Frontbench MP tells Labour leader to avoid spending tag

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Labour leader Ed Miliband has been warned the party must not fall in to the “Conservative trap” of allowing itself to be seen as the party of public spending.

Junior Shadow Cabinet Minister Gregg McClymont said Mr Miliband must avoid the “tax and spend” trap set by the Tories by only seeking to appeal to its core voters in the public sector.

Writing for the Policy Network think-tank, Mr McClymont warned that to do so could lead to Mr Miliband suffering the same fate as former leaders Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock.

The Shadow Pensions Minister wrote: “Labour can sidestep the electoral trap being sprung by the Conservatives by refusing to be driven back to its core support.

“A patriotic appeal to the nation to improve growth and living standards, not a simple defence of the public sector and public spending, is crucial to foiling Conservative attempts to render Labour the party of a sectional minority.”

His comments come as Mr Miliband said Labour’s “mission” for 2012 was to rise above public cynicism about politics and demonstrate that “optimism can defeat despair”.

He accused the Government of surrendering to a “counsel of despair”, offering only rising unemployment and years of falling living standards for ordinary families.

“Some believe things would be the same whoever was in charge,” he said. “And others fear the Government is in the grip of forces so powerful that nothing can be done. It suits the current Conservative-led Government to go along with this idea. Having failed in their promise to make Britain a safe haven, they now say that there is no alternative to rising joblessness and years of falling living standards for working people.

“It is a counsel of despair. My party’s mission in 2012 is to show politics can make a difference.”