In his Spectator diary this week Lord Mandelson offers Ed Miliband some advice…

Nigel Farage has no trouble in heaping praise on Putin because of their shared antipathy towards Europe. Farage’s party had a good week. The challenge for them is to build a genuine movement beyond a charismatic leader, a band of fruitcake candidates and a clutch of reactionary ideas.

I doubt they will succeed. In my political career we’ve seen two similar ‘breakthrough’ moments, both in the 1980s: the SDP’s rise and fall, then the Greens coming and going. Those parties’ success was only due to Labour’s weakness. When Labour got its act together, their appeal faded. The same has to happen now, if Labour wants to become more than a minority administration in 2015.

Douglas Alexander, the party’s election chief, said: ‘Labour can win the general election if we take the right steps between now and a year’s time.’ The ‘if’ has to include fewer crowd-pleasing cost-of-living promises and more counter-intuitive policies.

Tags: Ed Miliband, Labour, Peter Mandelson, UK politics