Peter Mandelson was speaking at a Progress event on monday night

Mandelson wants more Miliband ‘courage’

Mandelson wants more Miliband ‘courage’

By Phil Scullion

Ed Miliband needs to show more courage as a leader if he is to unite the Labour party behind him, Peter Mandelson has suggested.

Speaking at a meeting of the Labour pressure group Progress, the former first secretary of state warned his party against returning to the infighting which characterised the Labour party during the 1980s.

He said: 'We need to take a few risks; talk more directly to the country; be more innovative and courageous.

"Our leader is a leader of the country, not of the party's sections and factions, and it is to the country he needs to be given the space to prove himself."

Lord Mandelson's support comes despite his backing of David Miliband during the Labour leadership election.

"We need to spend less time talking to ourselves about Ed and more time talking to the country with smart ideas that are realistic and sufficiently innovative to command media and public attention," he continued.

"The leadership election is over. We support Ed. No ifs and buts. He is our leader, period".

His comments came as a Guardian-ICM opinion poll showed Ed Miliband's personal popularity ratings are continuing to slide.

Whilst the Labour party are just ahead of the Conservatives on 39%, the Labour leader is 11 points behind his party.

A large factor in Ed Miliband's election as leader was his popularity with the trade unions, but Lord Mandelson has suggested that the Labour party need to move away from their union ties and find new sources of funding.

"We have to develop smarter ways of raising money. We have to combine the latest solutions with community engagement to open up new sources of cash," Lord Mandelson added.

His comments come a week after fellow New Labour architect Tony Blair spoke out about the current situation within the Labour party.

The former prime minister warned Ed Miliband that he would need to "fight from the centre" if he was to have any chance of winning the next general election.

"With Peter Mandelson attacking Ed for relying on union money and Tony Blair's criticism that Labour is moving away from the centre ground, it’s clear that Ed Miliband is the weak leader of a divided party," Conservative party co-chairman Sayeeda Warsi said.