THE BLOG

Labour's Vision

18/08/2013 20:42 BST | Updated 18/10/2013 10:12 BST

There are 20 weeks to go until the electorate go to the polls and decide who they want to form the next government. Will it be a Conservative or Labour majority government with either Ed Miliband or David Cameron as prime minister or will it once again be a coalition with Lib Dems as the king makers?

As somebody who backed Ed in the leadership contest and as somebody who has been a member of the Labour and Co-operative Party for many years, I would hope that we see a Labour Prime Minister in 2015. There has been much criticism aimed at Ed from those within the party - including me, some of it helpful and some probably not. But the interests of the party must always come before a leader.

Ed's vision during his leadership campaign was of a fairer Britain, a living wage and climate change at the heart of decisions. His brother David, who we all know lost, by a whisker has now departed Britain and started a new leading role in the United States. I have a huge admiration for David and he is a loss to our party politics.

The incident in a London market last week - when Ed was egged made me think, is Ed that unpopular that voters are willing to physically attack him? In my opinion he should have pressed charges against the man who threw the eggs. Violence and physical assault is not a way of getting your point heard.

Polls suggest that Ed is as unpopular as Gordon Brown (who despite me being a 'Blairite' I admire greatly for his intellect). However it does not seem that Ed is as unpopular as Nick Clegg. I think one poll had Ed on -21 and Clegg on -33.

Former and current Labour MPs including former deputy leader John Prescott, backbench MP Graham Stringer and Shadow Health Secretary and Labour leadership hopeful Andy Burnham have all called on Ed to do more. And they are right, the Conservatives have already started their election campaign by releasing posters and building up support, and whilst Labour has recruited many organisers and campaigners, it is the electorate who want Labour to provide that alternative to the Tories. Credible opposition is a government in waiting - it is about offering different solutions rather than just criticising the government.

It will be a straight choice in 2015 - do you want a Labour or a Conservative Prime Minister? I want the former.

Whoever was in office now would have had to make cuts in order to reduce the deficit. It is tough but it is government. As I said in 'What next for Labour?' - which received a good response from key people within the party, Labour must be bold and use the time in opposition wisely in order to prove to voters that the party is full of energy and fit to govern in 2015.

I love the Labour Party - but as I have been saying since 2011, we need more of a vision to offer to voters. We have not had a policy button on the Labour website since 2010/2011 and as many Labour MPs have been asking - what is our position on welfare, education and the NHS?

Ed has been right to apologise for what went wrong in government but the issue of trust between voters and Labour is still heavily damaged. Not helped of course by the Conservative attack lines of Labour being in the Union pockets. Miliband has been right to run policy workshops and refounding Labour, and many other decisions he has taken should be welcomed.

We have had some policy examples come out but we need to now be bold, offer credible alternatives to how we want Britain over the next decade to be.

I backed Ed and I still do, despite criticism. He has grown from being what some might call a 'nerd' into a man who is determined to keep calm and carry on. I hope that over the next few months and at the party conference he is as successful as his conference speech was in Manchester in 2012.

He has to keep calm, resolute and tour Britain meeting as many voters as he can because he is far more personal in person rather than on a television set.

It is clear that 2015 is no longer a marathon, but a spring to the finish line. One can only hope that Labour bolts out in front.