Blair snubs Brown in speech to News Corp

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Tony Blair delivered a calculated snub to Gordon Brown last night, declaring "the era of tribal political leadership is over".

In a speech to media mogul Rupert Murdoch's senior executives in California, Mr Blair appeared to abandon his party, which, he said, could be as resistant to change as the Tories.

"Across a range of issues, there is no longer a neat filing of policy to the left or the right," Mr Blair said,although he added that he was still "loyal to and proud of the Labour Party". He also came close to an endorsement of David Cameron's leadership of the Conservative Party.

And in a passage that is likely to be seized on by Mr Cameron and will infuriate the Chancellor, Mr Blair said that opposition to reform was as strong in his own party as from his opponents.

He said his 1999 attack on the "forces of conservatism" was not an attack on the Conservatives but an assault on "small c" conservatism, which could be, "as much from the left as the right."