Poll: Tony Blair’s return would hurt Labour

5:10 pm - May 6th 2012

by Newswire    

      Share on Tumblr

The polling company Survation asked an interesting question in a poll out today.

Tony Blair has recently expressed an interest in re-engaging with British politics. Would you be more or less likely to vote Labour in a General Election if Tony Blair was Labour leader rather than Ed Miliband?

Net More likely 24%
Net Less likely 40%
Neither more nor less 37%

Among Labour voters from 2010, the figures were roughly reversed: Net more likely 40%, Net less likely 21%. But around 40% of Labour voters said it would make little difference.

Turns out Tony Blair is no longer the harbinger of popularity he once was with the general electorate.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  

About the author

· Other posts by

Story Filed Under: News

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Reader comments

1. margin4error

So according to that – if tony blair were labour leader right now labour would be doing quite a lot better in the polls.

assuming (and we have to and the article does too) that there is just three simple positions, and no gradual increase or decrease in sentiment between them…

…labour would seemingly lose 20% of its voters from 2010 (which was a bit under 30% of the country) so Labour would lose about 6% of the available national vote. (20% of 30% is 6%)

at the same time labour would seemingly gain 24% of all people – which is a boost 24% on a result of 30% in 2010.

so – 30% – 6% plus 24% = 48%

48% would a a scorching position for Labour just two years after polling 30% at a general election. And it’s better than Miliband’s labour is doing.

Even if we weigh up that of the 24% includes people already going to vote labour – and 40% of those are a big chunk of the national “more likely” figure – that still leaves the other 60% of those who said more like – who are within the 70% who didn’t vote labour in 2010.

s0 60% of 24% is about 14%. Add that to the 30% of 2010 – and you have 44%. Take off the 6% labour 2010 voters – and you have 38% voting for a blair-led labour.

that’s roughly what labour got on thursday.

so at worst blair would do no worse (all else being equal) than miliband as leader. And that’s the worst figures that can be generated from that data.

He can’t seriously be thinking of returning can he? Can he?

Woe is Britain if that be the case – neo-liberalism brand Blair vs neo-liberalism brand Bullingdon as our “options”.

It would be a huge mistake on the part of Labour to have him back. Many will never forget Iraq – he’s forever tarnished by it. And do we trust him to repeal NHS privatisation (up to 47% of NHS beds can now be rented to the private sector people!!!) aka the “Health and Social Care” bill? No we don’t. In fact, it’s emiserating to see Labour failing to discuss the NHS issue loudly full stop..

3. margin4error

also – having destroyed the numerical assetion in the heading – it is also worth destoying the written word too.

re-engaging with british politics does not mean “be labour leader again”.

I’ve no great desire to see Blair return – but I really don’t like such sloppy use of statistics to pretend one’s instinctive outlook is the same as the public outlook.

4. margin4error


labour talked a lot and loud about the health and social care bill. they opposed it every step of the way – made it the centre-piece of every PMQs for weeks and weeks on end – had shadow front benchers on tv and in the papers attacking it and the government over it constantly.

opposition is an impotent experience because all that stuff rarely works. But pretending they didn’t do all that is a bit weird.

at the same time labour would seemingly gain 24% of all people – which is a boost 24% on a result of 30% in 2010.

you wot? You ignored the 40% of the total population who said it would make them less likely. That is some serious but funny hoop-jumping.

Somebody wants a peerage.

Well, he hurt Labour the first time as well. Let’s take our party back.

They aren’t the only ones.

Given Tony said in his autobiography that he didn’t feel the Labour Party should every have been formed, I think people might be jumping the gun a bit assuming he’ll come back to New Labour.

He’s been giving Cameron foreign policy advice already, he could well join the coalition.

It’s as bad as I feared. Labour supporters on average are still deluded about Blair despite the fact that as PM he lost 4 million votes between the 1997 and 2005 elections as well as at least half the membership of the Party.

11. Albert Spangler

I would not touch Labour with a barge pole if that intellectually deformed monstrosity managed to force his way back in. He is like the physical manifestation of what is wrong in politics, with Cameron as his slightly faulty clone.

I suspect a chunk of Labour supporters simply can’t understand why so many of us are repelled by Blair and what he represents.

They might reflect on why Labour stalwarts like Betty Boothroyd and Clare Short came to disown New Labour or on how Rupert Murdoch could refer to his “good friend Tony Blair.”

What makes anyone think its Labour he’d return to? He might feel like a socially inferior member of the nouveau riche in the current Tory party but he’d fit right in with their policies and they’d love to help him spend some of his money. I can’t see Blair taking any job where his tax affairs and complex web of companies would be subject to scrutiny. Has the new Archbishop of Canterbury been decided yet? Perhaps Blair would consider a quick reconversion to C of E until the Papacy becomes vacant

14. Planeshift

Reminds me – I made a drunken bet about 18 months ago with a mate about this, saying something along the lines of ‘I wouldn’t put it past him to try’. Never quite thought I’d see that fiver again.

15. Mr Tomne

The man to replace Ed Miliband if ever the situation arose would definitely be Tom Watson.

16. Mr James

Looks like the Labour Party has not learnt from past mistakes. Tony Blair became unpopular just as Gordon Brown was and look how that turned out, lost election.

