Page last updated at 10:34 GMT, Saturday, 10 May 2008 11:34 UK

Labour must say sorry - minister

Ivan Lewis
Ivan Lewis believes Labour needs to admit mistakes have been made

Labour should apologise to voters, party members and workers for "mistakes made in recent times", a junior health minister has said.

Ivan Lewis, whose local authority of Bury was captured recently by the Conservatives, said ministers needed to connect with voters' "real concerns".

They should not appear as a group of "bland administrators" from "planet Westminster", he told the BBC.

He also stressed the need for loyalty within party ranks.

'Road to ruin'

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said: "We've made mistakes... Gordon's made mistakes, frankly ministers have made mistakes and there's some backbenchers who've lost a focus on the public's everyday issues."

He called on "Team Labour" to acknowledge that it had let people down and move forward.

But Mr Lewis stressed that the prime minister had his full support and any attempt to undermine Gordon Brown was the "road to ruin".

He says the public will choose Gordon Brown, "a statesman, a person of substance", over the Conservative leader David Cameron at a general election.

His comments come in the run-up to the Crewe and Nantwich by-election on 22 May - prompted by the death of veteran Labour MP Gwyneth Dunwoody.

Mr Lewis became MP for Bury South in the Labour landslide of 1997 and took his first ministerial post in 2001 in the Department for Education and Skills.

In the recent local elections, his local authority of Bury, near Manchester, was won by the Conservatives for the first time since 1980.

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