British Ex-PM Blair Blames ‘Revolutionary Socialism’ For Labour Defeat

Britain’s former prime minister Tony Blair speaks during the ‘Stop The Brexit Landslide’, organised by the Vote for a Final Say campaign and For our Future’s Sake, at London’s Mermaid Theatre in London.  Tolga AKMEN / AFP

 

Former British prime minister Tony Blair urged his Labour party on Wednesday to abandon “quasi-revolutionary socialism” as it seeks a new leader after its worst election defeat since the 1930s.

Britain’s shellshocked left entered a period of soul-searching and mourning in the wake of last Thursday’s drubbing at the polls.

The electorate handed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative party a clear mandate after he promised to take Britain out of the European Union on January 31.

But it also redrew the political map of England as swathes of its working-class north voted Conservative for the first time.

Labour’s socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn — a 70-year-old who campaign on a radical platform of state spending and re-nationalisation — has since promised to step down.

The formal campaign to replace him is not set to begin until next month.

Yet several prominent Labour figures have already signalled their intention to enter a leadership contest.

Blair castigated Corbyn for “almost comic indecision” about which position to take on Britain’s near half-century membership in the EU.

“The absence of leadership on what was obviously the biggest issue facing the country reinforced all the other doubts about Jeremy Corbyn,” Blair said in a speech in London.

“Politically, people saw him as fundamentally opposing what Britain and Western countries stand for.

“He personified politically an idea, a brand of quasi-revolutionary socialism, mixing far-left economic policy with deep hostility to Western foreign policy, which never has appealed to traditional Labour voters.”

 ‘Too much baggage’ 

Blair’s popularity in Britain suffered from his decision to support the 2003 US invasion of Iraq on what proved to be false allegations that it had weapons of mass destruction.

Yet his 1997-2007 spell in office marked one of Labour’s most electorally successful eras in its 119-year history.

He promoted centrist “New Labour” policies and embraced a leading role on the world stage that appealed to Britons during an era of economic growth.

Labour must now choose whether to adopt a similar ideology or push through with the leftist vision that Corbyn championed since taking charge in 2015.

Some potential successors said Corbyn had the right vision but the wrong approach.

“The case for a radical government has never been stronger,” Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer told BBC radio.

He attributed the defeat to Labour’s inability to counter Johnson’s “get Brexit done” mantra with a clear case for why — or whether — Britain should still be a part of the EU.

“And we carried, I think, too much baggage into the election — and anti-Semitism is the example of that,” Starmer added.

The party was riddled with anti-Semitism scandals that saw several prominent members quit under Corbyn’s watch.

Starmer is a London lawyer who had pushed for a second Brexit referendum and now appears to be trying to win over more leftist Labour votes.

Lawmaker Rebecca Long-Bailey — a rising star who has faithfully defended Corbyn — has emerged as the early favourite in a leadership race that is expected to feature several prominent women.

She has largely avoided the media since Friday’s official results handed the Conservatives an 80-seat majority in the 650-member House of Commons.

Some analysts attributed Labour’s defeat to its rejection of the centre ground

Tim Bale, an analyst with the Changing Europe think-tank, said pointed to a “slow burn alienation of voters from the Labour party based mainly around their feeling that Labour no longer really reflects their values on cultural issues”.

He said Long-Bailey’s leadership “would be problematic in a sense that she will be seen as the continuity, the Corbyn candidate.”

AFP

Osinbajo Meets With Ex-British PM Tony Blair, Others In Abuja

 

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on Friday met with former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Professor Osinbajo received the former British PM who led a delegation from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The meeting, which lasted over 30 minutes, was said to have held behind closed doors.

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Similarly, State House correspondents were not allowed to speak to Mr Blair at the end of the discussion.

But a tweet from the government disclosed that the institute, as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, would be supporting the Delivery Unit in the Presidency regarding some critical sectors of the nation’s economy.

Blair last visited Nigeria in 2017, when he met with Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, and pledged to support state governments in Nigeria to deliver good governance to the people.

Prior to his visit in 2017, he had met with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum after the general elections in 2015.

See more photos below:

Britain’s Theresa May Clashes With Tony Blair Over Brexit

Blair                                                                                 May

 

An extraordinary public row broke out Sunday between British Prime Minister Theresa May and former Labour party leader Tony Blair over her Brexit deal.

