It was twelve years ago today

Tony Blair waits to speak to Labour Party members in his local constituency of Sedgefield on the eve of the General Election.


Doesn’t time fly when you’re enjoying yourself. Or not, if your New Labour D:Ream didn’t work out exactly the way you had hoped.

The night before the 1997 General Election I photographed Tony Blair at his local Labour Party club in Sedgefield in the north of England. The slogan, “Britain Deserves Better” may have changed in its meaning by the time his premiership came to an end.

Thursday the First began back in London with an assignment for Time magazine to photograph a silversmith at the Crown Jewellers, Garrard and Co. Not, by the way, at their swanky Mayfair mansion, but in an anonymous Southwark shed so well hidden even the cab driver had trouble finding it. Garrards were rebuilding the America’s Cup which is something to do with yachting and, as I don’t do sport, all I knew was it had been vandalised and needed repair.

Silversmith at work

Much later in the day it was off to the Festival Hall on London’s South Bank to find a position outside what the world plus dog expected to be the Labour Party’s victory party. It was a long night being tortured by the repetitive playing of the “things can only get better” theme. Blair appeared and said something about the new dawn being broken. I may have misremembered that, I was trying to take photographs, it was late and early at the same time.

By nine, cross the river to Number Ten Downing Street, it’s the next day now and nobody’s been to bed. I positioned my self directly opposite the door to Number 10, two other photographers also on assignment for Time were amongst the mass of Her Majesty’s Press.

How many photographers does it take to get a cover for Time magazine?