Barack Obama Had 'Strong Views' Keir Starmer Should Change 1 Element Of His Public Persona

The ex-US president wanted the Labour leader to have more "authenticity".
Keir Starmer was urged by Barack Obama to be more authentic and open up with the public
Keir Starmer was urged by Barack Obama to be more authentic and open up with the public

Barack Obama advised Keir Starmer to open up with the public – and help ward off false narratives, according to their mutual friend, the shadow foreign secretary.

Speaking on POLITICO’s Power Play podcast, David Lammy explained that the former US president believes all 21st Century politicians have to be “communicate who they really are”.

Lammy said: “Obama’s approach is always seated in authenticity.

“We have seen Keir Starmer talking a lot more about... his mother – his mother struggled terribly with illness for many, many years, his father cared for her — [and] talking about his backstory, much more comfortably than perhaps we saw a few years ago.

“And I know that Obama had strong views that Keir should do that.”

Starmer’s father Rodney spent years caring for his wife Josephine, who lived with Still’s disease, a rare form of inflammatory arthritis which can be debilitating.

The Labour leader rarely discussed his father prior to his conversations with Obama, only coming as far as calling him a “difficult man”.

Then, in 2022, Starmer seemed to change his approach, having reportedly been introduced to former US president by Lammy in 2021 (the Labour frontbencher met Obama at an event for Harvard Law School’s Black alumni).

Obama then began to act as an informal adviser to Starmer, who is expected to win at the next general election.

During several zoom calls, Lammy said Obama said that 21st century politicians must “communicate who they really are”.

The Labour MP also told POLITICO that Obama seemed to believe Starmer’s backstory could become the “architecture for a genuine campaign”.

Obama has spoken candidly about his relationship with his own father, who was largely absent, for years.

And only last week, Starmer told Sky News earlier this month that his father was “more distant” because of his dedication to caring for Starmer’s mother, saying Rodney “would give up everything for my mum”.

The former US president also told the Labour leader he needed to act to deter false narratives emerging.

Lammy said: “Barack Obama has been really clear on misinformation, disinformation, the challenge for politicians to communicate who they really are with a lot of noise.

“He’s one of the voices … that’s encouraged [Starmer to speak candidly]. And I think we’ve seen more of that in recent months.”


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