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Former Labour Party leader Tony Blair has lauded Sir Keir Starmer for making the party “politically competitive again” after he succeeded Jeremy Corbyn as leader in April. Sir Keir is currently riding a wave of support in the polls and has the highest approval rating of any opposition leader since Tony Blair in December 1994.
However, the latest gushing endorsement from Mr Blair could prove a hindrance to Sir Keir, after a recent survey found the last Labour Prime Minister remains a hugely divisive figure.
A YouGov poll of 4,584 UK adults found more than one-in-three people – 38 percent – believed Mr Blair has had a negative effect on the Labour Party.
The survey conducted in February found just 22 percent believed Mr Blair had a positive impact on Labour.
In a rare interview, Mr Blair insisted Sir Keir has “completely changed the image” of the party with the Labour membership.
He said: “Keir is doing a good job – a very good job actually – and I think he has put Labour back on the map.
“He has made them competitive again.
“He will know and we all know that there’s a long way to go before a general election and many things to be done.
“But in these months since he has become the leader, he has I think completely changed the image certainly of the Labour leadership amongst the public and he deserves respect and admiration for that.”
Mr Blair who won three general elections in 1997, 2001 and 2005, said he was optimistic Labour could gain power again.
Asked if Sir Keir had made Labour a party that can win again, the former prime minister said: “He has put it in a position where it can.
“There are a whole set of questions around policy and so on that in time I’m sure and know he will come to.
“But has he made it politically competitive again which it hasn’t really been for quite a long period of time? Yes – and that is a huge step forward for the Labour Party.”
The Labour Party suffered its worst general election defeat since 1935 in December.
Earlier this month Sir Keir reached 100 days as Labour leader and a poll found his approval had rocketed past Jeremy Corbyn at the same stage.
On July 6, a YouGov poll found 47 percent on Britons thought Sir Keir was doing well as leader of the opposition.
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Just 23 percent said he is doing badly, leaving the Labour leader with a net score of 30.
By comparison in December 2015 – around four months in Mr Corbyn’s tenure -just 28 percent of people thought he was doing well.
A huge 60 percent of adults thought the left-wing leader was doing a bad job – giving Mr Corbyn a net score of -32.
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