there was a "vicious feud" over election tactics.

Mr Alexander rejected the newspaper headlines and told the BBC Labour could be both "credible and radical".

He also insisted that US election strategist Arnie Graf had not been axed and would play a part in the campaign.

Mr Graf, whose arrival after success with the Obama campaign was widely hailed by the party as a coup, has returned to the US.

But Mr Alexander, Labour's election co-ordinator, told the Andrew Marr Show Mr Graf had not been fired: "He's going to be involved in the general election campaign."

He said the party had now appointed its 100th community organiser - a system of local campaigning credited with playing a key role in the Obama campaign - adding that "the work he (Graf) has started is being carried through".

'False choice'

As BBC deputy political editor James Landale explained last week, differences within Labour have focused on whether Labour should adopt a "safety-first" approach, and effectively seek to benefit from government unpopularity and target its 35% core vote, or whether it should seek to broaden its appeal beyond existing Labour voters.

Mr Alexander said there was a "false choice" being offered and Labour had shown on energy prices that it could be both "credible and radical".

He said: "If you're not credible then people won't trust you with the governance of the country.

"If you're not radical people just say 'you're all the same'."

Asked specifically about the newspaper reports, he said: "I don't think it's a great headline for the newspapers - 'Labour team united in working for victory', so I think we can dismiss some of the headlines."

He added: "What can we look ahead to in the next year? We've got the Conservatives in a death struggle with UKIP on the right of politics, we've got the Liberal Democrats wandering around trying to re-find their base.

"There is a general opportunity in the next year for Labour, with a credible and radical manifesto, to dominate the centre ground of British politics - not just potentially be the largest party, but to secure the Labour majority which can transform the country."

Mr Alexander said he was "ambitious" rather than "content" with how things were going and said there would be a "lot more" setting out of policies over the next few weeks.

The party would also tackle the issue of tuition fees, which were, at the moment, failing both students and the nation's finances, he said, with details to come at the party's autumn conference.

Since the Budget 10 days ago, a series of opinion polls have recorded a fall in Labour's longstanding lead over the Conservatives, including one in the Observer suggesting Labour has fallen to its lowest level since the 2010 election.

The Opinium online poll of 1,936 adults from 25 to 28 March suggests Labour support at 33%, the Conservatives on 32%, UKIP on 15% and the Lib Dems on 10%.

However another poll, a regular weekly one for The Sunday Times by YouGov, suggests that Labour has seen off a post-Budget bounce, with Labour on 40%, against 33% for the Conservatives, 11% for the UK Independence Party and 9 for the Liberal Democrats. A total of 1,916 people were questioned on 27 and 28 March.

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