Britons now think it is ‘safe’ to vote Labour again, says Peter Mandelson

Peter Mandelson was interviewed on the Chopper's Politics Podcast this weekend - Heathcliff O'Malley
Peter Mandelson was interviewed on the Chopper's Politics Podcast this weekend - Heathcliff O'Malley

Britons now think it is “safe” to vote Labour again, Lord Mandelson has said, as he urged Sir Keir Starmer to move his party into the centre ground to win the next election “decisively”.

The architect of “new” Labour’s three general election victories in 1997, 2001 and 2005 said that voters were now approaching a new 30-year “sea change” when they will decide the Tories “have had their chance”.

Lord Mandelson paid tribute to Sir Keir saying he was “more national than ideological”, and made clear he wanted to stay involved in politics saying he missed being in government “every single day”.

The peer also said that he supported The Telegraph’s campaign for a replacement for HMY Britannia, named after the late Queen Elizabeth, to promote Britain’s “soft power” around the world.

In an interview with Chopper’s Politics Podcast, Lord Mandelson said that Britons were now recognising that they could safely vote for Labour after the Left-wing leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

“People are saying it’s time, it’s safe to give Labour - their turn to take the country forward.

“People need to be reminded from here to polling day that the Labour Party is a different Labour Party under Keir Starmer and that it is now safe to vote for.”

Lord Mandelson compared the Conservative Government’s tax cutting agenda with Anthony Barber’s infamous “dash for growth” Budget in 1972 “which triggered inflation, which sent the pound plummeting”.

“We lost control of the public finances, borrowing went through the roof and basically our economy ... was wrecked. Now be careful what you wish for is what I would say to Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng,” he said.

Party must get 'centre ground voters'

Lord Mandelson urged Sir Keir to take the party into the “centre ground” of British politics.

He said: “To win the next election decisively, the Labour Party has to get those centre ground voters, people who see Liz Truss taking the Tories off to the Right.

“These new voters were “people who are not ideologically of the Left or ideologically of the Right, the centre ground people”.

The lesson from new Labour was “discipline, discipline, discipline. We were a very tight ship and things ran properly. We knew how to run a railway in the lead up to it and during as we entered power.

“We were always remembering where the British people are rather than where some in our party would like them to be.”

Lord Mandelson said that British politics was approaching a sea change which takes place every 30 years, when voters decide that the governing party has had its chance.

He quoted James Callaghan, the former Labour prime minister, who said in 1979 that there were “times perhaps once every 30 years where there is a sea change in politics. It doesn’t matter what you say or do”.

That same sea change ushered in the Tories in 1979 and then Labour in 1997. He said: “It’s likely that we’re going to see another such change in 2024 when the public basically decides that the Conservatives have had their chance, they’ve had their time.”

Lord Mandelson, 69, made clear he stood ready to advise Sir Keir’s team saying: “I’m here with plenty of time on my hands to help them in any way they want.”

Sir Keir was “more national than ideological. He thinks in national terms. He thinks about the country. He thinks, you know what works, what’s going to improve the lot of the overwhelming mass of people in this country.

“He is on the centre-Left in politics as I am myself, as New Labour was, although not not everyone always says that about us. But above all, he is something else.

“There is something quintessentially British and public-spirited about him, which I like, and he worked darn hard and he brought changes in the Labour Party and I think he’d do the same for the country.”

He urged Labour shadow Cabinet ministers not to be “playing to the gallery on picket lines” although he allowed an exception for supporting public sector workers in their constituencies.

Lord Mandelson backs plans for National Flagship

Lord Mandelson also said he backed plans for a National Flagship to replace Royal Yacht Britannia, which was decommissioned unilaterally by the Labour-run Treasury in August 1997.

In July Ms Truss said she would like the new ship to be funded by private donors, rather than from the Ministry of Defence’s Budget, as had been planned when Boris Johnson was Prime Minister.

He said Ms Truss should order “a new Britannia named after the late Queen, ‘the Elizabeth’,” he said.

“It seems like a lot of money. It certainly shouldn’t be taken out of the defence budget.

“But I think to shelve it, as Liz Truss has done without saying anything about it. I don’t like that approach.”

The new flagship, Lord Mandelson said, “if used in the right way, projecting Britain. our interests and our values in the right way around the world, it would give a return that you can’t really quantify. It’s called soft power.

“It’s about projecting the country. I’m not making a case for or against it. There are people in the country who will be disappointed that the Prime Minister is not behind it, because they would very much like to see Britannia renamed after the late Queen.”

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