May accused Blair of insulting voters and trying to undermine her government with calls for a second referendum to break the political deadlock over the divorce deal she struck with the EU.

“For Tony Blair to go to Brussels and seek to undermine our negotiations by advocating for a second referendum is an insult to the office he once held and the people he once served,” May said in a statement issued late Saturday.

“We cannot, as he would, abdicate responsibility for this decision. Parliament has a democratic duty to deliver what the British people voted for.”

Blair, who was Labour prime minister between 1997 and 2007, on Sunday accused the Conservative leader of being “irresponsible”.

“The sensible thing is now to allow parliament to vote on each of the forms of Brexit canvassed, including the prime minister’s deal,” he said in a statement.

“If they can’t reach agreement then the logical thing is to go back to the people.”

He added: “What is irresponsible however is to try to steamroller MPs into accepting a deal they genuinely think is a bad one with the threat that if they do not fall into line, the government will have the country crash out (of the EU) without a deal.”

Blair opposes Brexit and, as May’s deal faces opposition on all sides of the House of Commons, he has stepped up calls for the public to vote again.

His latest speech on the issue came on Friday, as May was meeting EU leaders in Brussels to discuss how to save the agreement.

May has repeatedly ruled out holding a new referendum, saying the result in 2016 was clear.

But growing numbers of MPs believe a “people’s vote” is the only way to break an impasse that risks Britain leaving the EU on March 29 without any agreement at all.

May’s chief of staff, Gavin Barwell, was on Sunday forced to deny reports that he was planning for such an outcome.

The same reports also said May’s effective deputy, David Lidington, was in talks with opposition Labour MPs about a new vote.

Lidington replied that he always listened to MPs’ views but pointed to recent remarks in parliament where he said a second referendum may not be decisive and could damage confidence in democracy.

Separately, Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt suggested Britain could thrive if it left the EU with no deal, and admitted he would like to “have a crack” at May’s job.

“But I think the first thing is to get us through this challenging next few months and I passionately believe Theresa May is the person to do that,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.

AFP

Tony Blair Calls For Second Vote To Fix Brexit ‘Mess’

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair poses for a photograph ahead of an interview with AFP in central London on July 17, 2018. Tolga AKMEN / AFP

 

“It’s a total and complete mess”: Former prime minister Tony Blair does not hold back when asked in an interview with AFP what he makes of the British government’s approach to Brexit.

Blair, who held the office for 10 years, said he sympathises with Prime Minister Theresa May as she seeks to unite her party behind a plan for leaving the European Union, suggesting she has “the least enviable job in Western politics”.

But the former Labour leader warned that with the scheduled date for Brexit approaching in March next year, it is time for her to admit “there’s no way out” and call another referendum — with the option of staying in the EU.

“Once this thing has been started by a referendum it can frankly only be finished by a fresh vote,” he said.

Blair left office in 2007 and spent many of the following years abroad, including as an international envoy to the Middle East.

But these days he is more often found in London, where he has plunged back into British politics.

“I’m passionately opposed to Brexit and I still believe it can be changed,” the 65-year-old told AFP in the offices of his non-profit organisation, the Institute for Global Change.

After two years of wrangling with her Conservative party, May finally presented her plan this month for economic ties with the EU after Brexit, sparking outrage among hardliners in the party for giving too much away to the EU.

May’s plan is ‘mush’ 

Blair himself said it was a “mush”, an “incomplete half-in half-out” plan that pleased no one — and was unlikely to be accepted by Brussels.

He noted the inherent dilemma in Brexit — stay close to the EU to protect trade but forfeit the opportunities of going it alone or cut ties altogether and risk damage to the economy.

With parliament “paralysed” on the way forward, “the only way, in the end, this is going to be resolved is putting it back to the people”, he said.

Blair’s interventions on Brexit have not always been well received in Britain, where his decision to join the United States in invading Iraq in 2003 remains hugely controversial.

But while the prime minister who called the Brexit vote in 2016, David Cameron, has retired from the public eye to write his memoirs, Blair refuses to stay silent.

Some have suggested Blair had a role in Brexit by failing to limit migration from new EU member states from central and eastern Europe when they joined in 2004, leading to a huge influx of workers that sparked public alarm.

He rejected the idea as “ridiculously overhyped”, insisting non-EU migration was a driver of Brexit vote — while acknowledging that if he had stayed in power longer, he might have tried to “tighten things up”.

