Blair claims all Labour leadership contenders ‘significant improvement’ on Corbyn

PUBLISHED: 12:55 20 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:12 20 February 2020

Former prime minister Tony Blair during a speech to mark the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Labour party, in the Great Hall at King's College. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

Former prime minister Tony Blair during a speech to mark the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Labour party, in the Great Hall at King's College. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

All Labour leadership contenders are a ‘significant improvement on Jeremy Corbyn - but refused to say who he backs.

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During an event at King's College London, Blair said the party had "too often been a failure" as a competitor at elections, following its streak of four election losses in a row.

Asked about the leadership contest, Blair said that whoever wins the race out of shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir, Lisa Nandy and shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey would be a "significant improvement" on the outgoing Corbyn.

He said: "I don't want to damage anyone by supporting them so I have made up my mind that I am not going to give an opinion on which candidate.

"I think whatever happens there is going to be a significant improvement."

During his 14-minute speech, Blair said Labour had shifted away from offering voters a plan for government, calling the 2019 manifesto "wrong" for "promising the earth".

MORE: Tony Blair - New Labour leader shouldn't campaign to rejoin EU

The 66-year-old argued that, with technological developments happening at pace, "everything must change" for Labour if it was to convince voters it could be trusted to wield power.

"Labour's aim is not to trend on Twitter or to have celebrities - temporarily, by the way - fawn over it," he said.

"Our task is to win power. To get our hands stuck into the muddy wrangle of governing, where out of it can be pulled the prize of progress."

He argued that holding on to left-wing principles without power rendered them "pretty meaningless".

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