Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that his closeness to the right-wing press was one of the things he was “most uncomfortable about” during his time as leader.
Speaking to students at Kings College London last week, Blair was asked if his relationship with the Murdoch press was a “necessary evil”, to which he answered: “Yes”.
A video of the interview, which was arranged by the Independent’s chief political commentator John Rentoul who co-teaches the class Blair spoke with, has been uploaded on the Independent website.
In it, Blair claimed the “savaging” the Labour Party had received in the press in the 18 years prior to his premiership had had to be “diminished”.
He said: “It was always one of the things I was most uncomfortable about. On the other hand I have to say that in its early days it worked.”
Blair also argued that newspapers are different now from when he took office in 1997.
He said that former Daily Mail editor-in-chief Sir David English- who passed away in 1998- would not have allowed the paper to “go into this bellicose anti-Europe position”.
Asked about politicians handling the media, Blair said: “Not to have a good media operation in today’s politics, and even more so in the era of social media, is like running a football team and not having a training ground.
“You’ve just got to do it. But it’s never a substitute for the substance.”