 Populism risk 

The European Union itself is currently split over how to handle irregular migration and asylum seekers, divisions Blair described as “very dangerous”.

“There is a crisis. The popularism of left and right is, you know, (at) risk of breaking the back of Western politics,” Blair said.

He admitted that “the centre ground of politics is pretty absent at the moment” — but denied suggestions he could help form a new centrist party in Britain.

His own Labour party has moved to the political left since he was in charge, and while many of its MPs are pro-European, its socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn is more sceptical.

Labour backs Brexit but has called for a new customs union with the EU, and has refused to rule out a second vote.

Blair said that for all his hopes of stopping Brexit, it depended on “whether at the top of the Labour party the leader, the people around the leader, still want Brexit to go through”.

But he said he hoped it would “come back to sense”, adding that in the meantime, he would press his case.

AFP

Former PM Blair Calls For “Reformed Europe”, Criticizes Current Labour Leadership

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said an option for Britain during current Brexit negotiations could be “staying within a reformed EU” on Saturday.

Blair spoke on the subject after suggesting there was room for compromise on the free movement of people in an article for his own think-tank, the Institute for Global Change.

In the BBC Radio 4 interview, he went on to suggest that Brexit – if followed by a government led by the current Labor party leader Jeremy Corbyn — would leave the UK “in a very serious situation.”

Blair’s comments are at odds with the EU’s negotiating stance, which stresses there can be no “cherry picking” from the benefits of membership of the EU’s single market without accepting freedom of movement for EU workers.

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said, “The whole issue to do with Brexit is that we know why we left but we didn’t know last year what the terms of leaving would be. We’re now knowing a lot more about what it really means. Now, what’s happening in Europe at the moment, two things. First of all, you’ve got the election of Macron in France so Europe itself is looking at its own reform programme.

“They will have an inner circle of the EU that will be part of the Eurozone and an outer circle. They will make reforms that I think will make it much more comfortable for Britain to fit itself in that outer circle. On freedom of movement, the principle is indivisible. The question is, are people prepared to consider changes in the types of things that are concerns for us. “He said

Blair was prime minister for ten years until 2007. He wanted to take Britain into the euro zone and believed Britain should lead the way in the EU rather than withdraw from it.

Tony Blair Pledges To Support Kaduna In Delivering Good Governance

Tony Blair, Brexit, BritainThe former British Prime  Minister, Mr Tony Blair has pledged to support  Kaduna state and some other state governments in Nigeria to deliver good governance to the people.

Mr Blair made the pledge on Thursday when he visited Governor Nasir El-Rufai at his office in the Government House, Kaduna.

He says that the ’Tony Blair Foundation’’ will assist Kaduna state in terms of technical assistance and other support  to enable it to deliver democratic dividends to its people especially in the areas of investments, basic education, healthcare and agriculture.

Mr Blair also met with members of the Kaduna state executive council at the governor’s office where he was briefed by the governor and members of his cabinet  about the various successes recorded by  their ministries  as well as their challenges which they ask for his assistance.

He commended the relationship with his country and Nigeria, and how Kaduna and his Foundation will work together to transform the state’s public service sector for efficient service delivery and  increase prosperity.

He pointed out that the hardest thing about governance is being able to deliver on campaign promises to the people.

He assured that his foundation’s members of staff are ready to provide necessary assistance to state governments whenever required.

Describing the meeting with Governor El-Rufai as an exciting opportunity to visit Nigeria and  see how  governance is being run and done.

Mr Blair says there is great goodwill and desire for the country to do well under the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration, especially in the fight against corruption.

For Governor El-Rufai, the visit of the former Prime Minister is timely as it gave  him and his cabinet members to share his experience in governance with them.

Tony Blair Asks Britain To ‘Rise Up’ Against Brexit

Tony Blair, Brexit, BritainFormer British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has made a battle cry against a so-called ‘Hard Brexit’.

Mr Blair called on voters, businesses and campaigners to “rise up” and back a coordinated effort to temper the terms of, or even halt Britain’s exit from the European Union.

He made the call in his first major political intervention since Britons voted 52% to 48% to leave the EU in June 2016.

Mr Blair said Prime Minister Theresa May was pursuing “Brexit at any cost”, and must be challenged.

