Tony Blair explains ‘unforgivable politics’

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Sir Tony Blair has used his platform at the World Economic Forum (WEF) to rage against politicians who turned wearing a mask during the Covid pandemic into a political issue. The former Prime Minister was taking part in a panel at the annual gathering of the world’s most powerful political leaders along with billionaires and influencers and made comments which appeared to be an indirect attack on senior Republicans in the US like Donald Trump.

Sir Tony was speaking on the same day as Sir Keir Starmer is due to address the WEF and former Prime Minister Boris Johnson also took part in a breakfast supporting Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion.

But in a clear swipe at sceptics over some of the draconian measures such as mask and vaccine mandates, Mr Blair told the audience that “there is forgivable and unforgivable politics”.

He said: “The unforgivable politics is turning a public health issue into a political issue.

“I mean I remember people at the onset of Covid said [to me] ‘what do you think are the politics of Covid? How serious do you think this is?’

“I said you asked me about the politics of the disease, it’s a disease. Going and ask somebody who knows.'”

But he went on: “What is unforgivable is turning something like whether your wear a face mask into a political issue.

“That is unforgivable and stupid.”

The comment was a clear swipe at leading politicians like former President Donald Trump or his rival for the Republican nomination Ron DeSantis who has this week banned mask mandates – which force people to wear masks in public areas – in his state of Florida where he is governor and recently won a landslide election.

In the UK, forced mask-wearing also became an issue but was largely backed by the leaderships of the main parties during the pandemic.

Sir Tony went on: “What is forgivable politics – which you see also by the way with Russia and Ukraine with energy prices – if you are a politician and you have an election coming and you have the ability to vaccinate your people you are going to vaccinate your people.”

Sir Tony also warned the gathering that “Covid is now in the rearview mirror” for most of the world’s political leaders.

He said: “People in Downing Street believe me are not talking about Covid.”

He insisted that the issue now was to get the leaders of the G7 and G20 wealthiest nations to talk about rolling out vaccines to kill off “some of the world’s worst diseases.”

The WEF has become a controversial event for some who believe the gathering of the world’s most powerful and wealthiest people and organisation behind it has too much influence and is undermining individual liberty.

Sir Tony’s comments will play into the hands of those who argue that the WEF is a forum to force people to take action against their will.

However, he was mainly focused on ensuring that over the coming years, politicians are persuaded to take the necessary actions to end lethal diseases around the world.

He said: “At the G7 and the G20 I don’t think you will get the focus you need unless it is clear that there is an ongoing challenge and opportunity.

“I think that is not just about Covid it is the fact that we are going to have a whole slew of new vaccines that are going to deal with some of the worst diseases in the world, that give us the opportunity to make big changes in the health of the world.

“If you want politicians to focus you tell them this is coming down the track.”

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