LABOUR “lost its soul” under Tony Blair but tens of thousands have joined the party to support the progressive policies promoted by leader Jeremy Corbyn, according to Aslef union general secretary Mick Whelan.
He said there were times during the New Labour years when the trade unions were treated like distant relatives rather than close family.
Writing in the train drivers’ union magazine, Mr Whelan noted that the Labour vote fell in 2001 and again in 2005.
“It wasn’t just the Iraq war which did for Toxic Tony, it was the fact that under Tony Blair the Labour Party lost its soul. “Under Jeremy Corbyn, that has changed.”
He highlighted the fact that “off the back of an unexpected, and debilitating, defeat” at the general election in 2015, Mr Corbyn has brought back tens of thousands of new members, activists and supporters.
Mr Whelan believes many had been forced to leave the party by New Labour, which only offered them “the same sort of discredited policies, in the wake of the global financial collapse, as the Tories.”
But Mr Whelan, who chairs the group which liaises between Labour and its affiliated trade unions, said Mr Corbyn had been a “real breath of fresh air.”
He added: “Jeremy, who believes in the core values and traditional aspirations of the Labour Party, is running on a progressive platform which I believe will excite voters put off by the machinations of the New Labour years.”