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1 December 2016

Tony Blair unveils not-for-profit institute: “It’s what I would have wanted“

The former Labour PM revealed his plans for a centrist platform to The New Statesman last week.

By Julia Rampen

Tony Blair has announced he is bringing together his three research organisations into a single not-for-profit institute – and adding a fourth dedicated to the political “centre ground”.

The former Labour Prime Minister revealed his plans for the new policy platform in an interview with The New Statesman in November.

In an announcement on his website, Blair repeated that he does not wish to return to frontline politics.

He said: “This is not a think tank. There are enough of those, many doing excellent work we would want to utilise. It is a platform for engagement to inform and support the practising politician.

“It is what I know I would want were I still in the frontline of politics.”

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The new institute will bring together the Initiative for the Middle East, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and the Africa Governance Initiative under one umbrella organisation.

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The fourth “pillar” will be a platform designed to enable “a reasonable an evidence-based discussion of the future”. 

The commercial side of the organisations has been shut down and its assets gifted to the new institute.

Blair, a Europhile in office, said it would focus on the “European debate” but not exclusively: “The Europe debate is a lightning rod for the whole of politics.”

He said: “This is not about my returning to the frontline of politics. I have made it abundantly clear that this is not possible.

“However, I care about my country and the world my children and grandchildren will grow up in; and want to play at least a small part in contributing to the debate about the future of both.”

The continuing controversy over Blair’s legacy to Labour was evident earlier in the week, when most of the parliamentary party was absent for a debate about his decision to go to war in Iraq.

Some MPs, like Ben Bradshaw, see him as a much-needed centrist and practical voice for critics of a hard Brexit.

But others believe New Labour missed many of the crucial pressures on daily life that led to the vote in the first place.