The triple election winner issued a vote of confidence in the current party chief – and called on him to go further in ousting hardline figures
Image: Matthew Horwood)
Tony Blair today offers a ringing endorsement of Keir Starmer’s chances of reaching No10.
The former Prime Minister said the current Labour leader was “capable of governing and confidence is returning”.
In his most upbeat intervention on the party’s internal politics in more than a decade, the last Labour premier to win a general election says that while preparing the ground to make the party electable is “difficult”, it is not “impossible”.
Writing the foreword to the latest report from the Tony Blair Institute think tank, the ex-PM lays out four things Mr Starmer must do to boost the party’s image with voters.
They include “continuing to push the far left back to the margins”, as members and MPs loyal to predecessor Jeremy Corbyn are sidelined.
Mr Blair says: “The country must know there is no question of negotiating the terms of power with them.”
Urging his successor to embrace the technology revolution, he warns that Labour “needs a new future-oriented policy agenda based on an understanding of how the world is changing which rejects both the old fashioned statist view of the left and the status quo politics of the right”.
He calls on Mr Starmer to avoid the damaging culture wars, as battles rage over issues like transgender rights.
The ex-Premier urges Labour to “embrace liberal, tolerant but commonsensical positions on the ‘culture’ issues, and emphatically reject the ‘wokeism’ of a small though vocal minority”.
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Mr Blair also calls for the leadership to “go out and seek the best and brightest from the younger generation to come and stand as Labour candidates. And make a virtue of doing so”.
Opening the report, ‘From Red Walls to Red Bridges: Rebuilding Labour’s Voter Coalition’, the ballot box triple victor writes: “All of this is difficult. But none of it is impossible.”
Pointing to the successes of New Labour, which claimed landslide victories in 1997 and 2001, and won a third time in 2005, he says: “Labour could do it again.
“Its leadership today is capable of governing and confidence is returning.
Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)
“The corner is turned. But the road ahead is long and the vehicle requires an engine which can accelerate at speed.
“We just require the determination to do it.”
The study includes the results of surveys by Deltapoll, which questioned more than 2,500 former Labour voters and more than 3,000 individuals who remained loyal to Labour.
It found the party’s traditional voting base had crumbled in the run-up to the 2019 election disaster – its worst defeat for 84 years.
“On the face of it, Labour’s problem seems almost impossible to solve,” writes pollster Peter Kellner.
“The old coalition, between manual workers and metropolitan liberals, appears to have disintegrated.
“There does not seem to be a way to appeal to one without further alienating the other.
“Yet our research suggests a more optimistic conclusion.”
He warns that to secure a majority at the next general election, Labour needs to gain more than 120 seats.
Andrew Parsons / Parsons Media)
“This will require a 12% lead in the popular vote – and a swing to Labour greater than in 1997,” he writes.
But he adds: “The common ground in Britain today is broader than is often depicted.
“Labour’s challenge is to reconnect this ground and these voters.”
The findings will boost Mr Starmer’s attempts to rebrand the party and move on from four-and-a-half years of Mr Corbyn’s leadership.