Tony Blair has appealed to Labour Party members to make the right choice when they elect their new leader, and criticised Ed Miliband for adopting backward-looking policies which did not address the problems of today’s world.
In an interview with Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of the Independent and the i paper, the former Prime Minister urged his party to return to the modernising approach of his 13 years as leader.
Although he is unlikely to endorse any contender in Labour’s leadership election, allies said that Mr Blair had recently met Liz Kendall, who is seen as the Blairite candidate, and was impressed by her.
“The important thing about this moment in time is that the decision in the next months will decide the next five years,” said Mr Blair. He said his party’s task at the 2020 election would be made harder by boundary changes, which could give the Tories an extra 20 seats. “People should really factor this in; those boundary changes will take away a significant number of seats from us,” he added.
However, his comments about the recent election will prove most controversial. Mr Blair drew a “parallel” between Mr Miliband’s leadership and Labour’s election defeats in the 1980s during 18 years in the political wilderness.
“The Labour Party is in opposition. It doesn’t really take the decisions, the hard-headed decisions it needs to take, to revive itself,” he said. “The polls move in our favour because polls always do; the opposition party moves up. We end up fooling ourselves into thinking we are going to win and then, come election day, we get a nasty surprise,” .
Mr Blair warned Labour: “You won’t win the argument on inequality unless your methods of tackling it are seen to be relevant and future-orientated. People don’t want the state sitting on top of them or telling them what to do.
“We are the party of compassion, and, of course, this is really important and it’s important that those are our values – that’s what defines us – and you’ve got to have a modern answer to the problems of the modern world. Progressive parties win when it’s clear they understand and get the future.”
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