Labour plans policy blitz as Mandelson urges Starmer’s party to ‘raise its sights’

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Sir Keir Starmer will announce a series of new policies in the coming months, allies of the Labour leader said after party grandee Lord Mandelson called for the party to “raise its sights”.

Former minister Lord Mandelson, one of the architects of New Labour, believes Sir Keir must “accelerate” the development of policies and “turn the intellectual tide” rather than hope to simply benefit from Boris Johnson’s difficulties.

A Labour spokesman insisted voters were already switching back to the party across the country.

Labour Party Conference 2021
Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer is expected to announce a series of new policies in the coming months (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“We will continue to be focusing on the issues that matter to the public, which is the cost-of-living crisis and how we grow the economy,” the Labour spokesman said.

Further policies will be set out in the build-up to the party’s autumn conference in Liverpool in September.

“You would expect us to be coming out with announcements ahead of party conference and during it,” the spokesman said.

He added that progress has already been made: “Look at the success we have had in the local elections, you’re continuing to see people switching back to Labour across the whole of the country.”

Lord Mandelson used a speech in Durham to say Labour must seize the political opportunity on offer.

“The present government’s lack of a plan or sense of driving, national mission is holding the country back,” he said.

“I regret this but it is a substantial opportunity for the Labour Party.

“Labour has come a long way since the last election in 2019 when Jeremy Corbyn marooned us on fantasy island but given everything that’s happening now in the Conservative Party, the time is right for Labour to raise its sights and accelerate its own policy thinking ahead of the next election.”

He suggested Labour should seek a “watershed win” like Margaret Thatcher’s 1979 victory rather than “just sneaking over the finishing line as Labour had done five years before her in 1974”.

Warning that the country was at a pivotal moment, with the risk of a return to the low growth, high inflation 1970s, the Labour peer said: “We do not have to resign ourselves to inertia and decline.”

Highlighting the need for investment in digital, artificial intelligence and carbon transition technologies, he said: “This is where I want my own party’s focus to be as it prepares for the next election.”

Responding to the speech, the Labour spokesman said: “Peter Mandelson continues to have the focus on industrial policy that he had in government and that is a focus that Keir Starmer shares.”

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