Labour wants the English local elections to be about the "real world" not the concerns of the Westminster village, says minister David Miliband.
Voting takes place on 4 May
Some Labour backbench MPs and councillors are worried about how the government's recent troubles will affect the poll on 4 May.
Mr Miliband said: "Over the next week our priority is to make sure people do think local."
The Tories and Lib Dems have been calling for the home secretary to quit.
They say Charles Clarke has failed over the release of 1,023 foreign prisoners who were not considered for deportation as planned.
Mr Miliband admitted the "Westminster world" was not the best place to be for the government over the last week.
"You could say that we are testing to destruction the idea that people vote on what goes on in the real world rather than what goes in the Westminster world," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
He said opinion polls suggested people saw changes in their local areas, if not nationally.
"They see a growing economy, they do see public services improving. They actually do see more police on the beat," he said.