TONY Blair’s warning to the party he led to three resounding election victories that it risks driving northern voters into the arms of the Tories is both timely and prescient. Whether it will be heeded is another matter entirely.
Whatever one thinks of Mr Blair’s record in office, he is a shrewd judge of the electorate and a proven winner in the centre ground of politics. The contrast between him and Jeremy Corbyn, the current leader, could hardly be more striking.
Mr Blair is right when he says there is anxiety amongst traditional Labour voters at Mr Corbyn’s hard-left policies. This is borne out by opinion polling which is displaying a significant degree of unease at his fitness to be Prime Minister.
The combination of that, and a robustly pro-Brexit attitude amongst voters in many Labour seats in Yorkshire and beyond, could amount to a perfect storm for the party.
If Labour is to hang on to these seats, let alone form a Government, it has to counter those sentiments. Currently, it is difficult to see how it will do that.
Labour’s manifesto, with its commitments to widespread nationalisation and spending promises amounting to £82bn, will do nothing to ease voter anxiety about Mr Corbyn.
But Mr Blair is hardly less harsh about the Conservatives, and there will be many who agree that Boris Johnson’s blithe assertions that once his Brexit deal is over the line Britain can move forward is, at best, an over-simplification, and at worst less than truthful.
Mr Blair is unapologetic about being in favour of Britain remaining in the EU, which will make those passionate about leaving disregard what he has to say.
Nevertheless, he correctly identifies that both major parties are campaigning on the basis of being the least-worst option. And that is not an inspiring message for voters as they prepare to cast their votes.