Tony Blair’s “bloody crusades” in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to the radicalisation of a generation of young British Muslims, John Prescott has suggested.
Lord Prescott, the former deputy prime minister, said that Mr Blair is “unfortunately” a supporter of regime change in the Middle East and that he “wants to invade everywhere”.
In controversial comments made in February, Lord Prescott, who has been brought into Ed Miliband’s inner circle as a climate change advisor, appeared to link the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the radicalisation of British Muslims.
It comes amid a growing national discussion about young British Muslims travelling to the Middle East to fight alongside terrorist organisations like Isil.
At the event, Lord Prescott also criticised the current Labour leadership’s failure to “argue the economic case” and warned that the party “lose an awful lot of people in that process”.
The comments were made at a February fundraising event for Lord Prescott’s son, David, in Gainsborough.
The event came just days before Mr Miliband, the Labour leader, announced that the former deputy prime minister was becoming his special adviser on climate change.
A Labour spokesman distanced the party from the comments and said: “John’s views on this do not represent the views of the Labour Party.”
Lord Prescott said: “I was with Tony Blair on Iraq. We were wrong. They told us it wasn’t regime change. It was. And that’s exactly what the Americans have had. Now Tony, unfortunately is still in to that. I mean the way he’s going now , he now wants to invade everywhere.
“He should put a white coat on with a red cross and let’s start the bloody crusades again.”
Lord Prescott added: “When I hear people talking about how people are radicalised, young Muslims. I’ll tell you how they are radicalised. Every time they watch the television where their families are worried, their kids are being killed and murdered and rockets firing on all these people, that’s what radicalises them.”
At the event on February 19, Lord Prescott, also hit out at the Labour leadership for refusing to defend the party’s record on the economy.
He said that figures in the party have “been a bit stupid about not making our case”.
‘Sometimes we get caught up with trying to argue the economic case which I think we lose an awful lot of people in that process,” Lord Prescott said. “I think we’ve been a bit stupid not making our case. Cause there’s been too much attention and when I’ve questioned them about it our own party and I’ve said ‘eh, why are we not defending our record on the economy, on other things, but on the economy?’. And I’m told, in front of the PLP, they said ‘we’re focussing on the future not the past’.”
Mr Miliband was last month accused of making a “desperate attempt to burnish his working class credentials” by appointing Lord Prescott as his special adviser on climate change.
The Labour leader has faced repeated criticism from both his own MPs and Labour supporters for failing to address the needs of the party’s core voters.
He announced in February that he was appointing Lord Prescott, who was known during his time in office as “two jags”, to help “bash heads together” and secure a deal on climate change in the wake of the election.
At the event Lord Prescott praised Mr Miliband’s leadership of the party, referencing his decision to “take on” Rupert Murdoch over the phone hacking scandal. He also criticised The Telegraph over HSBC and the controversy surrounding the bank.
Bob Neill, the Conservative vice-chairman, said: “This latest lapse into introspection shows Labour haven’t changed. Their bitter divisions would cause chaos for Britain if they got into Government.
“They obsess over Tony Blair and his legacy because Ed Miliband has none of the leadership needed to pull his party together – let alone the country. The Conservative Party offer competence and a plan for a more secure future, but Labour are looking backwards.”