Labour could achieve victory without formal pact with other parties, says Lord Mandelson

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Peter Mandelson said Keir Starmer must 'define himself' - Eddie Mulholland
Peter Mandelson said Keir Starmer must 'define himself' - Eddie Mulholland

Labour could achieve a “governing coalition” of social democrats, liberals and greens” at the next election by emulating Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, Peter Mandelson has said.

The Labour grandee, and one of the architects of New Labour, said that Labour could achieve victory without any need for a formal pact with other parties.

It comes following the by-election results in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton which saw en masse tactical voting against the Conservatives last week.

Writing in the Spectator, Lord Mandelson said that like Olaf Sholz, the Labour leader is an “unflashy performer” who was seen as “dull and uninspiring” but the chancellor could be seen as a “template” for victory at the next election.

He praised Mr Scholz for putting together a "governing coalition of social democrats, liberals and greens".

"A template for Keir Starmer? In principle, yes," he added.

“At the moment, too many voters have no clear idea of who Starmer is.

“He needs to define himself before his opponents do it for him.”

It comes after he told LBC on Wednesday that he would like to see a commitment to “at least examining voting reform” in the next Labour manifesto.

He told Andrew Marr that he was “detecting a shift” in the party towards supporting electoral reform within the party, as well as among trade unions who blocked proposals to support it at previous Labour Party conferences.

Lord Mandelson warned that the party should not engage in “horse trading” on the issue when in negotiations with the Liberal Democrats following the general election, and should set up clearly where it stands on the policy so the public know what they’re voting for.

In his piece for the Spectator, Lord Mandelson said that he felt that both Labour and the Lib Dems have a “very good chance of wiping out the Conservatives’ parliamentary majority next time, whether Johnson remains leader or not”.

Echoing the words of Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, on Sunday, who said that voters can “work out for themselves” how to vote the Tories out tactically, he said that “no formal pact” is needed for “widespread tactical voting to favour” Labour.

“I toasted both parties’ [by-election] successes while celebrating friends’ 50th wedding anniversary on the Amalfi coast,” he added.

It comes as Liberal Democrat sources suggested to the New Statesman that the party’s price for a coalition with the Labour Party following the next election would be electoral reform, but without a referendum.

This suggestion was dismissed by senior Lib Dem sources who said: “We don't recognise this at all - none of that is being discussed here.”

“Our focus is on getting as many Liberal Democrat MPs elected as possible,” they added.

Lord Mandelson is one of several members of the New Labour old guard who have recently been giving Sir Keir advice on the direction of his leadership.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer meets with new Wakefield MP Simon Lightwood, as the party reclaimed the West Yorkshire seat from the Conservatives - PA
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer meets with new Wakefield MP Simon Lightwood, as the party reclaimed the West Yorkshire seat from the Conservatives - PA

He last year told the Telegraph that Tony Blair is among those advising the now-Labour leader.

On Wednesday, Sir Tony, in an apparent swipe at Sir Keir’s leadership, said that there was a “gaping hole where ideas should be” in British politics.

“I support what Keir Starmer is doing. He has moved the party significantly, the Wakefield by-election result indicated that,” he said.

The central problem is, what are the ideas that are going to stop this relegation, and put [the UK] on an upward path?”

It comes after Sir Keir this week confirmed that Labour has formally ditched its 2019 election manifesto, saying that “the slate is wiped clean” ahead of the next election.

“What we’ve done with the last manifesto is put it to one side. We’re starting from scratch,” he told an event on Tuesday.

The absence of concrete manifesto commitments before the general election has seen some senior Labour figures push for their own desired policies to be adopted by the party.

Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor of London, this week told LBC that Labour should be pushing for the UK to rejoin the EU’s single market.

Earlier this month, Anna McMorrin, a shadow justice minister, was rebuked by party whips for saying that the Labour Party would seek to “at least” rejoin the single market and custom union if it wins power at the next election.

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