In an article published yesterday in the Guardian, Tony Blair launched his second, and markedly more desperate, plea to Labour voters to stop the ascension of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the party.
Corbyn, a staunch left-winger who wants to take the party back to its roots and had policy suggestions such as renationalising the railways and increasing public spending to fund infrastructure investment, has stormed ahead in the leadership polls in the last few weeks, and has been the fascination of the media whilst Parliament has been in recess.
Corbyn snuck into the race at the last second, following the grace of a few veteran party members who have since denounced their own charity. However, since nominations closed a few months ago he has had a virtually unlimited platform from which to present a completely different face or Labour than the one it has been worn since 1997 and the dawn of Blair’s premiership.
The former PM’s article is vivid indeed and full of emotive descriptions of the problems of the left, and begs those who have flirted with the idea of voting for Corbyn to “understand the danger we are in”. He stresses that “the party is walking eyes shut, arms outstretched, over the cliff’s edge to the jagged rocks below.”
He beseeches the party and the people not to make the same mistake that they did with Michael Foot in the 1980’s, but it would seem that his cries are falling mainly on deaf ears.
Some of Corbyn’s supporters are regular Green and TUSC voters, and he holds a high percentage of the youth vote in his rapture. He has also won the support of every major Trade Union in the UK and the vast majority of the CLP’s (Consituency Labour Party) nominations across the country. It is now widely believed that Corbyn is the only candidate who can challenge the former favourite Andy Burnham for the leadership, and several bookies have changed their minds to make him the favourite to win.
This truly has been a roller coaster for the party. As Blair describes: “there is something fascinating about watching a party wrestle with its soul.”
But in a month’s time the decision will be made. Labour will have made it’s bed and will have to lie in it as a party of opposition for four years, and that is the true test of a leader.
When 2020 rolls around and election time looms again, the next months of deliberations will equate to elation or annihilation for the Labour Party.