Tony Blair has made a fresh attempt to steer Labour Party members away from voting for Jeremy Corbyn as their next leader – even though he himself admits that the left-winger’s supporters are not listening to warnings.
In an article for the Observer newspaper, he rails against what he calls Mr Corbyn’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’ politics and reveals his clear frustration that so many members seem to have ignored the advice and experience of three party leaders by choosing to support him.
“There is a politics of parallel reality going on, in which reason is an irritation, evidence a distraction, emotional impact is king and the only thing that counts is feeling good about it all,” wrote Mr Blair. “So when people like me come forward and say elect Jeremy Corbyn as leader and it will be an electoral disaster, his enthusiastic new supporters roll their eyes. Neil Kinnock, Gordon Brown and I have collectively around 150 years of Labour party membership. We’re very different. We disagree on certain things. But on this we’re agreed. Anyone listening? Nope. In fact, the opposite. It actually makes them more likely to support him.”
He added: “It is like a driver coming to a roadblock on a road they’ve never travelled before and three grizzled veterans say: “Don’t go any further, we have been up and down this road many times and we’re warning you there are falling rocks, mudslides, dangerous hairpin bends and then a sheer drop.” And the driver says: “Screw you, stop patronising me. I know what I’m doing.”
Labour leadership: The Contenders
Labour leadership: The Contenders
1/2 Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn started off as the rank outsider in the race to replace Ed Miliband and admitted he was only standing to ensure the left of the party was given a voice in the contest. But the Islington North MP, who first entered Parliament in 1983, is now the firm favourite to be elected Labour leader on September 12 after a surge in left-wing supporters signing up for a vote.
2/2 Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham started out as the front-runner in the leadership election, seen as the candidate of the left until Jeremy Corbyn entered the race. The former Cabinet minister has found himself squeezed between the growing populism of Corbyn’s radical agenda and the moderate, centre-left Yvette Cooper, not knowing which way to turn. It has attracted damaging labels such as ‘flip-flop Andy’, most notably over his response to the Government’s Welfare Bill. He remains hopeful he can win enough second preference votes to take him over the 50 per cent threshold ahead of Corbyn.
This is not Mr Blair’s first intervention in the contest. He provoked anger when he said in July that those who thought their hearts lay with Mr Corbyn “need a transplant”. Mr Blair’s former communications chief Alastair Campbell, former home secretary David Blunkett and ex-foreign secretary David Miliband have also taken turns in warning members against choosing Mr Corbyn.
In a speech earlier this month, Gordon Brown warned that Labour risked becoming a “party of protest” if it made the wrong choice in the leadership contest. Although he did not mention any leadership contender by name, it was digested as a plea to reject Mr Corbyn’s run.
The repeated attacks on his campaign, however, have not altered Mr Corbyn’s position as the surprise bookmakers’ front-runner ahead of Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall; nor apparently have they had much impact in braking his surging support among those who say the party needs to return to a left-wing, anti-austerity agenda in the wake of May’s general election defeat. Voting is ongoing with the winner due to be announced on September 12.
Mr Blair added in his article: “Someone else said to me: “If you’re writing something again, don’t blah on about winning elections; it really offends them.” It would actually be quite funny if it weren’t tragic… It’s a revolution but within a hermetically sealed bubble – not the Westminster one they despise, but one just as remote from actual reality.”Reuse content