Forty-four MPs warn Blair: You must return to Labour values

FORTY-FOUR Labour MPs have openly challenged Tony Blair by signing a declaration that Labour must remain a "democratic socialist party" and reject a centre-left coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

The warning shot to Mr Blair comes in a joint statement to be published in this week's Tribune newspaper. It will be debated at a London conference on 17 July on "Keeping the party Labour", which more than 90 Labour MPs have already promised to support.

Backing for the rebel declaration has increased since Labour's Euro election defeat this month, which provoked criticism that Mr Blair's relentless pursuit of middle-class voters had alienated the party's traditional supporters.

The statement has been signed by a wide cross-section of Labour MPs, including Peter Hain, the Welsh Office minister, who has already warned that the Government "appears as if it is being gratuitously offensive to its own natural supporters".

Other signatories include New Labour supporters such as Claire Ward and Maria Eagle; traditional right-wingers Gwyneth Dunwoody, Stuart Bell and Terry Davis; former ministers Mark Fisher and David Clark as well as left-wingers such as Tony Benn and Ken Livingstone.

The declaration says: "At the turn of the millennium, poverty and gross inequality still disfigure our society and destroy the life chances of millions across the globe.

"That challenge cannot be met by a reversion to 19th-century Liberalism out of whose failure Labour was born. Labour's future will be as a forward- looking, internationalist and democratic socialist party fighting for social justice into the 21st century."

One senior Labour MP said last night that the aim was to send a "shot across Blair's bows following the Euro elections debacle".

The critics want the Government to give much higher priority to tackling poverty. They want Mr Blair to abandon his goal - heavily influenced by his talks with Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, the Liberal Democrat peer - of creating a centre-left alliance of Labour and the Liberal Democrats to dominate the 21st century. They are alarmed by the joint declaration signed this month by Mr Blair and Gerhard Schroder, the German Chancellor, committing their governments to a low-tax, free- market economic policies.

Mark Seddon, a left-wing member of Labour's National Executive Committee and editor of Tribune, will warn in an editorial in Friday's issue: "The direction now favoured by both the Blair and Schroder governments will soon put the party on an absolute collision course with its natural supporters." He claims this view is shared by many due at next month's conference.

Mr Blair may decide to play down the rebel statement rather than attack it head on. "He regards the labels social democrat and social democracy as interchangeable," one aide said last night.

However, the thrust of the declaration is unmistakable and will be seen as a direct challenge to Mr Blair's authority. Another Labour MP said: "The numbers of people who have signed will send a powerful signal to Mr Blair. He must repudiate the Jenkins agenda for a centre-left coalition."

The Euro election defeat will be discussed today at the weekly meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Although some Labour MPs remain jittery, party managers say nerves have been calmed by an opinion poll showing that Labour has retained its commanding lead over the Tories. The meeting will be told a summer fightback campaign will be launched in an attempt to reassure Labour supporters that the Government's policies will help the poor.

Hague attack, page 6

Anne McElvoy,

Review, Page 3

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released the first teaser trailer a week early after it leaked online

Extras
indybest
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
News
i100
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
health
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Front end web developer - URGENT CONTRACT

£250 - £300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT** Our...

Health & Social CareTeacher - Full time and Part time

£90 - £140 per day + Mileage and Expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: Sixth for...

History Teacher

£95 - £105 per day: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Plymouth i...

SQL Developer - Cardiff - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits and bonus: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer -...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?