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What if Blair had lost his petition?



One afternoon I was in the London Ritz when my wife asked if that wasn't Tony Blair who had just sat at the table next to us. Indeed it was along with his wife, mother-inlaw and daughter.

My wife then suggested that he would be the next prime minister, which I instantly dismissed in favour of then Labour leader John Smith. Wait and see was my wife's reply.

Well of course John Smith died a year later; and immediately speculation and rumour radiated round the House of Commons. A three week campaigning moratorium was imposed by the Labour hierarchy as a mark of respect for the late John Smith.

It is reported that the young Tony Blair was doing the rounds in the Commons' tea rooms that afternoon seeking support for a leadership bid. In contrast the young Gordon Brown, who earlier shared an office with Blair, had the support of the trade unions. Blair was chancing his arm not for the first nor last time in his political career. 

Following his attendance at a parliamentary selection meeting of Sedgefield Constituency Labour party young Blair was not nominated as the Constituency MP for Sedgefield. Following his return to Edinburgh young Blair filed a complaint against the Sedgefield Constituency Labour party's selection process.

Roy Hattersley who was in Edinburgh promoting his latest book phoned a senior Labour colleague and said 'Have you heard about the young Blair?' What a line and of course the entire world has now 'heard about the young Blair'.

The Labour Party desperate to modernise following a second defeat under Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives intervened and Blair was re-interviewed and duly appointed as the prospective Labour  parliamentary candidate for Sedgefield. A safe Labour seat he was now guaranteed a place in the House of Commons as an MP.

Blair was also the outsider in Edinburgh. Gordon Brown, the late Robin Cook (who would later resign over the Iraq war), and Alistair Darling were all Edinburgh City Labour councillors before entering parliament and therefore understood politics. Blair never had this background before entering parliament.

Well Tony Blair became British Prime Minister, as my wife had predicted some years earlier, and London was electric following his election. The atmosphere of 'things can only get better' transcended Whitehall and Parliament Square and spread across London like the great fire itself.

Across the Atlantic another politician was also elected after some political protests had been filed. George Bush was tied for the Presidential office when his brother came to the rescue and extra votes were found in the State where Jed Bush was Governor. George Bush just scraped into the White House with no real mandate from the American electorate.

Blair in contrast waltzed into Downing Street with an overwhelming majority, but also only became an MP through a political appeal process. In this sense both Blair and Bush were indeed fortunate to hold such high office.

Perhaps the World, and in particular the Middle East, would have been more stable if neither had been won their political petitions!

The author is a freelance contributor based in Britain. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.


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