A Labour MP has revealed that he told former leader Ed Miliband the party was on course to lose the election - because it was happy to be a “pale imitation” of the Conservatives.
Birmingham MP Roger Godsiff said Labour needed to follow the example of the post-war Labour government elected in 1945, which created the NHS, and even the modern Conservative party, in adopting “bold” policies.
But he warned: “We ended up fighting as the timid party.”
Mr Godsiff, Labour MP for Birmingham Hall Green, was speaking after Labour began the process of electing a new leader following the resignation of Ed Miliband.
Candidates include shadow Care Minister Liz Kendall, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham.
Mr Godsiff revealed that he had a private half-hour conversation with the Labour leader before the campaign, in which Mr Miliband asked how the MP thought he was doing.
“I told him he was doing the best he possibly could. He wasn’t dealt a very good hand. But he had to be prepared to be bold with policies.”
Mr Godsiff suggested giving small shareholders a majority on the remuneration committees of all public companies, in order to bring salaries at the highest levels of big businesses under control, or imposing a 50 per cent levy on television fees paid to the premier league, with the money spent on grass-roots football.
“He said, ‘yes, very good’. Like hell it happened.
“At the end of the day he took the minimalist approach.”
Labour largely stuck to the “neo-liberal” agenda which says there should be a minimum amount of regulation and has dominated British politics since the 1980s, Mr Godsiff said.
“I think there were quite a lot of people who didn’t make up their minds until right at the end and actually were hoping that Miliband might have offered something right at the end, given them some inspiration.
“When it didn’t happen, quite a few people took the attitude that we have the Tories or we have Tory-lite - we might as well go for the real thing.
“And I said that to Miliband in that conversation I had with him, as the parting shot going out the door.
“I said ‘just remember this Ed, if the electorate are offered the real thing or a pale imitation with a more human face, they will go for the real thing’. And they did.”
Labour should learn lessons from the Conservatives, which offered “bold” policies such as allowing housing association tenants to buy their homes, he said - although he did not support that specific policy.
“It’s not a question of being left or right. To a large extent the old divisions in politics of left and right went out with the fall of Communism.
“The old ideological battles of left and right have largely gone by the board. But I think people do want to embrace bold ideas.”
He added: “We ended up fighting as the timid party. Now we’re terrified. Why?
“Maybe that’s an issue that needs addressing over the next four years. I certainly hope so.”
He also added that Birmingham Labour MP Liam Byrne’s note saying there was no money “didn’t help” Labour’s case.