JJ Anisiobi: "Tony Blair was the greatest prime minister"
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Ex-PM has sung the praises of Keir Starmer and New Labour’s achievements in an advert ahead of the local elections. It comes 15 years after Mr Blair left power and 25 years to the day after his 1997 landslide election victory which returned Labour to power for the first time since 1979.
This follows reports of a rift between Mr Starmer and Mr Blair, which saw the latter say people wanted to “voice their own opinion” and not “sub-contract to pressure groups” and that “keeping your head down isn’t a strategy”.
In a video on social media, Mr Blair listed what he viewed the successes of New Labour were, including the introduction of the minimum wage, lifting pensioners and children out of poverty and reduction in crime and NHS waiting times.
Mr Blair’s comments echoed those of Sir Keir’s speech to the Labour Party conference last year, where he listed the achievements of New Labour, adding “let me offer the Conservative party a lesson in levelling up”.
Sir Keir said it is “very valuable” to have the endorsement of the former Labour leader.
He told Sky News: “Tony Blair won three elections and the Labour Party doesn’t win elections very often, so I think having the endorsement of Tony Blair is very important, very valuable, and I think further demonstrates the amount of work we have done in the last two years, the change that we have made.
“I am very happy to talk to and with someone who has won three elections because I didn’t come into politics to be in opposition, I came into politics to win elections.”
However, locals at Mr Blair’s constituency Sedgefield are sceptical about voting for Mr Starmer, according to a news report published in Unherd.
Sedgefield went Conservative in 2019 with Phil Wilson, who worked for Blair from 1987 and took his seat in 2007, lost as Jeremy Corbyn was conceding.
The report claims: “In Sedgefield, Labour voters hate Corbyn, despise Johnson and aren’t sure of Starmer yet.
“There is a weird kind of emptiness here politically: a waiting.
“It is true that Blair offered a future that came to devour him, but in 2019 both parties chose, as Wilson said, a backward glance.
“Starmer will make gains on Thursday by following some New Labour paths, but that settlement is a quarter of a century old. However much they long for them in Trimdon, the old politics are gone.”
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Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is trailing Keir Starmer as he faces a week of vital elections but the absence of an obvious Tory successor could ensure his survival as leader.
That is the conclusion of exclusive research by former Conservative Deputy Chairman Lord Ashcroft, published in Sunday’s Daily Mail.
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