A letter from Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was read out at a fundraising dinner yesterday, confirming his support for the Labour Party and slamming the current prime minister.
The Sports Dinner, held at the Emirates Stadium in North London, aimed to celebrate “an incredible summer of sport and the sporting legacy the [Labour] Party left the country”.
Attendees included former prime minister Tony Blair, current Labour leader Ed Miliband, Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell and former deputy prime minister John Prescott.
According to the Guardian:
The Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, who had hoped to attend, sent a letter of support. [Alistair] Campbell read out the letter in which Ferguson said he hoped David Cameron would be a one-term prime minister, just as he hopes Manchester City will be one-season champions.
The dinner caught headlines today as former prime minister Tony Blair announced at the event that he would be returning to work for the Labour Party in an advisory role.
The Guardian reports:
Tony Blair is to take his most active part in the Labour party since retiring from frontline politics, contributing ideas and experience to Ed Miliband’s policy review.
Blair, who stepped down as prime minister five years ago, will be giving advice on the Olympic legacy and in particular how to “maximise both its economic and its sporting legacies”, Miliband said last night. The role reflects Blair’s part in the successful 2005 bid to host the Games and his sporting foundation, one of the key charitable causes in his retirement.
Miliband, who was more closely allied to Gordon Brown during the 13 years of Labour government, declared that Blair’s help for the party marked a “coming together of the Labour tribe”.
The former prime minister’s return has been met with mixed reviews, especially by those on the Left.
George Eaton observed on The Staggers:
The political symbolism of Ed Miliband’s decision to share a platform with the former prime minister at last night’s Labour fundraising dinner should not be underestimated.
In the early months of Miliband’s leadership, when he distanced the party from Blair’s stances on Iraq, the economy, tuition fees and civil liberties, the two would never have appeared in such close proximity. But Blair has since privately indicated that he agrees with Ed Balls’s critique of the government’s austerity programme as self-defeating. In his view, the coalition is going “too far, too fast”.
As a result, Miliband is far more comfortable about appearing in public with Blair. Having already put clear red water between himself and the former prime minister, he is confident that Blair’s return will not be seen as evidence of a shift to the right.
Tom Scholes-Fogg, writing for Speaker’s Chair, added:
I think the news of his return ought to be welcomed by everybody within the Labour Party. Yes, he may be tainted by the decision to take the country to war but this is a man who is without a shadow of a doubt one of Labour’s most successful leaders.
However, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union Mark Serwotka was less enthusiastic about the comeback, telling Total Politics:
“Some people hail him as somebody of historic importance because he won Labour three elections, that’s true.
“My own view is that he’ll go down as one of the worst Labour leaders ever for the simple reason that he had the opportunity – having had 18 years of the Tories – to really shake things up in Britain and he chose not to do it.
“He chose to do the opposite and drag the Labour Party into the centre, to the right.”
So Tony Blair may have the great Sir Alex Ferguson’s support, but does he have yours?