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'ReadingTrotsky inspired me to enter politics' - Blair.

TONY Blair has disclosed how he was inspired to enter politics by the example of the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky.

The former prime minister, who remains a hate figure for many on the left, said that he had briefly been a "Trot" while at university at Oxford in the 1970s.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4's Reflections With Peter Hennessey, Mr Blair said his enthusiasm was fired after picking up a biography of Trotsky after performing at a gig with his student rock band, Ugly Rumours. "When I got back I picked it up and started to read it. And I literally didn't stop reading it all night. It opened a different world to me," he said.

"I suddenly thought, the world's full of these extraordinary causes and injustices and here's this guy Trotsky, who was so inspired he went out to create a Russian revolution and change the world. It was like a light going on.

"And even though over time I obviously left that side of politics behind, the notion of having a cause and a purpose and one bigger than yourself or your own ambition - that changed my life in that period."

Mr Blair said his enthusiasm lasted for about a year, until he began dating his future wife, Cherie Booth, while they were both training to be lawyers.

"She was a sort of mainstream Labour person then and remained that literally all the way through," he said.

"That was influential because when we started going out together she was extremely critical of what she regarded as my sort of Oxford student socialism. So she made that clear." Mr Blair also disclosed how Gordon Brown - with whom he later feuded bitterly when they were both in government - helped him write his first Labour Party conference speech when they were both shadow junior ministers.

"It was a very, if I may say so, very intelligent analysis of what was wrong with Conservative employment law and how we were going to change it. But in terms of a conference speech, it plainly didn't work," he said.

"He literally sat down and wrote out the first opening lines."

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 11, 2017
Words:364
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