Tony Blair has refused to back Jeremy Corbyn in the general election, in a decisive boost to the Labour leader’s anti-establishment credentials.
A decisive boost
The flagship strategy of the Corbyn campaign is “the establishment versus the people”.
For the electorate, Blair sits firmly on the side of the former. Last year, 53% of Britons informed YouGov that they “could never forgive” the former Labour leader. Only 8% thought he did nothing wrong.
An endorsement from Blair would also alienate Labour’s base. Only 25% of Labour supporters favour forgiving the former Prime Minister.
The epitome of the establishment
Tony Blair and New Labour
So Blair talking up Theresa May only consolidates Corbyn’s anti-establishment campaign. Blair’s position confirms Corbyn is not just playing party politics but is genuinely challenging the entire permanent political class.
Even Conservative MPs know he’s toxic
Blair has called for votes for Conservative MPs if they resist hard Brexit. Responding to the possible endorsement, a pro-Remain Tory backbencher quipped:
thanks Tony, but no thanks
Meanwhile, pro-Brexit Tory MP Steve Baker went further:
Any candidate would be daft to want Tony Blair’s backing.
Blair has said it’s tempting for him to return to frontline politics, suggesting delusion on the issue.
Given Donald Trump, Brexit, Jean-Luc Mélenchon in France, Podemos in Spain, and Syriza in Greece, an electoral line against Blair and the establishment he epitomises could be the winning ticket. Indeed, the Labour Party united against Blair after his intervention.
‘You can smell the fear’
The reaction of people on social media reflects the YouGov findings of last year:
Tony Blair has finally sussed that people will always do the opposite of what he says. Fingers crossed!
— James (@J3Lyon) April 27, 2017
Boris and Blair have now confirmed this really is a case of the establishment against the people. You can smell the fear from here.
— Rachael Swindon #GTTO (@Rachael_Swindon) April 27, 2017
Has he found those weapons yet
— Ben Hodgson (@lej1204) April 27, 2017
So it looks like it really is ‘the establishment versus the people’. On the one hand, we have the economic orthodoxy that brought us the 2007-8 financial crash, a huge fall in living standards, and perpetual war. On the other, we could have public services – like the NHS and the railways – that are no longer subordinated to profit, and a diplomacy-led foreign policy.
Blair’s intervention is a crucial boost for the Corbyn campaign. No one wants a kiss of death from the former prime minister. But, for Corbyn, it’s more proof that he is authentically challenging the establishment.
– Register to vote in the 8 June general election. If you don’t have a national insurance number, a 5 minute phone call on 0300 200 3500 will get it sent to you in ten days.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.
Featured image via Labour website.
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