7 Apr 2015

Tony Blair and Ed Miliband: how they compare

Both educated at Oxford and both married to barristers, but beyond that Ed Miliband and Tony Blair are very different Labour leaders.

As Tony Blair gives his “100 per cent backing” to Ed Miliband, Channel 4 News compares Labour’s most successful leader with its prime ministerial hopeful.

Though they both ended up as leader of the Labour party, Tony and Ed began in different places, both socially and geographically.

Tony Blair was born in Edinburgh and educated privately at the prestigious Fettes College. Mr Miliband, son of the prominent Marxist author Ralph, was born in London ant attended a comprehensive in Camden.

While Tony Blair was reportedly a rebellious pupil, who following school tried to make his career as a rock music producer, Ed Miliband is a self-confessed geek.

But it is in politics that the paths between the two men really diverge.

Ed Miliband and Tony Blair

Mr Blair’s three-year term as prime minister can be attributed to his decision to move to the centre – gaining public support but sacrificing, some within Labour’s ranks would argue, the party’s values.

Mr Blair courted business – one of his mantras was “pro-business, pro-reform”. Jon Cruddas, one of Labour’s top policy advisors, was quoted in the Telegraph on Tuesday as attacking Mr Blair’s “dystopian sink or swim” politics.

The “business-friendly” approach naturally pulled Labour further away from the trade unions. Ed Miliband, however, famously courted the unions in order to defeat his brother David in the 2010 Labour leadership election.

Since then he has attempted to reduce the amount of influence the unions have over the party, and rows such as that over the MP selection for Falkirk in 2013.

However, Ed Miliband is positioned more to the left than his predecessor’s predecessor. So much so that Mr Blair has previously predicted Labour would not win the election because it is too far to the left.

In the interview with the Economist in December 2014, Mr Blair said: “I am convinced the Labour Party succeeds best when it is in the centre ground.”

He warned that Labour risked running a campaign “in which a traditional left-wing party competes with a traditional right-wing party, with the traditional result.”

In one month we will know if he was right.