Yes we do hate you Tony - and it’s you who took Labour over the ‘cliff edge’

Richard Sudan
Richard Sudan is a London-based writer, political activist, and performance poet. His writing has been published in many prominent publications, including the Independent, the Guardian, Huffington Post and Washington Spectator. He has been a guest speaker at events for different organizations ranging from the University of East London to the People's Assembly covering various topics. His opinion is that the mainstream media has a duty to challenge power, rather than to serve power. Richard has taught writing poetry for performance at Brunel University.
Britain's Former Prime Minister Tony Blair  © Suzanne Plunkett
In the latest of a string of attacks aimed at the Labour Party leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn, former PM Tony Blair has taken another swipe at the veteran Islington North MP.

Blair’s first attack was aimed squarely at Corbyn’s supporters, suggesting that those with the “heart” to elect Corbyn should have a “heart transplant”.

Last week, much like a petulant child, Blair wrote in Britain’s leading liberal newspaper that even if Labour supporters “hate” him, they shouldn’t take Labour over a “cliff edge”. Well, thanks for the heads up, Tony.

But let’s give him the short answer, for the sake of clarity: Yes we do hate you Tony, but it’s you who already took Labour over the cliff edge.

It is Blair, who Thatcher acknowledged was her greatest legacy and achievement, who ‘modernized’ the party, walking Labour even further down the path of privatization and war. The ramifications of Blair’s tenure are still being felt both at home and around the world.

Whatever one thinks of Jeremy Corbyn and his politics, the idea that it is Labour supporters who are responsible and the ones to blame for the identity crisis the party now finds itself in, as is being suggested by Blair, is as delusional as his premiership was.

It was he and the other architects of ‘New Labour’ which dragged the Labour Party to the point of no return. And yes, as inconvenient as it may be for supporters of war and the ‘liberalization’ of lands for the sake of oil, the ugly shadow of the Iraq war looms over Blair discrediting every word he utters.

And the Iraq war and its disastrous consequences, is not some minor issue that can be momentarily cast to the side while we discuss other issues. It cuts right to the heart of Blair’s credibility and standing in the eyes of the British people.

Labour Party leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn © Russell Cheyne

People marched against the Iraq war. But many more have since woken up to the fact that the entire pretext for the ‘war on terror’ was a fallacy, from the non-existent weapons of mass destruction that were never found in Iraq, to the numerous holes and contradictions in the official myth of the 9/11 story.

Blair, like George Bush, has come to symbolize in the minds of most British people everything that is wrong with the failed Neoliberal politics of the New World Order.

For this reason he cannot, will not, and should not be taken seriously by British voters. His attacks on those to the left of the Labour Party amount to cheap demagoguery.

The fact that the Neoliberal Blairites have presented a flailing Tony Blair, in a last gasp bid to retain control of the party, shows just how out of touch they really are. It is like sending the arsonist to the house he has set on fire, in a bid to convince the family he is the best person to put the fire out.

In fact, Blair may actually be the single biggest factor in Corbyn’s rise in popularity. Not just because he was summoned by New Labour backers, despite having a tarnished reputation, to try to convince people to cling to the old Labour model - the move being both naïve and ill-judged - Blair has zero credibility, and the move has obviously backfired. But also because his remodeling and ‘modernizing’ of the Labour Party, took Labour so far away from its roots that Labour thus became indistinguishable from its Tory rivals.

This shift of the center ground, which also dragged the traditional liberal party, the Liberal Democrats further to the right, is what laid the groundwork for the crossroad Labour now faces.

It is Blair and his cronies who are responsible for this, not those who are simply planning to vote for a candidate who in their eyes at least, is the very opposite to Tony Blair and his apostles.

They accuse the Corbyn camp of being hard left Trotskyites, but what does it say when the other candidates, with the exception of Andy Burnham, have stated that would not serve in a Corbyn cabinet. They are accusing others of being divisive, while at the same time advocating division themselves. If they cannot support democracy within their own party, then they should stop pretending they are social democrats.

