Blair to Labour: Drop Corbyn’s ‘crazy revolutionary socialism’

As Labour seeks new leader, ex-PM says Corbyn’s ‘hostility’ to Western foreign policy turned people away in recent vote.

Blair Corbyn
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, right, stands behind UK's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn at the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 11, 2018 [File: Tolga Akmen/AFP]

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has urged his Labour Party to abandon “crazy revolutionary socialism” as it seeks a new leader after its worst election defeat since the 1930s.

The United Kingdom‘s left has entered a period of soul-searching after suffering in the December 12 election, which handed Prime Minister Boris Johnson ‘s Conservative Party a large parliamentary majority.

The vote redrew the political map of England as swathes of its working-class north voted Conservative for the first time, mainly because they were attracted to Johnson’s promise to “get Brexit done” if he won.

Labour’s socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn – a 70-year-old who campaigned on a radical platform of state spending and re-nationalisation – has since promised to step down.

He had promised the electorate that if he won, he would have delivered a second referendum with the option to vote for remaining in the European Union.

On Wednesday, Blair castigated Corbyn for “almost comic indecision” about which position to take on Brexit.

“The absence of leadership on what was obviously the biggest issue facing the country reinforced all the other doubts about Jeremy Corbyn,” Blair said in a speech in London.

The formal campaign to replace Corbyn is not set to begin until next month.

Yet several prominent Labour figures have already signalled their intention to enter a leadership contest.

“Politically, people saw him as fundamentally opposing what Britain and Western countries stand for,” said Blair. “He personified politically an idea, a brand of crazy revolutionary socialism, mixing far-left economic policy with deep hostility to Western foreign policy, which never has appealed to traditional Labour voters.”

Ahead of the election, about 60 percent of Britons said they had a negative opinion of Corbyn, according to YouGov, compared with 47 percent for Johnson.

The Labour leader was, however, seen as more trustworthy than Johnson. 

Corbyn, member of Parliament from Islington North since 1983, has spent his career campaigning for peace and against UK military action. He consistently voted against the Iraq war.

Blair’s popularity in Britain suffered from his decision to support the 2003 US invasion of Iraq on what proved to be false allegations that it had weapons of mass destruction.

Yet his 1997-2007 spell in office marked one of Labour’s most electorally successful eras in its 119-year history.

He promoted centrist “New Labour” policies and embraced a leading role on the world stage that appealed to Britons during an era of economic growth.

Labour must now choose whether to adopt a similar ideology or push through with the leftist vision that Corbyn championed since taking charge in 2015.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies