The Labour government under Tony Blair has turned out to be far more "sleazy" than the Tories ever were, former prime minister Sir John Major has said.
Sir John said the 'sleaze' tag had been used unfairly in 1997.
Sir John told ITV the present government has had more "sleaze" than any previous administration.
He said Labour had "dishonestly" attacked the Conservatives when they were in power.
He also hinted that he may back David Cameron in the Tory leadership contest over rival David Davis.
Sir John told the Jonathan Dimbleby programme on ITV1: "It does point out the hypocrisy of what they said at the time: 'purer than pure', 'whiter than white', 'tough on sleaze; tough on the causes of sleaze'.
"You only have to say that these days to get a coarse laugh from people.
"This government has not only had more of what loosely one might call 'sleaze', than the previous government - or any previous government - it actually has been much closer to the prime minister and most of the people who have been in difficulty would be those who call themselves Blairites rather than Old Labour."
"Those short-term sound-bites that were used with great effect, but actually unscrupulously and dishonestly, against the Conservative party as a whole, have come back to hit them pretty savagely."
Labour was swept to power in 1997 after 12 Tories had been forced to resign from office over allegations of personal impropriety.
Last week David Blunkett, a key ally of Mr Blair, was forced to resign as work and pensions secretary - his second resignation from the Cabinet in less than a year.
Sir John said he felt for Mr Blunkett, but it was obvious that he had to go.
Sir John appeared to show he favoured Mr Cameron's approach in the current Conservative leadership battle, saying it was right to not put forward specific policies at this stage.
"Rather than have a series of detailed policies for the short-term, we ought to identify the four or five really big issues for the long-term," he said.
Last week, Mr Davis unveiled plans for a £1,200-a-year tax cut for the average family. Mr Cameron said it was a "massive misjudgement" to do so four years out from an election.
Sir John said: "I don't think David Davis is right to put a specific figure on it because there are too many intangibles."