UK Politics

FROM THE ARCHIVES: What Really Happened at Margaret Thatcher's Final Cabinet Meeting

1 Apr 2018 at 09:00

Some time ago, back in 2006, I had intended to write a book about the month leading up to Margaret Thatcher’s fall from power. Part of the incentive to do so was that there seemed to be so many conflicting accounts of what actually happened. I knew I would be able to get access to all the leading players and was looking forward to the challenge. In order to provide a putative publisher with a sample chapter I set about researching what happened at the meeting of the cabinet on 22 November at which Margaret Thatcher announced her resignation. In the end I never wrote the book as a new job intervened, which meant I did not have the time to continue the project. It’s deliberately written as a dramatic, rather than a dry, historical account, but the dialogue and events are as accurate as I could make them.

At 6.30am two men arrived at the gates of Downing Street asking to be let in to see the Prime Minister. The policeman on the gate phoned through to Charles Powell, who was already at his desk. The two turned out to be Tory backbenchers Michael Brown and Edward Leigh. Powell gave them coffee and explained the PM was dressing and asked them to wait. They waited and waited – in vain. They were still there when the Cabinet convened at 9am. They were only put out of their misery when the PM’s Political Secretary John Whittingdale told them what they had already guessed. She was resigning. Tears streamed down Brown’s face as he left Number Ten through a back door, thus avoiding waiting TV cameras in Downing Street.

At 7am Cecil Parkinson was barely awake. The shrilling of the telephone put paid to that. It was one of his junior Ministers and a key member of the No Turning Back Group, Chris Chope. “She’s going,” he said. “You’ve got to do something”. Parkinson had last seen the PM at 6pm the previous evening, before her confidence had been shattered by the meetings with her Cabinet members. So confident was he that she was heading for victory, and that the Cabinet was supporting her, he went out to dinner with his wife and some friends. A few hours earlier, The Sun’s Trevor Kavanagh had got wind of what was about to happen and had rung the Parkinson house to check if he knew anything. Parkinson had already gone to bed and his wife Ann, a close personal friend of the PM, said she didn’t want to waken him. Had she done so, there is little doubt that Parkinson would have hot-footed it to Downing Street.

After Chope’s phone call Parkinson immediately phoned Number Ten, only to be told that the PM was under the hair dryer and that he should phone back in thirty minutes. In desperation he then phoned his friend of twenty years standing Norman Tebbit. Tebbit had been with her until late the previous night working on her speech for the Censure debate. He told Parkinson the game was up and that her mind would not be changed. Parkinson decided it was pointless to phone Number Ten again.

By 7.30am Andrew Turnbull had been at his desk for an hour already. He sat there unable to concentrate. He spoke to the Prime Minister several times a day, but he knew their next conversation would probably be a fairly momentous one. The call came. It was the news he had expected, as the Prime Minister asked him to put in place the formal arrangements for her resignation announcement. The next call he made was to the Palace to arrange for the formalities of an audience with the Queen.

Woodrow Wyatt called to make a last ditch attempt to make the PM change her mind but for once, she wouldn’t take his call. In fact, she didn’t take calls from anyone until after the Vote of Censure debate was over, later in the afternoon.

Peter Morrison phoned Douglas Hurd and John Major to advise them of the Prime Minister’s decision. John Wakeham and Kenneth Baker were also tipped off by Morrison.

Shortly after 8am Denis Thatcher phoned his daughter. “There have been all sorts of consultations and your mother…”. Carol interrupted him. “I know, Dad”. Nothing further was said.

