Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair declared that he is finding it difficult to comprehend the surge of Senator Bernie Sanders. Speaking to The Guardian and The Financial Times in Washington, Blair expressed skepticism of the Vermont Senator’s policies.
Blair criticized Sanders’ plan to institute tuition-free education for public universities across the United States. The former Prime Minister likened the rise of Sanders to another popular left-wing politician, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom.
“It’s very similar to the pitch of Jeremy Corbyn. Free tuition fees? Well, that’s great, but someone’s going to have pay for it. An end to war, but there are wars.”
Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn have been rallying against establishment policies instituted by politicians such as Tony Blair, who championed the decision to invade Iraq alongside President George W. Bush.
Blair has also went on to endorse former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commending on her “strong” character. “I think Hillary’s a very strong, capable person and I’m a supporter of hers, but who the Americans choose is up to them.”
So far, both Sanders and Clinton have been neck and neck in the race to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for the general election.
This has come to a surprise to many political insiders. Clinton was expected to stroll her way to victory in the Democratic primaries when she officially announced her campaigned. However, Bernie Sanders, who has never run as a Democrat, has provided stiff competition for the former Secretary of State. His popularity among progressives, independents and especially the young has propelled him as a real contender for the highest office in the nation.
Tony Blair believes his popularity is mainly attributed to social media platforms, providing another complexity to the electoral process.
“And it’s partly also about social media, which is itself a revolutionary phenomenon which can generate an enormous wave of enthusiasm at speed. When I first started in politics, these things took so long to build up momentum; your decision points were well before that moment was achieved. But it’s also a loss of faith in that strong, centrist progressive position and we’ve got to recover that.”
The criticism will most likely be shrugged off by Senator Sanders. His campaign has always been about building a groundswell of support from people that are tired of the establishment that people like Blair and Clinton represent. As if to accentuate that point, Sanders recently launched a surprising attack on former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during the PBS Democratic debate after Clinton boasted about the praises she received by Kissinger.
Sander stated, “I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger.”
Kissinger served under President Nixon as Secretary of State during the Vietnam War, where he was heavily scrutinized for the casualties linked to the war. Tony Blair also received similar criticisms while he was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom eventually stepping down after his popularity faded as the war in Iraq looked increasingly like a glaring mistake.
“Where the secretary and I have a very profound difference,” Sanders explained, “in her book and in this last debate, she talked about getting the approval or the support or the mentoring of Henry Kissinger. Now, I find it rather amazing, because I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country.”
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