John Prescott has revealed the advice gave to Ed MIliband when he became Labour leader, to always keep his jacket on and show some real "grit".
He said that when consulted on how Miliband could best beat David Cameron at the next general election he offered two suggestions.
"Put your bloody jacket back on, because leaders shouldn't be walking around with no jacket, in my view," he said.
And he criticized Miliband's "blank sheet of paper" policy review, arguing that it is the job of a party leader to come up with his own policies.
"Throw away that bit of paper where you say 'give me your thoughts and ideas'. Leaders are expected to have them. You have got to show your own grit," he said.
The former deputy prime minister said Miliband was now "beginning" to show it more than a year after he beat his older brother David to the top job.
A poll published today revealed the Conservatives have overtaken Labour for the first time in more than a year.
Support for the Tories stands at 39%, up a percentage point on last month, while that for Labour is unchanged on 38%, the ComRes survey for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror found. The Liberal Democrats were down one on 10%.
The Labour peer was appearing on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs on Sunday morning.
He told presenter Kirsty Young that he had to frequently resolve spats between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown when the two men ran the country.
"Both of them were brilliant, quite frankly, Gordon in economics, Tony in the politics. We needed them. I had to keep these two horses going in the same direction," he said.
"When it got really difficult, I would have them in for a meal and I'd sit in the middle with Gordon on one side and Tony on the other.
"Gordon could be a miserable bugger from time to time, he once said 'This chair's a bit low'. I said: 'With my waiter's experience, I will get you a higher chair' and I turned to Tony and said 'Do you want a higher chair, Tony?' and he replied 'No, I'm used to Gordon looking down on me'.
"I had to manage that. They were both brilliant, I'm an admirer of both."
Lord Prescott of the affair he had with his diary secretary Tracey Temple.
"It wasn't like a flowing affair, going out to dinner," he said. "It was just acts that took place. I can't justify it at all and I'm to blame."