James Forsyth

What Cameron should learn from Blair’s experience

What Cameron should learn from Blair's experience
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When historians look back at the Blair era, one of the things that will puzzle them is the fact that Tony Blair never attempted anything truly radical when his popularity was at its height. For instance, I’m sure if he’d called a referendum on the euro—which he wanted to join—early on in his tenure, he would have won.

One of the reasons Blair was so cautious was his belief that the Tories were not dead but only sleeping. Steve Richards has a great example of how concerned the Blairites were of a Tory revival in his column today:

“I remember having a cup of tea with Blair during the first term, when he was still seen widely as the messiah walking on water and 30 points ahead in the polls. The meeting was interrupted by an entourage that rushed into the room. They were all in a state of fearful panic because Hague had changed his party's policy on rural chemists. Anyone would have thought World War Three had broken out.”

The lesson for the Tories is that if they win the next election, they must be at their boldest in their opening 18 months in office. Otherwise, they might miss their chance.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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