Public Affairs: Soap Box - Paul Richards, former Labour special adviser

The Prussian military theorist Von Clausewitz said that the first duty of a commander is to secure his base; advice Ed Miliband has taken to heart.

Last week's by-election showed that Labour could still win Labour seats - a modest aim but not a certainty.

MIliband's early objectives are to cement his position as leader, and unite colleagues for whom plotting has become a way of life. He has reached beyond his own narrow base of support within the party to people ranging from Diane Abbott to Alan Johnson. By hiring lobby hacks Bob Roberts and Tom Baldwin, he has shown he is serious about comms. One hundred days into the job, and phase one is complete: Miliband's base is secure.

What is phase two? So far, no serious attempt has been made to communicate with the public, and especially those who voted Tory at the last election. A recent study suggested that most of Labour's social media effort, especially on Twitter, comprises committed Labour people talking to each other. Twitter risks becoming the online equivalent of a local party meeting - where Labour people can debate and joke, without any meaningful contact with the voters. While Labour uses Twitter as an echo chamber, the right are using it as a klaxon.

Early in Neil Kinnock's leadership, Labour used advertising and marketing expertise to launch the glitzy Putting People First campaign. As the NHS, schools and councils are thrown into chaos, Miliband must front a modern version of Putting People First. It can't be left to sixth-formers to oppose the Government. It's time for phase two.

It's time for Commander Miliband to lead an attack.

Paul Richards is author of Labour's Revival, and writes a column for pressure group Progress.

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