Tony Blair warns ‘head-to-toe’ renewal needed for Labour

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Tony Blair has criticised Labour’s “attachment to retreating into a narrow part of the Left” as he called for renewal.

The former Prime Minister spoke at Kings College London today to mark 120 years since the birth of the party, which has been in power for just over 30 of those years.

Addressing Labour’s catastrophic defeat in December’s general election, the former leader said the party was “in crisis”.

He said: “It is always about the future but it’s precisely because of that, because whilst pointing forwards for too long we have been travelling backwards, nothing less than a born again, head-to-toe renewal will do for Labour and for progressive politics.”

Mr Blair is the only surviving Labour leader to have won a general election and the party has only ever won successive polls under his New Labour.

The 66-year-old won three elections for the party between 1997 and 2005, but his legacy has been called into question by some members and leadership candidates

Lisa Nandy accused the last Labour government of sticking with the “consensus” of right-wing economics introduced by Margaret Thatcher, and Sir Keir Starmer wants a Prevention of Military Intervention Act to avoid another Iraq war.

Wigan MP Ms Nandy, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir and shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey are the last three standing in the race to replace outgoing Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Blair urged leadership hopefuls to listen to the public.

He said: “The public is watching the current leadership contest – I know it’s not big news because that belongs to government, because governments do things and oppositions only say things – but the public have half an ear cocked.

“They’re waiting to see if we get it.”

The new Labour leader will be announced at a special party conference on April 4.

Read more

Tony Blair warns Labour not to 'whitewash' election defeat

Labour leadership contest: Who is in the running?

talkRADIO: Listen live