At 8.30 every Thursday morning it was usual for the Prime Minister to hold a short briefing in preparation for Prime Minister’s Question Time. As usual, Bernard Ingham , Charles Powell and John Whittingdale were with her. It was a subdued meeting and no one was really concentrating.
The regular Thursday Cabinet meetings were a matter of routine for most of those who attended them. This one was different. Cabinet meetings normally start at 10.30am but this one had been brought forward so as not to clash with a memorial service for Lady Home, which was to be held later in the morning at St Margaret’s Church, opposite the Houses of Parliament. Normally, the Cabinet would gather for coffee fifteen minutes before the meeting and gossip about the latest political machinations, before the Prime Minister would rush into the room, apparently always in a hurry. That was the signal for the rest of them to take their seats around the famous oval table.

But on this morning the atmosphere was strained to say the least. The few remaining Thatcher loyalists eyed up the rest of their Cabinet colleagues and could barely bring themselves to speak. In her memoirs, Margaret Thatcher recalls: “They stood with their backs against the wall looking in every direction except mine.” According to Cecil Parkinson Kenneth Clarke was the only one who was showing the remotest sign of life, telling “anybody who cared to listen that if the PM did not resign before noon that day, he would do so himself”.

Thatcher’s arrival was normally the signal for everyone to file into the room and take their places, but it seemed there was a delay. John MacGregor had been held up in traffic. The awkward silence continued for an unbearable ten minutes. At 9.10 the Cabinet filed in. The PM was in her usual chair, half way along the table in front of the fireplace. They took their places in silence – even the sound of the chairs being pulled back seemed to grate. For the first time in living memory, the woman who had dominated her Cabinet for 11 years seemed powerless. The aura had gone. Still, there was silence. Cecil Parkinson noticed her reddened, swollen eyes. A carton of tissues sat next to her on the table. While the Cabinet were taking their seats she picked a tissue from the box and dabbed her eyes. The dreadful silence continued. Slowly, Margaret Thatcher opened her handbag and pulled out a creased piece of paper. The Cabinet knew what was coming, but the performance had to be played out nonetheless. She read in a slow, halting, and emotional manner:-

“Having consulted widely among my colleagues, I have concluded that the unity of the Party and the prospects of victory in a general election would be better served if I stood down to enable cabinet colleagues to enter the ballot for the leadership. I should like to thank all those in the Cabinet and outside who have given me such dedicated support.”

She faltered several times and broke down sobbing. She wasn’t the only one. David Waddington, Tony Newton, John Gummer, Michael Howard and John Wakeham were all in tears. Cecil Parkinson later wondered why Mr Wakeham should be so upset, when it was he, in Parkinson’s opinion, who had largely brought about the events they were witnessing.

Half way through the statement she was so upset that Cecil Parkinson, already on a light fuse, shouted to the Lord Chancellor, who was sitting to her left: “For Christ’s sake you read it, James”. Lord Mackay briefly put his arm round her shoulder and said gently, “Let me read it, Prime Minister”. This brief interjection broke the unbearable tension and allowed the Prime Minister a few moments to gather herself. She stiffened both in resolve and body language and said, “No! I can read it myself”.

Norman Lamont recalls her “referring to the events of the last few days and to the advice she had had ‘from so many of you’ that she could not win and should not fight on. The way she put it implied that she did not agree and thought us spineless”. It was after these words that the worst breakdown occurred.

James MacKay, the Lord Chancellor, then read out a short tribute to the Prime Minister. She listened, eyes glistening and red and broke down again. She regained composure and told the Cabinet they must unite behind a candidate to beat Michael Heseltine. “We must protect what we believe in,” she flashed.

Kenneth Baker then spoke in his capacity as Chairman of the Party. “You have and will always continue to have the love and loyalty of the party. You have a very special place in the heart of the party. You have led us to victory three times and you would have done so again. Those who have served you recognise that they have been in touch with greatness”. He, also, was close to tears.

Douglas Hurd referred to this “whole wretched business” and said he wanted to put on record the superb way in which the Prime Minister had conducted business at the Paris conference, particularly with regard to the pressures of the leadership election on her.

The Prime Minister then called a halt, saying she could deal with routine matters but not sympathy. She was still in a highly emotional state and felt she might lose her composure entirely if such tributes went on for much longer.

