LABOUR’S Jon Cruddas has blasted the leadership for rejecting bold reforms in favour of “cynical nuggets of policy” designed to appeal to the press and focus groups.
The policy chief warned that the top of the party wields a “profound dead hand at the centre” that blocks plans.
A recording, obtained by the Sunday Times and published yesterday, of the head of the party’s policy review made at a meeting of the Compass group captured him attacking recently announced Labour plans to cut jobseeker’s allowance for 18 to 21-year-olds as “punitive.”
Mr Cruddas warned the “clock is ticking” and raised fears that interesting ideas were “not going to emerge through Labour’s policy review” in the recording.
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls denied that Mr Cruddas had major issues with the leadership.
He told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “I talked to Jon a couple of days ago. He’s not frustrated. He is excited about his policy agenda.
“Jon Cruddas, with me and Ed and others, has been working for months, years, on big reforms. They are going to come out in the next few months, people will see the policy review he has led has been a big deal.
“He is part of the Labour centre and we are all working together on these big reforms.”
The spat comes as Labour prepares to set out its vision for rebuilding Britain through major reforms of the state and big business in a series of events over the next week.
The party will reverse a century of centralisation by diverting £30 billion of funding to create “powerhouse” English cities and counties, leader Ed Miliband has said.
As well as pulling together plans on tackling “broken markets,” changes to the welfare system and a crackdown on tax avoidance, it will lay out the results of former transport secretary Lord Adonis’s review on growth polices.
Labour is already committed to increasing devolution of powers over housing, transport and skills to English cities and regions but is now setting the amount of cash it would transfer from Whitehall to £30 billion over the course of five years.
Party sources said the plans were a “determined and resolute break with the past” — not just with the actions of the coalition government but the previous Labour administration as well.