Lord Mandelson has savaged Ed Miliband's core economic message as "completely useless", as Labour's leadership battle gets underway.
In a brutal critique of Miliband's five years at the top of Labour, Mandelson said the party had made a fatal mistake by abandoning Tony Blair's approach. He also said Labour should end the trade unions' "abuse and inappropriate" influence over its leadership selection process.
“The awful, shocking thing about this election is Labour could have won it,” he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show. “The reason we lost it and lost it so badly is in 2010 we discarded New Labour, rather than revitalising it and reenergising it and making it relevant for the new times, the new policy challenges that we faced. That was a terrible mistake.”
The former business secretary also said Labour's campaign had given the impression it was for the poor and hated the rich "ignoring completely the vast swathe of the population who exist in between".
And he dismissed Miliband's "predator vs producer" analysis of businesses. "I thought it was a completely useless label that led nowhere in any serious debate," he said.
Mandelson's comments come as Labour looks set for a battle between its left and right wings over how the party should respond to its unexpected and overwhelming general election defeat on Thursday. Writing in The Observer today, Blair himself said the party had to show that it stood for "ambition and aspiration" as well as compassion and care.
A number of names are already in the frame to succeed Mliband, including Chuka Umunna, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Tristram Hunt, Liz Kendall, Dan Jarvis, David Lammy and Angela Eagle.
Appearing on the Marr show alongside Mandelson, Umunna was asked if he intended to stand for leader. "It's to early for that at the moment," he said. "I certainly intend to play the fullest part I can in rebuilding our party."
Kendall, who served as a shadow health minister, told The Sunday Times when asked if she wanted to be leader: "Yes I am considering it. But we don’t just need a new face. We need a fundamentally new approach.”
Lammy, who is already seeking Labour's nomination to be London mayor, told the BBC yesterday he was considering whether it was time for him to "step up into a leadership role".
In a sign that Cooper is readying a campaign, a website, yvetteforleader.com, has been registered by one of her top aides.
The Huffington Post understands Eagle has been approached by Labour MPs to run for both leader and deputy leader. "She is highly likely to announce a deputy leadership campaign and is also considering a leadership bid too," a source close to Eagle said.
Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) will meet early next week to set a timetable for a contest to replace both Miliband and deputy leader Harriet Harman.
Mandelson, appearing on the BBC today, called for an end to the party's "unhealthy" dependence on trade union funding. He said the unions have an important role to play in society and politics but added: "I am not happy with a Labour Party so clearly dependent on people who pay the piper and then in many cases can call the tune. That's not a good look, that's not right for a Labour Party appealing for votes in the 21st century."
Mandelson accused "trade union machines" of offering unrivalled backing to Ed Miliband in 2010 in an attempt to influence members - and said this "sort of abuse" should be guarded against this time around. Asked if it was time for Labour to break the link with trade unions, he said: "It's undoubtedly unhealthy for us to be so dependent on trade union funding."