She ended proceedings by telling the Cabinet that any new leader would have her total and devoted support. It was assumed this did not include Michael Heseltine. “Well, now that’s out of the way, let’s get on with the rest of the business,” she said.

The meeting then broke for ten minutes and coffee was served while courtesy calls were made to the other party leaders and the Speaker. The atmosphere was considerably lighter than at the preceding the meeting. A formal statement was issued by the Downing Street Press Office at 9.25.

The Cabinet then resumed and quickly skimmed through the rest of the normal agenda by 10.15. The final decision taken was to send an armoured brigade to the Gulf. Douglas Hurd’s mind was elsewhere though. He knew that events would move fast. Kenneth Baker passed a note to Hurd asking if he had come to an agreement with John Major about the candidacy. Hurd sent a note back saying they were issuing a joint statement declaring that they had worked closely together in the past but the best way of uniting the party was to let both their names go forward in the next ballot. He then passed the draft statement to Baker who regarded it as a “perfectly masterful composition”. Hurd then tried to catch Tom King’s eye to as if he would act as his proposer on the second ballot. King didn’t get the hint.

By the close of the meeting the Prime Minister was close to tears again, according to Kenneth Baker. She invited Ministers to stay behind for yet more coffee. By now she was fully composed and was keen to know her colleagues’ views on what might happen in the second ballot.

No one was keen to be the first to leave, although Douglas Hurd didn’t hang around long. Cecil Parkinson’s most vivid memory from the conversation after over coffee was when somebody – allegedly Kenneth Clarke – said “we are going to pin regicide on Heseltine”. For a moment the PM looked puzzled and issued a devastating reply: “Oh no, it wasn’t Heseltine, it was the Cabinet.” Parkinson says this was said without the slightest hint of rancour. “It was, to her, a simple statement of fact”, he says. Douglas Hurd, however, had other things on his mind and left immediately. Norman Lamont caught Michael Howard’s eye. They were both anxious to go. While Heseltine was out there campaigning, important time was being lost. After what seemed an age, Margaret Thatcher sensed what others were thinking and told everyone to leave and “stop Heseltine”.

As the Cabinet trooped out of Downing Street, Kenneth Baker, ever with an eye for the TV cameras, made a short statement outside the door of Number Ten, saying: “This is a typically brave and selfless decision by the Prime Minister. Once again Margaret Thatcher has put her country and the Party’s interests before personal considerations. This will allow the Party to elect a new leader to unite the Party and build upon her immense successes. If I could just add a personal note, I am very saddened that our greatest peace-time Prime Minister has left Government. She is an outstanding leader, not only of our country but also of the world. I do not believe we will see her like again”

John Wakeham followed suit. Asked about her mood, he said “Well, her mood is, like always, she does her duty, she’s – of course she’s sad.” It was rather an understatement.

While Denis attended the memorial service for Lady Home, the Prime Minister – for she still held that office – was driven to Buckingham Palace informing the Queen in person of her decision to resign. It was not a long audience. The Prime Minister was well aware she had the speech of her life to make in the House of Commons in just a few hours time. It was to be an occasion she, and the country, would have cause to remember for many years to come.

My new book, MARGARET THATCHER: IN HER OWN WORDS is a collection of her speeches, interviews and quotes. It’s a rather chunky 436 page paperback is should be in bookshops this week. An ideal Christmas present to your Labour supporting wife or husband :).



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From the Archives: An In Conversation Interview with Peter Mandelson

31 Mar 2018 at 15:41

Back in November 2010 I interviewed Peter Mandelson. He was in soul bearing mood. I thought you might enjoy it all over again. It took place not long after hi autogiograhy had been published, and only a couple of months after Ed Miliband’s election as Labour leader. Reading the interview back, it hasn’t really dated very much.

