John Prescott questions why Tony Blair has not been expelled from Labour
John Prescott has hinted Tony Blair should be expelled from the Labour party as he launched a withering attack on the former prime minister’s interventions in the election campaign.
Lord Prescott, who served as Mr Blair’s deputy prime minister for a decade, said he was “saddened” by the recent comments seemingly calling on voters to consider candidates’ view of Brexit above their party banner.
While claiming he was not arguing for tactical voting, Mr Blair said what he was advocating “may mean” backing the Liberal Democrats or even pro-EU Conservatives.
In his Sunday Mirror column, Lord Prescott questioned whether the comments were compatible with the terms of Labour party membership.
“When Tony was leader, we expelled people for advocating voting for other parties. I can’t see what he is doing is any different,” he said.
"So can I tell Labour grandees like Blair, [Peter] Mandelson and [Roy] Hattersley to shut up and get behind us.
“To do this just days away from crucial local elections and five weeks out from a general election is totally unacceptable.
“Anything else would be a betrayal and let down the millions of people who need Labour back in power to save our NHS, our schools and our future.
“So Tony. Stop complaining and start campaigning. For Labour. Not against it.”
The Labour peer also compared the former PM to a “faded striker shouting from the sidelines as a spectator, desperate to get on the pitch to score a goal and hear the roar of the crowds”.
And he claimed that he and Gordon Brown had been able to keep Mr Blair “in check” during Labour’s time in power by preventing him bringing in Paddy Ashdown to the Cabinet.
Mr Blair has given his own interview with the Observer today to mark 20 years since Labour swept to power in the 1997 election landslide.
He said he found Labour’s current stance on Brexit “very frustrating” but stressed: “For the avoidance of doubt, I’m voting Labour. I hope people vote Labour. There are masses of great Labour candidates standing and I wish them well.”
The former prime minister also lamented the decision of some in the party to attack the legacy of New Labour.
He said: “The very reason for modernising the Labour party was to make it capable of answering the challenges of the new world and a changing society. We retreated at first slowly and then with ever greater pace from that essential notion. People began to see the process of modernising as a betrayal of principle.”