Tony Blair. Photo: Wikimedia Commons Tony Blair. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The anti-war movement and Jeremy Corbyn were always the biggest threat to Blairism, that’s why he’s so adamant to try to show he’s still standing, argues Jonathon Shafi

Maybe even some of the anti-left MPs ask the same thing, given that his interventions galvanise the grassroots against any hint of a return to his kind of Labour Party.

But there is a reason he has to remain a figure in politics. Very simply, it’s because of Iraq.

Cast your mind back to 2003, as the bombing started. Then, and in the years that followed, Corbyn and Stop the War were a permanent thorn in the side of Blair’s leadership. And were subject to sneering and relentless attack.

It actually remains astounding to me that Corbyn ever came to lead the Labour Party at all. If you had said that at the height of the war and Blair’s consolidation of power, it would have been laughed out of the room.

It is the mere fact that he in particular did become leader, backed by the movement that opposed the war, that Blair cannot stomach.

As such he must be able to say that he is still standing, and the anti-war figures and movement lose in the end.

And more than that, he wants to create the idea that the country is behind him. Think in particular about what he said about the working class in England opposing Corbyn’s view of foreign policy.

This point is important, because Corbyn’s opposition to war is one of the things that made him popular in the country. Every ex-soldier I ever spoke to, many of them homeless, despised Blair. Just as he was despised by those working class military families whose loss of loved ones scarred whole communities.

Remember too the Manchester attacks in 2017, and his genuinely courageous response. That resonated, in a way that disrupted the foundations of the “war in terror” and underlined opposition to war.

It was always more than anything the foreign policy matters that the establishment were terrified of. Could you imagine Corbyn representing the UK on the global stage, given his role in the anti-war movement and against imperialism? It was always his roots in the anti-war movement that so threatened Blair’s legacy.

Some will tell you such things are abstract, that they can be compromised on, that they must be hushed up to become electable. Nuclear buttons need pushing, NATO needs supporting, maybe we should shut up about Palestine.

This is not true even on its own terms. And it is untenable if you are a true internationalist, while it is impossible to defeat racism without also opposing empire and imperialism.

Whatever the outcome of the coming months, the establishment will remain concerned that there is a mass platform for such ideas.

Jonathon Shafi

Jonathon Shafi is organiser of the International Socialist Group (ISG) Scotland. He has played a long-standing role in anti-cuts and anti-war in Glasgow and a founder member of the Radical Independence Campaign.

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