ID: What was your experience of writing your book The Third Man?
PM: The book has been in the process of being written and produced over many years. I wasn’t writing it during the election campaign at all. It had two false starts when I embarked on it but something happened to divert me, either going to Brussels or back to government here. The construction of it took place over many years and I worked on it on long intercontinental flights. I had somebody go through 36 box files of papers. I worked out what I wanted to say and then the real intensive writing and production of it came after the election. I went off and hid with two of my closest advisers and two people from HarperCollins who were absolutely indispensible. It’s not something I could go through again in a hurry.

Why the rush with publishing the book? To beat Tony Blair?
I wanted to move on in my life. I did not want to have such a book come out at the end of this year or beginning of next, when the Labour Party wants to move on. But these things have to capture a moment and I felt the moment was then, as did the publishers. There were a whole series of difficult judgement calls about what to include. I decided that I couldn’t tell the real story unless I told, broadly speaking, the whole story. I couldn’t leave certain events or exchanges or episodes out because I wouldn’t be able to explain what happened later. So, having approached it in the first place in a rather sort of cautious, judicious, discreet way, I found that I had to put in more than originally intended because that was the only way to tell the story and to have it make sense for people – but not in a nasty way. I think that people reading it will feel it’s balanced, it’s rounded. It is honest about people, but it’s not nasty about people and the only thing that I regretted about some of the newspaper coverage of it, was that the book was presented as me settling scores or getting my own back on people, and that was simply not how I felt, not how I wrote it. But I guess that’s the only way in which newspapers know how to write stories about such books.

I said in a review: “He’s painfully honest about his relationship with Gordon Brown and completely up front about his political and personal weaknesses – almost completely. Yet in the chapters on his return to government you sense that he would like to say more, but he doesn’t want to hurt his old political friend (and foe) anymore than he has to.”
That is absolutely right. There was an editor who will remain nameless who said: “You’ve got to be more explicit here. You’ve got to lay it out more fully. You’ve got to be tougher here.” And I replied: “I will be tough in my own way.” People will know what I’m saying without me laying into an individual. Even now, with the documentary [Mandelson: The Real PM?] some of the newspaper reporting is of me being nasty or catty or bitchy about Gordon. If you look at how I talk about Gordon it’s with affection. When I talk about him being a combination of a snowplough and a combine harvester, that’s a compliment. I mean Gordon had, as I described in the book, a certain force majeure. A determination not to allow anything or anyone to stand in his way when he was doing what he thought was right. Now that’s a vital ingredient that I believe a prime minister needs. In some respects, I wish Tony’d had more of the force majeure. Similarly, I wished Gordon had had a little bit more of Tony’s sort of feline charm. If you had Gordon’s intellect, his grasp of the big picture, that sort of forcefulness that a prime minster needs, a determination not to let anything get in his way, plus Tony’s charm and tact, communication skills, ability to pull together a team and his leadership, you would have the perfect prime minister.

There was a growing frustration, particularly in the run-up to 1997, that you were always operating in the shadows.
It was convenient for Tony but damaging for me. But you can only understand me, and what happened to me, by realising how difficult a role it was. Tony was very conflicted on this. On the one hand, he regarded me as a good minister – somebody who could take on a portfolio and deliver. On the other hand, he was affected by people whispering in his ear, and saying, ‘Peter’s too controversial’, or ‘Peter attracts too much media attention’, or ‘Peter’s too manipulative’, or ‘Peter’s a problem between you and Gordon’. He had a lot of that going on in his own circle. None of it designed to help me. I had to cope with that, while at the same time facing Gordon’s hostility from outside the Blair circle.

Every political leader, particularly the prime minister, has to have someone in your role who they can trust 100 per cent. Tony Blair could have said ‘every prime minister needs a Peter’.
Yes, but I was completely un-self-interested and that’s what some people didn’t realise at the time. I was working for the success of Tony Blair because I believed we’d only be elected as New Labour and that we had to govern as New Labour as well. It was the party’s success that mattered to me more than my personal ambition. If I had put myself first I would have done things quite differently. Quite differently.

