No one comes out of Number 10 completely sane. At some point hubris kicks in and then you get failure to listen to people and to consult properly. We should encourage Tony Blair to step down.
No one comes out of Number 10 completely sane. At some point hubris kicks in and then you get failure to listen to people and to consult properly.
My own recommendation is that we should encourage Tony Blair to step down now. He can take pride in the things he’s done right and it would enable the government to correct his mistakes and leave ourselves ready for the next election. Our government has been deeply dishonoured, our country has been deeply dishonoured and the only way to correct and renew the government is to change the leader.
Most serious people and the vast bulk of people who work in the health services are against foundation hospitals. In Birmingham, it’s the university hospital and everyone in the city knows it’s always got priority, equipment and advantages. Now it’s going to be given the freedom to sell land and keep the money. They’ll be able to pay their staff a bit more, and it leaves the other hospitals with more and more disadvantages.
We fought an election on a manifesto commitment not to introduce top-up fees and I think it’s unbelievable to then just introduce them.
Being in government isn’t the only way to have political influence. I’m reminded of that now I’m on the back benches again.
In the run up to war, I started keeping a bit of a diary, and I wrote a long time before I left, ‘If it goes like this, I won’t remain part of the government.’ But all the time, I believed there was an honourable role for Britain to play. I thought, ‘America’s doing this for bad reasons, but can we, Britain, be an instrument for holding them back and doing it right for the benefit of Iraq?’ I’m glad I tried, even though I completely failed and took a kicking for staying in government.
I read all the intelligence on Iraq and had many sleepless nights and I now think, re-running it all in my mind, Blair had pretty much promised right from the spring of 2002 that Britain would be with America. And what Tony was doing with all of us, with the cabinet, the parliament, the country and me, was trying to charm us so he could get us to where he’d made his promise.
We’ve all seen Michael Jackson since he was a pretty little boy and the torture he’s done to his face, so we can all see that being an international celebrity and very rich can mess you up very badly. But we’re all interested in it because it’s a tragedy being played out on an international stage.
When a famous young star like Cheryl Tweedy gets completely drunk and hits a black woman who was looking after the cloakroom, it’s good that it all works in such a way that she’s taken to court. I think in many countries, and in this country 10 or 15 years ago, that court action wouldn’t have been taken.
Everybody wants to be loyal to their prime minister and their party, but being loyal to a series of errors and falsities is not an honourable thing to do.
When the Major cheated on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, it was like someone fiddling the raffle. He’s fiddling a great big TV programme and he gets caught. It makes you believe there is justice in this world.
I rather like the idea of the Queen’s Tupperware boxes and the little radio that doesn’t work very well. But I think the royal family is in an impossible situation. If I was one of the young lads, I would refuse to take it on. Maybe we need about 18 of them refusing to do it and we’ll find someone up in Liverpool who’s next in line to the throne.
We all remember Michael Howard and we all know he’s right wing, so what do we get? One of his first performances as leader of the opposition was attacking the government quite rightly for threatening to take children away from asylum seekers. So you’ve got Michael Howard to the left of Tony Blair and David Blunkett. What an extraordinary vignette that is.
People keep asking, very solicitously, how I am. But I’m actually having a very nice time. My job was very, very hard work. So I always say, ‘I’m fine, it’s just the government and the world I’m worried about.’