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by Liam Kirkaldy
13 April 2015
Why Labour should bring back Tony Blair

Why Labour should bring back Tony Blair

For some time Labour and the Tories have been neck-and-neck in the polls. For a while Labour seemed to pull ahead, at least by a few points. Now though, that lead looks less secure, with new ICM polling putting the Tories six points ahead of Labour, on 39 against 33 per cent.

After five years in opposition, with Ed Miliband still not viewed as a Prime Minister, as somehow lacking the required charisma, these are desperate times for Labour.

But there is still a game-changing solution.

The party needs a little stardust. It needs Tony Blair.

And the good news is that the former PM seems to be available, recently offering support for Miliband while warning against holding an EU referendum.

In a speech in his old constituency, Blair said: “Think of the chaos produced by the possibility, never mind the reality, of Britain quitting Europe. Jobs that are secure suddenly insecure; investment decisions postponed or cancelled; a pall of unpredictability hanging over the British economy.”

Now some would question the credibility of Blair’s analysis, given he wanted to join the euro. Certainly Boris Johnson took it badly, reportedly calling him an “epic, patronising tosser”.

But that is not a bad thing – anything that upsets Johnson should be good news for Labour. And Blair certainly knows how to win an election.

"While the idea of Blair cleaning up Labour’s reputation may sound like an idiotic one – like sending the bull back in to tidy up the china shop – the former PM can still serve as a lesson to Miliband" 

Plus, with the former PM having taken a step back in his role as Middle East Peace Envoy (presumably he feels the job is done) he should have some free time.

In fact he basically said as much in a recent interview with Newsweek, making the somewhat threatening announcement that he is considering creating a “cadre” of “battle hardened” former heads of government, to travel the world and intervene in problems as they went.

Describing his plans, which sound suspiciously like the plot of the A-Team, he said: “Whether they come from the left or the right, what they want is to get things done. And I know what it’s like because I’ve sat in the decision-making seat.”

He continued: “You also have this very interesting thing when you can get a great leader of a small country. You can get some of these guys are who fantastic executors.”

Was 'executors' the best choice of words? Blair obviously feels there are world leaders currently lying around the globe, waiting to be recycled.

He continued: “Why not use their talents and their experience? I want to build a cadre of people: 'Why not come and help the President of this country or the Prime Minister of that country?'.”

To be fair he probably didn’t mean to make this sound as menacing as it does, yet world leaders may not be as keen as he thinks.

Imagine the terror felt by any newly elected president upon hearing the words “Tony Blair is coming to help you.”

And worse than that – he is bringing George W Bush.

So what about helping the leader of the opposition? At least then Blair’s antics would be confined to the UK.

And while the idea of Blair cleaning up Labour’s reputation may sound like an idiotic one – like sending the bull back in to tidy up the china shop – the former PM can still serve as a lesson to Miliband in terms of connecting with the electorate.

And even if Tony is too toxic to wheel out in front of a crowd, surely he would be able to offer advice behind the scenes? After all, you don’t win three general elections by accident.

Still, even if he doesn’t enter again before May, the good news is that he has promised to be around for a long time yet, using the same interview to boast that he is “getting younger”.

He said: “I’ve got decades. I want to be seeing someone when I’m 91 after having had medical tests which show I’m getting younger. The thought of actually retiring is not... look, you have got to have some self-awareness of these things.”

Thirty years is a long time. In fact depending on the general election result, Labour might wish he would run to be the next leader.

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