What would you have done differently?
Not been so much at the cutting edge of change in the Labour Party. I would have been less outspoken, less forceful. I would have spent much more time in the Parliamentary Labour Party, in the tearoom, in the smoking room, making friends, agreeing with everyone, rather than contesting a lot of their views. You know, the problem is, as I explain candidly in the book, that I not only have very strong views about what the Labour Party had to become and change into to be elected, I was forceful in expressing those views. I didn’t really take hostages when people were trying to oppose or derail us. Now, that is not the recipe for a successful political career. Politics requires you to be a bit more amenable, a bit more accommodating, nice to everyone’s face, whatever you say behind their back, just altogether more oleaginous. And I didn’t do oleaginous.

When you came back in 2008 we saw a different Peter Mandelson from the one we’d seen before.
My colleagues did, very importantly. I came back as a sort of elder statesman – somebody who had gained considerable experience and status as a European commissioner. I returned as a fireman, as a safe pair of hands to help the government and the party in what was a crisis. I want to continue as a trusted and respected grandee or great uncle. What’s happened since the election is that we’ve all made up now. I felt hurt, I felt denigrated by some of Ed Miliband’s remarks. Talking about me in terms of ‘dignity in retirement’, I felt as if I was being unfairly treated and packed off rather prematurely to an old folk’s home. I also thought to define himself against New Labour, as opposed to being a development of New Labour, was electorally unwise. But again, we’ve all moved on. What I’ve got to do now is remain a candid friend but also constructive and always loyal. I was always loyal. I started at the beginning of my career, my full-time career in politics, as very loyal to Neil Kinnock, even though I didn’t agree with everything he was saying and doing. Nonetheless I thought he was tremendously courageous and bold in the leadership he gave to the party. I ended up equally as loyal to Gordon Brown who I didn’t agree with entirely either and I will be loyal to Ed Miliband because that’s how I am. I don’t want to become a sort of irritant or a backseat driver. I want to continue as I began when I returned in 2008.

Ed Miliband, during his leadership campaign, was playing to the people who were voting for him.
He has a very strong character and personality, as his brother discovered. He has strong personal qualities and something that people don’t realise is that when I came back in 2008, the colleague with whom I spent most time in the cabinet was Ed Miliband – partly because he was a neighbour in North London and partly because he went out of his way to befriend me. He really wanted to bury the hatchet and to put to rest all that he did for Gordon against Tony and among the Brownites against the Blairites.

People tend to forget him in that. Everyone thinks it was all Ed Balls.
He played his part, but he also wanted to put it behind him, and by befriending me and by spending so much time with me, he succeeded in that. I didn’t realise he had such strong leadership ambition. For me, the sort of default candidate and next leader was David. To be honest, I didn’t really think that seriously about Ed as a would-be leader. And as I said I spent much more time with Ed, and Ed was going out of his way to be more friendly towards me. But that again shows some of Ed’s cleverness.

Or deviousness. But it’s interesting that you didn’t identify him as a leader. Do you think he actually has what it takes to be a leader?
The fact that he came forward and challenged his brother, and conducted such a strong campaign, shows that he does have what is needed in politics to be the number one person. The one piece of advice I gave at the beginning of the leadership contest, was that he shouldn’t say anything to win the vote of the party that might make it subsequently more difficult to win the votes of the country.

But he ignored that advice didn’t he?
He ignored that advice but he’s made up for it since.

You’re one of the few people in politics who is listened to. Everything you say, people are interested in. You have an ability to get media coverage when you don’t need to.
That’s why I have to use my interventions sparingly and judiciously. I want to offer counsel to the new generation of Labour leaders and activists. I want to pass on my experience and my wisdom – not to interfere, not to try to rock the boat or drive the car from the backseat. Having come back as a safe pair of hands, I want to continue as such. It won’t stop me being candid in how I engage in Labour Party debates. But when you’re in a position like mine you have to weigh your words. I want to be trusted and respected for what I am and what I say, not regarded as somebody who just can’t bear to move on.

