Blair urges Labour: relax, Tories are just copying us

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair has warned that Labour would be "open to ridicule" if it launched an all-out attack on David Cameron and he urged his party colleagues to "relax" about the new threat posed by the Conservatives.

The Prime Minister said the party must come to terms with the fact that the media "are going to give the guy a more than fair wind". "Now what do you do about that? Relax, because the changes he is trying to make in the Conservative Party are changes that accept the basic settlement New Labour represents," he said.

In a warning not to try to counter the Tories by shifting to the left, the Prime Minister said it would be a "kamikaze strategy" to raise taxes for the well-off in response to David Cameron's apparent endorsement of the redistribution of wealth.

The Prime Minister said, speaking toThe Observer: "We would leave ourselves open to ridicule if we just launched an over-the-top attack. What you shouldn't do is go on some massive personal attack or claim that the Tory party isn't undergoing a process where it's trying to make changes."

He refused to condemn Mr Cameron outright, and said he hadn't "the faintest idea" about whether the new Tory leader had the qualities to be prime minister. Voters now see a "more interesting" Conservative Party and there is no point denying it, he said.

He added: "The Tories know that they have to pretend they are becoming more like New Labour in order to win. The absolutely obvious thing to do is to carry on being New Labour and take it to a new level."

However, Mr Blair did attack Mr Cameron's policy U-turns, particularly the decision to axe subsidies for private medical treatment, as "frankly suspicious". "You've got someone who was advocating the 'patient's passport' a few months ago now saying it is wrong."