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O Lucky Man
April 2012

Are some politicians luckier than others? In the lucky camp you might place Tony Blair, unexpectedly elected Labour leader when Conservative fortunes were at a low ebb. His rival Gordon Brown always thought himself unlucky to lose out to Blair, and when he finally succeeded him it could be argued he suffered a tidal wave of bad luck, including economic meltdown. But perhaps he was partly responsible for it in the first place. 

Ed Smith, the former England cricketer, now a writer and journalist, notes in his new book Luck: What It Means and Why It Matters (Bloomsbury, £14.99) that the most-quoted remark about luck in sport was made by Gary Player, the great South African golfer, who observed drily: "The more I practise the luckier I get." But Gordon Brown was a notorious workaholic, and much good it did him. Perhaps Player's dictum doesn't work for politicians.

Smith himself rates Winston Churchill as a good example of a lucky politician. In 1931 he narrowly escaped death when knocked down by a car on Fifth Avenue in New York. If he had died then, how differently world events might have turned out. 

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