Liz Kendall: Labour must reject 'extremist' values of Syriza

Posted On: 
9th July 2015

Liz Kendall has warned Labour faces a decade out of power if it tries to follow the “fantasy politics” of populist movements like Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain. 

Shadow Care Minister Liz Kendall in The House magazine

Ms Kendall, who is standing to be the next Labour leader, has been criticised by rivals for having “swallowed the Tory manifesto”.

She is seen as the most Blairite of the four candidates running to replace Ed Miliband.

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During a Q&A today, the Shadow Care Minister was unapologetic about strategy to push back against calls for Labour to shift left.

Asked about the Unite union’s decision to endorse Jeremy Corbyn, the most left-wing of leadership contenders, she warned that Labour would be out of power for at least ten years if he was elected.

Ms Kendall also took the opportunity to attack Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper, the other two rivals, who she has previously characterised as “continuity Miliband”.

“Trying to turn Labour into some kind of Syriza or Podemos party or simply saying what we’ve said over the past five years – albeit with a leader with a different gender or a different accent – will not cut the mustard,” she told a CNBC event.

“We have faced a catastrophic defeat. We need huge change to win in 2020 and change the country.”

‘FANTASY POLITICS’

The centre left across Europe needed to produce an alternative narrative to the “extremist” populism offered by the likes of Syriza and Podemos, she said.

“We progressive social democratic parties have to find a credible alternative to the ever-continuing austerity, which sees people suffer and doesn’t promote jobs and growth on the one hand, and the fantasy politics of Syriza and Podemos on the other.

“And that is just as much, I believe, a challenge for the UK Labour party as it is for our sister parties right across Europe. This is a moment for social democrats and the progressive centre left across Europe: we have to find a different alternative, otherwise we will allow the extremists – whether from the left or the right – to come in.”