Wednesday 31 December 2014 6:52 am

Tony Blair on Ed Miliband criticism: “I was misinterpreted”

Much sackcloth-and-ashing afoot this morning, after Tony Blair insisted comments in which he appeared to say Ed Miliband could not win the election were "misinterpreted".

His denial, on Twitter, came a day after the publication of an interview in The Economist, in which Blair was quoted as saying Miliband had swung too far to the right to win the election.

The result in 2015, he quips, could well be an election “in which a traditional left-wing party competes with a traditional right-wing party, with the traditional result”. Asked if he means a Tory win, Mr Blair confirms: “Yes, that is what happens.” 

In the interview, Blair added that "I am still very much New Labour and Ed would not describe himself in that way… I am convinced the Labour Party succeeds best when it is in the centre ground".

He also said that among the lessons he had learned from winning elections, "not alienating large parts of business, for one thing" was vital. Some of Miliband's policies, including a mansion tax and cracking down on tax arrangements for large firms, have been regarded as "anti-business", to such an extent that in March, CBI president Sir Mike Rake warned that Miliband was a "danger to the economy". 

But today Blair's office clarified Blair had not meant the comments as criticisms of Miliband,  tweeting that he "fully support[s]" him.

This isn't the first time Blair, who led Labour to three election victories, has hinted that he is less than pleased with Miliband's leadership. In October, it was reported he had told friends Miliband "cannot" beat David Cameron at the next election.

Anne McElvoy, public policy editor at The Economist, tweeted that the meaning of Blair's comments had been "v. clear". 

Is it us, or is that the smell of 2015's first Twitter spat brewing…?