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Starmer’s Mandelson Return Won’t Help Labour – Left Warns Over Return to Blairism

“The return of Mandelson reflects a course of direction at odds with Labour’s members & at odds with the platform Starmer was elected on.”

Gemma Bolton, NEC member

By the Labour Outlook volunteer team.

This weekend’s Sunday Times reported that Keir Starmer was bringing back Peter Mandelson to insert some ‘New Labour’ mentality back into Labour. Across social media, Labour and trade union activists expressed concern at the move and growing signs of a return of the politics of Blairism at the heart of Labour’s leadership under Keir Starmer.

As Gemma Bolton, Grassroots Alliance-supported Labour NEC member said to us upon hearing the news, “the return of Peter Mandelson reflects a course of direction at odds with Labour’s members and at odds with the platform Starmer was elected on.”

Her fellow NEC member Nadia Jama was also critical of the move, saying “We can all remember Mandelson’s distain for our working class communities back in the 90’s – and his daily undermining of our previous leader Jeremy Corbyn – so I can’t for the life of me think what Mandelson has to offer our party now, other than more division,” adding that “We need radical policies to build on the last two manifestos for the crises we face today and we won’t get that from Peter Mandelson.”

Commenting on the report to Labour Outlook, former MP, Labour Councillor and No Holding Back Co-Convenor Laura Smith said, “For people wanting to see the Labour Party reconnecting with it’s lost heartlands it will be desperately disheartening to see that someone at the centre of the strategy that led to millions of voters turning away from Labour has been asked to advise on the way forward.”

No doubt representing the views of Labour members up and down the country she added, “I wish labour would look to the future and the radical solutions that are desperately required to help communities like mine rather than clinging on to a romanticised false memory of the past.”

Whether or not this report reflects Keir Starmer’s current thinking – and whether or not he goes along with those who would wish to see him ditch all his pledges from the Party Leadership contest and return Labour to the political agenda of the Blair years – will become clearer over the next weeks.

In the words of Steve Howell on Twitter it will show if he is a “leader or front man” in light of the fact that “the unsubtle briefing Blairites gave the Sunday Times (with demands on policy and for sackings) is a bid to complete their top-down power grab,” and “if he bows, his days are numbered.”

As Jon Trickett MP put it to us, paraphrasing Karl Marx, “The ideas of the New Labour “generation weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.’ “

Now is the time for real change and socialist solutions – a return to Blairism won’t help Labour.

  • LABOUR OUTLOOK FORUM: Why socialists can’t leave Labour to the centrists & should unite to build resistance to the Tories. This Saturday, 20 February, 14:00. Register here // RSVP, Share & invite here // Retweet here. With Steve Howell, Deputy Director of Strategy and Communications for Jeremy Corbyn in 2017 and author of ‘Game Changer.’ His second novel, ‘Collateral Damage,’ will be published in the spring.
MP Portraits Project in The Reasons Room.

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