By Ben Chacko
Labour has changed — and for the better, MPs and trade unionists told Tony Blair on September 7 after the former prime minister launched a broadside against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. The war criminal behind the invasion of Iraq lamented that Labour was “a different type of party” from the one he led. “Can it be taken back? I don’t know,” he told the BBC.
Mr Blair claimed that the British public would not find a choice between Mr Corbyn’s Labour and the Tories “acceptable,” despite last year’s election giving the two main parties their greatest combined share of the vote in decades. He claimed voters were crying out for “socially liberal, progressive politics” linked with “a strong private enterprise sector.”
But Unite leader Len McCluskey hit back, tweeting: “I agree — Labour has gone through profound change under @jeremycorbyn’s leadership. “It now has a policy programme that brings hope to millions and has united much of the party, which is now the biggest in Europe. These are changes to be celebrated.” Transport union TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said Mr Blair had “stopped listening to the British people long ago and so they have done the same to him.”
His “disastrous” decision to go to war in Iraq had flown in the face of “the largest protest in British history,” Mr Cortes pointed out, adding that it had ignited “a conflict in the Middle East that still rages on. “There is nothing progressive about reducing Iraq to rubble and forcing millions to flee. “Can the Labour Party be taken back? Of course it can and we did it,” he declared. “Blair is right. We have taken back control of our Labour Party and we won’t be relinquishing that any time soon.”
Green MP Caroline Lucas said Mr Blair lacked credibility to “lecture us about socially liberal, progressive politics” when “yesterday he confirmed he received up to $12 million [£9.2m] from Saudi Arabia — which beheads people and is responsible for the slaughter of thousands in Yemen.” Mr Blair drew support from his home secretary David Blunkett, who claimed that Labour faced “irrelevance” if it stuck with Mr Corbyn.
But the Labour leader, who was in Leicester to promote his party’s plan to bring water back into public ownership, noted: “I’ve fought one election as leader of the party and we had the biggest swing to Labour during that campaign since 1945.” When told that Mr Blair considered him an “existential threat” to the party, he retorted: “I’ve been in the Labour Party all my life.
“I am a socialist. I am determined to see a fairer and more equal society for everybody. That’s what Labour exists for.”
Polls earlier this week showed that support for Labour has increased in recent weeks despite a barrage of media attacks on Mr Corbyn, with Survation putting the party on 41 per cent, four points ahead of the Tories. Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said Mr Blair “never misses an opportunity” to undermine Mr Corbyn. “He should fight the Tories as much as he does the Labour Party,” he observed. (IPA Service)
The writer is the Editor of Morning Star.
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