Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Dobson was born in York and attended the London School of Economics where he studied economics. He worked for the Central Electricity Generating Board and the Electricity Council. After fighting for a seat on Camden Borough Council in 1964, he was elected in 1971 and rose so rapidly that he was chosen as Labour Group Leader (and therefore Leader of the Council) after the resignation of Millie Miller in 1973.
He stood down as Leader in 1975 and resigned from the Council on taking up a non-partisan job as Assistant Secretary of the Office of Local Ombudsman. In 1979 he was elected as MP for Holborn & St. Pancras South. His naturally pugnacious style of politics earned him rapid promotion to the front bench where he served in several important posts from 1982; his liking for 'dirty jokes' and conviviality won him many friends despite his partisanship. As Spokesman on Environment and London from 1994 he led the national Labour response to the series of scandals over Westminster City Council and its former leader Shirley Porter.
However, when Labour won power in 1997, Dobson was appointed as Secretary of State for Health. This was a high profile post but Dobson found it difficult to make a significant impact because of the decision to stick within spending limits set by the previous Conservative Government. The government's proposal to introduce Private Finance Initiative Hospitals was highly controversial.
Dobson was maneuvred by the Labour Party leadership into announcing his resignation in order to stand as Mayor of London in the inaugural elections. He managed to beat Ken Livingstone in the Labour Party's internal selection, helped by an electoral system which was designed to favour him. Livingstone then fought the election as an independent, and Dobson obtained a derisory share of the vote. He has since been a critical friend of the Government.
|Secretary of State for Health|
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