The Blair memoirs, released on the day that ballot papers for Labour’s leadership campaign were sent out, contains reflections on some of the candidates.
On David Miliband, the book says: “He did a masterful job of putting the Government programme together, keeping ministers happy even while guiding them, sometimes forcefully, towards a direction other than the one they intended . He was perfect for the first term: really clever, plainly, and with good party politics.”
As the party was looking for a new leader, Blair says Miliband came to see him: “Two years later he would be a different calibre of politician, with clear leadership qualities; back then in May 2007, as he sought my advice, he was hesitant and I felt fundamentally uncertain as to whether he wanted it.”
On Ed Balls: “I thought he behaved badly at points, and was wrong on policy – but I also thought he was really able, and a talent that any political party should be grateful to have.”
“Balls was and is immensely capable intellectually, and also has some of the essential prerequisites for leadership: he has guts, and he can take decisions. But he suffers from the bane of all left-leaning intellectuals. As I have remarked elsewhere, these guys never ’get’ aspiration.”
One of the leading contenders for the leadership, Ed Miliband, has only a handful of passing mentions, Andy Burnham is mentioned once in passing and Diane Abbot is missing.