Tony Blair: Labour should be well ahead in polls given Government ‘mess’
Theresa May’s government makes the embattled Tory Party of the 1990s look like a “paragon of stability”, Mr Blair said.
Labour should be between 15 and 20 points ahead of the Conservatives in the polls given the “mess” the Government is in, Tony Blair has said.
The former prime minister, a long-standing critic of Jeremy Corbyn, praised the way the leader had run the general election campaign but warned the party’s popularity was way behind where it should be.
Theresa May’s government makes the embattled Tory party of the 1990s look like a “paragon of stability”, Mr Blair said.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I pay tribute to the campaign he ran, I think he showed a lot of character in the way he ran that campaign. He’s generated a lot of enthusiasm. I buy all of that. It’s important and salutary for us to remember this government is in a greater degree of mess than any government I can remember.
“Even in the 1990s the Tory government was a paragon of stability compared with this and yet we are a couple of points ahead and, I think I’m right that he’s not yet ahead of her as prime minister. So, I pay tribute to all of that but I still say come on guys, we should be 15, 20 points ahead at this stage.”
Mr Blair also refused to row back on previous criticism of his successor Gordon Brown. The increasingly sour relationship between the then prime minister and his chancellor dominated Mr Blair’s decade at the top.
In his memoirs, Mr Blair said Mr Brown had analytical intelligence but “zero” emotional intelligence. Mr Brown suggested earlier in the week that the former premier “would regret saying that now”.
But, asked if that was the case, Mr Blair told Today: “Look, I wrote what I wrote.”
He added: “What I really think is this, because it is particularity important for its impact on the Labour party today, what’s important is that the two of us actually concentrate on the good things that happened through this time.”
Mr Blair denied that he had agreed to step aside as prime minister if Mr Brown backed plans to allow Britain to join the euro.
“No, that would not be a sensible thing to have done at all,” he said. “No I didn’t (say it).”
Mr Blair wanted the UK to join the single currency but the former chancellor was widely believed to have used a series of tests the UK must pass before he would support such a move as a way of blocking the then PM’s plans.
But Mr Blair insisted the rules on joining the euro were “agreed between us”.
He pointed out that despite the differences between them Labour had enjoyed its most electorally successful period.
“The two of us, for whatever problems arouse later, and there were real policy differences, as both of us have described, nonetheless the benefits of that partnership I think were able to be realised partly because we hadn’t ended up with a huge scrap at the beginning,” he said.
Mr Blair was speaking as he published a report on how to prepare Britain for a “revolution” in technology, warning that neither of the major parties has set out the plans needed.
He said: “In Britain today, we are nowhere near such a juncture in policy. On the contrary, in respect of the Government, the impetus behind British tech policy in the days of the Coalition Government, including the launch of the Government Digital Service, has faded; and the Labour Party programme, despite a significant number of MPs who know we need a progressive answer to the tech revolution, largely ignores the potential for change in public services and has the feel of old style industrial strategy from the 1960s.
“What matters is to move the slow and byzantine processes of government to accommodate the necessary response to a wave of change which, if ridden with intelligence, can carry us to a bright future but which if let pass will maroon us in a sea of irrelevance and decline.”