Blair makes UK comeback to help Labour

Former PM begins poll campaign

Blair makes UK comeback to help Labour

The former prime minister led Labour to three electoral victories over the Conservatives from 1997. But after a decade as prime minister, he resigned in mid-term in 2007 to make way for Gordon Brown.  Brown is seeking to win an unprecedented fourth successive Labour term in office in an election expected on May 6.

Risky strategy

Drafting in Blair’s help is a risky strategy for Labour. The ex-prime minister is a charismatic campaigner, but many voters are still angry with him for leading Britain into war in Iraq.
Labour is trailing the Conservatives in the opinion polls although the gap has narrowed since January. Most polls suggest the result could be a hung parliament in which no party has an overall majority. This could allow Brown to stay in power.

Returning to the constituency of Sedgefield in northeastern England which he represented in parliament for 24 years, Blair praised Brown’s handling of the economic crisis, hailing his “experience, judgment and boldness”. “It required leadership and Gordon Brown supplied it,” Blair told enthusiastic party activists at the local Labour Club.

Blair and Brown had a uniquely close but fraught partnership at the top of British politics for a decade. Brown was a powerful finance minister during Blair’s 10 years at the helm, and it was an open secret that Blair had promised Brown he would hand over the reins at some point. This caused unending tension at the heart of government.

Poll cards

Brown, who has had a bumpy ride as prime minister, is now playing up his record on economic management, arguing that he took bold decisions during the 2008 credit crunch that averted a total collapse of the financial sector and the economy.  Credited with broadening Labour’s appeal beyond its traditional left-wing working class supporters, Blair is widely seen as a more accomplished public performer than Brown.

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