‘What about Iraq?’ David Lammy attacked for saying Labour should embrace Blair’s legacy

Labour: Lammy defends calls to 'embrace Blair's legacy'

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Sir Keir Starmer told the Financial Times he wanted Labour members to “embrace” the legacy of Tony Blair and promised he would win the next general election following a planned leadership reboot. The comments stoked division among Labour supporters who despise Mr Blair for his involvement in the Iraq war and attacked Sir Keir for making the incendiary suggestion. However, Shadow Chancellor David Lammy wholeheartedly agreed with Sir Keir sparking listeners to his LBC appearance to voice their opposition online.

Speaking on LBC, Mr Lammy joined host Tom Swarbrick to discuss the ten year anniversary of the London riots but Mr Swarbrick seized his opportunity to ask the Labour MP his views on Tony Blair. 

Mr Swarbrick said: “Let me turn to matters elsewhere if I may, your leader Kier Starmer is in the papers today suggesting that he’s vowing to turn the party inside out.

“That he is calling on Labour activists and members to embrace Tony Blair’s legacy, do you think that’s a legacy worth embracing?”

Mr Lammy said it would be “bizarre” not to embrace the legacy considering it was Labour’s most notable political victory. 

Mr Swarbrick pointed out many associate Mr Blair with the war in Iraq and the thousands who lost their lives there.

The MP added: “He formed a government on three successive occasions, investment in public services, our schools lifted up after many, many years, languishing health service renewed, waiting times cut, peace in Northern Ireland, the minimum wage, the list continues.

“Of course there are controversial moments like Iraq I don’t want to dispute that.

“The truth is, let me just be clear on this, I’ve written this in the past, we’re not going to form a government if we continue to hang our dirty linen in public.

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“We’ve got to bring them in from the line, we’ve got to recognise those of all political persuasions within the party that have been part of Labour’s success in the past and we’ve got to move forward.

“So I think here Keir Starmer was exactly right.”

Listeners also shared the sentiments of Mr Swarbrick and slammed Mr Lammy for his agreement with Sir Keir.

One wrote: “The Iraq war, you really think so? It certainly made me change my allegiance.”

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Another added: “Well that’s Labour done at the next election then.”

A listener gave a more nuanced answer and replied: “Had it not been for Iraq, there might be a statue of Blair standing in Parliament Square today.”

Sir Keir wanted Labour to learn from Blair’s government from 1997 as he says he is pushing to win the next general election. 

He told the Financial Times: “We have to be proud of that record in government and not be arm’s length or distant about it.

“I’m acutely aware that among my first tasks is rebuilding the relationship between the Labour party and business

“Too many of our members and supporters think winning an internal argument in the Labour Party is changing the world — it isn’t. We’ve got to get real.”

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