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Monday, 12 March, 2001, 18:24 GMT
Blair tribute to 'a great prime minister'
Tony Blair unveiling bronze of Wilson
PM admires Labour's most successful election-winner
Taking a break from unveiling new policies, Tony Blair has unveiled his most successful predecessor, Harold Wilson.

Or rather, a bronze likeness of him.

Paying tribute to the "remarkable" former prime minister, Mr Blair revealed the bust in a ceremony attended by Lady Wilson and other members of the late premier's family.


A remarkable man and a great prime minister

Tony Blair on Harold Wilson
Parliamentary Labour veterans Tony Benn and Barbara Castle were also present, as was Lord Wilson's former Tory sparring partner, Sir Edward Heath.

The bust - by sculptor Ian Walters - was commissioned by a Commons committee charged with building a collection of political art.

It will take up residence in the Wilson room of the new MPs' office block, Portcullis House.

Lady Wilson, reportedly delighted with the finished product, observed that her husband looked poised to tell a joke.

She said Lord Wilson would have been very proud to know his likeness was to take its place in the Commons which "he loved so much".

Harold Wilson
Wilson won four elections

Tony Blair praised the "startling intellect" of Labour's longest-serving prime minister, and celebrated his status as a "true man of the people".

Whether the public will recognise the former premier without his trademark pipe is another matter.

Lord Wilson, who at 31 became the youngest Cabinet minister since Pitt, died in 1995 aged 79 after a long illness.

He would have been 85 last Sunday.

Harold Wilson won four elections and served as prime minister for seven years and nine months, second only to Margaret Thatcher in peacetime.

When he stood down unexpectedly as prime minister in 1976, James Callaghan was elected Labour leader and became prime minister in his place.

Addressing the ceremony in the Speaker's state apartments, Mr Blair said he was "a remarkable man and a great prime minister" who was not only a source of pride to the Labour Party but remembered with affection by the whole country.

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09 Jul 99 | UK Politics
Pipeless Wilson immortalised in bronze
01 Jan 01 | UK Confidential
Wilson's economic gamble
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