FORMER prime minister Tony Blair has said Labour would have stood more chance of victory if he had led the party into the 2010 general election rather than his successor Gordon Brown.
In a sign that the bitter rivalry between the two senior figures in New Labour still lingers, Mr Blair said he would have given David Cameron “a run for his money”.
The election resulted in a hung parliament with Mr Cameron’s Conservatives the largest party, and although Mr Blair did not say he would have won the contest outright, “it would have been tighter than it was”.
In an interview with Bloomberg Markets magazine Mr Blair also spoke of his regret at not being offered the job of president of the European Council.
Mr Blair led Labour to three election victories but his reputation was tarnished by the Iraq War and his leadership was troubled by in-fighting between factions loyal to him or Mr Brown, who took over as prime minister in 2007.
He said: “Frankly, if I’d had a fourth election, I would have given Cameron a run for his money. I’m not saying I would have won, but it would have been tighter than it was.”
Mr Blair, who has been involved in a string of business and charity projects since leaving office, said he would have taken the European post. Despite lobbying for him by Mr Brown’s government, the post was eventually filled by Belgium’s Herman Van Rompuy.
“If the European job had been offered to me, I would have taken it,” Mr Blair said. “But it wasn’t.”