The Labour party needs a long look in the mirror. One person that springs straight to mind is Tom Watson as mentioned above. Move aside Ed because you are not as popular as Tom Watson, dont continue the past mistakes.

17. james jones

tony bLIAR ruined my life,his only quest in life ,is to line his pockets,along with his bitch of a wife,who screwed the legal aid system,i hope they both rot in hell.

“It’s as bad as I feared. Labour supporters on average are still deluded about Blair despite the fact that as PM he lost 4 million votes between the 1997 and 2005 elections as well as at least half the membership of the Party.”

The “Tony Blair was electorally unpopular” people remind me more and more of climate change denialists everyday. Since when was the total number of votes cast for a party the only measure of success? Since when was comparing results with those at a previous highpoint a sensible measure? (In fact that latter tactic *is* exactly the same as an argument used by climate change denialists).

He won 3 general elections. Get over it.

To be honest the whole idea of Blair becoming leader is silly, but of course he could go to the house of Lords then become a leader, perhaps his address book will become bigger if he’s called Lord Blair of great Britain.

I think he would be a great asset to the Tories after all he does give Cameron advice, or so we are told.

With the reported extent of support for Blair among Labour members, Blair in the Lords could be a source of continuing embarrassment to the Labour leadership in the Commons.

He’s pretty much entitled to a peerage if he wants one. He doesn’t.

The headline is bizarre. It seems from the limited information here that it is non-Labour supporters who don’t want him back. Of course he was talking about re-engaging rather than a return to the trenches, but don’t let that spoil a good story. I think it’s perfectly clear how many here will never forgive him for winning.

“I think it’s perfectly clear how many here will never forgive him for winning.”

Blair winning? After losing 4 million votes between the elections of 1997 and 2005 and at least half the membership of the Labour Party? After the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 without sanction of the UN Security Council and despite what he said to the Chicago economic club in April 1999?

By reports, the turnout for France’s presidential election on Sunday was just over 80pc. For comparison, turnout at the last three general elections in Britain has been low by Britain’s historic standards in the post-war period – hardly evidence of unbridled enthusiasm to have Blair for PM:

Blair presided over the rule changes for MPs’ expenses which resulted in more than half MPs in the last Parliament having to repay expenses.

Bob B,

I’m always puzzled as to the (let’s call it) logic which blames Blair for not matching the 1997 result in 2005 but gives him no credit for the 1997 result in the first place. As for you membership argument it is equally nonsensical. Labour Party membership, like party memberships in general, has been in continual decline since the 1950s, with one significant (and quite spectacular) exception. I wonder if you can guess when that was.

24. Planeshift

“abour Party membership, like party memberships in general, has been in continual decline since the 1950s, with one significant (and quite spectacular) exception. I wonder if you can guess when that was.”

Scottish National Party – the real legacy of Blair


You don’t need to be puzzled, it was clause four what did it. In case you are not aware, clause 4 was the stated aims and values of the Labour Party which appealed to its supporters, take it away and the Labour Party becomes a totally different beast.

Clearly New Labour has its supporters but not as many as the party prior to 1997, Fabian Socialism and neo-liberalism don’t make good bedfellows. so now we have three major parties which are neo-liberal and no major party to support socialism This is why turn-out at elections is smaller, and the figures correlate with the decrease in the Labour vote, many of the old Labour Party supporters have nowhere to go. so they don’t vote.

Jimmy: “I’m always puzzled as to the (let’s call it) logic which blames Blair for not matching the 1997 result in 2005 but gives him no credit for the 1997 result in the first place.”

C’mon. By the mid 1990s, the Major government was riven with internal quarrels over Europe and had lost its political credibility, not least over the botched privatisation of the railways (which Nicholas Ridley as Mrs T’s transport minister had opposed) and all that family values stuff alongside rampant adultery. With the brown envelopes for PQs scandals, Conservative MPs had lost whatever reputation they had for personal integrity.

What put me off Blair as prospective Labour PM was all that prancing around claiming to be our strong leader and the sycophancy of (shadow) ministerial colleagues.

As for that Beaconsfield byelection in 1982 when Tony Blair unsuccessfully stood for Parliament waving what became the notorious 1983 election manifesto, that was not so long after he had written a 22-page letter to Michael Foot who was Labour leader at the time:

Tony Blair’s youthful enthusiasm for radical socialism and his admiration for socialist theorist Karl Marx are revealed in letter written in 1982.

In the 22-page letter, the 29-year-old Mr Blair tells then Labour leader Michael Foot how reading Marx had “irreversibly altered” his outlook.

He also praises Tony Benn, agreeing with the left-winger’s analysis that Labour’s right-wing was bankrupt.

So much for “moderate” Mr Blair, who was not some immature teen but a practising lawyer, almost 30 and with an Oxford law degree. I soon bought Woy Jenkin’s reference to Blair’s second class mind and try this from the Guardian in 2005:

Honderich is also a consequentialist, which partly explains his hatred towards Tony Blair. “He is always asking to be judged by the morality of his intentions,” he spits. “He doesn’t understand that no one cares about his fucking morality. We judge him by the consequences of his actions. In any case, his morality is so muddy and ill-considered. I’m increasingly coming to the opinion that Blair’s main problem is that he’s not very bright.”

