Tony Blair: Labour will not get in power unless they 'reject' wokeism'

‘Ditch the wokeism’: Labour will not get back into power unless the party ’emphatically rejects’ woke ideals and pushes hard-Left factions ‘to the margins’, says Tony Blair

  • Former prime minister Tony Blair urged Labour to ’emphatically reject’ wokeism
  • He urged Sir Keir Starmer to push the party’s hard-Left factions ‘to the margins’
  • It comes as a report suggested Labour needs a larger vote swing to win election

Tony Blair has urged Labour to ’emphatically reject’ wokeism and push the party’s hard-Left factions ‘to the margins’ if it is to win power again.

The former prime minister urged Sir Keir Starmer to continue to bring Labour back to the middle ground.

He warned that a ‘lurch to the far Left… will never be electorally successful’ following the Labour’s 2019 election drubbing under Jeremy Corbyn – its worst performance since 1935.

His call comes in a foreword to a report which suggests Labour will need a larger vote swing to win the next election than was seen during Mr Blair’s landslide victory in 1997.

Mr Blair said the electoral picture for Labour had been made worse in recent years by the fact that working-class loyalty to the party had ebbed away.

Canvassing from Deltapoll – which questioned more than 2,500 former Labour voters and more than 3,000 who remained loyal – discovered that more than 11 million who had previously voted Labour did not do so in 2019, with 5.5 million turning to the Conservatives.

Former prime minister Tony Blair (pictured) urged Sir Keir Starmer to ’emphatically reject’ wokeism and continue to bring Labour back to the middle ground

Mr Blair argued the party has a ‘culture problem with many working-class voters’ and a ‘credibility problem’ with those in the centre of the political spectrum.

Setting out a four-point plan for how Labour can return to government, Mr Blair – who was in Downing Street for a decade – said leader Sir Keir should ‘continue to push the far-Left back to the margins’ of the party.

He also argued that so-called ‘woke’ views should be rejected.

‘We should openly embrace liberal, tolerant but commonsensical positions on the ‘culture’ issues, and emphatically reject the ‘wokeism’ of a small, though vocal, minority,’ said Mr Blair.

He said any future policy agenda should be centred on ‘an understanding of how the world is changing’, suggesting that the ‘technology revolution should be at the heart of it’.

Mr Blair also pressed for the ‘best and brightest from the younger generation’ to be encouraged to stand as Labour candidates.

In what is likely to be read as a vote of confidence in the current leadership, Mr Blair, 68, predicted that Labour ‘could do it again’ and return to power for the first time since 2010.

‘Its leadership today is capable of governing and confidence is returning. The corner is turned,’ he added.

The comments came in a report, commissioned by the Tony Blair Institute, setting out the findings of Deltapoll’s research. 

Peter Kellner, in the executive summary of From Red Walls to Red Bridges: Rebuilding Labour’s Voter Coalition, said the ‘size and urgency of the task’ in front of Labour ‘are hard to overstate’.

His call comes in a foreword to a report which suggests Sir Keir (pictured) will need a larger vote swing to win the next election than was seen during Mr Blair’s landslide victory in 1997

The former YouGov president said: ‘To secure a majority at the next general election, Labour needs to gain more than 120 seats. 

‘This will require a 12 per cent lead in the popular vote – and a swing to Labour greater than in 1997. The party has barely started to climb the mountain it must conquer.’

While recent polls show the Tory lead over Labour narrowing or having been overturned, Mr Kellner suggests they are not yet in a strong enough position to overcome Boris Johnson’s working majority of around 80.

‘No successful opposition has been anything like as far from the winning post in the mid-term period as the Labour Party is today,’ said Mr Kellner.

The research found that Labour had failed to adapt to the loss of its historic, core voter base – manual workers in heavy industry, belonging to a trade union and living in a council home

Education has become a dividing line in terms of support for the party, with Labour doing best among students and graduates aged under 30, and worst among non-graduates aged over 50, the report said.

Mr Kellner suggested Labour needed a two-part strategy both to win back the ‘Red Wall’ seats it lost in its traditional heartlands – and to retain them.

‘The first is a national drive to regain the support of older voters without university degrees,’ said the former journalist.

‘This would yield the greatest dividends in places with the highest concentration of such voters, such as Red Wall towns.

‘Second, a future Labour government needs to ensure these same towns attract the graduates and young families that have increasingly congregated in metropolitan cities.’ 

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