Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has pledged his full support of Ed Miliband as Labour gears up for the May general election, as the party maintained a slim poll lead ahead of the Tories.
Blair, who led three consecutive election wins for Labour, is prepared to throw his support behind the party’s campaign, despite previous comments that fighting on a “traditional left-wing” platform was a recipe for defeat.
But Blair has now said that in terms of “his involvement in the party’s election campaign, he will do whatever the party wants,” his office told the Observer.
Election Analysis: The Key Voters
Election Analysis: The Key Voters
1/6 Settled Silvers
These are the comfortably-off over-60s, still in work or drawing a decent pension – or both – who are enjoying their entitlements such as the Winter Fuel Allowance, free bus passes and free TV licence. They are worried about immigration and Europe. Both the Conservatives – who are pledging to keep benefits for wealthier pensioners – and Ukip want their votes
2/6 Squeezed Semis
Slightly older than the Harassed Hipsters, they are the second key group for Labour’s family-focused election strategy. They are married couples on low to middle incomes who own unpretentious semi-detached homes in suburban areas. In 2001, these were the Pebbledash People sought by the Conservatives. Now the pebbledash is gone and a modest conservatory has been built at the back
3/6 Aldi Woman
In 1997 and 2001 she was Worcester Woman – a middle-class Middle Englander shopping at Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. Today, the age of austerity means she still goes to Waitrose for her basic food shop but cannily switches to Aldi for her luxury bargains such as Parma ham and prosecco. Identified by Caroline Flint, she is a key target of both Labour and the Conservatives
4/6 Glass Ceiling Woman
In her thirties or forties, she has an established career under her belt, perhaps in the “marzipan layer” – one position below the still male-dominated senior executive level. She is now, according to Nick Clegg, forced into making the “heart-breaking choice” between staying at home to bring up her children and going to work and forking out for high-cost, round-the-clock childcare
5/6 Harassed Hipsters
One of the two key groups identified by Labour as crucial to hand Ed Miliband the keys to Downing Street. Well-paid professional couples, often with children, they live in diverse urban and metropolitan areas rather than the suburbs. More comfortably off than most swing voters, they are time poor – struggling to balance raising a young family with busy work schedules
These are mainly first-time voters, though some are in their twenties – students and digital-age generation renters helping to fuel the “Green Surge”. Idealists, but with no tribal loyalty to any party, they are anti-austerity, middle class, living in urban areas. Despite studying at university or recently graduated, they are struggling to find decent jobs and want cheaper housing and a higher minimum wage
In December the former Prime Minister said he feared the election result would be one "in which a traditional left-wing party competes with a traditional right-wind party, with the traditional result," clarifying that this would mean a Conservative win.
In an interview with the Economist he called himself "still very much New Labour" and that "Ed would not describe himself in that way, so there is obviously a difference there" he said. "I am convinced the Labour Party succeeds best when it is in the centre ground," he added.
Blair has since insisted that his comments had been misinterpreted.
The involvement of the former leader may help to calm nerves within the business sector, which has led a series of attacks against Miliband and his proposed policies, though it appears to have done nothing to dent his current popularity.
In the latest Observer poll Labour was leading with 34 per cent, a slim lead on the Tories’ 32 per cent, and one point up from a fortnight ago.
Prime Minister David Cameron showed a clear lead on Miliband in terms of satisfaction however, with the Conservative leader scoring minus five against the Labour leader’s minus 26.Reuse content