Paul Kenny had a stark message for Ed Miliband when I spoke to him this morning.
“The City didn’t vote for Ed Miliband,” he said. “And they won’t vote for him.
“I can’t foresee a day when the Daily Mail or The Telegraph – or even The Sun at this stage – are going to put across their front page, ‘Ed: what a stunner.’
“It just ain’t going to happen. We’ve got to accept that.”
His message comes on the day he published a comment piece in The Times (£), calling for Miliband to “care more about what ordinary people think about him” rather than worrying about how the media will report on him.
He told me: “If he [Ed Miliband] is himself, if he comes across as himself, and stands up for people, people will reconnect.
“Five million people left, didn’t vote Labour between 1997 and now. You’ve got to get three million of those back. And you will not do that by making little soundbites.
“That’ll just get you into trouble.
“Be yourself, say what you are and people will begin to see that you don’t deviate on a spin.
“That means occasionally you are going to say the unpopular thing. But I actually think that’s what we want from politicians. Straight.
“I am sick to death, quite frankly, of living through a generation where image has been everything and substance has been something you put up with now and again.”
He also had damning words for New Labour.
“During the years of New Labour – both through Gordon’s period as chancellor and Alistair’s – that on far too many occasions the City seemed to hold sway.
“There seemed to be this blind faith that the whole future of our country was in the financial markets and the financial sector.
“I remember one of the Treasury team, who is now in the Lords, saying: ‘The future of our country is in the financial services.’
“I mean, that looks about as sick as you can get now, doesn’t it?
“They were just courted too much. They got carried away.”
Kenny denied that the timing of his comment piece had anything to do with Ed Balls’ speech to conference today.
You can read the full transcript of my interview with general secretary of the GMB Paul Kenny here.