LONDON (Reuters) - Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned on Wednesday that the opposition Labour Party had become a “tragedy” under its current leader Jeremy Corbyn, a socialist who won control of the party in September.
Blair served as prime minister between 1997 and 2007, winning three elections after moving the Labour Party away from its trade union roots and rebranding it as a pro-business centrist movement.
After suffering a second successive national election defeat in May, Labour elected Corbyn, a 66-year-old human rights and anti-war campaigner, to lead the party, in what has been seen as a big shift back towards the political left.
Blair made several forceful but unsuccessful interventions to try and dissuade the party’s members from electing Corbyn and on Wednesday he published a withering criticism of the new leadership and its chances of winning power at a 2020 election.
“All wings of the Labour Party which support the notion of the Labour Party as a party aspiring to govern, rather than as a fringe protest movement agree on the tragedy of the Labour Party’s current position,” he wrote in the article published on The Spectator magazine’s website.
Corbyn’s leadership has divided Labour’s elected lawmakers, pitting his left-wing allies against its more moderate members. The issue came to a head last week when Corbyn failed to persuade 66 of his lawmakers, including several senior party members, to back his position on opposing British air strikes in Syria.
Blair’s 1,800 word article, titled “In defence of Blairism, by Tony Blair,” set out why he had moved the party towards the centre ground during his time in power and said that such a position gave Labour the best chance to effect real change.
“Right now we’re in danger of not asking the right questions never mind failing to get the right answers,” Blair wrote.
Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison