Blair's hymn to Galaxy man

Clare Garner
Sunday 04 May 1997 23:02

When Tony Blair spurned the prime ministerial Daimler in favour of a black Ford Galaxy to ferry his family to church yesterday, he may inadvertently have prompted a dash for copycat cars.

Seized on as the ideal vehicle for many families, the Ford Galaxy is the motor industry's latest success. With the endorsement of Britain's First Family, Ford is relishing the prospect of extra sales for the seven- seater people mover. During the campaign, Mr Blair had used the phrase "Galaxy man" in describing the kind of families to whom Labour was appealing - claiming that the party had already succeeded in wooing Sierra and Mondeo man.

Less than 48 hours after becoming Prime Minister, Mr Blair, dressed in a tieless blue shirt and chinos, set out for St Joan of Arc Roman Catholic Church, his local church in north London, for the 10am family mass. It is a service he has attended whenever possible over the past few years.

The modern church, located a few hundred yards from Arsenal football ground at Highbury - near the Blairs' former home - was filled with a congregation keen to congratulate Mr Blair. There was loud applause towards the end of mass, when Monsignor Thomas Egan, the vicar-general attached to the parish, told the 500-odd congregation: "I am sure we cannot let this occasion by without, on behalf of the parish, congratulating Tony on being elected Prime Minister."

A member of the congregation, Elizabeth Pearce, read bidding prayers for leaders and those holding authority. She asked the congregation to remember "those who have power and are in a position of authority ... that they may work to secure justice for all their brothers and sisters".

Mr Blair, a practising Anglican, stayed in his pew while his wife, Cherie, and their three children, all four of whom are Catholic - took Communion.

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