Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021

Labour desperation summed up as Starmer told he needs Biden’s help to inspire UK voters

Keir Starmer sent Blair warning by John McDonnell

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The Labour Party’s reaching out for electoral help from the US Democrats is “unsurprising”, Express.co.uk has been told. It comes as Sir Keir Starmer moves to restore order after his party faced a humiliating rejection in England’s local elections. Councils across the country turned Conservative, many for the first time in a century.

The closely watched Hartlepool by-election – one of Labour’s last remaining Red Wall seats – was yet another nail in the coffin of the party’s chance to win back its traditional voter base.

This question, how to win back the working class, has marred Labour since former leader Jeremy Corbyn lost swathes of voters in the North of England and Midlands in the 2019 general election.

A similar event occurred in the 2016 US Presidential election, where, against the predictions of many pundits, Donald Trump came to power.

Fast forward four years and the Democrats, under Joe Biden, reclaimed many of the working class votes lost to Mr Trump.

Rachel Reeves, the newly appointed Shadow Chancellor, is now set to consult Mr Biden on how to consolidate Britain’s blue collar worker vote with its young, urban and liberal supporters, the latter it has no problem in securing.

She will take advice on how Labour can make a major economic offer before the next election, rooted in job security, childcare and social infrastructure.

The move could be viewed as a desperate attempt by the party as it struggles to understand the fundamentals of its identity problem.

Richard Wyn Jones, a political scientist, said it was unsurprising that Labour were readying to reach out to the US given the relationship with what has long been observed as its sister party.

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He told Express.co.uk: “Certainly, Labour people tend to identify very closely with the Democrats, and we’ve had these long-standing relationships which long predate Biden.

“It’s not surprising, then, that that’s where they’re turning for ideas and inspiration.

“It’s not entirely obvious to me that these lessons are easily transferable but it would be absolutely unremarkable that they do this because they do it all the time.”

The Professor added that the move will be reflective of a wider “obsession” in Britain’s political divide with US politics.

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Ms Reeves isn’t the first Labour member to reach out to the US under Sir Keir’s revamped Shadow Cabinet.

Ahead of Mr Biden’s inauguration in January, Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy was tipped to attend the ceremony, but pulled out at the last minute when England was placed under Tier 3 lockdown restrictions.

She had spent the preceding nine months communicating with members of the Democratic Party, and those who helped Mr Biden’s campaign, according to The Sunday Times.

Later on, she said Mr Biden won the presidency as a “woke guy” who proudly defended trans rights and Black Lives Matter but also set the agenda on economic recovery, and who would look to Labour as a dependable partner.

In an interview with The Guardian, she said Mr Biden was an “inspiration” for how a Labour leader could win without compromising on progressive values and being drawn into culture wars.

She said: “Joe Biden – he’s a woke guy, he appointed an amazingly strong woman of colour who is also pro-choice as his running mate, he mentioned the trans community in his victory speech, he stood up for the Black Lives Matter protesters, he spoke out about the policing of that movement, and he’s never shied away from standing up for his values.

“People know exactly who he is. And he equally won’t be diverted off course when he wants to talk about the economy, when he wants to talk about Covid.”

Meanwhile, Labour has this week piled pressure on the Government to vote in favour of Mr Biden’s plan to introduce a global minimum rate of tax on corporations to stop multinationals undercutting high street businesses.

Mr Biden is pushing for the policy at the OECD and G7 levels but the UK Government last week publicly signalled it was not on board.

It makes Britain the only G7 country to openly stand against the plan, with Germany, France, Canada, Italy and Japan backing the proposal.

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