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Tony Blair accuses Jeremy Corbyn of standing by as Syria is bombed

The former prime minister has launched a savage attack on Labour leader, accusing him of doing nothing to protect the Syrian people
The former Labour prime minister attacked Corbyn for focusing on the ‘politics of protest’ (AFP)

Tony Blair has made his strongest attack yet on Jeremy Corbyn, accusing the Labour leader of being focused on the "politics of protest" and doing nothing for the people of Syria.

In an extraordinary personal attack, the former prime minister accused Corbyn of standing by while the Syrian people were barrel bombed by President Bashar al-Assad.

Blair also claimed that the Labour leader was only interested in protest rather than attempting to win power to improve the lives of working people, Bloomberg reported.

“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,” Blair said.

Corbyn refused to back air strikes against the Islamic State militant group in Syria last November, but was forced to give his MPs a free vote on the issue and allowed his shadow foreign secretary, Hilary Benn, to speak in favour of the intervention.

There is no love lost between the two senior Labour figures after Corbyn, a founding member of the Stop the War coalition, suggested that Blair could face a war-crimes trial over the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Blair’s record also came under fierce attack during Corbyn’s leadership campaign last year and is likely to come under renewed scrutiny when the long-awaited Chilcot report is published early next month.

In an interview in London on Wednesday, Blair said the rise of Corbyn was in part down to the “revolutionary phenomenon” of social media and said his view of politics is different from Corbyn’s.

He said: “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.”

Bloomberg reported that Corbyn’s official spokesperson denied the Labour leader is only interested in the politics of protest.

“Jeremy Corbyn is leading the opposition against the Conservative government,” a spokesman said. “We were quite clear about our position on Syria, and how we achieve peace.”

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