So, Tony Blair has let it be known that he will do “whatever the party wants” to help Labour under Ed Miliband win the election, The Observer reported yesterday. But is Blair suddenly being generous to a leader whose left-of-centre approach he clearly disapproves of - or is he being selfish?
It’s the latter, according to Andrew Neil’s panel of political correspondents on the BBC’s Sunday Politics yesterday.
Both Iain Martin of the Sunday Telegraph and Nick Watt of The Guardian agreed: Blair does not want it to be said that he – or Peter Mandelson, or Alan Milburn, or any of the other dinosaurs of New Labour who have been busy criticising Labour policy in recent days - contributed to Miliband’s defeat.
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“We all know what Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson really think of Ed Miliband,” said Watt. “They think he’s abandoned the essential truth which is that Labour needs to champion the conservatory-building classes and that Miliband took the wrong lesson from the crash of 2008 which is essentially that the world has moved to the Left.
“In order to protect the Blairite flame, they must not be blamed for any electoral setback Labour faces on 7 May.”
Ok, so what about Blair’s offer? Should Miliband accept – or keep him at arm’s length?
Cartoon by Marf: courtesy PoliticalBetting.com
Miliband should be cautious, Watt counselled, remembering Blair’s half-hearted appearances on behalf of Gordon Brown in the 2010 election campaign. Blair never believed Brown should be allowed to lead Labour (he had a point) and found it almost impossible to hide his feelings.
Then there’s the “teeny tiny Iraq-shaped problem” as Helen Lewis of the New Statesman put it on the Sunday Politics.
The Mail on Sunday reported yesterday that the Chilcot Report will be no whitewash: instead it will be a “devastating indictment of the Blair government and large sections of the Whitehall establishment”.
At least 30 people, Blair among them, have been sent letters by Sir John Chilcot warning them that they will be heavily criticised in the report into the circumstances of the 2003 allied invasion of Iraq. (One individual is understood to have received a letter running to 1,200 pages.)
“Contrary to earlier claims,” the Mail reports, “full details of the way that Blair privately promised Bush that he would go to war against Saddam – without telling MPs and British voters – will be published.”
So, does Miliband accept Toxic Tony’s offer or not? On balance, he did win three elections for Labour, said Helen Lewis. “You’d rather have him on your side then not."
And, she might have added, the Chilcot Report won't of course be published until after the election.
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