Blair 'pushing party to defeat'

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Indy Politics

One of Labour's biggest financial donors has warned Tony Blair that he is pushing the Government and the party towards "defeat" by clinging to power.

In the last major union conference before the Labour assembly in the autumn, the Prime Minister was told the party would not deserve to retain power unless it changes direction over public services and reconnects with its "core" vote.

Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, Britain's largest union, said his members, which made up a large section of grassroots Labour voters, felt "demoralised and dejected".

Mr Prentis warned the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, that he should not take his union's votes for granted when he sought to replace the Prime Minister.

"You'll have to earn it," he said to applause from delegates in Brighton. "We've been let down before. We want to work with you to build trust in Labour. That means abandoning ideological attacks on our public services."

Mr Prentis said the Prime Minister needed to tell the Labour conference in the autumn when he was going to retire. He published new research commissioned by the union showing that more than one in four Labour voters were less likely to support the party at the next election because of public sector reforms.

Mr Prentis also revealed that the number of Unison members signed up to the Labour party levy had dropped steeply.