Gould attacks Blair's 'taste for power'

John Rentoul
Monday 14 August 1995 23:02

An unexpectedly bitter attack on Tony Blair from Bryan Gould, his former Shadow Cabinet colleague, yesterday extended the open season for Labour dissent.

Mr Gould said the Labour leader had "given up" his socialist ideals and was "solely interested in power", which would lead to "massive problems in office".

This prompted withering scorn from David Blunkett, Labour's education spokesman, who ran Mr Gould's leadership bid against John Smith in 1992. "It is a shame that he has transferred his frustrations from the late John Smith to Tony Blair. It is the politics of resentment rather than radicalism," Mr Blunkett said.

Writing in the London Evening Standard, Mr Gould, who left politics for an academic post in New Zealand a year ago, said: "Labour's only ideology now is the desire to please the public." He warned that this would mean "massive divisions among its MPs and members. A shared ideology is the only thing that can bind a party together in office".

The causes of his disaffection echo those cited last week by GMB union leader John Edmonds as worrying party members. "New Labour accepts competition, admires some of Mrs Thatcher's reforms and scorns the Liberal Democrat pledge to increase taxation," Mr Gould wrote.

He predicted that, in government, Labour left-wingers would be more disaffected than Tory Euro-rebels, rejecting "policies which defy their entire view of human nature". He added: "The signs that this will happen are already clear."

Mr Blunkett responded: "From 1987 to 1992, Bryan was in the vanguard of working to appeal to new and southern voters, highlighting issues like share ownership and caution on increasing taxes."

Mr Gould, who will visit Britain next month to promote his book Goodbye to All That, ended the article by suggesting that if he were a first- time voter, he would not now vote Labour.

Mr Gould's name is added to the roll call of dissidents speaking out over the past five days: the MPs Roy Hattersley, Richard Burden and Paul Flynn, and Mr Edmonds and Bill Morris, the TGWU leader.

A spokesman for Mr Blair, who is on holiday, refused to comment.

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