Ed Miliband has set out plans for a major policy review and party revamp to Labour MPs and peers.
The party leader addressed the weekly meeting of the parliamentary party as an opinion poll showed Labour moving into a two-point lead over the Conservatives.
On his return from two weeks’ paternity leave which have seen murmurings about his leadership, Mr Miliband repeated warnings that the party faces a “long haul” to regain power.
His spokeswoman insisted that there was no dissent among those present at the behind-closed-doors gathering in the Commons and played down differences over policy within his top team.
Mr Miliband told them Labour had “lost touch with the hopes and dreams” of voters and had failed properly to adapt itself since the creation of New Labour in the mid-1990s.
A commission on Labour’s organisation, under shadow Welsh secretary Peter Hain, will be launched at the weekend and will include an examination of the influence of the trade unions.
There is also to be a policy review starting with “a blank page”, with shadow cabinet ministers leading working groups including outside experts in their relevant fields.
In what was said by party sources to have been one of the best-received passages, Mr Miliband said: “You see the Tories and the Liberal Democrats doing terrible things and it is frustrating. But opposition is about the long-haul and digging in.”
He said rising membership levels and good local by-election results meant Labour should be “optimistic but not complacent” about the future.