Prescott joins criticism of Labour leadership

LONDON Sun Aug 18, 2013 10:59pm BST

Britain's former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott returns to the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the media at the High Court in central London, February 27, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Britain's former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott returns to the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the media at the High Court in central London, February 27, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Winning

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LONDON (Reuters) - Former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott joined critics of Ed Milliband's leadership of Britain's opposition Labour party, saying the party had "massively failed" in its summer political campaign.

His comments followed warnings from other senior party figures that Labour is running out of time to communicate clear policies before the 2015 election.

Labour is still forecast to win a majority but its poll ratings have slipped over its links with trade unions, while signs of economic recovery have boosted the Conservative party which leads the coalition government.

Milliband's personal ratings hit new lows last week.

"This summer, we massively failed to get our case over to the public and hold the Tories (Conservatives) to account," Prescott, Labour premier Tony Blair's deputy between 1997 and 2007, wrote in the Sunday Mirror newspaper.

He called on Milliband to sack underperforming members of his leadership team.

"Radical change is now required to shape up the policy of organisation and delivery alongside a clear set of policies and principles so people know what we stand for."

Earlier this month Labour's health spokesman Andy Burnham said the party must be bolder to win over the public with only a relatively short amount of time left before the election.

Other Labour lawmakers have spoken out to criticise the party's lack of a clear campaign message.

An opinion poll on Sunday showed Labour on 37 percent, 9 percentage points ahead of the Conservatives and up 1 point from the same poll in July, but other recent polls have shown a much narrower margin.

In May, Labour was regularly posting a double-digit lead over the Conservatives.

(Reporting by William James; Editing by David Cowell)

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