Tony Blair yesterday rediscovered the fact that electioneering encounters with the public can prove uncomfortable after a woman tried to confront him during a live television debate.
Housewife Maria Hutchings marched up to the Prime Minister during the studio discussion in Birmingham on Five's The Wright Stuff in an attempt to tackle him over the phasing out of special needs schools.
The confrontation came amid claims by campaign group Fathers4Justice that they had exposed a major security lapse by leaving a note outside the Prime Minister's hotel door during his stay in the city.
John Ison, from the group, claimed that members managed to get past three of Mr Blair's security guards at Malmaison at the Mailbox in the early hours of yesterday and leave the note.
He said: "We got so close, there was just a timber door between us.
"If we were terrorists we could have just blown ourselves up. Thankfully, we were just a group of honest fathers."
However, security were on hand to protect Mr Blair when Mrs Hutchings interrupted his comments on the need to maintain school discipline during the filming of The Wright Stuff by shouting: "Tony, that's rubbish!"
Presenter Matthew Wright tried to calm the situation, saying: "Hang on, hang on, hang on - if you wouldn't mind sitting down", as a visibly-agitated Mrs Hutchings pleaded with Mr Blair "Please, let me speak to you".
As she was returned to her seat by a member of the studio staff, the Prime Minister promised that he would discuss her grievance with her after the show was over.
"Let me assure you, we will speak together at the end and we can go through what your issue is," he said.
Mrs Hutchings, aged 43, who had travelled from Benfleet, Essex, to take part in the show, later confirmed that Mr Blair had been as good as his word.
She said she had spoken out because of concerns that the special needs school which teaches her tenyearold son John Paul Panzavecchia - who is autistic and has learning difficulties - is under the threat of closure.
"Tony Blair was very, very attentive. He listened to everything we had to say. We are going to meet him again," she said.
"He said to me that he knew something about autism. He felt sorry for what we had to go through. He said that he would be looking into all this personally."
Mrs Hutchings, a life-long Labour supporter who has previously canvassed for the party, said she had been inspired by the example of Sharron Storer who tackled Mr Blair about her husband's cancer treatment outside a Birmingham hospital during the last General Election campaign.
"It was the only way I could get his attention and become his Achilles Heel in the way that that lady was in the last election," she said. "Fathers 4 Justice dress up as Robin Hood and Batman, but this is the new way to get issues into the media."
She added: "Tony Blair has been looking out of the country at wars and issues abroad - Aids, Africa, Afghanistan and wars in Iraq - so Middle Englanders are the forgotten ones. The people who have to pay the taxes that keep the country going."
Labour campaign strategists have made clear that they want to concentrate on taking their message direct to the voters during the forthcoming General Election in an attempt to circumvent the London-based media.
Mr Blair's meeting with Mrs Hutchings suggests that it will not all be plain sailing.