Keir Starmer and the new shadow foreign secretary David Lammy held two hours of private talks with former US president Barack Obama last week about how centre-left parties can return to power – amid new optimism over Labour’s chances at the next election.
Starmer had been due to travel to Washington to meet Obama in person but the multiple crises engulfing Boris Johnson’s government persuaded him to join the discussions by video link, while Lammy attended in person.
Lammy told the Observer that the confidential discussions with Obama and other key figures in Washington were about strategy and tactics, and formed part of an information and ideas exchange with centre-left parties that had won recent elections, including against the populist right.
While not divulging Obama’s precise advice on tactics, Lammy – who would become the UK’s first black foreign secretary if Labour came to power – suggested that issues including imbalances in party funding and the media were front and centre of the discussions.
“It really is about how progressive parties win and how Labour can fight back in an environment where our opponents have 10-to-one more funds than us,” Lammy said.