Mrs May had earlier vowed to start the legal process of leaving the European Union in March, but it is not clear whether the process would be reversed.

She said her vision was for a clean break from the bloc, including leaving the single market and customs union.

Syria Crisis: 15 Rebel Forces Ready To Succeed ISIS

ISIS_6Latest research indicates that at least 15 rebel forces in Syria are ready to succeed Islamic State (ISIS) if it is defeated by the US-led coalition.

The centre on religion and geopolitics, linked to former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, also said that 60% of the rebels could be classified as Islamists.

It argues that attempts by world powers to distinguish between moderate and extremist factions are flawed.

Western countries had stepped up air strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

But the centre said that the greatest danger to the international community, were groups that shared the ISIS ideology but are currently being ignored.

They number about 100,000 fighters.

It further warned that if ISIS is defeated, dispersed fighters and other extremists could attack targets outside Syria under a rallying cry that “the west destroyed the caliphate”.

By contrast, fewer than a quarter of the rebels surveyed were not ideological, the centre said.

In September, Russian forces began air strikes against rebels in Syria, targeting “all terrorists”, including ISIS.

However, Western-backed groups were also reported to have been hit.

The Centre on Religion and Geopolitics, an initiative of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, said that Syria now hosts the largest gathering of jihadi groups in modern times.

Current Western efforts to define “moderate” and “extremist” rebels are bound to fail, because the groups themselves rarely make the distinction, the centre said.

Past World Leaders Mourn Mandela

Leading the long list of past world leaders who have been mourning Nelson Mandela is F.W. de Klerk, South Africa’s last white president, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela in 1993.

Mr Klerk praised Madiba as “a great unifier and a very, very special man” in this regard beyond everything else he did.

Former U.S. President, George H.W. Bush, who was in office when Mandela was released from prison in 1990, said: “As president, I watched in wonder as Nelson Mandela had the remarkable capacity to forgive his jailers following 27 years of wrongful imprisonment – setting a powerful example of redemption and grace for us all.”

The U.N. Security Council was in session when the ambassadors received the news of Mandela’s death. They stopped their meeting and stood for a minute’s silence

European Union Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton said that “more than anyone else, Nelson Mandela inspired my generation and our world.”

There are also reactions from former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair and the former US President, Bill Clinton.

Blair and Archbishop of Canterbury advocate religious tolerance as panacea to peace in Nigeria

 Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair and the Archbishop of Canterbury designate, Bishop Justin Welby, have both advocated religious tolerance as a panacea for peace and unity in the country.

Blair who spoke at the launch of the Faith Foundation in Abuja called for the inculcation of the right values especially in the nation’s youths.

He said that religious leaders at all levels must strive to ensure that peace and stability reign in the country.

Blair, who is the founder of the Faith foundation, was joined by religious leaders, government officials and other Nigerians at the meeting which was aimed on how to foster peace and development in the country.

The meeting commenced with an interactive session between Nigerian students and their counterparts from the United Kingdom through a video conference where they shared views on how to tackle issues of insecurity in the country.

The former Prime Minister maintained that the attitude of Nigerians at this point in time should be that of tolerance.

He went further to promise that his foundation will develop ways of engaging the Nigerian youths on how to embrace peace.

Religious leaders, led by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Sultan of Sokoto, Dr Muhammed Sa’ad Abubakar III, also highlighted steps that must be taken to address issues of insecurity in the country.

“This is an important moment for us as a country. I believe in progressive dialogue. Dialogues where we can set goals and timelines” stated Pastor Oritsejafor.

He added that “to find great people coming from around the world to help us in this, is incredible” as he thanked Mr Blair, the Faith Foundation, Bishop Justin Welby and Prince Ghazi for “giving us practical things to help us work together.”

The Sultan of Sokoto in his remark, stated that “the video conference between the students was an eye opener.”

“What the children discussed captured exactly what we are trying to do. We need to understand one another. We need education to know what our religions teach us. We need to love one another like we love ourselves” he stated.

While assuring of government’s commitment to protect lives and property, the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ms Ama Pepple said that Nigerians at all levels also have a role to play to attain peace.

The foundation hopes  to work with local Christians and Muslims faith leaders as well as young people to build sustainable peaceful co-existence through joint leadership, education and action on shared challenges, such as preventing deaths through malaria.

HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan were also at the meeting.