Before he retired, Ted Honderich was Grote professor of philosophy at UCL.

Let’s recall that Blair wanted Britain to join the Eurozone, which plainly shows that he really didn’t begin to understand the inherent flaws of the European monetary union project.

The Blairites need to recognise that Blair did immense damage to the Labour Party’s credibility.

You both seem to be shifting the goalposts. The premise of the article is that Blair is not an electoral asset, so whether the abolition of clause 4 was right or wrong (and I saw little value in retaining something which we had long since abandoned in any real sense), it was undoubtedly hugely popular. As for Blair’s letter to Foot, embarrassing juvenilia indeed. No one eve claimed he was an intellectual, I doubt he’d claim it himself, but again, that was not the question posed. Only the most purblind or churlish would seek to question his status as the greatest electoral asset the party has had in its history. A fact does not cease to be a fact simply because you dislike it.

Jimmy: “As for Blair’s letter to Foot, embarrassing juvenilia indeed”

You must be joking. When Blair wrote that letter to Michael Foot, Blair was a 29 year-old practising lawyer with an Oxford law degree – intellectually immature maybe and none too bright, but hardly juvenile.

I was never impressed by Blair’s (silly) campaign to display his political virility by getting the Labour Party to abolish Clause IV. It was well recognised in the Labour Party that successive Labour leaders from Gaitskell through Wilson and Callaghan had never taken the Clause IV commitment seriously.

Ted Heath’s Conservative government had very sensibly nationalised Rolls Royce in 1971 to save the company from collapse. To maintain his personal credibility, Blair’s campaign to abolish Clause IV would have inhibited him from taking similar measures in government were similar circumstances to arise – in the event, in response to the financial crisis of 2008, it was necessary to take several banks wholly or partly into public ownership.

The industrial policy of the Blair governments was a great deal drier than that of the Thatcher governments during the 1980s, which is one reason why we have such an unbalanced dependence on banking and financial services.

Looked at objectively, Blair was a thoroughly awful PM who spent far too much time flitting about the world engaging in “liberal interventionist” wars which should have been better spent sorting out public services in Britain and reining in the banks. As Gordon Brown mentioned in March 2010, £18bn had been spent by then on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Blair’s campaign to abolish Clause IV would have inhibited him from taking similar measures in government were similar circumstances to arise – in the event, in response to the financial crisis of 2008, it was necessary to take several banks wholly or partly into public ownership.”

You do realise that those two sentences directly contradict each other?

One again, you don’t like him. I understand. It is the default opinion on these pages. You have to accept however that the great unwashed took a different view.

Who abandoned the values of clause four? it wasn’t the LP’s core voters.

I agree, Blair was a great electoral asset in 1997, he appeared to many Labour supporters to be the antithesis of the Thatcherite years until he showed himself to be son of Thatcher.

I don’t know where you live, I live in the Labour heartlands, populated mainly by working-class people, who want a government which relfects their interest not a charismatic president, who seemingly wished only to persue his own.

Even George Galloway managed to attract only 1k less votes in the Bradford West constitutency than Ed M did in his. The Labour Party have a lot of work to do to throw off the legacy of Blair.

Jimmy: “You do realise that those two sentences directly contradict each other?”

No so. If you had bothered to check back, Blair had ceased to be PM on 27 June 2007 and stood down from Parliament immediately thereafter.

Taking the failing banks wholly or partly into public ownership was after Gordon Brown had become PM and sensibly disregarded that fact that the Labour Party had abolished Clause IV, which clearly showed how the abolition was nothing more than empty gesture politics.

There are sensible and silly arguments for taking businesses, let alone whole industries, into public ownership. Only loonies who really believe in “free market capitalism” would argue that Heath’s government was wrong to nationalise Rolls Royce in 1971 or that Brown’s government should have allowed the Britain’s failing banks to sink in 2008.

You aren’t making a good job of defending Blair against the criticisms.


Blair good or bad is a wider discussion on which we are unlikely to agree, but it is the idea of Blair as an electoral liability which I find utterly delusional.

“the abolition was nothing more than empty gesture politics.”

I think we agree on this. As we both agree it had no practical effect and seems to have been popular I really don’t see the down side. And Brown did have some role in government prior to 2007. You seem to think that the response of a Blair administration would have been substantially different. I’m pretty sure you’re wrong about that.


“but it is the idea of Blair as an electoral liability which I find utterly delusional.”

Look at the poll report in the thread header.

With Blair attempting a political return, many will feel less inhibited about airing their critical assessments of his premiership than when he was the incumbent PM. In addition, the Chilcot inquiry into Britain’s engagement in the Iraq war is in progress and the eventual report will create the context for a renewed debate about a war in which an estimated 100,000+ Iraqi civilians lost their lives and when no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq after the invasion.

We can be pretty sure that Prof Philippe Sands QC of Matrix Chambers will be commenting on the report. Recall that letter to the Guardian on 7 March 2003, almost a fortnight prior to the invasion of Iraq on 20 March and the beginning of hostilities, these eminent academic teachers of international law had no doubts about whether the war would be illegal or not:


We’re still talking at cross purposes. You’re giving me a list of reasons why people would vote against him. I’m reminding you that they didn’t. Prof Sands letter to the Guardian, however erudite, was not quite the gamechanger you think it ought to have been.

