Minister under Tony Blair says Labour must be 'much more radical' to succeed

12 May 2021, 18:31

By Tim Dodd

Former minister under Tony Blair John Denham says Labour has to be "much more radical" in appealing to different parts of the electorate, in order to gain back voters' trust.

The conversation comes after Tony Blair unleashed a stinging attack on the 'woke left', saying Labour could cease to exist unless it has a "total deconstruction and reconstruction".

Mr Blair's comments followed the party's disastrous losses in the Super Thursday elections, during which they lost the "red wall" seat of Hartlepool to the Tories for the first time in its nearly 50-year history.

Speaking to Tom Swarbrick, Mr. Denham said: "Labour today has got to be the party of the patriotic pensioner of Hartlepool, it also has to be the party for the person to whom Black Lives Matter in London really matters, and it also has to be the party of a computer coder living in Swindon - a graduate who's got a house but has lots of other issues they worry about.

"The problem at the moment is that the Labour party has not understood that that is the scale of the task. What it's trying to do is hang on to who it's got, and edge a bit of the Union flag for the patriotic pensioner, but not too far in case you offend somebody.

"Take the three I gave you - very different lives, very different preoccupations - they've all got to feel they have a future under a Labour government."

Read more: John McDonnell confirms he won't join Starmer's shadow cabinet - but lists who should

Quoting Tony Blair, Tom Swarbrick said that the way to reform is to "future-proof everything, using the fourth industrial revolution as a mechanism to talk about how to do things more fairly".

Tom then asked Mr. Denham, "is that too simplistic?"

"Yes, it's absolutely essential and too simplistic," replied Mr. Denham.

"If you're going to have the economy of the future, the Government has to be investing in research and development long term.

"I'm happy to take the example of the Oxford Astrazeneca as an example of exactly what we should be doing but systematically across the whole economy - of seeing a public need, investing in it, working with the private and public sector to make it happen."

Mr. Denham then claimed that most people who are struggling are "either on the receiving end of high tech [sectors] because they're getting rubbish wages for Deliveroo or UberEats, or they're working in transport or supermarkets - this is where most people are working.

"So you also have to say, how can we transform their lives, so the wage is decent, so the shops in their high street aren't shut, so the busses are affordable?"

Read more: Keir Starmer should 'drop it' and restore whip to Corbyn, says John McDonnell

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