IN that book he wrote, Tony Blair reveals how it was ‘risky to lose’ the support of…. … David Miliband, John Prescott, Frank Dobson… Westminster MP Karen Buck. He says he was actively worried about the idea after his decision to support Israel in the Lebanon War in 2006.
The ex-PM explains (p602) in A Journey how he sent an aide to canvass the private views of Ms Buck, who pulled off one of Labour’s best election day escapes when she fended off the highly-fancied threat of Conservative Joanne Cash on May 6:
On the flight I reflected deeply on the politics of what happened in Lebanon and my own reaction to it. Ruth Turner, head of government relations, had been seeing members of the PLP. These were not necessarily the uber-loyalists but people it would be risky to lose, people like Peter Hain, John Denham and Karen Buck. They were mainstream PLP people with links to the left as well as the right of the party and they certainly had their finger on the party pulse.
They were more frank with her than they would have been with me. They disagreed with the position on Lebanon, but that wasn’t their real point. They thought my reaction indicated a profound loss of touch, a failure of instinct, a decoupling of me and public opinion that they thought dangerous and, more than that, out of character. I had always been known as the politician with the sure touch, the one who could express the public’s thoughts and therefore shape them, the one who would sniff the scent of public opinion and follow it with a certain intuition. They felt I had lost that ability and with it what made me who I was.