All the poll indicates is that he is unpopular with people who didn’t vote for us even after he stepped down, but still hugely popular among those who did. Some more detail would be nice of course (and I can’t find any on the link) but there’s still nothing here to support your argument.

To be honest I wish Blair would return as leader of Labour and those whose interests the original Labour Party served, would know that there would be no chance of resurrection. This would leave a clear space for a party to emerge whose impetus would be to serve the interests of the working class.

“This would leave a clear space for a party to emerge whose impetus would be to serve the interests of the working class.”

There has never been any shortage of such parties. Voters for them on the other hand have been in short supply.


Your previous comments now make sense, you are clearly unaware of the roots of the Labour Party, hint the word ‘labour’ is a big clue. It was, until Blair took over, a party for the working class, clause four was a powerful symbol which signalled that it represented the working-class, it identified that it has different to the other main parties in its ultimate goal.

That is no longer the case, and you are probably a good representative of what went wrong with Labour, of course, the decline in labour votes after the 1997 election was nothing to do with Blairism, must have been something in the water.

“the decline in labour votes after the 1997 election”

And how in your view were we doing vote-wise before 1994?

“It was, until Blair took over, a party for the working class, clause four was a powerful symbol which signalled that it represented the working-class, it identified that it has different to the other main parties in its ultimate goal.”

Curious then that Labour front bencher in Parliament before Blair were mostly educated in fee-paying “public schools” and Oxbridge, as Blair was.

There were precious few prominent front benchers who came from solid working class families – Ramsay Macdonald, Ernest Bevin, Aneurin Bevan, Manny Shinwell, Herbert Morrison, Neil Kinnock, Roy Hattersley … I’m hard put to recall many more. For whatever reasons, stolid working class Labour MPs tended to stay on the back benches.

40. John P Ried

margin 4 error has totally underminded this headline then.

41. John P Ried

38 well said


From 1951 to 1979 Labour polled between eleven and half and fourteen million votes.

In 1983 eight and half million

1987 10million
1992 11,500 million
1997 13,500 millon
2001 10,750 millon
2005 9,500 million
2010 8,500million
source wiki (I have rounded the figures slightly up and down)

The support for Labour, after 1983, was slowly returning which peaked in 1997 and a landslide victory under Blair.
Note how the votes started to decline at the end of Blair’s first premiership and by 2010 had fallen back to their 1983 levels.

Blair certainly attracted support from voters who may not have previously voted Labour but those votes nowhere near made up for the number of core voters which it lost.

On the evidence, Blair was a disaster for the Labour vote. The low historic turnouts as shown by the link @22 hardly supports claims that there was much popular enthusiasm for keeping Blair as PM. What kept Blair in government was the historic baggage being carried by the Conservatives and their slow recovery to a state where they were regarded as electable. Who could take the prospect of IDS as PM seriously?.

“I’m hard put to recall many more”



Of course you can manipulate statistics to show almost anything. The real trend over the period has been that the two main parties have lost their grip over an increasingly heterodox and less deferential electorate. The days of the two main parties getting 85-90% of the vote are gone and my guess is they’re not coming back. Nor is their some vast hidden army of manual workers waiting in the wings to be inspired. Elections are won not by getting a particular number of votes but by getting more than your opponent, and ideally by a sufficient margin to produce a working majority. We’ve only ever done that five times and three of them were under Blair. You may take the view of course that his compromises with the public were such that the victories were not worth having but its absurd to pretend they did not occur. Call him anything you like under the sun, but calling him electorally unsuccessful just sounds silly.

“Who could take the prospect of IDS as PM seriously?.”

This would be a stronger argument if the voters had ever been offered that option.

46. margin4error


no i didn’t.

The 40% less likely is accounted for by those who vote labour being less likely – a bunch of people not going to vote labour being less likely to vote labour is obviously not a very useful part of the equation.

put simply – those figures mean Labour would lose about 6% of its 30% vote at the 2010 election – and gain 14%

I may not have explained that very well as blog replies don’t lend themselves to numerical analysis. But that’s the broad equation.

All based – as I say – on the assumption of three fixed outcomes as the survey sets them.

In those occasional pop-ups we are graced with, Blair has said absolutely nothing to suggest that he has any insight as to how and why New Labour disappointed so many of its early supporters, why the New Labour vote slumped through the elections from 1997 to 2005 or as to the reasons for the historic low election turnouts.

Blairites are still celebrating three successive election victories but with no sense of recognition that there were any failings on the part of New Labour in government. I suspect that many in the electorate will be reluctant to trust Labour again so long as that manifestation of delusion persists.

48. margin4error


In fairness – just being in government tends to lose a party a lot of votes, as the tories are presently finding. Likewise starting a war does the same in a lot of cases.

All that said, Labour’s doing pretty well right now. Its message and narrative is starting to gain a little traction – the polls are looking pretty good for a party so badly routed two years ago – and there seems little infighting to be fixed as things stand – which is unusual for Labour so soon after an election defeat.

So whether TB would do a good job or a band one is probably less interesting than the fact that EM seems to be quietly doing an effective job himself.

