Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, has claimed the Labour leader Ed Miliband is leading a “traditional left-wing party” that will likely lose to the Conservatives at the next election.
Blair told the Economist that May’s poll could become one “in which a traditional left-wing party competes with a traditional right-wing party, with the traditional result”. When he was asked if “traditional result” meant a Conservative win he answered: “Yes.”
Despite the apparent clarity of his answer Blair later claimed he expected a Labour victory and his comments had been “misinterpreted”. He did not explain exactly what was wrong with the reports of his comments.
Mr Blair also questioned Ed Miliband’s assertion that the 2008 financial crash had shifted the centre of politics to the left. The former PM said: “I see no evidence for that… You could argue that it has moved to the right, not left.”
Despite his unpopularity over foreign policy towards the end of his premiership, Blair remains a significant figure in the Labour Party. He was the first Labour leader to win two consecutive general elections, then beat his own record by winning a third.
His comments will add further to the pressure on Miliband, who is now seen as the worst Labour leader since Michael Foot, who lost the 1982 election by a landslide to Margaret Thatcher. Rumours that he will face a no confidence vote surface regularly, although the lack of a credible alternative is like to keep him in the top job.
In the polls, he is roughly neck and neck with the Conservatives, but has the added advantage of being able to rely on the Scottish National Party to go into coalition with him. In contrast it is hard to see how David Cameron could put together a coalition if the Liberal Democrats are wiped out.