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Last Updated: Friday, 28 November, 2003, 11:18 GMT
When Tony Blair visited Wales
Tony Blair
Tony Blair previewing his latest visit to Wales
Tony Blair has crossed the Severn Bridge at least once a year since he came to power in May 1997.

It would be no surprise to the politically astute that the Prime Minister had made visits to Wales in April....local and assembly elections occur in May.

He's come for a variety of reasons ranging from Labour Party fund- raising to foot-and-mouth fact finding, but his visits have not always turned out to plan.

Here BBC News Online takes a look at the highs and lows of the prime minister's trips over the Severn:


DATE: November 1998

Tony Blair and Alun Michael
"You're my choice" - Tony Blair greets Alun Michael
REASON: Alun Michael - Blair defended his decision to back his former junior cabinet minister and Cardiff South and Penarth MP as Labour's candidate to lead the new Welsh assembly.

Remember, Ron Davies had just resigned as Welsh Secretary after his 'moment of madness' on Clapham.

HILLSIDE WELCOME?: Not exactly. The bulk of Labour party activists in Wales backed Rhodri Morgan for the leadership and there were accusations of Mr Blair "parachuting" his choice of Mr Davies into the country.

Mr Blair won round one but lost the overall battle when Mr Michael later resigned his post and returned to Westminster allowing Rhodri Morgan to step into the post he had been originally denied.


DATE: April 2001

Tony Blair
Tony Blair faces angry Welsh farmers in a foot and mouth protest
REASON: Farming disaster - Blair's flying visit to Monmouthshire was to inspect the foot-and-mouth precautions and restrictions imposed by his government.

HILLSIDE WELCOME?: Far from it. Blair's words of comfort were met with boos and jeers from the agricultural representatives threatened with the loss of their livelihoods through the disastrous epidemic.

The Prime Minister was honest in admitting that some of the restrictions aimed at halting the outbreak had been unnecessary.

He also listened to representations from tourist interests and was left in no doubt as to the importance of the industry which brings in an annual 2.9bn into the country.


DATE: November 2002

Striking firemen
Striking firemen jeered the Prime Minister during a Cardiff visit
REASON: On the defensive when he dropped into Cardiff for a fundraising dinner.

HILLSIDE WELCOME?: He was heckled by 250 striking fireman as he entered the hotel venue.

Trade union leaders had said the dinner would be boycotted by up to 70 people in protest at the government's tough stance over the strike.

Mr Blair stood his ground in a speech and told the audience that it was part of life for a government to put up with protest, even with those he felt should be close to and supportive of the Labour Party.

He added: "It's better to do the right thing even if it is the unpopular thing, than to do the wrong thing and have the country pay the consequences of it."


DATE: April 2003

Tony Blair
Tony Blair takes a tea break while campaigning in the Rhondda
REASON: Visit to Rhondda, whose Welsh assembly seat was occupied by Plaid Cymru.

HILLSIDE WELCOME?: Well, it appears he may well have got one as the seat switched to Labour candidate Leighton Andrews in the May elections.




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