Ed Miliband is to launch a comprehensive overhaul of Labour’s policies as he vows to learn the lessons of the party’s general election defeat in May.
Addressing the party’s National Policy Forum in Gillingham, Mr Miliband will again seek to distance himself from the legacy of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, saying that in its final years New Labour had “lost its way”.
He will announce the formation of a series of working groups, chaired by shadow cabinet ministers, intended to lay the ground for a new policy programme to take Labour into the next general election.
He will issue an appeal to universities, think-tanks, charities and other independent institutions to come forward with ideas that the party can incorporate into its reform agenda.
The process is intended to provide the building blocks for Labour’s general election platform – feeding into a report to next year’s annual party conference, with a second follow-up report to the 2012 conference. Together they will form the basis of detailed policy-making leading up to the final general election manifesto.
In his speech, Mr Miliband will re-emphasise the need for the party to re-connect with the “squeezed middle” of families on low and middle incomes who, he argues, it lost touch with in the years leading up to the last election.
Local Labour party members and affiliated trade unions will be urged to engage with voters at grassroots level, holding “a million conversations with members of the public”.
“The hard truth is that New Labour, which set out to help people have a better life, lost its way, and people felt that we were no longer offering them a route to a better life,” Mr Miliband is expected to say.
“And it is our job now to learn the lessons of that defeat so we go into the next election with a new solution for the future that provides better answers to the questions people ask of us – how will we help them find security? How will we help them achieve their hopes and dreams?
“We need better answers to those questions. Because more of the same from us will not close the gap between what people want out of life and what they can achieve at the moment. That is why we need to move beyond New Labour.”