Every time we write about Tony Blair, i’s inbox goes into overdrive. He is a divisive figure – within Ed Miliband’s office, let alone the rest of the country – and Labour will have thought long before accepting his offer of help in this election campaign.
It is significant that Mr Blair intervenes on the topic of Europe, where he finds common territory with his successor. The former Prime Minister disagrees with Mr Miliband on key aspects of his leadership, believing him to have needlessly alienated business leaders, over-relied on public fears about the NHS at the expense of campaigning on other issues (such as the economy), and failed to support intervention in Syria.
Mr Blair has cautioned that “Labour succeeds best when it is in the centre ground”. In his starkest warning, he told the Economist magazine that this election could see “a traditional left-wing party compete with a traditional right-wing party, with the traditional result”, which he said was a Conservative victory.
On Europe, though, Mr Blair can argue genuinely that he believes Mr Miliband has shown leadership by resisting demands to match the Conservative pledge of an in-out referendum.
Mr Blair has been wrong about many things. Yet his remarks today, whether you agree with him or not, are worth reading. He knows Europe, its treaties and its myriad frustrations. He tries to move the EU debate onto a global stage, talking of Britain’s place in the world. Some of you may think that an irrelevance, but it is an argument he articulates better than others, because of his experience. His entry into the 2015 election campaign raises the temperature.Reuse content