'If I'd been PM, I'd have given David Cameron a run for his money': Tony Blair blasts Gordon Brown on 2010 election

In rare foray into party affairs, former leader says he would have done better than Brown

Tony Blair has been careful not to intervene in Labour’s internal party affairs since he resigned as Prime Minister nearly six years ago, but the pressure that forced him to step down clearly still rankles.

He surprised many in Westminster by appearing to chide the party over his removal – claiming he would have given David Cameron more of “a run for his money” than Gordon Brown managed at the last general election.

Years of infighting between Blairites and Brownites eventually led to his departure in June 2007. After a brief honeymoon as Prime Minister, Mr Brown endured a torrid spell in office before leading Labour in 2010 to its second-worst election defeat since 1918.

Things could have been rather better if the party had stuck with him, Mr Blair said in an interview with Bloomberg Markets magazine. “Frankly, if I’d had a fourth election, I would have given Cameron a run for his money. I’m not saying I would have won, but it would have been tighter than it was,” he said.

Mr Blair’s comments raise the intriguing prospect that under his leadership Labour could have held on to many of the 91 seats that it lost in 2010. That could have been enough for it to emerge as the biggest party in a hung parliament – and in pole position to negotiate a coalition with Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. It could also have meant his still being in Downing Street today, having notched up 16 years as Prime Minister.

Mr Blair’s remarks come amid signs that he is tentatively returning to the domestic arena after spending the years since his departure focusing on international issues and building up his business interests.

In the interview, he made clear his disappointment over not being offered the post as first President of the European Council when it was created in 2009. His candidacy never properly got off the ground because of his stance on the Iraq War and his reluctance to campaign openly for the position which was eventually filled by Belgium’s Herman van Rompuy.

“If the European job had been offered to me, I would have taken it,” Mr Blair said. “But it wasn’t.”

Despite the large turnover of his commercial interests, Mr Blair insisted he was not driven by money and said he had given more than £5m to his charities since 2008.

“The motivation is not the accumulation of personal wealth. If I’d wanted to do that, I could do it a lot simpler,” he said. “There’s a myth that just because you used to be British Prime Minister, people give you lots of money to play with. No, they don’t.”

Mr Blair, who left the Commons immediately after resigning as Prime Minister, said: “I wanted to create a different type of post-prime ministerial career. From the outset I had a very clear view of what I wanted to do. I wanted to create my own set of institutions.”

He defended his decision to advise President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, whose government has been accused of human rights abuses. “I don’t dismiss the human rights stuff,” Mr Blair said. “These are points we make. There’s a new generation of administrators there who are reformers, and we’re working with them.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent