Blair Suggests Labour Needs ‘Progressive Coalition’ with Anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats to Win Power

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 06: Former Prime Minster Tony Blair speaks at a "Vote for a Final Say" rally about Brexit and the upcoming general election on December 6, 2019 in London, England. Former Prime ministers Tony Blair and John Major were joined by other political figures including Michael Heseltine, …
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Tony Blair has said that the Labour Party needs to move away from its far-leftist stance and suggested a “progression coalition” with the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats.

Where a decade of globalist-progressive politics of the Blair era resulted in a reactionary far-left move of Labour under socialist Jeremy Corbyn, the former prime minister thinks that the only way the party could hope to win another election would be to return… to the era of his globalist-progressive politics.

Speaking at an event in Kings College London on Thursday to mark the 120th anniversary of the Labour Party, Mr Blair said that “progressive politics is in crisis virtually everywhere” and that the Labour Party needs “fundamental reconstruction” in the progressive mould.

He said: “First, We must build a new progressive coalition, to put Labour values into practice.”

Hinting at a Lib Dem-Labour union, he said that “we must correct the defect from birth” which separated “the Liberal reforming traditions” from “the Labour ones”.

“How this is done institutionally is for debate. But intellectually and philosophically this is essential. With one qualification. Those Liberal politicians aspired to govern. Today’s Lib Dems would have to show the same clarity of purpose.

“And remember there are many progressives who presently do not feel at home in either political party,” Blair said.

Later asked if he were proposing an alliance between the two left-wing factions, Mr Blair said in comments reported by Sky News: “I literally don’t know at this stage, it could go in a number of different directions.”

It would not be the first time Blair considered the coalition, having raised it with former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown in the 1990s ahead of the 1997 election, which Blair’s New Labour won.

One of the Liberal Democrats’ many former recent leaders, Tim Farron, agreed with the former Labour Party leader’s assessment, saying: “He is right. We both need to show humility about our limitations along with seriousness about power. This doesn’t mean a pact or a formal alliance, but it does mean a shared understanding of a common purpose and a common opponent. Time to start winning.”

However, “winning” seemed a distant concept for Labour and the Lib Dems when they were operating on their own in the December 2019 election, with no certainty that together they would fare better.

Labour, under the socialist Jeremy Corbyn, experienced its worst election defeat since 1935. The Liberal Democrats did not win over the electorate with its pledge to cancel Brexit and failed to make any gains — seeing one seat lost in the House of Commons, overall — with the party’s most recent leader, Jo Swinson, losing in her constituency.

There was a lesson on the public appetite for anti-Brexit centrism this week when the former TIG (The Independent Group, comprised of defectors from Labour, the Lib Dems, and the Tories) celebrated its first birthday. Not one of the dozen MPs or candidates won a seat or remained an MP in their constituency.

Anecdotal evidence on the day after the December 12th election by senior Labour figure John McDonnell that Brexit was a major issue for Labour voters, resulting in them switching to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party — thus weakening Labour in formerly red seats and handing the Conservatives victory — was backed up by data reported by the notoriously pro-EU Financial Times.

However, Brexit was not the only issue for Labour voters who abandoned their traditional political home to either back Farage or the Tories. According to a recent poll of Labour and former party members by Lord Ashcroft, working-class Labour voters had also expressed frustration at being patronised and ignored by a party that had become dominated by the liberal elites fixated on denying democracy by stopping Brexit. They also deeply distrusted Jeremy Corbyn.

Tony Blair is keen on getting his assessment on Labour’s Brexit performance wrong, too. In the autopsy of the Labour defeat in mid-December, the former party leader claimed that Labour would have performed better had Corbyn taken a hardline stance on backing a second referendum.

A snap poll of Labour voters by YouGov undertaken on Thursday gauging Mr Blair’s influence on the party found that a plurality (38 per cent) said he had had a “negative impact”, with less than a quarter (22 per cent) believing Blair had been good for Labour.

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