UK Politics

Jeremy Corbyn about 'politics of protest not power' says Tony Blair

Tony Blair being interviewed by Bloomberg TV Image copyright Bloomberg
Image caption Tony Blair suggested that he and Jeremy Corbyn had a different approach to politics

Jeremy Corbyn is shirking "difficult decisions" in favour of the politics of protest, Tony Blair has said, likening him to the "guy with the placard".

The ex-prime minister used a Bloomberg TV interview to attack his successor as Labour leader over his opposition to military action in Syria.

He accused Mr Corbyn of "standing by" while the Syrian people were "barrel-bombed and starved into submission".

A Labour spokesman said Mr Blair's views were "not correct".

Mr Corbyn, who has continued to attend CND rallies and marches since becoming leader, opposed the UK joining in air strikes against so-called Islamic State in Syria.

'Progressive icon'

However, Parliament approved the intervention in December when more than 60 Labour MPs voted with the government.

In Wednesday's interview, Mr Blair contrasted the international community's reluctance to intervene in Syria, and the Labour leadership's stance, with the controversial action he backed in Iraq a decade earlier.

"I'm accused of being a war criminal for removing Saddam Hussein - who, by the way, was a war criminal - and yet Jeremy is seen as a progressive icon as we stand by and watch the people of Syria barrel-bombed, beaten and starved into submission and do nothing."

Mr Blair has said he struggles to understand the forces which propelled Mr Corbyn to victory last year and has called for the "radical centre" to assert itself.

He told Bloomberg that he and Mr Corbyn were into a different brand of politics.

"There's a guy whose face is on the placard. That's me: Hate that guy. You're the person in power taking difficult decisions. Jeremy is the guy with the placard, he's the guy holding it. One's the politics of power and the other's the politics of protest."

In response, a Labour spokesman said: "What Tony Blair says is a matter for him. If he is suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn is leading a politics of protest, I would say that's not correct. Jeremy Corbyn is leading the opposition and building support against a Conservative government."

Mr Blair and Mr Corbyn both back a Remain vote in the EU referendum but the leader's office said he had "no plans" to share a platform with his predecessor.

As a backbencher, Mr Corbyn was a serial rebel during Mr Blair's decade in power and a vocal opponent of his role in taking the UK to war in Iraq in 2003.

Mr Blair questioned Mr Corbyn's suitability to be leader last year, claiming anyone who shared the left-winger's values should get a "heart transplant".

More on this story