‘Of course you can manipulate statistics’
You can indeed, however, the figures I allude to @42 are raw data taken from the official polling returns. They are either accurate or there has been some electoral impropriety.

‘Elections are won not by getting a particular number of votes’
You are being disingenous, I am well aware of the numerical implications of winning elections.

‘Call him (Blair) anything you like under the sun, but calling him electorally unsuccessful just sounds silly’
Did I call Blair ‘electorally unsuccessful’, I think not. However, the legacy of Blair has made future elections more difficult for Labour to win, and that’s because he has alienated large numbers of members and voters.

In 2010 youth employment (18-25 year olds) hit the highest for 17years (926,000). These voter should have been natural Labour supporters but Labour doesn’t really care that much for labour. Indeed all the main parties don’t really care much for labourers (in the broadest sense of the word) that’s why turnout has also decreased.

Blair, like Clegg, was easily seduced by power, and now both the Lb Dems and Labour are paying the price.

So you believe 18 year olds are reluctant to vote because they have been alienated by the man who was PM when they were at primary school?

It’s a theory I suppose.

This rather like the scene in Spinal Tap where a character describes playing to boos which he believes to be directed at the previous act.


Are you the alter ego of SFMS, s/he has a habit of misquoting posts and introducing straw men.

I haven’t seen Spinal Tap but I would hope that your analysis of that film is slightly better then you analysis of Blairism.

52. margin4error


thing is – you are jumping to so many wildly fantastical conclusions that people are quite right to attack you for it even if the raw data is perfectly correct.

For example – take the drop off in the vote between 1997 and 2001.

Was this because Tony Blair was unpopular? Well probably not. He certainly massively out-polled his peers at the time in regards to who was deemed best to run the country.

So was it because the Tories or some other party succesfully took votes from Labour. Well looking at the data – no, not really. Labour polled a not dis-similar proportion of the vote to 1997.

So was it because Labour exchanged one bunch of voters for another. Again, no. there was no evidence of a shift in 2001 that saw lots of non Labour voters circa 1997 become Labour voters in 2001.

So what was it then?

Well those of us old enough to remember those heady days well – remember that the number of votes cast dropped off a cliff. This was put down to a range of things, but most notable among them, given the sharp fall from over 70% in 1997 to less than 60% in 2001 was that 2001 was a foregone conclusion. Labour were going to win big and everyone knew it, in a way they didn’t in 1997 because, although it seemed likely, there was a sense of disbelief following 1992.

Indeed for a party that had been in power for four years, Labour in 2001 actually underperformed 1997 by a very small ammount when the significant drop in turnout was

53. margin4error

…sorry – got cut off there…

was factored in across all parties.

So – in effect Steveb – your analysis seems to take a very bland and simplistic view of some figures that mean next to nothing in isolation.

Which is why you are drawing criticism.

When all the psephological issues have been sifted and assessed, Blair as PM failed on so many substantive policy issues ranging from those wars of liberal intervention, the performance of Britain’s public services, the unbalanced dependence of the economy on banking and financial services, schooling standards and training for industrial skills through to Britain’s appalling record on social mobility compared with peer-group country. Looked at dispassionately, Blair’s record of achievement as New Labour PM is a miserable one.

“When all the psephological issues have been sifted and assessed…”

Actually that is the point of the thread.

“Looked at dispassionately, ”

Well thank heaven you were able to do that for us.

“Well thank heaven you were able to do that for us.”

You can be pretty sure that Blair’s return to active politics would revive interest in his many manifest policy failures.


The impetus of my argument has always been that since Tony Blair’s premiership, support for the Labour Party has decreased both in membership and in voting support.

Now you may believe that counting votes is a bland and simplistic way of coming to that conclusion, but what method would you use?

Certainly my analysis is not in isolation, I live in the Labour heartlands of South Yorkshire, and it is observable that the Labour vote has significantly dropped, for example Doncaster North (Ed M), in 1997 Labour attracted 34,135 votes, in 2010 the received 19,637

That pattern is repeated in all Labour seats in South Yorkshire, in Bradford George Galloway won by attracting about 1k less votes than Ed. If you know anything about the history of Labour support in this area, you would realise that Labour have a problem.

Also, anecdotal though it is, I am aware of the feelings about New Labour locally.

And as far as people are ‘attacking me’, about Blairism, it’s only you and Jimmy, and that’s also based on counting.

58. margin4error


under tony blair’s premiership votes for labour did indeed fall. As did mebership. But that’s hardly surprising of course. Under just about every post war prime minister, labour or tory, both share of the votes have fallen and membership has fallen over the period of the government. (I believe Thatcher in the early phase bucked the trend – and maybe one of the short parliaments may have, but that’s about it).

hence why I point out that your extrapolation from bland figures is simplistic to the point of being worthless as analysis. Of course Tony Blair lost support while he was PM. Because he was PM and that’s innevitable unless the other side fractures into two seperate parties.

Brilliantly – you then offer yet more useless stats – made all the more useless by showing that Labour without Tony Blair did a lot worse than Labour did with Tony Blair. (1997 to 2010)

None of which means Tony Blair should come back. But as I started this thread pointing out statistical iliteracy I don’t feel it would be right to stop.

