Yvette Cooper has sought to distance herself from Ed Miliband as she criticises him for allowing the party to appear to be “anti-business, anti-growth and ultimately anti-worker”.
The leadership contender said it had been a “mistake” for Mr Miliband to try to divide the economy into “predators” and “producers”.
She said she would “reset” Labour’s relationship with business - dropping the party’s opposition to the Government’s recent corporation tax cut and promising to set up a business advisory group which she would consult regularly.
“Labour has to show we want to build businesses up not knock them down. We need to reset our relationship with business around a shared vision for building an economy that faces the future,” she said in a briefing note to journalists.
“Too often in the past our rhetoric undermined that positive relationship with business, and with the creation of jobs and wealth for the future.
“People knew how we wanted to stop exploitation in the workplace, but not how we’d grow our workplaces to create more jobs and stronger growth.
“They knew we wanted to stop consumers being ripped off, but weren’t convinced we also wanted businesses to grow and flourish. We can’t let that happen again.”
Ms Cooper, who was a senior member of the shadow cabinet throughout the last parliament while her husband, Ed Balls, was shadow chancellor, said the language they used had sent out the wrong message.
“It sounded anti-business, anti-growth and ultimately anti-worker for the many people employed by large companies in the UK,” the note said.
Ms Cooper said that she would invite business people to join her new advisory group even if they were not Labour supporters and promised to consult with them on a regular basis.
“There will be dialogue and discussions about what works, rather than rude surprises that backfire,” she said.
“Our rhetoric can’t be set against the wealth creators and drivers of our future economic growth. We can’t be set against business, and too many believed we were.”
Ms Cooper is one of four contenders so far to have declared in the race to succeed Mr Miliband and her comments appear to be designed to scotch suggestions that she is the “continuity candidate”.