Politics

Tony Blair issues thinly-veiled swipe at Keir Starmer: ‘Voice an opinion!’

Tony Blair criticises Corbyn's leadership of Labour party

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The former Prime Minister claimed Labour will lose favour if it “looks askance” at JK Rowling and other controversial cultural figures. Mr Blair said that “handling these issues successfully” is an “equally great challenge” and that “keeping your head down isn’t a strategy”.

In an essay, the former Labour leader appears to suggest that the party will only win power in the future if its members take an uncritical approach to those high-profile figures facing criticism.

Mr Blair then issued a thinly-veiled swipe at Sir Keir, adding: “People like common sense, proportion and reason. They dislike prejudice; but they dislike extremism in combating prejudice.

“They expect their leaders to voice their own opinion, not sub-contract opinion to pressure groups, no matter how worthy.”

In reference to his former political party, Mr Blair added: “On cultural issues, one after another, the Labour Party is being backed into electoral off-putting positions. A progressive party seeking power which looks askance at the likes of Trevor Phillips, Sara Khan or JK Rowling is not going to win.

“Progressive politics need to debate these cultural questions urgently and openly. It needs to push back strongly against those who will try to shout down the debate. And to search for a new governing coalition.

“All the evidence is that it can only do this by building out from the centre ground.”

Mr Blair reiterated in his essay for the New Statesman that the party needs “innovation, not the status quo” and a “progressive response” from leadership.

He referenced Joe Biden’s presidential election in the essay stating that without his “self-evident reasonableness and moderation” there may have been no victory.

He insisted that “ideas matter in politics, and rightly matter a lot to progressives” and stated that “without leaders who can frame and present these ideas successfully, they gather dust on shelves, not votes in ballot boxes”.

The former Prime Minister said political parties are facing a “central political challenge” as today “progressive politics has an old-fashioned economic message of Big State, tax and spend” which “is not particularly attractive”.

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The former is said to be combined with “a new-fashioned social/cultural message around extreme identity and anti-police politics, which, for large swathes of people, is voter-repellent”.

He criticised the Left for the “Defund the police” political slogan, citing that it gives the Right an “economic message which seems more practical, and a powerful cultural message around defending flag, family and fireside traditional values”.

He reiterates that those who understand the revolutionary period we are in, will “show how it can be mastered for the benefit of the people, and harness it for the public” and they will “deservedly win power”.

Such power will need to be obtained by an “active government; a commitment to social justice and equality” and also stated that an overhaul of public services like health and education, plus measures to bring the marginalised into society’s mainstream would be the recipe for success.

He concludes his essay by talking about the Labour Party as an “embodiment of this progressive challenge” and recalls the worst defeat in the party’s history and the replacement of Jeremy Corbyn.

He stated: “The Labour Party won’t revive simply by a change of leader. It needs total deconstruction and reconstruction. Nothing less will do.”

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