Oh – and on Labour Heartlands – I live in one. Blair isn’t popular, but sadly neither is Ed. But so long as they have read rossettes local candidates will be well supported and win without real contest.

which might of course say quite a bit about why turnout is falling. Certainly that seems a more likely cause than the premiership of one man who has long since left the job.

‘Brilliantly – you yet then offer more useless stats’
As I pointed out @49, I have reported raw data which is based on official polling returns, are these figures useless, well I would suggest that the Labour Party don’t think so. I would guess the data for the latest Bradford West election is imprinted on the consciousness of all LP members.

‘showing Labour without Tony Blair did worse than Labour did with Tony Blair’
now you are employing dishonest debating techniques, – Tony Blair changed the Labour Party and now whoever leads it is saddled with that. It wouldn’t matter to Labour’s natural supporters that Tony Blair was unpopular, many primeministers in the past have been unpopular but left the party they represent intact. Tony Blair took the LP: from a Fabian socialist party to a neo-liberal one, was it necessary, well no,it wasn’t in the LP manifesto and he actually won a landslide victory without any reference to changing the core values of Labour.

60. margin4error


They are useless for extrapolating the unrelated conclusion you arrive at.

Which I suspect is more because you went to find stats to back your own personal bias rather than arrived at that bias through analysis of stats as evidence.

Because – as I say – no good analysis of the raw data you provide could arrive at the conclusions you are using them to claim.

And now you seem to have attributed the 2010 result to nothing but Tony Blair’s legacy – overlooking Gordon Brown’s massive unpopularity with the public (and his party) and the massive hit from the economic downturn – and the general fatigue associated with a long spell in government – and so on.

Please do try to think. It’s not always easy but it is a valuable skill when discussing subjects.

Could a post-blair legacy have played a part in undermining the future electoral prospects of the Labour Party? Quite possibly. Certainly polling data in the 90s and beyond suggest that the Thatcher years seem to have played a part in making significant parts of the public hate the tories, where in the past they had not. So since such a phenomenon exists, it would be churlish to rule out that it might be one of Blair’s legacies.

But the stats in the article don’t offer any evidence of such a phenomenon at work – and your stats demonstrate a well trodden path from popularity before government to unpopularity after government that has many many explanations that are somewhat more tangibly evidenced than “I want to blame Tony Blair for stuff” which is in effect what you’ve posted.

Also – Labour a fabian socialist party? Surely one of the main complaints about tony blair was that in professionalising the party machine and in appealing to centirst (middle class) voters – he made the party more middle class and lost core support among the working classes. That being the case, claiming the labour party was, before he came along, very closely tied to the very middle class fabian society – even overlooking the fight against the trotskyite wings of the 80s – is a rather bizarre fit for your bias.


You are confusing the original founders of Fabian Socialism with the voting public
indeed, by 1992, all of the founders were dead. In fact socialism was founded by the middle-class, Marx was a middle-class academic from a wealthy middle-class background, Engels, a factory owner, was often seen riding with the hunt around his Lancashire home. Owen, and Morrison, all from wealthy middle-class backgrounds.

Yes, Gordon Brown was also unpopular (well after the credit crunch) but as I have already stated, unpopular prime ministers of the past were confined to the history books, Blair’s legacy remains.

Certainly Blair did benefit from the backlash of Thatcher/Major and I believe that it was probably a significant factor in delivering a landslide victory, so why did he then move the party to the centre, which was obviously being rejected by the voting public? It really didn’t make sense.

I agree that one set of figures is unlikely to be useful for making any kind of an analysis, but that’s not what I am doing, I am also using data from past elections in safe Labour seats and, more importantly, my knowledge of the population in those areas.


And don’t think that I get any satisfaction from my analysis of Blair and the LP, I was a long standing member, along with all of my family, for many years.

63. margin4error


I’m confusing nothing of the sort about the fabians. I know a great many fabians and a great many of the people that run the Fabians (young and old) and they are almost exclusively middle class. And it has a higher proportion of students/graduates among its membership and among its paid staff than it does shop stewards (former or otherwise).

It is a middle class institution. That doesn’t mean its values have no value. It just means your complaint about labour losing its core vote in places like working class sunderland because it moved away from middle-class influence from the fabians was rather perverse – since most of the concern about labour losing its core working class support is a result of its attempts to appeal to, and staff itself almost exclusively with, middle class people.

And again – your statistical analysis remains weak. You are ignoring fatigue with government, complacency at a dead-cert result, the unpopularity of specific policies, and the dislike of Gordon Brown – to conclude that blair’s legacy – based on elections at the time, result in an electoral disadvantage running into the future.

Yet even the stats in the original artical show that were he leader right now, labour would be polling the same result it just got at the local elections under ed miliband – suggesting that there is not a big anti-blair” sentiment there – or at least not one outweighed by the relatively pro-blair sentiment of those not at present wanting to vote labour.

None of which, if of course a reason to make him labour leader (or even just bring him back into the fold). But I do dislike the extrapolations because I genuinely don’t see any evidence labour are inherrantly diminished by the experience of having had blair as leader for 13 years. Of course some individuals will never forgive labour for something or another – just as some individuals will never forgive the tories for something or another. But there is certainly nothing in any polling data to suggest labour face a hostility from the public equivelent to that of the tories who, after a protracted war, a massive recession and 13 years of labour government couldn’t even muster 37% of the vote.

