UK Politics

Gordon Brown 'lost Labour rhythm' in No 10 says Blair

Gordon Brown and Tony Blair in 2005
Image caption The relationship between the two men has been well documented

Tony Blair has said Labour "lost the driving rhythm" which underpinned its success after Gordon Brown succeeded him as leader in 2007.

The former prime minister suggested his party lost its focus on the political "centre ground" and "stopped" acting as New Labour when he stepped down.

Speaking in London, he also urged Ed Miliband not to take Labour to the left and become simply a "party of protest".

Labour's years in power were marked by tension between Mr Blair and Mr Brown.

Blairites have long accused supporters of Mr Brown of launching a coup in 2007 to force Mr Blair out while Brownites have claimed that Mr Blair reneged on an agreement to stand down much earlier.

Speaking at a event organised by the Progress group, Mr Blair said he remained "unremittingly" a supporter of the brand of "third way, centre ground, progressive politics that came to be called New Labour".

While not mentioning his successor by name, he added: "From 1997, we were New Labour. In June 2007, frankly we stopped.

"We did not become Old Labour exactly but we lost the driving rhythm that made us different and successful.

"It was not a government of continuity, I am afraid, from 1997 to 2010, pursuing the same politics. It was 10 plus three (years)."

'Genetic tendency'

Under his leadership, Mr Blair said Labour had taken away the "mantle of the party of business" from the Conservatives and needed to recover this after what he suggested was a lack of support at the last election.

And he warned Ed Miliband not to retreat into a comfort zone "echoing the politics of protest but shunning the hard decisions of government".

He said: "Parties of the left have a genetic tendency, deep in their DNA, to cling to the analysis that they lose because the leadership is insufficiently committed to being left...

"There is always a slightly curious problem with this since usually we have lost to a party of the right."

In his memoirs, Mr Blair said Mr Brown had been a "brilliant" chancellor but could be "maddening". Mr Brown has not commented on his relationship with his predecessor since stepping down from office in 2010.

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