POLITICS

Ed Miliband Tells Tony Blair: 'I Am Leading In My Own Way'

11/04/2013 12:49 BST | Updated 11/06/2013 10:12 BST

Ed Miliband has hit back at Tony Blair after the former prime minister criticised his leadership of the Labour Party.

In one of his most significant interventions in domestic politics since leaving Downing Street in 2007, Blair warned Miliband not to "tack left on tax and spending or tack right on immigration and Europe".

Writing in the New Statesman, the former prime minister said Labour's "guiding principle" should be to seek answers, not become the "repository for people's anger".

In what has been widely interpreted as an attack on Miliband, Blair said the party needed to needed to be more than a "simple fellow-traveller in sympathy" with voters. "In these times, above all, people want leadership," he said.

Under Miliband the Labour Party has fiercely criticised the coalition's cuts to benefits, signalled a move to the right on immigration and sided with Tory eurosceptics to call for a cut in the EU Budget.

Responding to Blair's article, Miliband said: "I am leading in my own way." He told the BBC: "Political parties have to move forwards not backwards, not going back to old solutions but need to adapt to new times."

"I always take Tony Blair very, very seriously, but I think what the Labour Party is doing under my leadership is moving on and moving forward. I'm leading in my own way and I think that is what's most important.

"I'm proud of the last Labour government, but I think we got some things wrong. I think the most important thing a political party needs to do is assess where it got things wrong, listen to the electorate and sketch out a different vision for the future," he said.

"That's what we're doing - tackling the issues that matter to people today, like the crisis in standards of living, how we get jobs and growth moving, something Tony Blair talks about today. Those are the priorities of the British people."

A Labour spokesperson told Politics Home on Thursday morning: "It is always important to listen to Tony Blair because he has important points to make, including in this article where he emphasises our top priority must be growth and jobs. As he was the first to recognise, politics always has to move on to cope with new challenges and different circumstances.

"For example, on immigration, Labour is learning lessons about the mistakes in office and crafting an immigration policy that will make Britain's diversity work for all not just a few.

"It is by challenging old ways of doing things, showing we have understood what we did right and wrong during our time in office that One Nation Labour will win back people's trust."