David Miliband in Wolverhampton: Labour needs to broaden appeal to win an election
David Miliband has called on the Labour Party to “learn the lessons of history” and attempt to broaden its appeal to win future general elections.
The former government minister warned that politics in Britain was “heading in the same way” as it is in the US, with the main parties not interested in appealing to people outside of their core support.
And he conceded that Labour’s task on Thursday was one of damage limitation, with the key aim being to stop Boris Johnson from winning a large majority.
Mr Miliband, who wrote the Labour’s manifesto when Tony Blair surged to a landslide victory in 1997, visited the Lunt Community Centre in Bilston, where he addressed supporters of Wolverhampton South East parliamentary candidate Pat McFadden.
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He told the Express & Star: “We are not in the same position as we were in 1997 when people were talking about Labour winning 325 seats to win an election.
"We are talking about whether or not we can prevent the Tories having a big majority.
"But I never write off the Labour Party. It’s been the vehicle for the hopes and progress of so many people for 120 years.
"We have to learn the lessons of our history, which is that unless we appeal to the whole country we can’t serve the whole country."
Mr Miliband quit as an MP in 2013 and now lives in New York where he heads the International Rescue Committee.
He said he was concerned that British politics was heading down the "American road" which could lead to a divided society.
"I still think there is a national conversation in Britain, but I think we have to watch out for the politics of slicing and dicing," he said.
"People need to be offered something that brings the country together, not just something which splits it apart."
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Mr Miliband says he is disappointed over Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism under Mr Corbyn, while he also hit out at politicians of all stripes on the current election campaign for "undermining the truth" and failing to speak in "real terms".
He accused the Conservatives of attempting to exploit the Brexit vote for their party’s advantage, and defended his stance in support of a second referendum.
"The last three and a half years has been tough for all the parties," he said.
"There’s nothing undemocratic about saying that people should have the final say in the outcome. The stakes are so high.
"That’s not taking away from [how they voted] before, it is just saying that given that the Brexit position is so different from the one which was presented in 2016, that they can have that final say."
Mr McFadden, who is bidding to hold onto the seat he first won in 2005, served alongside Mr Miliband in Gordon Brown's government.
He said that politics was too concerned with looking to the past rather than the future.
"There's a bit of nostalgia around politics now," he said. "Look at the language that is used. 'Take our country back', 'Make America great again'... this language is revealing in what it shows.
"I don't think that politics is inspiring if it's a battery for a better yesterday."
During his visit to the city Mr Miliband also went to see Labour’s Wolverhampton North East candidate Emma Reynolds in Wednesfield, where he attended the Christmas fayre at St Thomas's Church.
She said she was delighted to welcome Mr Miliband and introduce him to her recently born son, Thomas.
"He was pleased to meet baby Thomas, local people at the fayre – and of course Santa!" she said.