Sir Tony Blair has today urged the Labour party to adopt his institute’s policy agenda for the next General Election in order to defeat the Tories.
Blair said “one of the reasons” he was holding the inaugural Future of Britain conference, hosted by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, just a couple years out from the next election “is because I hope it informs a lot of the policy debate” within the party.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer this week confirmed the party would be ditching Jeremy Corbyn’s radical left-wing 2019 manifesto for the next election.
Blair has become increasingly visible on the UK’s political scene in the past two years, with recurring rumours that he wants to get back involved with the Labour party at some level.
A string of recent polls have also shown the former Prime Minister’s popularity is at its highest point since he left office.
“The fact is for Labour to win the next election it’s got to have a policy agenda that is absolutely clear,” Blair said.
“If Labour want to seal the deal for the British people its going to be all about policy and, expressing through policy, that this is a Labour party prepared to reach out to its traditional base and [also Tory voters].”
Blair’s comments come after Labour grandee Lord Peter Mandelson said this week that voters still don’t have a clear idea of who Starmer is.
The conference featured speakers such as former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and Labour shadow Northern Ireland secretary Peter Kyle.
Discussions revolved around issues like climate change, domestic economic inequality and Britain’s place in the world.
There was also much discussion about how Labour can win the next election.
The party holds solid leads in Westminster polling, with the latest Savanta ComRes poll giving Labour a seven-point lead over the Tories.
There have been suggestions that Labour should have an informal non-aggression pact with the Liberal Democrats at the next election, after a series of strong by-election performances by the Lib Dems in traditional Tory areas.
This includes big Lib Dem wins at the Chesham and Amersham, North Shropshire and Tiverton and Honiton by-elections.
When asked about this prospect, Blair said: “Those Liberal Democrat voters in Tiverton and Honiton who previously voted for the Tories and now voted Liberal Democrat in a by-election – you want them to stick with the Liberal Democrats at the next election.
“But those people have got to be comfortable with a Labour government.
“What I tried to do when I was leader of the opposition is I wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to make that journey.”
He also said Starmer had done an “immense job” in “bringing the party together” after the four-year reign of Jeremy Corbyn and to put it into a competitive position.
“To be fair to Keir – I took over the Labour party after Neil Kinnock and John Smith. He’s had a tougher time of it – mentioning no names,” he said.