Blair: We had wrong policies

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The Labour Party fought the last two elections with some policies the leadership did not want, Tony Blair says in an exclusive interview with the Independent Magazine today.

That explains why the Labour leader has taken such trouble to dump some of the political albatrosses hung round the party's neck in the 1987 and 1992 elections, when Neil Kinnock was leader.

Mr Blair says: "I remember going through the last two general elections, and there were all sorts of policies that the leadership collectively didn't want.

"There were pledges [such as on child benefit] that it really wasn't sensible to hold to, but the outcry of the party was going to be too great to change them."

Neil Kinnock succeeded in jettisoning a number of Labour policies, including withdrawal from the European Union, and unilateral nuclear disarmament, but it was impossible to make the changes that John Smith and Tony Blair made after the 1992 election defeat.

Mr Blair says that the leadership was given no choice but to go into the election of 1992 with a string of commitments it would have preferred to ditch, but the fear of party rifts and splits was just too great.

Shadow Chancellor John Smith was therefore forced to make the best of a bad job with a Shadow budget explaining how to pay for pledges on such items as child benefit and pensions.

According to Mr Blair, that shadow budget "gave birth to an election which we fought around the issue of tax, in which the Tories were able to misconstrued and misrepresent our policies".

With tangible relief the Labour leader adds: "Now we aren't going into the election with those difficulties."

Interview, Magazine