NEWS
08/07/2011 11:57 BST | Updated 07/09/2011 06:12 BST

Tony Blair Condemns Phone Hacking And Praises Ed Miliband

Tony Blair has condemned phone hacking as "beyond disgusting" and "sickening".

Speaking to an audience of Labour supporters at an event to celebrate the 15th year of the thinktank Progress, he said: "Both Ed Miliband and David Cameron are right to say, however, that this is not just News International...

"Anybody who has been a political leader in this country in the last four decades knows, really, that there is this huge debate that should take place about the interaction between the media and the politics, the media and public life."

The former Prime Minister continued: "When the media operate in this incredibly competitive environment, we should debate this. We need that debate. And I think what this has done, is it's opened up the possibility of having it."

Mr Blair also affirmed his support for Labour leader Ed Miliband but warned his party against becoming too comfortable, saying: "Over the years we became quite good at being in opposition, really, which is not the purpose of the Labour party".

The former Prime Minister said that Labour had not lost the 2010 election because it was too left wing and urged members to have an internal debate.

He added: "All the way through the 1980s, we were in a situation where we weren't quite settling down and just honestly, rigorously, sorting out what was wrong...

"The single biggest thing I can get across to people is, you know, leave aside labels of new Labour and whatever else. The reason I did what I did when I became Labour leader is I had spent, by the time I became leader in 1994, 15 years of opposition basically always saying what I thought."

Mr Blair maintained said that the party needed to think beyond typical distinctions between left and right, saying there will be some "pick and mix" of policy which Labour should embrace instead of viewing as a betrayal of principles.