Tories: Blair’s memoir ‘vindicates us’

by Peter Wozniak

Tony Blair’s memoir is evidence the coalition government adopted the correct position on the budget deficit, Baroness Warsi has argued.

The Conservative party chairman used extracts from the book, published on Wednesday, to attack Labour policy in its final term of government and to support the government’s stringent approach to deficit reduction.

She said: “The coalition government is winning the argument on cutting the deficit to get the economy moving. Now even Tony Blair has backed it. As he says in his book, taxpayers foot the bill if governments don’t tackle deficits because a lack of confidence would stop the recovery in its tracks.

Review: A Journey

“Today, Tony Blair has also revealed the full extent of the last Labour government’s failure – they failed to tackle the deficit, they failed to reform welfare and they failed to reform the NHS. Labour knew they were spending too much before the financial crisis but failed to do anything about it.”

The memoir detailed the long-running feud between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and suggested it spilled over into economic policy, with Mr Blair attempting to create a fundamental savings review in Labour’s final term – but being blocked by Mr Brown.

“We should also accept that from 2005 onwards Labour was insufficiently vigorous in limiting or eliminating the potential structural deficit … Labour has no option but to be credible in its own right. That means, as I say, having a coherent position on the deficit”, Mr Blair wrote.

The remarks are perceived to position the current middle-east peace envoy closer to the governing coalition’s economic policy than that of Mr Brown’s premiership.

Baroness Warsi concluded with a stinging attack on Labour: “While the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have come together to deal with Labour’s legacy, all the Labour party can do is fight amongst themselves. Until Labour politicians can admit to the mess that they left the country in and come up with ideas about how to fix it, they will never be fit to run the country again.”

The publication of Mr Blair’s memoirs has caused the bitter disputes of his time in office to resurface, with potentially dramatic consequences for the Labour leadership election.

The government appears to be attempting to capitalise on any prospect of further infighting.