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Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
Frank Dobson
Frank Dobson

Date of birth

15 March 1940

Political profile

Frank Dobson's career is one of the most unusual of modern politics, with personal success sacrificed entirely for the sake of the party.

A leading figure in Labour politics for many years, sitting on the frontbench for 15 years up until 1997, he entered Tony Blair's first cabinet as health secretary, where he was responsible for laying down structural reforms of the NHS.

However, despite repeated denials that he had any interest in the job, his high profile London seat and distinguished municipal career led to him being prevailed upon to stand as Labour's candidate for the inaugural London mayoral elections.

He resigned from the cabinet to campaign, but never recovered from allegations that the leadership had effectively fixed the Labour candidacy for him.

After Ken Livingstone's populist campaign, Frank Dobson came a humiliating third in the election, and returned to the backbenches.

Since then, he has not hidden himself away but continues to take a keen interest in his former portfolio.

He has applauded the dropping of pledges on waiting lists which made his life as Health Secretary difficult - and has particularly pursued anti-tobacco policies.

He has also become more outspoken in relation to government policy, leading the charge against foundation hospitals and rebelling over Iraq and top-up fees.

He is a popular figure in Westminster, known for his indefatigable good humour and his collection of remarkable, indeed sometimes unrepeatable, jokes.

Contact

020 7219 4452

collinsb@parliament.uk

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