Chris Rumfitt, founder and chief executive of Corporate Reputation Consulting, says Yes
Tony Blair remains the last politician to really connect with the British people. Indeed, he’s the only man in the last 20 years to win an election outright. So his “100 per cent backing” for Ed Miliband has got to help the Labour cause.
While some say Iraq means he is damaged goods, it should be remembered that he won in 2005 after the war, and on domestic affairs his blend of competitive taxes married to social justice created a formidable electoral coalition, which Labour needs to reassemble to win again.
Focusing his words on Europe is also smart. Labour knows Europe is the one issue on which big business backs them rather than the Tories – and Blair is the one Labourite business really felt it could trust.
There is a downside to his intervention, in that Miliband looks like pre-Blair Labour in comparison. But Cameron and Clegg don’t fare well either – both look like a bad imitation of him.
Mark Wallace, executive editor of Conservative Home, says No
Tony Blair’s intervention was a less than enthusiastic one. After he criticised the Labour Party’s lurch to the left last year, the former Prime Minister evidently felt under pressure to make positive noises at least once. His choice of topic is telling – the EU is far from central to Labour’s election campaign, but it appears that it is the only matter on which Blair agrees with Ed Miliband.
At best, his speech will have no impact on Labour’s standing. More likely, it will be harmful. In terms of policy, the Conservatives will be grateful to have such a high-profile reminder to voters that Labour wants to deny the people a say on our membership of the EU.
In terms of personalities, a lap of honour for the most successful Labour leader ever will only serve to draw unfavourable comparisons with Miliband, whose lack of prime ministerial mettle is already a major repellant for floating voters.