Keir Starmer warned not to look like ‘a Blairite tribute band’ amid Labour crisis

Labour 'made mistake' on Brexit stance says Campbell

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Ahead of the Batley and Spen byelection, the Labour leader has been urged to set out a “much more radical approach” to policy by former shadow chancellor John McDonnell. Labour has seen a deep rift grow between its factions following the loss of Hartlepool to the Conservatives and hundreds of councillors.

Mr McDonnell appeared on BBC Newsnight to discuss Sir Keir’s leadership and how Labour must not kick out left wing party members.

Referencing comments by former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Secretary of State Peter Mandelson about curbing trade union influence in Labour, Mr McDonnell said: “Keir cannot look like a Blairite tribute band and he knows that as well.

“There’s room for everybody in this party as long as they believe in democratic socialism, that’s what we do.

“So what Keir has got to do now is make sure that he recognises that, as I say the paradigm has changed.

“There is now a need for much more radical approach because the issues that we face are so serious.”

Writing in the New Statesman, Mr Blair called for a “total deconstruction and reconstruction” of Labour to win back power.

While praising Sir Keir as “intelligent, capable [and] moderate-minded”, the former Prime Minister said Labour was “struggling to break through with the public, and last week’s elections are a major setback”.

He added: “Corbyn was radical but not sensible. [Sir] Keir seems sensible but not radical.

“He lacks a compelling economic message. And the cultural message, because he is not clarifying it, is being defined by the ‘woke’ left, whose every statement gets cut-through courtesy of the right.”

Mr Mandelson also wrote in the Guardian Labour should cut links with left-wing factions, including trade union figures, saying: “A different party culture and rulebook needs to protect [Labour politicians] from party factionalism so that they can face the country and not just the membership.”

Baroness Sally Morgan, Senior Political Advisor in Downing Street to Mr Blair, also insisted Sir Keir should learn from his predecessors election wins.

Speaking on BBC Newsnight, she said: “I think the lesson from Harold Wilson and Tony Blair is that you own the future, then you win.

“So when you can describe where you believe the country can go and how you as a government would actively make that a good future for the majority of people, that’s when you win.”

The Baroness also insisted Sir Keir is off to a good start in his leadership of the party by tackling alleged anti-Semitism in the party, but urged him to be “confident in being more open with people about what you are and who you are”.

It comes after a series of local election losses and a byelection defeat in Hartlepool for Labour.

During the May 6 local elections, Labour lost eight councils, 327 councillors and the Hartlepool byelection.

Sir Keir said at the time he takes “full responsibility” for the defeats, saying the party had “lost the trust of working people” in places like Hartlepool and added that he intends to do “whatever is necessary to fix that”.

However, he also noted the party had “changed” since its 2019 defeat under Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Corbyn told ITV’s Peston this month: “I think it’s a bit rich to start blaming me for stuff that’s been done over the past year that I’ve had absolutely no part of whatsoever.”

YouGov polling from May 20 shows the Conservatives have widened their gap over Labour to 18 points, the biggest since May 6 last year.

Surveying 1,699 adults from May 19 to May 20, the Tories are polling at 46 percent to Labour’s 28 percent.

Boris Johnson is also currently thrashing Sir Keir in polling about who would make the “best Prime Minister”.

According to the pollsters, 40 percent think Mr Johnson would make a better Prime Minister to Sir Keir, with 24 percent favouring the Labour leader and 33 percent saying they are undecided.

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