The story goes that during Tony Blair's final speech to the Labour conference, George Osborne text his colleagues: “Thank God he’s going”. Not for the first time, the Shadow Chancellor spoke too early. Later today, the three-time election-winner returns to the hustings:
In a speech at the Trimdon Labour Club in Sedgefield, his former constituency, Blair will say that in his opinion the Tories have not been through the fundamental rethink of their policies that marked Labour in opposition.
Blair is reported not to be planning a personal attack on David Cameron, partly because he feels that is not the appropriate way for a former prime minister to behave, and partly because he feels that it would detract from his central message on the economy.
Labour will be hoping that Blair’s persuasive communications skills can, once again, capture the votes of middle England . However, if he becomes the story, or if Iraq raises its head, then Labour will have to decide if he continues to play a role in the campaign.
Presumably, it’s for those reasons, he being given a dry run this week.
Gordon Brown, more than anyone else, will be hoping that Blair's return can make up for his own obvious shortfalls.