Jon Cruddas calls on Labour to reclaim traditional values

Influential backbencher warns that the party is "meekly accepting imminent Tory victory"

The Labour Party is heading for a "catastrophic" defeat at the next election unless it develops a radical policy agenda, the influential Labour backbencher Jon Cruddas has warned.

In an address to the left-wing campaign group Compass, Cruddas, who is viewed by many on the centre-left as a future leadership candidate, said: "Our lack of story and radicalism means we appear paralysed by a form of defeatism; of meekly accepting imminent Tory victory."

The Dagenham MP argued for a series of redistributive measures including replacing tuition fees with a "graduate solidarity tax"; raising capital gains tax and introducing a high pay commission to reduce income inequality. He also called for benefit levels, pensions and the minimum wage to be linked to average incomes and urged ministers to abandon plans to renew the Trident nuclear weapons system.

He emphasised that defeat to the Conservatives was not inevitable if the party put the moral case for a more equal society and reaffirmed its traditional social-democratic values.

"We have lost our language, our empathy, our generosity, because we have retreated into a philosophical framework of the right," he warned. "It is only by returning to our traditions, our language and our radicalism that we can confront this very dangerous force and build an authentic political fight around a fundamentally different approach to society and humanity."

He rejected David Cameron's claim to have modernised the Conservative Party and said many in the party relished the prospect of public spending cuts.

He said: "This 'progressive Conservatism' was built on the assumption of sharing the proceeds of growth ... [but] think about their laboratories in Hammersmith, in Essex and in Barnet. It tells us of the brutality that lies ahead ... look at the glint in their eye when they talk about cuts."