Tony Blair is hoping to make himself relevant by being right – but will the Labour Party listen?

The former prime minister hopes that by offering advice in public, the sheer force of his argument will win the day, says John Rentoul. As it ought to

Wednesday 12 May 2021 17:20
<p>Tony Blair: in from the cold?</p>

Tony Blair: in from the cold?

Tony Blair always was one of the best analysts of politics. One of his party tricks as prime minister was to offer an assessment of what the Conservative opposition was doing wrong and what they ought to do to put it right.

But what he really cares about is the Labour Party, what it has been doing wrong since he ceased to lead it and what it ought to do to put it right. He kept quiet for most of the three years that Gordon Brown was prime minister, and when he did offer his views in the Ed Miliband period – traditional left versus traditional right leads to traditional result (a Labour defeat) – the party didn’t want to listen.

He was a non-person during the Jeremy Corbyn leadership, which defined itself as the equal and opposite reaction to everything he stood for, and so it is only now that he can hope to be relevant again. That he does so in a long article in the New Statesman suggests that he is not a close adviser to Keir Starmer. There are many people in the Labour Party who assume, or fear, that Starmer’s strategy is entirely dictated behind the scenes by Blair himself, Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell.

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