Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair warned of nominating Senator Bernie Sanders for the US 2020 presidential election against President Donald Trump, suggesting that the move would be an “an enormous gamble”.
“When I hear the rhetoric around Bernie Sanders, who by the way is obviously a very capable guy, it’s eerily familiar to anyone who’s just watched the debacle unfold in the British Labour party and our election defeat in the UK which is essentially the worst in our 120-year history,” Blair said during an interview on CNN.
Blair told the host that he is worried that the presidential hopeful, who describes himself as a Democratic socialist, would face the same challenges that led to the unprecedented defeat of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party by the Conservatives in the UK election in December 2019.
“I just don’t think there’s an appetite for socialist revolution,” he said. “There wasn’t in Britain, I’d be surprised if there was in the US. And so I think … if they go down that path it’s an enormous gamble. Put it like this: you’re essentially saying, ‘Put aside the middle ground, we’re not really going to try to reach that, instead we’re going to up the turnout and that’s exactly the strategy of Corbyn’s Labour party in the UK and it failed, drastically”.
The former UK prime minister said that he is “a skeptic” about the Senator, adding that he thinks “what is important to recognise is that progressive politics has got two big challenges”.
“First of all, my view of the populism is you’ve got to be very careful when you’re from the liberal or progressive side of politics, because if you’re not careful you tend to say that, ‘These people who are voting for Donald Trump or Brexit, they’re just irrational people, I don’t understand why they’re doing it and you’ve just got to hope this is a moment that passes’. No, they’re doing it for reasons, and whereas populism can exploit grievances they don’t invent them. The grievances are real”.
The former British politician noted that he is “a passionate believer that if the left goes down the path of trying to fight a culture war with the right, it will lose comprehensively and it really should not do that”.
Blair also said that he believes Biden is “highly capable and decent”, adding that he will have to carry out real change in the White House if he wins the election.
Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are set to hold a key televised and streamed debate this Sunday, with no live audience, due to the coronavirus pandemic, in Washington DC. The debate was originally set to take place in Arizona, one of four states that are set to vote in Tuesday’s Democratic primaries.