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Labour's election chief tells LBC Starmer wants to be ‘conviction politician’ like Thatcher 'not endorse her policy'
4 December 2023, 09:05
Shadow minister defends Keir Starmer's praise of Margaret Thatcher
The shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has defended Sir Keir Starmer's comments on Margaret Thatcher and said the Labour leader wants to follow her in being "a conviction politician".
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Pat McFadden, the Labour Party's National Campaign Co-ordinator, said there was "such a long history" of similar cross-party endorsements between Labour and the Conservatives.
It comes after Sir Keir, in a move viewed as a pitch to woo Conservative voters, used an article in The Sunday Telegraph to praise the pro-privatisation former Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher for having "set loose our natural entrepreneurialism".
He named her alongside former Labour prime ministers Tony Blair and Clement Attlee as those leaders in modern British politics who sought to deliver "meaningful change" by acting "in service of the British people, rather than dictating to them".
Speaking to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC, Mr McFadden said: "I remember when Gordon Brown was prime minister, he invited Mrs Thatcher to tea at Number 10 and he described her as a conviction politician who saw the need for change, and we had some of the same fuss at that time.
"There's a long history to these things, and what Keir was doing in the speech yesterday was making the same point - that there are conviction prime ministers who changed the country and he wants to be one of those, not a prime minister who drifts along and is buffeted by events.
"I agree that she was a conviction politician, but it's not an endorsement of her policy, and the truth is Gordon Brown praised her, Tony Blair said she was a towering figure, now Keir's said what he said. Every time a Labour leader acknowledges this, there's a bit of fuss about it."
Discussing Labour's chances at the next general election, Mr McFadden acknowledged "there is no path to victory that doesn't include appealing to people who've been voting Conservative in recent years".