POLITICS

David Blunkett Wants To Teach Ed Miliband's Young Shadow Cabinet How To Win

20/08/2013 09:54 BST
PA
Taping embargo 1300 Sunday October 15, 2006. Former cabinet minister David Blunkett gives an interview, Saturday 14th October, to mark the publication of his book 'The Blunkett Tapes: My Life In The Bear Pit'.

David Blunkett wants a job mentoring Ed Miliband's young front bench team, amid criticism the Labour leader and shadow cabinet have failed to set the agenda over the summer.

The former home secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday that while it seemed unlikely senior figures from the Blair and Brown years such as himself would be given top jobs by Miliband, they could lend a hand behind the scenes.

"It was made clear earlier in the year that the oldies wouldn't be coming back so we need to find new ways of being able to contribute," he said.

"What we could do better is probably us joining up with younger, enthusiastic, energetic, upcoming people so that we can give them a bit of advice if they are prepared to listen to us."

Following his victory in the Labour leadership contest in 2010, Miliband said "a new generation has taken charge of Labour" which had "different attitudes, different ideas [and a] different ways of doing politics".

However in recent weeks a number of senior Labour figures have spoken out about the party's performance as the general election draws nearer, including former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott, who wrote at the weekend that they had ''massively failed'' to get their case across to the public and to hold the Conservatives to account over the summer.

Addressing the previous Labour government's record in power, Blunkett said it had been "good and bad, by the way - the things we did well and the things we did badly.

He added: "On the Blair government, well, we won three full elections. We did so on a vision of modernisation and reform. We should be proud of what we did. We should learn from our mistakes."

Blunkett's comments came as a poll showed one in three Labour voters think Miliband should not lead the party into the next general election.

The survey also found that only two out of every 10 voters are satisfied with the Labour leader's performance.

34% of people who voted for the Labour Party in 2010 say he should not lead the party into the 2015 general election, while just 46% say he should, according to the ICM poll carried out for the Daily Mirror.

Blunkett told the BBC: "There is frustration but there is also a great deal of hope.

"I would accept what's been said over the last few weeks, including the article by John Prescott on Sunday, that we need to work out how to get a higher profile in circumstances where it is very difficult to get a hearing.

"Above all, and I think we need to do it from this conference, I hope for a staged approach so that the conference in the spring about changes internally and our relationship with the trade unions will actually also be a conference as a springboard where we can announce further policies so that when we get to the manifesto in 2015, people will actually know what we stand for."

Asked if the Labour leader has got what it takes, he said: "I think Mr Miliband has demonstrated on a number of occasions that he can do it but he won't be able to do it alone and nor should he.

"Clem Attlee wasn't the most vibrant, in public terms, proponent. He was a fantastic leader of the Labour Party."

Blunkett said Labour must be clearer about its vision and "engage with people in their own lives".

"I think you have got to conclude that collectively... we need to ensure that people are clear about how the individual policies that are announced and are being developed...that we join those up so the links are clear to people about what kind of perspective we have, a vision for the future, and how we engage people in their own lives because they are fed-up with people making promises that they don't believe will be carried out."