Former British prime minister Tony Blair re-entered the Westminster fray today, taking on David Cameron, the Conservative leader, during a speech at a Labour club in northeast England:
“In uncertain times, there’s a lot to be said for certain leadership,” Blair said, dismissing the Conservative campaign slogan “vote for change” as “the most vacuous slogan in politics.”
Blair rejected the comparison [with Cameron] and accused the Conservatives of lacking principles.
“They look like they’re either the old Tory party but want to hide it, or they’re not certain which way to go,” Blair said. “They seem like they haven’t made up their minds about where they stand, so the British public finds it hard to make up its mind about where it stands.”
Iain Martin called it a “clever little speech designed to help with his party’s general election campaign.” The Spectator notes that “perhaps the only surprise was that Blair didn’t lay into David Cameron as personally, or as heavily, as some of the pre-match coverage indicated he might.” Joey Jones of Sky News concurs: “What a curious event this was. Don’t get me wrong – much better to have Blair involved than constantly fend off questions about his absence . . . but this remained a slightly surreal event. For much of his speech, he seemed to act as a glorified political commentator.” Others, like James Kirkup of the Daily Telegraph, were distracted:
I’m just watching him on BBC, and I’m honestly struggling to listen to a single word, because I’m transfixed by the colour of the man. He’s orange. Not browned, not tanned. Orange like…well, like an orange.…Mr Blair was speaking in Trimdon, County Durham. I grew up a few miles north of there, so I can tell you: wherever Mr Blair got that tan, it wasn’t the north-east.
Cameron chose to shrug off the remarks. “It is nice to see him making a speech that nobody is paying for,” he quipped.