Blair: There's no way out for the Lib Dems

Blair: There's no way out for the Lib Dems
Blair: There's no way out for the Lib Dems

By staff

There is no obvious solution to the problems faced by the Liberal Democrats, Tony Blair has said.

Speaking to the Times as he publicises the new edition of his memoirs, Mr Blair the coalition's specific weakness was that it was inhabited by two parties which did not enjoy a political overlap.

"It's very hard to fight three elections to the left of Labour and then end up in a Tory government," he said.

"You can slice and dice that any way you want, but you have a bit of a problem with it, and I don't really have an answer to it."

Elsewhere in a wide-ranging interview, the former prime minister expressed his support for Ed Miliband, something many commentators took with a pinch of salt given his half-public backing for David Miliband during the leadership race.

The message was complicated somewhat by a critical response to the 'blue Labour' agenda, which is said to have the ear of the current Labour leader.

"I'd be worried about indulging a nostalgia which suggests a great emotional empathy with someone when you don't have a policy to deal with it, and so you end up in a small 'c' conservative position," Mr Blair said.

"The attraction of a concept like 'blue Labour' is it allows you to say that there's a group of voters out there we can't reach at the moment, so what we should do is really empathise with their plight. But I think you should always offer a way forward for the future.

"The way the Labour Party wins, is if it's at the cutting edge of the future, is if it's modernising. It won't win by a Labour equivalent of warm beer and old maids bicycling."

The former PM was also open about the fact that he supported key parts of the coalition government's agenda.

"There are elements of the reform programme that we were doing in government that the present Conservative government are continuing, in other areas they're not," he said.

"So it would be bizarre if I were to say, you know I don't agree with them doing the academy programme — why would I want to say that?"

On foreign affairs, Mr Blair called for the West to take a more active role pushing for democratic change in the Arab world and said that Europe needed an elected leader to challenge the role of China in the world.

"For Europe, the crucial thing is to understand that the only way that you will get support for Europe today is not on the basis of a sort of postwar view that the EU is necessary for peace," he said.
"For my children's generation, that is just a bizarre argument. They don't see that as a real threat, that European nations will go to war with each other.
"But what they can understand completely is that in a world in particular in which China is going to become the dominant power of the 21st century, it is sensible for Europe to combine together, to use its collective weight in order to achieve influence. And the rationale for Europe today therefore is about power, not peace."


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