Labour fightback: Blairite thinktanks join forces after Starmer’s disastrous election

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The Labour Party is desperately trying to broaden its appeal and win back its voting core after the party suffered devastating losses in local council elections on May 6. The party, which was also defeated by the Tories in the Hartlepool by-election on the same day, is looking back to its previous successes by merging two leading Blairite organisations. The newly formed thinktank has been relaunched as Progressive Britain, and hopes to broaden the party’s appeal.

Progress and Policy Network, which were both closely linked to Blair’s New Labour, were officially dissolved today and replaced by Progressive Britain.

The bold move by the leadership is aimed at ending the party’s bitter factionalism and rally supporters around a new modern, progressive agenda.

Its founders hope the new group will provide a “big tent” and win over all sides of the party.

The move comes after Labour suffered a series of losses on May 6.

The party was ousted from its seat in Hartlepool, after a Tory MP was elected to the seat for the first time in the constituency’s history.

The electoral defeat proved a major blow to Sir Keir Starmer’s efforts to win back support in traditional Labour heartlands, after voters deserted the party over its confused Brexit stance.

Labour also saw losses in English council elections, losing control of eight councils.

The founding of Progressive Britain is an effort by party leaders to reverse Labour’s fate, with shadow minister Wes Streeting saying the move was about rescuing the party from crisis.

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He suggested the party needed to reinvent itself to survive.

Mr Streeting, 38, told the Guardian: “Labour has no future if the debate about our direction becomes locked in a battle between two competing visions of the past.

“Progressive Britain will provide a big tent to bring together some of the best thinking from across the left to develop the fresh ideas we need to win support to address the big challenges facing our country and our world.

“It’s not just a change of direction that Labour needs. It is reinvention.”

Mr Streeting, who was recently promoted to the shadow cabinet, will take a leading role in the new thinktank when he returns to frontline politics.

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He is currently taking a step back while he undergoes treatment for kidney cancer.

Sir Keir Starmer launched Progressive Britain today at an online conference.

He said the party needs to focus on winning back the ‘Red Wall’ and suggested he would focus on the economy and on bringing decisions “closer to people” with strategic plans for regions.

Nathan Yeowell, executive director of Progressive Britain, said: “Last Thursday’s election results were a wake-up call for the Labour Party.

“Keir Starmer needs to bring about fundamental change if we are to rebuild our relationship with the nation.

“We’ve launched Progressive Britain to provide the spark and challenge that is missing from the Labour Party: an opportunity to bring some intellectual heft back into progressive politics, hammer out who we are and what we want to do, and get back on the front foot after more than a decade of defeat.”

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