Tony Blair and Theresa May have one thing in common: they are both obsequious lap-dogs to the tabloid press. Corbyn is no such-stick chaser. And during the seven week election campaign, Blair went to extraordinary lengths to disadvantage Corbyn, the leader of his own party. It’s high time for him to apologise.
All too often, Blair had better things to say about Theresa May than he did about Jeremy Corbyn. In April he told BBC Radio 4 that he thought May was “very sensible, very solid, she’s a perfectly decent person, I agree with a lot of what she says.” He refused to endorse Corbyn’s leadership just days before voters went to the polls, arguing that “we know who is going to be leader on June 9th” so there was no point.
Kensington was the icing on the cake of Corbyn’s comeback. The seat that’s never gone Labour, not even for the charms of Tony Blair, has been won by 20 votes and Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto. Blair must now come forward and apologise unreservedly for his comments – either that or hand in his party membership and commit himself fully to Theresa May, the leader he apparently much prefers.
Instead of keeping his misgivings to himself, Blair, who hasn’t been an MP since 2007, chose to interject in the middle of an election campaign, essentially to share his lack of confidence in Corbyn and to urge Labour voters to consider voting Lib Dem or Tory. In that unforgettable Radio 4 interview, he strayed dangerously close to breaching the party membership rules, which specify against endorsing other parties. Arguing for tactical voting to elect MPs opposed to a hard Brexit, Blair said: “What I’m advocating may mean that. It may mean voting Labour. It may mean, by the way, that they vote Tory, for candidates who are prepared to give this commitment.”
It’s been satisfying to see so many of Corbyn’s loudest critics from the Parliamentary Labour Party fall into line post-election, admitting they got it wrong. I agree that the party should be a broad church, capable of sheltering a diverse range of opinion and experience.
I’m not arguing for mandatory reselection; it would be both unnecessary and divisive. As we know, Cobyn is an olive tree-owning olive branch offerer. But if Lord Mandelson, Owen Smith, Chuka Umunna and more can all have the gumption to step up, hold their hands up and admit they got it wrong, then why is it unreasonable to expect an apology from Tony Blair?
Having taken just over 40 per cent of the vote, we know that Corbyn has bettered Tony Blair’s 2005 election victory. We are now faced with a chaotic and unethical Tory-DUP power share, which may or may not be led by the “dead woman” wobbling: Theresa May.
Another election looks likely and we need to force it to happen. Corbyn has already prepared his alternative Queen’s Speech and, having seen his party rise six points in the last few days (according to the latest Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday), I have every confidence that he can smash another Blairite legacy by outperforming Labour’s 1997 landslide victory. Surely Tony Blair would like to see this happen? Surely he values the performance of the party over the endurance of his own personal legacy?
Blair has gone radio-silent since Corbyn defied the odds and expectations – again. Will his pride permit the apology that we all – Corbyn and every single campaigning Labour member – deserve?
As a young socialist (or “Corbynista”, in Labour factional terms) I was delighted to see our leader prove high-profile naysayers like Paul Dacre, Rupert Murdoch, Lord Mandelson, Theresa May and Tony Blair wrong. This is a hopeful, honest movement. It enrages me that a former Labour leader had the gall to act how he did towards his own party during a critical moment for the country. He needs to take responsibility before he can move forward with the rest of us. And an apology would be a good start.
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