British Labour leader shrugs off Blair criticism

Britain's opposition leader Ed Miliband on Thursday hit back at former Labour prime minister Tony Blair's criticism that the party was heading in the wrong direction.

Miliband said that he respected Blair, who won three general elections and led the country for 10 years, but disagreed with his appraisal, saying Labour was "moving on and moving forward".

The party leader was responding to an article Blair wrote for the New Statesman magazine.

In his most significant intervention in domestic politics since stepping down as prime minster in 2007, Blair dismissed the party's assumption that the country had shifted to the left in the wake of the financial crash.

"The Labour Party is back as the party opposing 'Tory cuts', highlighting the cruel consequences of the Conservative policies on welfare and representing the disadvantaged and vulnerable.

"They (the Conservative Party) are back on the old territory of harsh reality, tough decisions, piercing the supposed veil of idealistic fantasy that prevents the Left from governing sensibly."

Despite their current double-digit lead in opinion polls, Blair claimed that this was a dangerous situation as it could lead people to think of Labour as a protest party with no plan to curb the public-spending deficit and urged Miliband to resist "the temptation to go there".

Miliband later insisted he was "leading in my own way and I think that's what's most important.

"I always take Tony Blair very, very seriously, but I think what the Labour party's doing under my leadership is moving on and moving forward," he added.