Bill Carmichael: The irony of Tony Blair’s warning over Europe

Former prime minister Tony Blair during a visit to the Hitachi factory in his former constituency in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, this weekFormer prime minister Tony Blair during a visit to the Hitachi factory in his former constituency in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, this week
Former prime minister Tony Blair during a visit to the Hitachi factory in his former constituency in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, this week
UP pops Tony Blair to offer his support just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for Ed Miliband.

You might think that the endorsement of one of Labour’s undoubted big beasts of recent years and who engineered an unprecedented three successive general election victories for the party, would be a huge bonus for the current leader – but not a bit of it.

Half the Labour Party want to see Blair dragged before a war crimes tribunal in the Hague and the other half would prefer to see his head on a spike in Parliament Square.

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Blair’s support is positively toxic for many on the unhinged Left and even in the more sensible centre his influence is much diminished following controversies over the Iraq war, his role in the Middle East and his money-making activities with dodgy despots from around the world.

That probably explains the slightly odd choreography of this week’s events. Although Blair offered his 100 per cent support for Miliband, he was certainly not embraced with any enthusiasm by the party’s official campaign.

Blair made his speech in his old Sedgefield constituency in the North East, while Miliband was campaigning in Bristol. It would be difficult for the pair to put a greater physical distance between them while remaining in England.

Perhaps the two of them sharing a platform would produce too many unflattering comparisons – although it would be an absolute gift for the Press photographers.

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And Blair’s speech was interesting for what he didn’t say as much for what he did. He concentrated on the dangers – as he sees it – of a referendum on Britain’s EU membership if Cameron and the Conservatives win next month.

But he made no mention of Labour’s wider campaign or on issues such as the economy and taxation. Perhaps this was a diplomatic omission on Blair’spart, as it is widely believed that he heartily disapproves of Miliband’s lurch to the Left and hostility to business.

As far as the content of Blair’s speech goes, he praised Miliband for his opposition to a referendum on EU membership – despite Blair having twice promised one himself back in 2004 and 2005.

And isn’t it odd that the former leader of a party formed to give a voice to working people now argues that voters cannot be trusted to make their own minds up on important issues?

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When Blair warned a referendum would cause “economic chaos”, I couldn’t help thinking “that’s what you said would happen if we didn’t join the euro”.

Blair, let us not forget, was one of a powerful clique of establishment pro-Euro zealots (others included Ken Clarke and Michael Heseltine) who would have dragged us into the single currency – with disastrous results. They got it badly wrong then – although none of them have acknowledged as much, still less apologised.

Why should anyone believe that they are right this time around?

A deafening silence

The Yarmouk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus in Syria, which once housed around 100,000 Palestinians, has become little more than a living hell for the 22,000 remaining residents, many of them children.

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For two years the Syrian regime has laid siege to the camp, shelling it with rockets and heavy artillery. Death, starvation and disease is rife. You may not know it from Western press coverage but conditions in Yarmouk are infinitely worse than anything seen in Gaza.

This week the situation became even grimmer. Jihadi fighters from Islamic State invaded the camp and are now murdering Palestinian refugees using beheadings and other forms of torture.

Yet the response by the Left and supposedly pro-Palestinian groups is complete silence. Why? Quite simply because Israel is not involved in Yarmouk. It is Muslims murdering fellow Muslims. And because Israel is not involved, the Left is not interested in Palestinian suffering. As far as the Left is concerned dead Palestinians simply don’t matter unless they have been killed by Israel.

This gives the lie to the claim that the anti-Israeli hysteria in the West is driven by compassion for Palestinians.

It is not. Rather it is an anti-democratic, anti-Western campaign, the fruit of an unholy alliance of the far Left and Islamist radicals, and is motivated by nothing more than racism and bigotry.