James Forsyth

Who does Blair think his natural heir is?

Who does Blair think his natural heir is?
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The Independent have launched a string of new blogs which are well worth checking out. Open House, their comment blog, looks particularly promising—anything that offers us more of John Rentoul and Steve Richards can only be a good thing. 

Rentoul, who is one of the great authorities on Tony Blair, flags up a rather revealing interview that the former PM gave to David Miliband’s local paper.

Here’s the key passage:

“Did Mr Blair ever think that the South Shields MP would be his natural heir?

He glanced up at the Foreign Secretary again, asking: "Shall I answer that?" Mr Miliband nodded cautiously with his eyes closed.

"I'm very proud of him. It's a great achievement to become Foreign Secretary, but it's down to David to decide that, not me," replied Mr Blair.”If Labour do lose their majority in 2009, still a big if, then the party will descend into a debate about whether they lost because the party was too Blairite or not Blairite enough. This answer implies that Blair sees Miliband as the Blairite candidate.

The downside to Miliband’s position as Foreign Secretary is that it detaches him from domestic British politics and requires him to defend an unpopular war and Labour’s broken referendum promise. The up-side is that he doesn’t have to nail his colours to the mast on the public service reform agenda, meaning that he is free to run as a Blair-plus candidate in 2009 without having to diavow a slew of previous statements.

Written byJames Forsyth

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

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