MP defies party discipline plea as he attacks Labour’s ‘deafening silence’

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Ed MILIBAND’S leadership of Labour faced fresh criticism despite a plea for “iron discipline” from within the party.

The Labour hierarchy was accused by one backbencher of an “almost deafening silence” since MPs left Westminster for the summer.

Former whip Graham Stringer said he was not clear what the party’s housing, welfare or education policies were.

The intervention came despite a plea from fellow backbencher John Mann for the party’s MPs to end public criticism of the leadership following a series of high-profile interventions in recent weeks.

Mr Mann wrote on Twitter: “Time for iron discipline amongst Labour MPs. Stop whinging. Message to Ed: give them the boot.”

Whip Jon Ashworth insisted that Labour was attacking the Government but agreed the party needed to work harder to get its message across and said the autumn conference would be used to set out the “direction of travel” ahead of the 2015 general election.

Shadow Cabinet Minister Andy Burnham became the most senior figure in the party to voice concerns in an interview with The Guardian, claiming Labour had until next spring to spell out its ideas in a way that “captures how people are feeling and thinking”.

The frontbencher, who stood against Mr Miliband for the party leadership, said: “I think there’s definitely a need to shout louder, and speak in a way that captures how people are feeling and thinking.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World this Weekend Mr Stringer said there was no challenge to Mr Miliband’s leadership but added: “The real worry is the almost deafening silence there has been from the Shadow Cabinet in a time of the year which is traditionally a ripe time for the opposition to attack the government.

“I think the party is genuinely worried about the lack of activity in the Shadow Cabinet.”