And while Blair behaving as Blair is hardly surprising, what is surprising is the birth of the so-called ‘resistance’, a ‘moderate’ group now formed within Labour who are already planning a rebellion - should Labour be wrestled away from what they see as their divine right to lead the party, and delivered to the hands of ordinary working people. Heaven forbid.

Labour MPs Tristram Hunt and Chuka Umunna have written to Labour MPs, suggesting they meet four days before the result of the Labour leadership election is announced.

Again, like Blair, they are concerned only about gaining power, and are less concerned with what that power would look like.

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn © Photograph by Jason Harris

While Blair, and all the other advocates of the old, broken down, and thoroughly distrusted model of Labour dance to the same hysterical tune, a new poll was published suggesting Corbyn’s lead over his nearest rival has grown, and also that he has the widest cross party support - something you wouldn’t realize if you were to listen to the running-scared New Labour advocates.

It seems that those throwing a hissy fit over the prospect of Corbyn’s election are in a minority, and rather than respect the democratic process, are doing everything they can to undermine it.

Six hundred thousand ballot papers for the Labour leadership vote have now been sent out to members and supporters. The Labour leadership election will be one of the most significant democratic elections in recent political party history. Rather than embrace this, and the fact that at least in Corbyn there is now a candidate who has been able to inject some much needed life blood into the party, Blair and those cut from the same cloth would rather remain stuck in the past.

They all talk about this election being ‘Labour’s resignation letter to the British people’ as a serious party of government. It’s not this election though that did that. It’s Labour’s failure to distinguish itself as a party representing the labor movement, working people up and down the country that has done this. Whichever way you slice it, Labour’s old policies and view of modernizing the party to the point of painting it blue is not what people want. This is clear.

If Britain has shifted to the right-which actually is dubious given low voter turnout- the answer is not for the Labour party to capitulate and to become yet more right wing by embracing even more austerity. The answer for Labour is to win people back over by providing a plan for the future, which is based on the principles of socialism. It might be hard work, and the path might be long, but it’s clearly the only way forward, and in the minds of many people, Jeremy Corbyn represents a chance at least to do just that.

Thatcher’s lasting legacy seems to be that she forced Labour, Blair, and like-minded thinkers to ditch any remaining semblance of principles, and to reposition themselves to the right of traditional Labour, thus selling out Labour’s core supporters.

Far from being unelectable, with the challenges Britain now faces, the right candidate standing for the right things could win not just Labour supporters over, but perhaps the country.

It sounds far-fetched, but is it really? A few weeks back who would have believed Corbyn would have even made the ballot, let along be leading the pack to become the bookies favorite? Not many.

Senior Labour figures like Alan Johnson, Alastair Campbell, Gordon Brown, and Tony Blair pleading for the life of New Labour says it all.

Blair, the so-called Labour resistance, and others attacking Corbyn and his supporters are the precise reason why so many lost faith in Labour and why they now want a clean break and to redefine the direction of the party.

Labour as the current opposition is not fit for power. If they were, perhaps they might have won the general election-and convincingly-not like the Tories with a wafer thin majority. All the slick thirty-something city lawyer MPs, and all the rest can harp on all they like, behaving as spoilt children, refusing to serve with Corbyn who in all likelihood will become Labour leader, chosen by Labour supporters. People don’t want their kind of politics anymore. It’s no wonder they are flocking to Jeremy Corbyn.

And as for Tony Blair, one senses that the best thing he could do to help the New Labour project and to try and salvage it is to clamp his mouth shut.

New Labourites are reveling in dismissing Corbyn’s ideas as ‘old’, priding themselves on how ‘modern’ their views are despite the fact they are supporting more poverty for the poorest, in supposedly one of the world’s most civilized nations.

In actual fact it’s the so called ‘modernizers’ whose old views are being rejected, much like Tony Blair who is more a relic of an age we’d like to put behind us, rather than a respected figure offering us something worth listening to. If Corbyn wins in September it’ll be the best thing to happen to Labour for a long time. And if he does I’m sure we’ll all be looking forward to an Op-Ed from Tony.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.