Tony Blair addresses Progress. Photo: Getty Images
Show Hide image

Tony Blair warns Labour against "a traditional leftist platform"

Labour's only living election winner has cautioned the party against a lurch to the left.

Tony Blair has warned Labour against standing on a "traditional leftist platform", as polls showed Jeremy Corbyn, the veteran leftwinger, surging to first place in the Labour leadership race.

In remarks made to the Blairite think-tank Progress, Blair rejected what he dubbed "the single most dehabilitating feature" of the Labour leadership race: the belief "that this is a choice not only between government and opposition, but between heart and head, between the pursuit of power and the purity of principle".

But Blair, the only Labour politician to win a general election since 1974, described the argument as  "precisely about principle", about what leftwing values mean "in the modern world". 

Urging party members to "move on, but not move back" from his three election victories in 1997, 2001, and 2005, he argued that reforms that cut waiting lists in the NHS "or transformed much of London's schooling or cut crime" not as "a betrayal of principles, but [the] implementation of them". 

He counselled against trying to "out-Ukip Ukip" or attempting to "be more Scottish" in order to beat the SNP, urging Labour to take them on head-first.

Blair passed up the opportunity to criticise Ed Miliband's leadership, saying the "important thing is where we go next". He refrained from nominating a candidate as if it "might not work". He ruled out leaving should Corbyn triumph, saying "I'm Labour through and through. Anyone who fought the 1983 election is Labour through and through."

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

Anoosh Chakelian/Mail screengrab
Show Hide image

The Daily Mail attacks its own campaign over Guantanamo Bay story

“Utter hypocrisy.”

Fresh from planning the metropolitan liberal revolution, in which he called on Britain to “rise up” against Brexit, everyone’s favourite former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair has waded into public discourse again. This time, to attack the Daily Mail.

The Mail’s front page story today – headlined “I.S. Suicide Bomber You Paid £1million” – condemns “intense lobbying from Tony Blair’s government” for the release of a British-born Guantanamo detainee called Jamal al-Harith (or Ronald Fiddler, the name he was given at birth) in 2004, who has committed a suicide attack on behalf of Islamic State.

Blair is enraged by the “utter hypocrisy” of the paper – it was the Mail that led a campaign for al-Harith’s release at the time, running an article headlined “Freedom At Last For Guantanamo Britons” when he was freed.

“I would not normally respond to daily stories about events which happened during my time in office but on this occasion I will do so, given the utter hypocrisy with which this story is being covered,” Blair comments in a post on his website.

“It is correct that Jamal al-Harith was released from Guantanamo Bay at the request of the British Government in 2004. This followed a Parliamentary and massive media campaign, led by the Daily Mail, the very paper that is now supposedly so outraged at his release and strongly supported by the then Conservative Opposition.”

He also points out that the Jihadi, who blew himself up in Iraq this week, was paid compensation under the Tory government in 2010.

 

Your mole realises that this story will cause much heartache for its leftier readers – so do address your dilemma by telling us who you side with in this Alien vs. Predator setup:

 

I'm a mole, innit.