Saturday, October 02, 2004

 

Tony Blair recovering

Wow, I haven't written in 2 days! Weird...And you'd think I would have, after the first debate. Oh, well, we stomped Bush's behind--here's hoping we keep doing it! I have no doubt at all that John Edwards will triumph as well on Tuesday :)

Meanwhile, knowing something about heart disease, having lost my 34-year-old brother to a heart attack in December 2003, I was worried about Tony Blair's health these past few days. He isn't getting any younger, and the stress he's had to deal with because he was basically tricked into going to war is trememdous.

So, I've been following the news out of Britain re. Blair, and today's from CNN.com is encouraging:

LONDON, England (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair has arrived home saying he felt "absolutely fine" after successfully undergoing treatment to correct an irregular heartbeat.

"We expect him to continue his rapid and complete recovery," London's Hammersmith hospital said in a statement Friday.

"We consider the risk of a recurrence of the problem to be very low."

Blair entered the West London hospital early Friday for the two-and-a-half hour procedure.

He returned to his Downing Street home looking relaxed and smiling. "I'm absolutely fine," he told reporters.

In an interview Thursday with the British television network ITN, Blair said: "I'll be back at work on Monday flat out."

Blair, 51, also used the interview to confirm that he intended to seek a third term as prime minister, but would step down after completing that term.

"It is my intention to lead the Labour Party into the next election." Blair said, adding that he and his wife Cherie had bought a $6.3 million (£3.5 million) house in central London.

"If elected, and that's the decision of the British people, then I would serve a full term. I do not intend, however, to put myself forward for elections after that."

Some pundits say the move has made Blair a lame duck prime minister because at the next election -- expected in spring 2005 -- the British public will know he is already on his way out of Downing Street.

Analysts say the announcement could energize the battle to succeed Blair, for whom the past two years have been tough.

He has faced strong criticism -- including from his own party -- for his support of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. The decision to go to war led to two inquiries -- both clearing Blair and his government of exaggerating Saddam Hussein's weapons program.

Last year, doctors diagnosed his condition as supraventricular tachycardia -- irregular heartbeat -- that caused shortness of breath. He was given an electrical treatment to stabilize his heartbeat and was sent home a few hours later with orders to rest.

Friday's procedure involvex inserting a catheter through the groin and up to the heart, where radio-frequency energy is used to kill off the cells conducting the extra impulses.

Downing Street said the prime minister would rest over the weekend before returning to "normal duties" on Monday. He will go ahead with a scheduled visit to Africa on Tuesday, the office told Reuters.

Political boost

Blair became prime minister in May 1997 when he led his Labour Party back to power for the first time since 1979. Labour was again re-elected by a landslide in 2001.

He is a father of four children. His youngest, 4-year-old Leo, was the first baby born to a serving prime minister in 150 years.

The terms of British parliaments are for up to five years. While Blair would have to call an election by 2006, the next general election is expected to happen in 2005. If Blair is re-elected next year, he could remain prime minister until 2010.

Blair received a political boost Friday with a win for his Labour Party in a parliamentary by-election in Hartlepool, northeast England, which was seen as a pointer to the result of national polls expected next year.

Labour candidate Iain Wright held the seat for Labour with 12,752 votes, with the Liberal Democrats second on 10,719 votes. The main opposition Conservative Party slumped to fourth place, narrowly behind the UK Independence Party, which opposes British membership of the European Union.

Wright succeeds Blair's close ally Peter Mandelson, who recently stepped down as a British MP to become Britain's EU commissioner.


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