Tony Blair, Tory infiltrator into Labour, photo Chatham House (Creative Commons)

Tony Blair, Tory infiltrator into Labour, photo Chatham House (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Paula Mitchell, Socialist Party London regional secretary

Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair has laid out his general election strategy in the Financial Times: “Save Britain by supporting moderate MPs”. As clear as day: prepare to sabotage a Corbyn government.

When asked what was her most important legacy, Margaret Thatcher, spearhead of anti-working class policies of neoliberalism, such as privatisation, cuts and deregulation, said “Tony Blair”.

Blair became almost as unpopular as Thatcher as a result of the bloody war and invasion of Iraq, the horrific consequences of which are still being suffered by masses of people in the Middle East today.

Safe for big business

Even more significantly, he oversaw the decisive stages of the transformation of the Labour Party into a party safe for big business, through the eradication of its pro-worker policies and stripping out of democracy.

This achievement has enabled the bosses and bankers, big business and the super-rich, to vastly increase their already-obscene wealth while masses of working-class and middle-class people lost their jobs, pay, pensions and services without a political fight being waged.

In consequence, over the course of a decade, Labour lost around five million votes under his leadership.

Blair has retired to make his millions out of after-dinner speeches and advising dictators around the world.

But since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader and the Brexit vote, he has periodically weighed into the debate in order to advise his acolytes in the Labour Party on how they can best prevent a Corbyn-led government and represent the interests of big business.

His first tactic – to remove Corbyn – has so far failed. The second – to prevent a general election while Corbyn is still Labour leader – has also failed.

So now the next steps are to prepare to strangle a Corbyn government with a block of “moderate” MPs, laying the ground, if necessary, for a new centre party or cross-party coaltion.

“The spine of British politics has always been a solid centre” he claims. Voters “fear” Mr Corbyn apparently. Corbyn is no better than Boris Johnson, or even Donald Trump. “Mr Corbyn’s campaign launch speech, attacking ‘dodgy landlords’, ‘billionaires’ and a ‘corrupt system’ is textbook populism. It is no more acceptable in the mouth of someone who calls themselves left wing than in the mouth of Donald Trump’s right”.

So the solution: “There is a good core of good Labour MPs who will not be whipped into supporting policy they do not believe in. They deserve strong support even from those not inclined to vote Labour.”

But it is not just these anti-Corbyn Blairite Labour MPs who need support. “Parliament would be worse without the Conservative independents.”

“We need to get into parliament many reasonable and capable politicians of all parties who will not spout populism. We need people who will put reasoned argument before ideology… If this parliament has shown anything it is that independent-minded MPs can make a difference and work constructively together.”

The reality is that this so-called centre ground has been abandoned by working-class, young, and middle-class people in elections and referendums around the world, again and again. Masses of people are taking to the streets in a vast rebellion in country after country, rising up against the real-life consequences of Blair’s “reasoned argument”.

If Corbyn fights for it, the appeal against the dodgy landlords, billionaires and corrupt system will be extremely popular.

But of course Blair knows this. His aim is not to argue that a Labour government is more likely to win if it has moderate policies. His aim is to defend capitalism and construct a political vehicle capable of doing that.

Two parties in one

So the lesson from this article must be: no more attempts at compromise with these class opponents embedded in the Labour Party – no compromises on the manifesto. No more talk of ‘unity’ with the Blairites. Fight as boldly as possible for socialist policies.

And heed Blair’s warning: “After this election, the real battle over the future of British politics will begin.”

The capitalists and their representatives in the Labour Party are preparing to apply enormous pressure to prevent even modest promises of Corbyn being implemented.

So we must do all we can to not only win a radical manifesto but to build the working class and youth movement that will be necessary to counter that pressure and win a government that acts in our interests.