23 Sep 2014

Prescott compares Blair to medieval Christian crusader

At a meeting in Manchester last night the former deputy prime minister John Prescott launched an extraordinary onslaught against his former boss Tony Blair, attacking both his views on military invention overseas and his money-making since leaving office.

Lord Prescott was speaking after Tony Blair expressed the view that Britain should consider using military forces to defeat Isis in Iraq and Syria. Prescott compared Blair to a medieval Christian crusader.

“Tony would put on a white cover with a red cross and go on his crusades.” He added in a long, fast-talking diatribe against Blair: “If you heard Tony today, he’d go in anywhere.”

The former prime minister said of defeating Isis, in an essay published this week: “Air power alone will not suffice. They can be hemmed in, harried and to a degree contained by air power. But they can’t be defeated by it.”

Blair stressed this did not mean another mass invasion like Iraq or Afghanistan: “We’re not talking here about armies of occupation. We are, in certain situations where it is necessary and subject to all proper limitations, talking about committing ground forces, especially those with special capabilities.”

Lord Prescott, in contrast, said that the Iraq war was “the biggest mistake undoubtedly” of the Blair government, and that he wanted to apologise for it.

But Prescott did not restrict his criticism of Tony Blair to Iraq.¬†Talking of the business activities which both Blair and Peter Mandelson have pursued since leaving government, Prescott described the couple as “money, money, money”.

Analysing last week’s vote in Scotland and examining Labour’s future prospects, Prescott also said that “the party’s given up campaigning, quite frankly.”

Lord Prescott made his remarks at a meeting to launch The Blair Supremacy, a fascinating and highly detailed new book by the distinguished historian and politics academic Lewis Minkin about how Tony Blair and his allies took command of the Labour party.

(I should declare an interest as an unpaid director of the book’s publishers, Manchester University Press.)

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