Alastair Campbell: ‘Militant-style nastiness’ pushing my Labour loyalty to the limit

Posted On: 
5th May 2018

Tony Blair’s former spin doctor has condemned the “Militant-style nastiness” which has led him to question his loyalty to the Labour party.

Alastair Campbell was a key figure in New Labour.
Credit: 
PA Images

In an outspoken attack on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Alastair Campbell said he had failed to tackle anti-Semitism in the party, and took aim at Labour’s approach to Brexit.

He also said the local election results showed Labour is “a long way from where we need to be to be anywhere near getting back into Downing Street”.

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In a speech to centre-left campaign group Progress, Mr Campbell said: “All my life I have been tribally Labour. But my Labour tribalism is being pushed to the limit – by the return of Militant style nastiness in local politics; by my revulsion that any anti-Semitism has been allowed to fester; by the feeling that some in the leadership, and their supporters, feel much greater animus against other Labour supporters than against Tories."

He said those now in position of power in Labour were the same ones “whose self-indulgence did so much damage to the party in the Kinnock era”.

Mr Campbell added: “The Corbyn project is sold as returning Labour to its roots, when in truth it is a departure, utterly foreign to the Labour tradition of Attlee, collective security, valuing
parliamentary democracy.
“That's why those of us who have spent decades in the party feel so uncomfortable with it. As my partner Fiona put it the other day, having grown up with many Jewish friends, and reflecting on anti-Semitism, ‘I never thought I would actually feel ashamed to be Labour.’ I find it hard to imagine I could ever vote anything but Labour. I find it amazing I can even write that sentence. The fact that I can is a test of itself. But they don’t make it easy, do they?”

On Brexit, he said: “If [Labour’s Brexit] tests are to mean anything, Labour cannot support Mrs May’s Brexit, even on what is already agreed. If they do, then though the Tories will be seen as Brexit’s architect, Labour will be its bricklayer, and history harsh when the house comes tumbling down.”

Although Labour gained 62 seats and won three councils in the local elections, the party has been criticised for missing out on other targets.

Mr Campbell said “Let me be frank: we’re not doing very well are we? Certainly, if Thursday’s elections are anything to go by, ‘we’ the Labour party are a long way from where we need to be to be anywhere near getting back into Downing Street. And frankly, if we cannot beat this shambles of a Tory Party, we don’t deserve to be in the game.

“With a government this incompetent, this divided, this weakly led, this inhumane, failing so evidently, I can’t get my head around anyone in the Labour party being content when looking at the state of public opinion, or putting failure on Thursday down to poor expectation management, not the fact that huge swathes of the country refuse to countenance this Labour party in power.”