It’s a different phenomenon.

Also – unusually for Labour – having lost the last general election it seems the party is set to do better in the next one. Classically Labour tended to perform worse after the first term of opposition than they do in the election in which they lose power.

“Tony Blair changed the Labour Party and now whoever leads it is saddled with that.”

How are we saddled? We could reinstate clause 4 tomorrow, we could dust off the 83 Manifesto and try and sell it the voters again. There is only one thing stopping us. The voters. Which rather undermines the premise of your argument.


Surely a good philsophy stands on its own merits whoever the author, certainly the people in the Labour heartlands weren’t concerned about the founders they were more interested in the values and whether the party represented their interests. Tony Benn (a Marxist) was born Viscount Stansgate, Ed M’s father, a middle-class academic and Marxist and sadly, Ed M probably holds those same values but they are unlikely to come to the fore.

Labour was not diminshed because it had thirteen years of Blair, there have been so many poor and unpopular primeminsters across all parties but Blair changed the Labour Party and that is why, it is unpopular. Jeremy Bentham likened voting to the market place, candidates offer their wares and voters decide which one they wished to buy, there are now millions of voters who bought into the old Labour who now don’t want to buy into Newer Labour, it is as simple as that.


The voters gave Tony Blair a landslide victory, rejecting the centrist ground carved by the tories, and what did he do when he came to power, moved the LP to the centre ground.

You could certainly re-instate Clause 4 and try and sell the 1983 manifesto, but , nobody would believe it, you see all trust and confidence has been lost by Labours’ traditional supporters.

I am aware that there is a view that when the next election comes, voters will be alienated against the coalition and Labour will benefit, but I’m willing to put money on the fact that the best outcome will be another hung parliament because we now have three main neo-liberal parties.

63, 64

You might also like to read the history of The Liberal Party and what happened to that when it changed its core values.

‘The Strange Death of Liberal England’ by George Dangerfield is considered one of the best analysis.

“The voters gave Tony Blair a landslide victory, rejecting the centrist ground carved by the tories, and what did he do when he came to power, moved the LP to the centre ground.”

Nonsense. In order to support your argument you have simply reversed the order of events. Unless you are very young indeed you must know what you have said here is simply untrue. Clause 4 was ditched and the party moved to the centre before 1997, not after.

68. margin4error


there are indeed no doubt plenty of people who bought into old labour but wouldn’t want to vote new labour. Thing is, that doesn’t hurt labour’s electoral prospects one iota.

Not if those people all live in safe labour areas. And not if they are more than matched electorally speaking by a whole bunch of people who would never buy into old labour but would buy into new labour in marginal areas of the country..

Hence my point throughout. Your figures show no evidence that labour are left with a long term electoral deficit by Tony Blair’s premiership.


I suspect steveb has ended up arguing a point more through a desire to state his dislike for blair than through still believing his analysis is well founded. The numerical analysis was weak – and the switching of events may just have been a degree of confusion on his part. I’m not sure anyone would imagine Blair didn’t move to the centre ground well before the 1997 election.


I don’t totally disagree with your comment, however, the majority of Labour’s’ traditional voters hadn’t really grasped the concept in 1997. Also that particular election saw a wholesale rejection of Thatcher/Major, particularly in the midst of the incidents of sleaze. This also happened in 1979, The Winter of Discontent, allowed Thatcher in, but few members of the general public fully appreciated how the rhetoric converted into policy.

Blair’s new clause 4 starts with the sentence ‘The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party’, of course, this also does not signal to supporters that there is any change in values. Blair also mentioned socialism on many occasions, citing his new ‘third way’, of course this is pure political rhetoric, it really doesn’t give any clues to actual policy and implementation of same.

There are so many Newer Labour supporters who believe that Clegg’s involvement with the tories, and his obvious support of tory ideology will be the knell of death for the lib dems but fail to accept that such a thing will happen to them.

As I suggested in my post @66, the death of the LIberal Party was caused by its change in core values, it will also happen to the lib dems just as it has happened to Labour.

Also – Labour a fabian socialist party? Surely one of the main complaints about tony blair was that in professionalising the party machine and in appealing to centirst (middle class) voters – he made the party more middle class and lost core support among the working classes.

Middle class voters are centrist?
So if working class voters = left, and middle class voters = centre, then the 10 million odd who voted Tory in 2010 must be Upper class?

The truth is that left/centre/right voters and ideas are found all over the working and middle classes, and if you believe belonging to a particular class means that said voter will be more pre-disposed to being left, right or centrist, you’re going to find your arse being handed to you an awful lot at election time.

“the majority of Labour’s’ traditional voters hadn’t really grasped the concept in 1997.”

They would have to be pretty dense. The move to the centre was not done by stealth, on the contrary if anything the public was beaten over the head with the New Labour concept.

“that particular election saw a wholesale rejection of Thatcher/Major,”

Were that enough, Neil Kinnock would have won in 92. New Labour was born of a realisation that we could not rely on the pendulum to swing our way. It is a lesson we in danger of unlearning.

