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Sunday, 20 February, 2000, 13:39 GMT
Dobson: Labour's loyal hope

Frank Dobson: Former leader of Camden council Frank Dobson: Former leader of Camden council


Frank Dobson was one of the leading figures of Tony Blair's Cabinet when he entered the race to be chosen as Labour's mayoral candidate.

Although he has lived in London all his adult life he is a Yorkshireman, having been born in Dunnington near York and then going on to Archbishop Holgate's Grammar School in the city.

He moved to the capital when he went to the London School of Economics and then worked as a clerk with the Electricity Council and the Central Electricity Generating Board.

He entered politics at Camden Council in May 1971 and became its leader in 1973 before entering Parliament in 1979.

He has been the MP for Holborn and St Pancras for 21 years and still lives in a council flat in the constituency.

With such a background the job of London mayor may have appeared the perfect post for Frank Dobson.

But for a long time he resisted pressure from his party to put himself forward.

Hard-working

Mr Dobson was appointed health secretary after Prime Minister Tony Blair won power in the 1997 election.

He had served in a series of key roles in opposition, as shadow leader of the Commons, the party's campaigns co-ordinator, as well as spokesman on health, energy and the environment.

He was colourful and hard-working, once telling flamboyant Tory MP Edwina Currie: "When you go to the dentist, he needs the anaesthetic."

Many thought he would be dumped from the front-bench when Labour came to power in favour of someone with a more modern image.

But Mr Blair stuck with him and he aggressively pushed through a series of NHS reforms.

He suffers from the perception he is Tony Blair's "Stop Ken" candidate who only entered the race because he would have been sacked from the cabinet anyway.

True or not, he has sought to establish his independence from Downing Street and the Labour Party hierarchy by calling for Ken Livingstone to be allowed to stand against him.

On policy, however, he remains loyal to his leader, supporting plans to allow Railtrack to operate overland tube lines.

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See also:
20 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Labour braced for mayor fall-out

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