Desert island Blair fails to sing to spin-doctors' tune

Labour Party officials last night denied claims that Tony Blair's spin doctors were responsible for the records spun by their leader on Desert Island Discs.

After the fuss made of claims that Mr Blair's bouffant hairdo had been flattened to attract women voters - a claim denied on the yesterday's show by Mr Blair himself - the party was anxious to snuff out the latest rumours. Suggestions from some quarters that Peter Mandelson had had a hand in the choice were, said one spokes-man, "utter garbage".

The fact that much of the music was middle-of-the-road had nothing to do with a determination not to upset voters. "Every single record was chosen by him," said one of his aides. "He knows more about music than anybody who works with or for him.

"He has been working on the choice for several weeks and decided on the final choice last week."

The selection did, indeed, have a truly personal look about it, with records from the obscure Ezio - about an unemployed man's pleas to his lover to spend the day in bed with him - and from Debussy - Clair de Lune, his mother's favourite - holding real meaning for Mr Blair.

During the programme, on BBC Radio 4, the Labour leader told Sue Lawley of his days as an Oxford University singer with his band, Ugly Rumours, of how he met and wooed his wife, Cherie, and he revealed that he would probably send his second son, Nicky, to the opted-out London Oratory School, despite the controversy over his decision to send his eldest son, Euan, there.

"That will be a decision we'll take shortly but I see no reason why not," he said, when asked if Nicky would follow Euan. "I think it was important to do the right thing for him [Euan] and had I not done that, it would have been a betrayal of his future. I couldn't have got up and looked myself in the mirror if I hadn't. I've got an obligation to my boy as a father."

Mr Blair's choice of records raised few eyebrows. The eight tracks - in the order in which they were played - Cancel Today by Ezio, Clair de Lune by Debussy, In My Life by The Beatles, 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) by Bruce Springsteen, Adagio for Strings, op 11, by Samuel Barber, Cross Road Blues by Robert Johnson, Wishing Well by Free and Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Francisco Tarrega and performed by John Williams - were largely seen as being middle of the road.

The programme enabled Mr Blair to show a romantic side to his nature. Along with his luxury item - a guitar - he said he would take the book, Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, "one of the greatest love stories in British literature". If he could take only one record, it would be Recuerdos de la Alhambra.

Asked how he would cope with an election defeat, he said: "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it - if we come to it."

He also revealed that a man - whom he did not name - had bet pounds 25 13 years ago on him being prime minister in 2000, with odds of 500-1. The punter was named last night as George Elliott, a taxi driver from Mr Blair's constituency of Sedgefield, Co Durham, who stands to net pounds 12,500 if Mr Blair wins.

In one of the most personal parts of the programme, Mr Blair revealed how he wooed his future wife, Cherie, when they met while training at the Bar. Both were in competition for a scholarship which she eventually won. "I always remember Cherie being in the Lincoln's Inn library - when everybody else was going down to the pub for lunch, she was eating her sandwiches in there and poring over her books," he said.

He admitted it took "quite a long time" for her to become interested in him, but that, eventually, over lunch which turned into dinner, he won her over.

Music for the middle ground: Blair's choice

The full list of Mr Blair's eight Desert Island discs:

Cancel Today, performed by Ezio.

Clair de Lune, Debussy.

In My Life, The Beatles.

4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), Bruce Springsteen.

Adagio for Strings, op 11, Samuel Barber.

Cross Road Blues, Robert Johnson.

Wishing Well, Free.

Recuerdos de la Alhambra, by Francisco Tarrega,

performed by John Williams.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot