Andrew Adonis – who served in the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – said that Starmer was “a nice man and a good human rights lawyer” but lacked the political skills to succeed at the highest level.
The centrist peer is the first senior figure to call for Sir Keir’s removal since Labour’s devastating by-election defeat in Hartlepool, which fell to Tories for the first time since the 1960s.
Writing in The Times, Lord Adonis said that the defeat – and expected losses in council and mayoral elections – cannot simply be blamed on a “vaccine bounce” for Boris Johnson or the legacy of Brexit or Jeremy Corbyn.
And he said that a shadow cabinet reshuffle would be no more than “displacement activity”.
“The root cause of Labour’s malaise nationwide is the absence of a Labour leader trusted to deliver a better economic future meeting popular aspirations, an especially critical concern in northern towns that have fared so badly in recent years in terms of jobs, public services, education and prospects for young people,” said Lord Adonis.
“I supported Keir to replace Jeremy. There was no one else credible and retrieving the leadership from the hands of the Marxist far-left was the first step towards electability.
“I hoped that Keir, an effective ex-public prosecutor, might have sufficient leadership capacity and modernising social democratic vision to reshape Labour.
“Unfortunately, he turns out to be a transitional figure – a nice man and a good human rights lawyer, but without political skills or antennae at the highest level.”
And he concluded: “The question now is what Keir transitions to and when; and whether Labour needs to lose another general election, to Boris or Rishi Sunak, before choosing a leader who can win.
“If this happens only after an unprecedented fifth defeat in a row, there may not be much of a Labour party left, and some other political vehicle – maybe a populist one – could seize the anti-Conservative cause in England.”
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