Tony Blair has returned from his Africa safari and will be making a speech in 10 minutes (sorry, some time soon) in a bid to turn Labour’s life-support machine back on.
Here are the two reasons why it probably won’t help:
1] If Blair is brilliant – as he often was in years gone by – it will only serve to remind people of the unfavourable contrast with Gordon Brown.
2] If he is not brilliant (last time he looked weirdly orange and had a strange Lloyd Grossman trans-Atlantic accent) then he is wasting his time.
Interesting that Labour aren’t giving out any details to the press (the last speech in Sedgefield was also very tightly controlled). They don’t want Blair to face any difficult questions.
Btw we are wondering: what is Blair doing wandering around a health centre in Harrow chatting to the staff – given that he is no longer a politician. It seems a little surreal.
If you want to know why he’s in Harrow West, praising local MP Gareth Thomas, it’s a Labour seat which is thought to be at risk. Although, as Rob Hutton of Bloomberg points out to me, the notional majority is much bigger (due to boundary changes) at 20,018 to 12,199.
I should clarify that there was no speech in the end – just the walkabout, in which Blair said Labour still had a chance of winning. If you say so.
It’s a pretty anticlimactic appearance given all the hype about the former PM playing a key role in the campaign: eg “He’s been pencilled in for weeks now and by all accounts he can’t wait to get started… Labour sources said that Mr Blair was “champing at the bit” to begin campaigning” (Daily Telegraph, 29 March 2010).
UPDATE: Apparently David Cameron has said that Blair’s return is “very good for sales of Tango”.