Labour’s shadow cabinet ministers should clearly set out how they will cut spending and the party must remain anchored in the centre ground of British politics, Lord Mandelson has said.
The former Cabinet minister, one of the architects of New Labour, said the party had to position itself in the centre and not be swayed by the rise of “marginal parties” like Ukip.
Lord Mandelson praised Ed Miliband for speaking out on the deficit, but also indicated he would like to see the leader’s older brother - and former rival - David return to British politics.
He told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show that the Labour leader and shadow chancellor Ed Balls had set out a “sensible and reasonable” position on reducing the deficit, but the rest of the party needed to back him up.
Labour will go into the election pledging to cut the deficit every year of the next parliament and get the current budget into surplus and national debt falling as soon as possible.
Lord Mandelson said: “We can’t sustain the level of borrowing and indebtedness that we have at the moment.
“At the end of that parliament you will see the books balanced on current spending and, if growth goes well, I think we will have a surplus as well.
“There’s no point just leaving it to the two Eds to make these statements. The shadow cabinet as a whole have got to play as a team in this.
The party’s election campaign was criticised by some of its candidates at a public meeting in the Commons last week.
The Sunday Times reported that Louise Haigh, the candidate in Sheffield Heeley, warned that Labour was leaching votes to Ukip because the party has taken its traditional voters for granted.
She told the Commons event organised by the Labourlist website: “I’ve been battling against what I call safe seat syndrome, where the local party and to a certain extent the council have taken those votes for granted for a really long time.
“It was why we came very, very close to losing the PCC (police and crime commissioner) by-election earlier this year; why we’re in trouble in Rotherham; and why we’re in trouble in Scotland.”