Mon, 11 December 2023

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Labour Must Be “Bolder” To Win Back Voters Says Ed Miliband As Tony Blair Warns Party May Cease To Exist At All

Keir Starmer has been badly damaged by the local elections and the fallout from them (Alamy)

3 min read

Two former Labour leaders have issued a warning to Keir Starmer after last week’s disastrous election results.

Ed Miliband has admitted Labour has a “mountain to climb” and said the party must be “bolder” to get back into power.

Another former leader, Tony Blair, made a stinging attack on the “woke left” this morning for stopping Starmer from crafting a “cultural message” that appeals to voters.

Writing in the New Statesman the ex-Prime Minister warned political parties “have no divine right to exist”, and said Labour needs a “total deconstruction and reconstruction”. 

“Nothing less will do,” he added. 

It comes as the fallout from last week’s polls continues to impact Starmer. On Tuesday The Times revealed that his aide Carolyn Harris had stepped down after being accused of sbitter briefings against deputy leader Angela Rayner.

After it was reported that Rayner was being sacked as party chair and campaigns co-ordinator on Saturday, she ended Sunday in a strengthened position after a chaotic shadow Cabinet reshuffle.

She told the BBC last night she had a "very frank relationship" with Starmer, and suggested his leadership was an issue in the defeat in the Hartlepool by-election."What I heard on the doorstep is that they didn't know what Keir Starmer stood for, so that's what I think our challenge is, actually,” Rayner said.

"It's not people briefing, saying we think Keir thinks this, we think Keir thinks that, but actually about what are we doing, what are our policies?"

Speaking about the rows this morning Miliband told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Labour has a "collective responsibility" to show what it stood for.

Asked about Rayner's comments on Starmer, the shadow environment secretary said: "We had our worst election results since 1935 in 2019, that we have a mountain to climb, that Keir Starmer has provided new leadership, he has put the Remain-Leave argument behind us, but we all have a collective responsibility to show exactly what we stand for going forward. Blair agreed that Starmer is “struggling to break through with the public.” 

“Keir seems sensible but not radical. He lacks a compelling economic message," he wrote.

“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.”

He added: “A progressive party seeking power which looks askance at the likes of Trevor Phillips, Sara Khan, or JK Rowling, is not going to win.

“People are suspicious that behind the agenda of many of the culture warriors on the left lies an ideology they find alien and extreme.”

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