Late for work: Labour tries to wake up from its summer snooze

Labour will try to pick itself up from an increasingly controversial summer performance with a major drive on cost of living, just a day after another MP criticised the party leadership.

Graham Stringer joined fellow Labour MP George Mudie in complaining about the anaemic performance of the opposition during the summer months.

"‘Labour’s shadow Cabinet is almost invisible in repose when it’s an ideal time to attack ministers who are on the beach. It’s a huge mistake and it’s not good enough. We need to be energetic, not slumbering.’

Mudie said Labour leader Ed Miliband was "hesitant, confused and still trying to find himself".

Former Brownite spin doctor Damian McBride said Miliband needed to be more aggressive as the Tory party enjoyed increasing levels of confidence.

"Ed Miliband could do with a bit more General Patton in him. Yes he’s been tough enough to challenge his brother, to cut his ties with Gordon Brown and now to take on Len McCluskey and the unions. They all feel well and truly slapped," he said.

"But it’s time Ed shouted about it. People who think he’s not strong or decisive enough to be prime minister need to see the evidence."

The Labour leader reportedly left his mobile phone at home while he goes on holiday in France with his wife.

A Survation poll found 53% of Labour supporters think he is "hesitant", while 48% think he is "trying to find himself".

Forty-five per cent said he was "lacklustre".

The Labour leader also faces a significant challenge from the trade unions, after he vowed to overhaul Labour's relationship with them.

Ian Lavery, chair of the trade union group of Labour MPs, said the promised reform would cause "mayhem".

He added: "This is the biggest political gamble in the history of the Labour party. It has been described as a challenge – it’s not. It’s a gamble."

Today's drive on standard of living is partly a response to gradually improving economic figures.

The party will highlight Office of National Statistics figures showing the average worker is £1,350 a year worse off than when David Cameron entered No 10.

Polling shows 81% of voters believe prices are rising faster than household income – a stark contrast to bonuses in the financial sector, which soared by 82% in April compared to 2012.

Seventy per cent believe recent improvements in the economy have not benefited middle and lower income families.

The renewed focus harks back to Miliband's focus on the 'squeezed middle' towards the start of his leadership.

Many analysts believe there is considerable political capital to be made out of focusing on the 'cost of living crisis', as Labour tries to highlight ways that renewed economic growth may leave many workers in just as difficult a position as they were in before.