MP Frank Dobson said there is “some truth” in criticism that Ed Miliband is a poor communicator.
But added he believes the beleaguered Labour leader is closer to public opinion than most of his critics.
An IpsosMORI poll found that Mr Miliband had the worst personal rating of any leader running for Prime Minister since records began.
“Clearly there’s truth in that,” said Mr Dobson, who has held the Labour seat in Holborn and St Pancras since 1979.
“But if it’s a choice between someone like Ed Miliband who actually thinks before he says anything and works through problems rather than an instant response like ‘flash Harry’ – Blair was a bit of a ‘flash Harry’ and Cameron was a ‘flash Harry’.”
He added: “Times change, public opinion has changed. Ed Miliband is closer to where public opinion is than most of his critics.”
Watch the full interview here.
Mr Dobson was Health Secretary between 1997 and 1999. When asked if Mr Miliband should be straight with the public about putting up taxes to improve the NHS he said more needed to be invested in the service.
He said: “It’s fair to say if we want to have a first class health service, we have to pay a first class fare.”
He added: “The NHS is in a bad way at the moment. It’s totally dependent on the good will of the people working in it, people who work longer hours than they are paid for.
“There are a lot of people going into hospital through A&E, and not through A&E, who would be better treated at home.”
The 74-year-old joined the Independent’s Whitehall Editor Oliver Wright for The Headline Interview.
During his 35-year political career, the MP held several shadow cabinet positions before Labour came to power in 1997.
He said stories of the then Prime Minister Tony Blair and chancellor Gordon Brown feuding were “exaggerated”.
“They were very close, closer to one another than anyone has been to either of them,” he said.
“It was a bit like a couple who had lived together, been married and then went apart.
“Some people get divorced and still work close to one another.”
Mr Dobson also commented on delaying the Chilcot Report into the Iraq War saying it would be “ludicrous” for it to appear shortly before the election.
He also chatted about the forthcoming London Mayoral Election as well as his opposition to the £50bn HS2 project.