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Monday, 11 September, 2000, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Dobson rules out cabinet jobs
Frank Dobson
Frank Dobson says he does not want a cabinet job
Failed London mayoral contender Frank Dobson has ruled out both a return to the government and joining Ken Livingstone's cabinet.

The former health secretary said he felt healthier and less stressed than he had done for six or seven years, thanks to remaining on the backbenches.

If I thought he was the sort of person I could sensibly deal with, I might not have become a candidate

Frank Dobson on Ken Livingstone
Mr Dobson, who was Labour's candidate for London Mayor, but was defeated by Mr Livingstone, said he wanted to take a step back from being in the limelight, but planned to use his time to campaign on other issues.

"In terms of health and pressure I feel better than I've felt for six or seven years," he told the Evening Standard.

"I was two-and-a-half years as Health Secretary and shadow environment before that it was all quite stressful, so I feel wonderfully relaxed now."

Lords ruled out

In his first major interview since the mayoral race, he said he was an admirer of the prime minister but not so much of his advisers.

Mr Dobson, 60, allayed speculation that he might be sent to the House of Lords or made chief whip.

Ken Livingstone has offered his former rival a job
"I've said to the prime minister that I don't want to go back into the cabinet," he said.

"Whatever you are doing in the cabinet is a full-time job and you cannot spend a lot of time thinking or campaigning on other issues.

"I welcome the opportunity to step back and say to the government: 'You are doing a lot of good things, but we need to do these additional good things'."

Referring to Cabinet Office Minister Mo Mowlam's decision to quit at the next general election, Mr Dobson quipped: "I might be responsible for Mo Mowlam leaving the House and government.

"Every time I've spoken to her I've told her what a good time I'm having."

Defeat in perspective

Mr Dobson played down his mayoral defeat, saying: "I've explained to the prime minister and others what I think was right and what was wrong. But I don't think it would be to the advantage of the party to start saying it in public."

Instead, he put the matter into perspective. "I was quite close to my big brother Geoff. Three years ago, he got cancer and died. In comparison with that, what happened to me was nothing," he said.

Although Mr Livingstone has offered Mr Dobson a job in his cabinet, the former health secretary said he could "see no circumstances" in which he would work for the mayor. There had been suggestions that he was offered an anti-poverty portfolio.

"If I thought he was the sort of person I could sensibly deal with, I might not have become a candidate," he told the Standard.

Mr Dobson said he planned to speak out on cheap homes for essential workers, regeneration for London's deprived areas, jobs the unskilled, drug abuse, and in favour of greater use of the meningitis vaccine that he introduced as health secretary.

He also plans to speak out about his work with the anti-apartheid movement.

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See also:

30 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Livingstone renews Dobson job offer
05 May 00 | London Mayor
What future for Dobson now?
18 May 00 | UK Politics
Dobson returns to Commons fray
27 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Livingstone 'not much help'
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