The Labour Party must return to the political centre ground and acknowledge the aspirations of millions of voters it ignored in its election campaign, senior figures warned yesterday, as the party's crushing defeat hit home.
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband was widely seen as having steered the party leftwards from former prime minister Tony Blair's centrist "New Labour".
Blair, who won three elections in a row to be prime minister from 1997 to 2007, said yesterday that Labour should be more inclusive and aspirational - comments echoed by one of the frontrunners to replace Mr Miliband, Chuka Umunna.
"The route to the summit lies through the centre ground. Labour has to be for ambition and aspiration as well as compassion and care," Blair said.
"Hard-working families... want to know that by hard work and effort they can do well, rise up, achieve."
One of Blair's closest allies during his period in power, former minister and European Union commissioner Peter Mandelson, was scathing about Miliband.
"We were sent out... to make an argument, if you can call it an argument, which basically said we're for the poor, we hate the rich, ignoring completely the vast swathe of the population who exist in between," Mr Mandelson said.
The leadership race has not officially begun for Labour. As well as Umunna, the party's business spokesman since 2011, former ministers Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper are expected to run.
It is also possible that a new leader could emerge from the ranks of relative newcomers with fewer links to the New Labour era, such as members of parliament Dan Jarvis, Tristram Hunt, Liz Kendall or Rachel Reeves.