Turning to “outdated & unelected” Mandelson won’t help Labour – Jess Barnard & Young Labour voices respond to Starmer Bringing Mandelson Back.

“Turning to outdated unelected advisors associated with corruption & undermining the previous leadership is no way to retaining the passion of young people in the Labour party. The issues we face today are a world away from 1997 & those in denial of this risk further isolating an already wavering youth vote.”

Jess Barnard, Young Labour Chair.

As reported here earlier this week, at a time when the Coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the deep structural problems facing Britain in 2021 – and why Labour should be at the forefront of the discussion on what a new, better Britain should look like – there has been much surprise and dismay at the news this week that Keir Starmer has been reported as bringing back one of the key architects of Blairism, Peter Mandelson.

These critical voices are not confined to people who were active in the ‘New Labour’ days, but also include today’s Young Labour activists.

Speaking to Labour Outlook in response to the news, Jess Barnard (Young Labour Chair) said “Labours path to power runs through a broad coalition of voters, including young people. Young people who were inspired by the ambition and hope delivered in the 2017 manifesto and a shift away from the stale politics of years before. Turning to outdated unelected advisors associated with corruption and undermining the previous leadership is no way to retaining the passion of young people in the Labour party. The issues we face today are a world away from 1997 and those in denial of this risk further isolating an already wavering youth vote.”

Lamar Campbell, Young Labour International Officer, also feels that we should be looking forwards not backwards, and proposing radical change, commenting that “the political rehabilitation of Mandelson is a chilling signal that the Labour leadership will return to the anti-migrant, corporate politics of new Labour,” and adding that “from unemployment to food poverty to insecure housing, Mandelson and the politics of the 90s has none of the answers to the urgent issues working people face today.”

Eli Aldridge, a former PPC and now a care worker, was also damning in his assessment of Mandelson’s return, saying “Mandelson represents an era of playing good cop and tinkering around the edges which did nothing to remove the systemic hardships faced across this country,” and adding that, “as a Care worker throughout this pandemic it cannot be good enough to be the kind face of capitalism in lieu of the destruction, cronyism and callousness of our system which has been laid bare by this horrific virus.”

We’ll leave the last word to Sean Waters, Chair of Sussex University Labour Society and Arise volunteer, who told us that now is the time to be “putting together the foundations of a forward-looking political project that is capable of responding to the unprecedented crises in health, housing, education & more,” and that within this context “the return of Peter Mandelson will appear to many to be a signifier that the Labour Party’s role in pushing forward transformative policies, including a Green Industrial Revolution will be dropped in favour of misguided attempts to resuscitate an ideology totally irrelevant to the needs of the working class today… I would hold back from regarding this as the death knell of Starmerism, however, if this is a signifier of what’s to come, I for one am not convinced that “things can only get better.”

MP Portraits Project in The Reasons Room.

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