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Keir Starmer told he must replicate Tony Blair’s secret weapon if he is to challenge Boris

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Tony Blair was Labour’s most successful leader, guiding the Labour Party to three successive general election victories between 1997 and 2005. The Conservatives had controlled Downing Street for 18 years until Mr Blair took control of the party. One political expert has argued the biggest driving force behind his success was his ‘spin doctor’ Alistair Campbell, and he has urged Sir Keir Starmer to find his own communications man.

Sir Keir Starmer has quickly set about rooting out the ingredients for the party’s failure under Jeremy Corbyn, including replacing the former Labour leader’s official spokesman, Seumas Milne with the relatively unknown Ben Nunn.

When asked what the Labour leader needs to do to enjoy great success, Patrick Sullivan, CEO of the Parliament Street think tank, told Express.co.uk: “Communication, communication, communication.

“Starmer needs to find a modern-day equivalent of what Alastair Campbell was to Blair. Replacing the incompetent Seumas Milne with Ben Nunn is certainly a good start.”

Mr Campbell implemented several significant changes to both procedure and operational management, creating a Strategic Communications Unit that provided Downing Street with the power to co-ordinate all Government activity.

He put Downing Street briefings on record for the first time, and although he was only identified as “The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman”, he became one of the most high-profile and written about figures in British politics. He also opened briefings to the foreign media.

Alistair Jones, Associate Professor and University Teacher Fellow for the Department of Politics, People and Place at De Montfort University in Leicester, explained Mr Nunn has already displayed similar capabilities to what Mr Campbell showed during Labour’s glory days.

He told this website: “Having an effective comms lead is essential, and Alastair Campbell is presented as the most effective example in this role in modern times.

“Having read his memoirs, there is an interesting balance that is needed – and this is something Ben Nunn brings. It is the ability to speak with all sides.

“Nunn is also similar to Campbell in that he is seen as being quite pragmatic. He will not attempt to exclude either wing of the party and knows Starmer wants to pull the wings of the party together.”

Mr Jones added: “Nunn’s plan is going to be about effective communication. In the 2019 campaign, the message from Labour and Corbyn was horribly confused.

“When many of those ideas were presented more clearly during the leadership campaign (at least pre-coronavirus outbreak), there was a much higher degree of support from the public.

“If Nunn can help to get Starmer’s and Labour’s message out more clearly and effectively, there is likely to be much higher levels of support for Labour in the public and in the media.”

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Dr Steve McCabe, Associate Professor with the Institute for Design and Economic Acceleration and Senior Fellow at the Centre for Brexit Studies at Birmingham City University, said Sir Keir’s “calm and studious approach” will make the Labour Party a much easier “sell”.

He said: “Nunn assisted Starmer in becoming new Labour leader by achieving a majority in the first ballot, cementing his reputation as a methodical and diligent individual who worked across all factions of the party and is equally comfortable in working with the opposition.

“Starmer’s calm and studious approach, will make it much easier to effectively ‘sell’ to the media than his predecessor Corbyn was by Milne.

“Nunn recognises that whilst getting across your message involves some astute marketing, some say spin, what is crucial is that that you believe the message and the values underpinning it.

“He clearly passionately subscribes to Starmer’s philosophy of making politics less adversarial than it has been in recent years and, as we’ve seen in his performances at PMQ’s, based on rigorous interpretation of data.

“Though some on the left accuse Nunn of having previously been a lobbyist, he will be regarded by most as an assured and competent operator.”

John Macdonald, Head of Government Affairs at the Adam Smith Institute think tank, said the appointment of Mr Nunn is a positive one for Labour warned the new comms chief faces a huge uphill battle to present a “unified, election-ready party”.

He said: “Alastair Campbell’s mastery of the dark art of spin built a narrative of competence and hard hitting criticism of the Tories, leading Labour to electoral victory after nearly 20 years in the wilderness.

“By contrast, Seumas Milne shredded what was left of Labour’s mainstream credibility, Nunn inherits Labour in crisis with few positives to communicate.

“With a reputation for professionalism and being approachable, Nunn has shown promise in masterminding Keir Starmer’s party unity leadership bid, but he will need dogged determination and even ruthlessness to take on a noisy, election-sinking Corbynista-clique and restore Labour’s electoral prospects.

“To accomplish this in just 4 short years would be barely short of a miracle.”

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