25 Jun 2011

Labour ‘lost touch’ with the public – Miliband

Ed Miliband tells party workers Labour needs to change if it is to win the next general election – and it can only do that by becoming more responsive to the public’s concerns.

The Labour party needs to change in order to win the next general election, Ed Miliband said today.

Speaking at Labour’s National Policy Forum in Wrexham, the Labour leader asserted that “only by being honest can we rebuild”. And he went on to spell out plans to reform the party to make it more responsive to the concerns of the public.

His proposals included scrapping elections to the shadow cabinet, which he insisted were “a huge distraction”. He also wants to throw open the party conference to non-members, and to put popular grassroots ideas before Labour’s National Policy Forum.

“Much more of our policy needs to come from the everyday experiences of people,” he said. “But those we should hear the most are those who do the most in their communities.”

Mr Miliband concluded by saying the Labour Party had to become a genuine movement “that reaches out to our supporters in the country, that goes beyond them to new recruits, millions of people that argue our case up and down Britain”.

Read more about Ed Miliband's battle to become Labour Party leader

‘A good track record on women’

Speaking to Channel 4 News (see film below), Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary Caroline Flint endorsed Ed Miliband’s ideas for allowing people from outside the Labour Party to become involved in policy discussions.

And she rejected the idea that the Labour leader had reneged on his commitment to a shadow cabinet in which half of the members were female.

“He will continue to honour the PLP decision, which was to have women represented in the shadow cabinet in the numbers in the PLP, but also that he recognised the aspiration to do more than that.

“But to be honest, the Labour Party and Ed Miliband has got a good track record of supporting women. If you add all the MPs of all the other political parties in Parliament together, those still wouldn’t have as many as Labour. We lead from the front on this issue and continue to strive to do better.”

If you add all the MPs of all the other political parties in Parliament together, those still wouldn’t have as many as Labour. Carolline Flint, Shadow Communities Secretary

Ms Flint went on to contrast the Labour Party with the present government which, she said, was “completely out of touch with the concerns of people around our country – particularly women”.

Quizzed about the legitimacy of Ed Miliband’s own leadership of the Labour Party (he failed to win a majority of either Labour MPs or party members in last autumn’s leadership election), Caroline Flint stated: “He won it on the terms that the party devised. He has absolute legitimacy to be the leader of our party.”

On the question of the last Labour administration’s perceived mishandling of the economy, she said the deficit was “a huge area of concern” – despite the fact that Ed Miliband did not address the question during his speech in Wrexham.

The country, she stated, was now seeing the consequences of the Coalition Government’s decision to follow a particular economic course.

Asked by Krishnan Guru-Murthy if she thought, as a former David Miliband supporter, that Labour had “got the right brother in the end”, the Shadow Communities Secretary said: “The Labour Party did choose the leader of our party – and in that sense they have made the right choice.”