Britain is divided over whether Tony Blair should continue to offer words of advice to the Labour Party – but his leadership rating is still high
Tony Blair warned Ed Miliband against following UKIP on its anti-European and anti-immigration platforms on Tuesday, as the main parties considered how best to respond to defeat in the European elections. In a speech later that day, Mr Miliband said that UKIP’s view of Europe and immigration “will never be Labour’s mission or policy under my leadership”.
The Labour leadership agreed with Tony Blair on this occasion, but in the past Mr Blair has offered less popular advice – last April, for example, he warned that the financial crisis had “not brought a decisive shift to the left”.
A new YouGov survey finds that British people are divided over whether Mr Blair should continue to intervene. 40% say he is an experienced politician who still has relevant advice for Labour, while 46% say he is discredited and should stop offering his opinion.
Most of Labour’s own supporters do still appreciate Mr Blair’s advice however, as 61% say he should keep offering guidance compared to 32% who do not. But Labour voters are not the only ones who think his advice is still relevant: 38% of Conservatives think so too, as do 42% of Liberal Democrats and 24% of UKIP supporters.
As a politician in general, Tony Blair also has a relatively high leadership rating. Now, 48% say he did well and 44% say he did badly as leader of the Labour party. Back in May 2007, when he announced his resignation, 49% said he had been a good Prime Minister while 46% said he had been a poor one.
A group of Labour MPs have urged Ed Miliband to match David Cameron’s promise of a referendum on EU membership following UKIP’s advance at the European elections. Tony Blair said: “if it [Labour] tries to follow Ukip either on its anti-European platform or, even worse frankly, on its anti-immigrant platform, all that will happen is that it will confuse its own supporters and will not draw any greater support."
The survey also finds that by 51-33% Labour voters support holding a referendum on Britain’s relationship with Europe within the next few years, however.