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Labour 2.0? Lord Mandelson Says Keir Starmer Taking Same Path as Blair & New Labour

© REUTERS / Handout .British opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons Chamber in London, Britain, April 29, 2020
British opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons Chamber in London, Britain, April 29, 2020 - Sputnik International
The comparison will likely evoke mixed reactions. For many, the Blair years are seen as some of Labour’s worst, highlighted in particular by the decision to join the US in invading Iraq. For others, Mr Blair was seen as a sensible centrist pair of hands, especially when compared to the hard left instincts of the more recent leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Lord Peter Mandelson has claimed that the Labour Party’s new leader, Sir Keir Starmer, is “getting a grip” on the party and mimicking the path taken by Tony Blair and New Labour. 

In an interview with The Times, Lord Mandelson, seen as the architect of Blair’s New Labour, told the The Times that Starmer is, “climbing the same sheer cliff face” as Mr Blair when he won No. 10 Downing Street in the 1997 election. Mandelson said that he recognises in Sir Keir the same “modernising instincts” that drove him and Tony Blair to power decades ago.

“We’re climbing up the same sheer cliff face. The speed with which he [Starmer] has got the new general secretary and is getting a grip on the party is impressive. I didn’t expect it,” Mr Mandelson said.

After being elected as Labour leader on April 4, Sir Keir has moved with haste to moderate what many saw as the hard left direction the Labour Party had taken under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. In particular, Lord Mandelson pointed to the fact that unlike under his predecessors tenure, Sir Keir appears to have united the majority of Labour MPs, and brought a number of centrists, such as Wes Streeting, Pat McFadden and Liz Kendall, back into the decision-making process. Moreover, Sir Keir’s shadow cabinet is made up largely of MPs from the centre-left of the party, rather than the hard left constitution that dominated under Corbyn’s premiership.

Lord Mandelson suggested that the intra-party unity being forged by Sir Keir - who won 56 percent of the vote in the leadership election - could pave the way to Labour toppling the Tories from power in the next general election, slated for May 2024.

“The real party membership want to win, they want the Labour Party in power and they want a professional machine,” said Lord Mandelson.

Indeed, senior Tory MPs have expressed alarm over Sir Keir’s well-received parliamentary performances and his forensic interrogations of Boris Johnson over his government’s response to COVID-19. One anonymous senior Tory told The Daily Mail that Sir Keir, “is going down well. We need to be careful. Keir is a savvy guy. He can think on his feet.” 

The newly crowned Labour leader has also won praise for his swift attempts to deal with the Labour Party’s alleged anti-semitism crisis.

Lord Blunkett, a Labour Party veteran from the Blair years said that Sir Keir had demonstrated that he was “prepared to do the straightforward common-sense thing” on anti-semitism by reaching out to Jewish groups and ordering into the issue immediately after taking office.

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