Watch: Leading Labour candidate for London Mayor Tessa Jowell 'lies' over her love for Tony Blair

Dame Tessa Jowell denied ever saying she would 'jump under a bus' for Tony Blair, but a 2009 video proves otherwise

Matt Dathan
Friday 19 June 2015 07:28 BST
Tessa fizzes with ideas; she has all the warmth in the world but a core of steel
Tessa fizzes with ideas; she has all the warmth in the world but a core of steel

Whenever a Labour politician has to win the backing of their own party in an internal election, it seems they have to try their best to distance themselves from the party’s most successful leader – Tony Blair.

It is much harder to do this when the former prime minister is someone you have described in the past as “a very close friend” who you would “jump under a bus” for.

But Dame Tessa Jowell, one of the favourites to win Labour’s nomination for next year’s London Mayor election and someone who played a key role in Mr Blair’s government, tried to distance herself from him nonetheless.

Taking part in an online Twitter Q&A, she was asked whether she would "still jump under a bus for Tony Blair?”

This was her response:

But a video from 2009 shows her admitting she was still prepared to defend her former boss at all costs. "Would you still jump under a bus for Tony Blair?," Dame Tessa was asked. "I certainly would," came the unambiguous response.

She added: "That [comment] was a joke at the time that I said it but Tony is a very good friend of mine and even though he's not Prime Minister I see him. I admire him enormously, we have a great laugh and I treasure him like I treasure all my close friends; my friendship with him is important to me."

Perhaps once she has won the internal contest to become Labour’s choice for Mayor she will suddenly remember her love for Mr Blair again – after all, drawing on the experience of the only Labour leader to win a general election in the last 40 years might be a wise move.

Dame Tessa served as Culture Secretary in Mr Blair's government, playing a leading role in winning the 2012 Olympic Games for London.

She is currently the joint favourite to win the Labour nomination for London Mayor, along with Sadiq Khan, Labour MP for Tooting and former shadow justice secretary.

They are joined in the contest by Tottenham MP David Lammy, Hackney North & Stoke Newington MP Diane Abbott, Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas, journalist Christian Wolmar, writer Keran Kerai and A&E consultant Dr Neeraj Patil.

Dame Tessa’s office did not respond to an offer to comment on the story.

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