No money for mediocrity, ‘average’ Miliband told

By staff

Ed Miliband has only "average" political skills, former Labour party bankroller Lord Sainsbury has declared.

The groceries multimillionaire donated over £12 million to the New Labour cause during Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's time in power, but has told the Times he is not planning on providing any more cash for the party.

He even suggested he had picked out future leadership potential among the shadow Cabinet, but declined to offer any names because he "wouldn't want to blight their careers by singling them out".

"In terms of political skills, I think he's average. Average in the sense that I think Nick Clegg and David Cameron are pretty average," he said of Miliband.

Sainsbury is full of regrets about the mistakes made by New Labour in its 13 years in power in a new book, Progressive Capitalism.

"I believed the policies we [Labour] had developed in opposition would increase the prosperity of the country and create a fairer society," he argued.

"But in government, I gradually came to realise that our thinking largely reflected the dominant neoliberal political economy of the time, which was not a useful basis for developing policies to achieve our goals."

Sainsbury's comments follow a scathing assessment of Miliband's leadership at the weekend from Peter Mandelson, another key architect of New Labour.

The peer said Miliband's 'one nation' tag was "patently" an insufficiently robust platform on which Labour could win the next general election at the Progress conference on Saturday.

"You have to be more than a slogan and more than a label to get people to vote for you," he said. "So much is obvious."

Miliband had told a gathering of Labour MPs and peers in Westminster earlier this spring that he does not lead a "party of commentators", after Blair had warned incessant opposition to spending cuts risked turning Labour into a party of protest.