The sad fact is, and this is the central fact which you wish to argue away, that although there are many who feel as you do (probably a majority commenting here) you are electorally insignificant. It’s an uncomfortable truth I know, and one which no Blairite even will say out loud, but the evidence for this I think is overwhelming. Were there to be a succession of Bradfords then I would have to revise my view, but at present I think that scenario unlikely.


‘you are electorally insignificant’
Well yes, but the 5million voters, of which I am one, are not.

Tony Blair did move Labour to the centre by stealth just as Margaret Thatcher appealed to new voters with her ‘Victorian values’, most didn’t know she was talking about economic liberalsim. As I have already pointed out, the first sentence of the new clause 4 mentions that Labour are socialist, Blair was forever using the term along with his ‘third way’. And now we have Newer Labour apologists saying that socialism is old-fashioned.

After 1997, Blair had a choice, political rhetoric always allows a wide intepretation of meaning, he could have gone more left but he chose not to. And the traditional voters were left wondering what they had got for their votes. It’s a like going into the shop and buying bread which is labelled ‘white’ but when you open it you find that its brown.

One word of warning – those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, Clegg ignored the history of the Liberal Party and so did New Labour. Don’t hold your breath about Bradford West.


Yes, Labour have relied on their safe seats and to a certain extent this has worked. Certainly in most safe seats in my area, Labour have lost thousands of votes but the voters have not transferred their votes elsewhere, they have decided to stay at home rather than vote. One reason is that they do remain loyal to Labour based on their history. That is until Bradford West. And you would be foolish to think that this is a blip.

Firstly, the demographic is rapidly changing, the older Labour supporters are dying off but instead of leaving their children with a positive view of Newer Labour as their grandparents did about old Labour, they are, in fact being left with a negative view.
Secondly, there is now no heavy industry and its’ associated Trade Union membership with its traditional Labour support
Thirdly, this government have slashed the number of public service jobs, its’ workers are traditionally Labour supporters but now New Labour have been less than supportive about industrial action.

I’m afraid the name ‘Labour’ has been tarnished, by it deserting its’ traditional vote but it has become a party that doesn’t represent the worker. Maybe a name change to reflect what it really stands for might be a good move, well it would be more honest.

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Martin


    Just to make it clear @uklabour Blair should be on trial for treason not for leadership. Blair is a murderer.

  2. Ken Penton

    Poll finds Tony Blair’s return would hurt Labour; more people less likely to vote for it then http://t.co/tL7wVmVj

  3. Paul Hindley

    Poll: Tony Blair's return would hurt Labour http://t.co/lKrpgtpG

  4. McGinOxford

    Poll finds Tony Blair’s return would hurt Labour; more people less likely to vote for it then http://t.co/tL7wVmVj

  5. Thomas McKenzie

    Poll finds Tony Blair’s return would hurt Labour; more people less likely to vote for it then http://t.co/tL7wVmVj

  6. Rosemary Annabella

    http://t.co/inNPEaX1 Tony Blair ought to think again.

  7. Uxbridge Labour

    Poll finds Tony Blair’s return would hurt Labour; more people less likely to vote for it then http://t.co/tL7wVmVj

  8. Rainbow Youth

    Poll: Tony Blair’s return would hurt Labour | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/ucuFtXej via @libcon

  9. Damian Mendes-Kelly

    Poll: Tony Blair’s return would hurt Labour http://t.co/7dabBnSL

  10. Jack Mcglen

    Poll: Tony Blair’s return would hurt Labour http://t.co/7dabBnSL

  11. TheCreativeCrip

    Not as much as Tory-light Labour already hurts Labour // RT @libcon: Poll: Tony Blair's return would hurt Labour http://t.co/eLMy5DLt

  12. andrew

    Poll: Tony Blair's return would hurt Labour | Liberal Conspiracy: The polling company Survation asked an interes… http://t.co/OydwQnAF

  13. Alex Braithwaite

    Poll: Tony Blair’s return would hurt Labour | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/m2gnPEmg via @libcon

  14. James Bryant

    RT : Poll finds Tony Blair’s return would hurt Labour; more people less likely to vote for it then http://t.co/fk4uNMEv” @blairsupporter

  15. Gesbeen Mohammad

    Poll finds Tony Blair’s return would hurt Labour; more people less likely to vote for it then http://t.co/tL7wVmVj

  16. sunny hundal

    @donatahuggins On Tony Blair… http://t.co/tL7wVmVj and this http://t.co/H7Kagn3D

  17. Return of the New Labour big beasts | Shifting Grounds

    […] there is a feeling that Blair is yesterday’s man, no longer the powerful force he once was. A recent poll found that only 24% of people would be more likely to vote Labour if he, rather than Ed, was […]

  18. Tony Blair take two: Ex PM ‘poised for political comeback with Labour after advising Obama on election battle’ “God help us”… | Atos Victims Group News

    […] Poll: Tony Blair’s return would hurt Labour(liberalconspiracy.org) […]

  19. sunny hundal

    @ash_prashar @jameschappers Blair's return would hurt Labour: http://t.co/tL7snMM9 // And his unpopularity in 2010 http://t.co/H7K5IN2J

  20. Mehdi Hasan

    @OliverKamm @daaronovitch btw:

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.