Tony Blair has made a second powerful statement on the future facing the Labour Party– and attracted a great deal of personal vitriol as a result. He accused those backing Jeremy Corbyn of being in a parallel reality and emphasised that a Corbyn victory would spell electoral disaster. Amongst the other heavyweights who have delivered the same message are Gordon Brown, Neil Kinnock, Peter Mandelson, Alan Johnson, and Charles Clarke. The only important figure who has remained silent has been Ed Miliband who created the mess in the first place – history will not judge him kindly.
As many others have pointed out, Blair’s intervention is unlikely to make any difference and could, indeed, be actively unhelpful. I doubt that it will be counter-productive. By this stage everyone registered to vote falls into one of two camps: pro- or anti-Corbyn. There may be a few preference votes drifting between the other leadership candidates and the contenders for deputy but Tony Blair knew perfectly well his intervention would be unlikely to persuade anyone who supports Jeremy Corbyn to change their mind.
Blair is an astute politician. I have met him but once and never been a particular admirer. However on this occasion I thoroughly commend his intervention. Anyone with any political nous now recognises two things: one is that Jeremy Corbyn will almost certainly be elected; the second is that he is wholly unsuited for the role and that the Party will enter a most uncomfortable period when his inadequacies are ruthlessly exposed.
Tony Blair could have said nothing at all. He could have indicated, in a suitable coded form, that the Labour Party is now finished and it is time to consider, a new movement to advocate credible progressives politics. As my grandson said when I discussed what to do if he hit difficulties when he starts at nursery school next week: If someone ruins my game, I’ll play another’.
Thankfully Tony Blair has not suggested to his supporters that they should find another game to play. It seems that his commitment to the Labour Party may be greater than many of us thought and he is willing to assist the rebuild that will follow the catastrophe. I hope that is indeed the case. He has much to contribute.