The former Labour business secretary and close ally of Tony Blair issued a scathing attack on the Opposition leader’s record, warning a future government led by him risked condemning Britain to “inertia and decline” unless he started to outline a vision for Britain. He said the party was presently set to “sneak over the finishing line” at the next election rather than winning convincingly.
Lord Mandelson said voters were desperate for Sir Keir to show “ambition and hard thinking” rather than playing safe and relying purely on the unpopularity of Boris Johnson to win power.
The peer, who has been a close adviser to the Holborn and St Pancras MP since he took on the top job, warned Labour had “got about a year” to turn things around.
“We’ve got to see more powerful brushstrokes, put down on that canvas,” he said.
Speaking to the North East Chamber of Commerce in Durham he will say: “I am glad that Keir Starmer now wants to build on New Labour’s legacy.”
He will add: “But this requires thinking deeply about how the world has changed since then and the opportunities it offers, as well as assessing realistically what we got right and where we could have done better.”
The stinging intervention highlights Labour’s own internal party woes at the very moment the Tories are most divided.
It risks drawing the spotlight away from the leadership problems of the Prime Minister and reminding voters of Labour’s own rows.
Mr Johnson is facing attacks from his own ranks after narrowly surviving a confidence vote from Tory MPs on Monday night.
Labour has since sought to capitalise on the Government’s divisions to help boost the party’s standing in the polls.
Lord Mandelson is not the only ally of Sir Keir to go public in urging Sir Keir to be more bold.
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The former lawyer’s ex-communications director is also pushing for more vision.
Ben Nunn wrote for the website Politico: “Now is a chance for Labour — and particularly party leader Keir Starmer — to outline the choices he favours.
“In the coming days an intervention should frame the government’s crisis on Labour’s terms, in a way that speaks directly to the country — that the choice is between a divided government that can no longer govern and a united opposition that’s ready to govern.”
He added: “Most people waking up this morning are worried about the same things they were yesterday: the economy, the soaring cost of living, their job and the state of their local community.
“Those are the issues that matter now, and they are the issues that’ll determine the next election.
“While the Government argues with itself, Labour can be making the bigger arguments about the country and — crucially — how to grow the economy.”
After Monday’s confidence vote result, Sir Keir pledged he would deliver for the British public if made Prime Minister.
He said: “With my leadership, Labour will put the public first, tackle the cost of living crisis and restore your trust in politics.”