‘Blair saved Corbyn’ claim disingenuous
11 August, 2017
• HILARY Armstrong’s claim, aired on Radio 4 and reported in The Observer, that Tony Blair saved Jeremy Corbyn from deselection, is disingenuous to say the least.
When Blair became leader in 1994, he announced that the Campaign Group of left-wing Labour MPs would become a sealed tomb, and so it did. Central to his control of the Labour Party and the Parliamentary Party was his refusal to allow anyone who disagreed with the New Labour doctrine to become a parliamentary candidate.
In 1995, an Islington councillor and female barrister was selected by Leeds North East as the prospective parliamentary candidate. The local constituency Labour Party had made it clear they wanted a left-wing candidate.
Blair refused to allow them their choice, however, and at Conference that year Clare Short, of all people, proposed the motion that the candidate be deselected, and so she was.
She later sued James Purnell [Secretary of State for Culture under Gordon Brown] and two other Islington councillors who had made defamatory allegations against her, and they were forced to apologise and donate money to Mr Corbyn’s election campaign.
To compare Blair’s subsequent tolerance of Mr Corbyn’s opposition to his policies, when the Campaign Group had been reduced to Jeremy and John McDonnell, and the rest of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) on-message, with Mr Corbyn’s position for the past two years, faced with the majority of the PLP bent on destroying his leadership, is sheer nonsense.
RUTH STEIGMAN, N7