There are fresh concerns in Labour's ranks today about Ed Miliband after the party narrowly scraped a byelection victory last night, with one senior member branding his leadership "totally dysfunctional".
This comes as the Labour leader's own parliamentary aide admitted to being "anxious" about his flagship mansion tax proposal. Meanwhile, a Labour peer has branded it "grotesquely unfair" and a major party donor said it was a "vote killer".
Ukip leader Nigel Farage said the party was "ripping lumps" out of Labour in its northern heartlands after slashing the party's majority in Heywood and Middleton from nearly 6,000 to just 617 votes.
The response sparked bitter warnings from Labour MPs, with John Mann warning: 'If Ed Miliband does not broaden the Labour coalition to better include working class opinion then we cannot win a majority government."
Labour MP Frank Field MP said: 'If last night's vote heralds the start of Ukip's serious assault into Labour's neglected core vote, all bets are off for safer, let alone marginal seats at the next election."
Farage said the "completely stunning" result could lead to further defections to Ukip in the months running up to the 2015 general election, including potential Labour MPs.
"There comes a point where there will be backbench Conservatives, and perhaps some Labour ones too, who will reckon they have got a better chance on a Ukip ticket next year than a Tory or Labour ticket," he told Sky News. "I don't think we are quite at that moment yet."
Meanwhile, Miliband's mansion tax pledge, which would hit properties worth over £2 million, has drawn increasing criticism from Labour figures.
Labour MP Karen Buck, Miliband's parliamentary private secretary, said she was "very, very anxious" about it, telling the Daily Telegraph that she would only support the levy if safeguards for vulnerable people are included in the plans.
Lord Bragg, the Labour peer and broadcaster, told the Sun that Miliband's tax was "grotesquely unfair" and "may have wiped out Hampstead as a Labour seat".
Assem Allam, chairman of Hull City football club, said the policy was a "very bad idea" and a "vote killer". Speaking to the Times, Allam said it would be "disastrous" if Miliband implemented such a levy.
Meanwhile, members of the party's National Executive committee are preparing to confront Miliband over the drift in his leadership in a crunch meeting on November 4.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one NEC member told the Telegraph that the Labour leader was afflicted by the "curse of Gordon Brown". Another NEC member said the party's election strategy was "totally dysfunctional", adding: "Nobody knows who is running what. There seems to be four or five different people in charge of different things.”
The Labour leader told reporters after the Heywood and Middleton result that there would not be a “shred of complacency” from Labour.
"What we saw last night was a Tory party losing in their own backyard in Clacton and in retreat on what used to be their frontline in the northwest," he told reporters.
"But there won’t be a shred of complacency from us as we reach out to all of those voters who didn’t vote Labour and those who didn’t vote at all."