KEIR Starmer’s team of advisors prevented a shadow cabinet minister from criticising Margaret Thatcher.

In an exclusive by the Independent, it was revealed that Sam Tarry – then the shadow minister for transport – was prevented from attacking Thatcher’s failed policies in 2021.

This comes as Starmer faces criticism for saying Thatcher delivered “meaningful change” to the UK.

Tarry was previously linked with deputy leader Angela Rayner, although the couple is understood to have separated in the last month.

When Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham announced that bus services in Manchester would be brought under public control, Tarry wanted to call it the “biggest announcement on buses since Thatcher’s failed Transport Act in 1985”.

Thatcher’s act introduced the privatisation of bus services across the UK and has been criticised for pushing up fares and eroding the UK’s bus network.

Tarry wanted to say that the 1985 Transport Act “failed to deliver lower fares and better services across Greater Manchester”.

However, in an email leaked to the Independent, one of Starmer’s top aides asked for the reference to Thatcher be taken out.

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The email said: “Can we take out the Thatcher stuff and instead criticise the current government?”

An advisor to Tarry replied to the email saying that Burnham was “happy” with it.

They continued: “She’s [Thatcher is] despised in the north, so it will play well with voters.”

The approved quote went out without reference to Thatcher, and instead criticised the Conservative Party for “presiding over a toxic mix of cuts to services and ever-rising fares”.

A source familiar with the email exchange told the Independent it was indicative of Labour’s refusal to criticise Thatcher under Starmer’s leadership, adding that recent praise for her was “less of a surprise and more of a confirmation of the Labour leader’s admiration for the former prime minister.”

Labour declined to comment on the emails.

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Starmer defended his remarks on Thatcher on Monday, saying that he was not praising Thatcher, but “was distinguishing between post-war leaders who had a driving sense of purpose, a mission, a plan, and those who drifted.”

Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator, defended Starmer’s comments by insisting he is a “conviction politician” like Thatcher.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has as yet remained silent on the matter.