Labour members back Andy Burnham as leader reveals poll
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As pressure grows in Sir Keir for his performance in as the helm, a network of over 1,200 Labour Party supporters is pushing for the Manchester Mayor to take on greater responsibilities. The “Fit for the future” report published by Labour in Communications warned the public has a damning view of Sir Keir Starmer’s top team.
The group is urging the leadership to give popular, high profile Labour politicians greater influence.
It said the performances of Mr Burnham and Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford in their roles should be greater exploited amid failures in Westminster.
The suggestion was one of a number made, including avoiding making detailed policy announcements and improving the party’s digital communications.
The proposals come amid Sir Keir’s flailing opinion ratings.
Labour in Communications believes bringing in popular regional politicians will bolster the party’s appeal to the public.
“From its performance in front of the media, to the impression it has made on members of the public, it is clear to see that both iterations of the Shadow Cabinet brought together by Keir Starmer have had their limitations,” the group said.
In a scathing assessment it said the shadow cabinet’s messaging was “diluted and weak”.
It added: “After more than a decade of Opposition, Labour is left with two ongoing problems; the vast majority of the shadow cabinet have little to no experience of operating under a Labour government; and members of the public have either a negative perception of Labour’s time in power, or little to no recollection of this time period at all.
“This makes Labour’s policy commitments and scrutiny of the government seem too distant and unrealistic to the wider public – even when they are within reach.”
The “Fit for the future” chapter on radically overhauling the shadow cabinet was written by Pete Turay, who previously worked on Sir Keir’s Labour leadership campaign.
It said a new “political cabinet” should be created to operate alongside the shadow cabinet and “should include figures in power from across the Labour movement, such as Mark Drakeford, Andy Burnham, Sadiq Khan, Tracey Brabin, Dan Jarvis, Joanne Anderson and Steve Rotheram.
“A number of these figures are already significantly more popular amongst the public than current members of the Shadow Cabinet and have showcased their ability to connect with the electorate successfully through the political campaigns they have won.
“As spokespeople, they also have the benefit of being able to point to their own political choices to differentiate themselves – and their policy platforms – from government.
“Ultimately, as the only figures to successfully hold power on a Labour platform, the party owes them the chance to influence our national strategy and the decisions we take in Westminster.”
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Adding pressure to Sir Keir by giving his backing to the report, former Labour leader Neil Kinnock said there was a need to “restore relevance” to Labour.
He said: “Not for the first time, we have to rebuild, modernise our methods, restore relevance to our message, show that we have deep commitment to our country and communities and practical answers to the demands facing the British people.”
Mr Burnham was re-elected as Manchester Mayor with 67 percent of the vote in May.
While supportive of Sir Keir, he has not ruled out returning to Westminster in the future and has made clear he still has ambitions to one day lead the party.
Speaking at an event organised by Jewish charity Limmud earlier this year, he said: “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have aspirations.
“One day, if it became possible, but I’m not sitting here plotting a way to do so.
“I wouldn’t say never.”
A poll carried out by YouGov in June found that seven in ten Labour members believed Mr Burnham would make a better party leader than Sir Keir.
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