'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
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

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: Portfolio Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has become known a...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical and Electrical Engineer - Midlands

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrig...

Recruitment Genius: Sales / Account Manager

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales / Account Manager is re...

Ashdown Group: Application Developer - C#.Net, ASP.Net - Cambridgeshire

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Software Application Developer (C# & ASP.Net, SQL S...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot