Avoid right-wing issues, David Miliband tells Labour

By politics.co.uk staff

Labour needs to resist "tactical Tory populism" on issues like Europe, immigration and benefits, David Miliband has warned.

The former foreign secretary used an article for the New Statesman magazine to warn against the perils of allowing the Conservatives to harness the concerns of "frightened" voters.

He argued that, rather than adopting the Tory approach of linking issues about identity and culture with those of economics, Labour should look back to its victories in 1945, 1964 and 1997 for a blueprint on how to win in 2015.

"Labour's history is that it wins and governs when it aligns an economic narrative of modernisation with a social agenda of compassion and a political culture of dynamism and progress," he wrote.

"Today, Labour has a disruptive economic narrative – that Britain needs fundamental change in its market structure and culture to compete in the modern world.

"This is bold. Given the crash, it is also necessary."

Miliband has a history of sporadic political interventions, but today's article does not come close to criticising his younger brother's leadership.

Instead he warns both Labour and the Conservatives that the biggest risk over the next year is one of increased political disengagement.

"As the economy stagnates, politics needs to respond with vigour and imagination," he urged.

Miliband cited a recent ComRes poll which showed three-quarters of Labour supporters expect the Tories to lose the election.

He warned: "The danger is to confuse being a better opposition with becoming a potential government."

The former foreign secretary concluded: "As it plots its next steps, Labour cannot be conservative. The prize is not just winning – it is being able to change the country again."