Tony Blair: Labour ‘much worse’ under Jeremy Corbyn than with Militant in 1980s

Posted On: 
22nd January 2018

Labour is in a “much worse” state than it was when the hard left tried to take over the party in the 1980s, Tony Blair has said.

Tony Blair also criticised the current leadership's approach to nationalisation
PA Images

The former Prime minister accused the Labour leadership of handing the “extreme elements” greater power and influence where previously they were “either outside the party or marginalised”.

Mr Blair’s comments come after Jeremy Corbyn allies secured a majority on the party’s national executive committee and amid warnings from moderate MPs against trying to deselect centrist candidates.

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Asked by the Evening Standard whether the situation in the party today is as bad as when Militant were on the rise in the 1980s, the three-time election winner said: "Now is worse, much worse. Because it’s happening with the support of the leadership. They are bringing back the more extreme elements that were either outside the party or marginalised.”

Yesterday, backbencher Mary Creagh said while she had “no idea” whether reported deselection plans exist, Labour should avoid being “inward-looking” and instead “become a mass movement that wins general elections”.

Mr Blair also mounted a defence of his government’s time in office, which has come in for severe criticism from supporters of Mr Corbyn.

"We were not a neo-liberal Thatcher-lite government,” he said. "We introduced the first minimum wage, major investments in education and healthcare.

"We changed the whole priorities of government when we came into power."

And in a swipe at Mr Corbyn’s regime, he added: “If you’ve got limited time and resources, is nationalisation the priority?

"If you’ve got £8bn a year to spend on education, is abolishing rather than reforming tuition fees the right way, or is early years education?”

Mr Blair also stressed the need for Britain to keep Donald Trump onside and suggested Mr Corbyn was wrong to say the President should not come to the UK.

“If we’re out of Europe and you don’t dare invite the American president to Britain, we have a problem,” he said.

“No matter what you think of Donald Trump, Britain has to keep its relationship with America strong.”