Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Sunday, 1 June 2008 16:21 UK

PM 'lacks Blair way with people'

Lord Levy at the Hay Literary Festival 2008
Lord Levy also discussed Tony Blair's tennis skills

Gordon Brown does not have the ability to win people over that his predecessor had, former Labour fund-raiser Lord Levy has said.

The prime minister cannot "sell and project himself" like Tony Blair, he said at the Hay Festival in Powys.

Lord Levy's latest comments come at a time when Mr Brown's premiership and personality are under heavy scrutiny.

Mr Blair also came in for comment, with Lord Levy describing him as a "schmoozer par excellence".

Lord Levy gave an hour-long talk at the festival in Hay-on-Wye to publicise his memoirs, A Question of Honour.

'Streets ahead'

He told the audience Mr Brown was a "very different politician" from Mr Blair.

"Tony has the ability to win people over - he really does," he said.

"He has this tremendous ability to sell himself and to project himself. Gordon does not have that ability.

"If we're living in an era where politics is based upon that ability, then Tony is streets ahead.

"If we are not, then Gordon would be scoring points."

It is not the first time the former pop impresario turned Labour Party chief fundraiser has criticised Mr Brown's performance.

Lord Levy, who was at the centre of cash-for-honours allegations, has previously attacked the "lack of strong leadership" in the Labour Party.

'Very marginal'

Mr Blair also came in for comment during his speech at the festival.

He described his new Middle East envoy role as "very marginal" and said he would not count his former employer as a "real friend".

Lord Levy, who himself was a Middle East peace envoy for Mr Blair when he was prime minister, said the real power lay in Washington and the White House.

He also spoke about Mr Blair's tennis abilities and conversational skills.

"Tony Blair is a schmoozer par excellence who has managed to schmooze his way through life," he said.

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