ED Miliband has come under fire from a veteran Leeds Labour MP for the party’s “confused” stance on key issues.
George Mudie, who represents Leeds East, said he was “deeply worried” about the Opposition’s prospects at the general election, admitting that he did not know its policy on welfare or education.
The former minister said Mr Miliband’s problems included being “young” and the key role of the unions in his leadership contest victory over brother David.
“I have difficulty knowing what we stand for now,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One. “We are 18 months away from an election thinking that we will put out a document on all these major items and the public will say ‘Oh great.’
“And I think, often, at the moment, the Government are setting the agenda, making the weather and we’re responding to it.
“Tony Blair and Gordon Brown never did that... . We’re not setting any agenda, we’re responding to the Tories.”
Mr Mudie, a close ally of Mr Brown, said to get back into power Labour had to “demonstrate to people that we are relevant to their lives”.
If the party was not “offering something different” people would “stick with what they have got”, he warned.
“There has to be and there is some concern that the lead we have in the polls, first of all is not firm enough, big enough,” he added.
“Will it withstand a general election discussion?
“But the real thing is, do you know, because I don’t, know our position on welfare, do you know our position on education, do you know our genuine position on how we’d run the health service?
“If you’re not getting a clear enough message to me, and to some of my colleagues, what are you, what kind of message do you think you’re putting out there?
“I remember before we won, 1992, the five years to 1997, this place was bubbling, we were energetic, we were at them, we thought we had all the answers.
“We’re not at them and we’re slightly hesitant and we’re slightly confused and I deeply worry about that.”
Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan insisted Mr Miliband was doing the “heavy lifting” to win the election in 2015.
He told the BBC the party was determined to be a one-term opposition. “We haven’t got the luxury of what George had between 1992 and 1997 of being out of power for 18 years....
“Since Ed has been leader the Labour Party has been ahead in the polls. I would remind you that the Conservatives spent 13 years in opposition up to 2010, and still did not win a general election outright.”
“We are seeking to do in record time what we have done in 18 years. That means sometimes I am afraid not being in the limelight and hugging a husky, that sort of stuff, cycling a bike.
“But actually going to the town halls, getting on your soap box, doing the Q&As.
“I am afraid that means less time in the tea rooms, but I am sure that George will appreciate Ed’s objective is to get out there into the country, because only 29% of the country voted Labour in 2010. That is the challenge.”
Tory chairman Grant Shapps said: “This is all starting to sound very familiar. Yet another senior figure in the Labour Party has broken ranks and condemned Ed Miliband, this time as ‘hesitant and confused’.
“Ed Miliband offers weak and directionless leadership to an increasingly restless Labour Party. If he is too weak to control his own party or stand up to union barons, how can he possibly stand up for the hard-working people of Britain?
“As the senior and respected Labour MP George Mudie says himself, ‘why would you vote Labour?’”