Trusted and respected by whom? Labour colleagues or the political classes generally?
By the new generation of Labour leaders and activists. I’m not going to say things I don’t agree with. When I was being interviewed recently, somebody asked me if I agreed with David Cameron’s big society idea. I said look back to the Progress lecture that I delivered in September 2009 and you will see the argument I made then that we have to maintain the quality and performance of our public services within new spending constraints. Their productivity, efficiency, accountability and tailoring them to the needs of individuals had to be achieved not by simply spending more money but by reforming them. The last thing I said was that you will find many of the ways in which we seek to change public services coming from within the communities, from the people who depend on these public services. That requires, I said in September 2009, a new path between those who deliver public services and those who use them, and depend on them. I said that long before David Cameron came up with his big society concept. It was reported in one newspaper as “Peter Mandelson praises David Cameron” but that’s politics. That’s creating a story. I can live with that. It is better than being ignored altogether.

Have you decided what you’re going to do now?
I’m not quite sure, but among other things I have to earn a living. I don’t have an income anymore.

I’ve always imagined that you might well become chairman of some big company, but would that excite you as much as politics does?
In the documentary you can see the sort of pressure I was operating under in the last two years as a minister in my department or the industrial policies and the interventions that I was trying to make – the time I spent in No 10. I was trying to support Gordon and help to manage different aspects of our communications and then our election campaign itself. I hear myself saying in that documentary: “How will I ever live without that pressure?”

Is it a constant adrenaline rush?
I’m not sure that rush is the word. It’s more like an ever-flowing river. And I will find [not having that] difficult.

Have you found it difficult in the last six months?
I know I should say to you that I’ve adjusted, I’ve moved on, I’m happy, I’m looking to the future with confidence. But the truth is that I feel a sense of bereavement for our government. Personally, I feel like a rather displaced individual and I’m not coping perfectly. But my word, I would have been in a much, much worse position if I hadn’t written a book and had that to talk about and do events about. It is a bit of therapy, but I also thought it was an interesting story and a historical account that needed to be given. I not only had a ringside seat but I was in the ring for a lot of the time. If you’re going to write the sort of book I’ve published without being vain about it, politics and how we’ve seen how we can understand the past and see the future, would have been the poorer.

I don’t know if you’ve ever read a book by Richard Nixon called In The Arena? It explains how you have to be in the arena to achieve anything. You can’t just stand on the sidelines and commentate. But can you get that back?
You have to be a Member of Parliament, in the House of Commons rather than the Lords. That is the essential platform and qualification for anyone who wants to be influential in British politics.

Gordon Brown did bring some people in from outside Parliament, but it didn’t really work, did it?
It certainly did work.

It did in Ali Darzi’s case but the others didn’t last very long.
Absolutely wrong, I totally disagree with that. It worked in Darzi’s case, Alan West’s case, Mark Malloch Brown … Mark had bigger potential and could have been used more.

They all buggered off after a year.
In my department both Shriti Vadera and Mervyn Davies made really important policy contributions.

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in meetings with you and Shriti…
We got on well.

Really? She has a certain reputation.
She certainly does. It is well deserved. I respected her and she respected me.

Have you ruled out a fourth comeback?
I tend not to rule out anything in politics, given my roller-coaster career. Would you predict anything? I don’t think so. But I’m not going to sit by the telephone. I’m not going to hang around in expectation or with some sort of entitlement. I will find other things to do in my life – things that I enjoy, find stimulating or important, but also enable me to earn a living. If you were to ask me though, whether fundamentally I’d rather be in public service or the private sector … I’m a public service man. I was brought up in that way and that set of values and motives will never leave me.

If there was a vacancy, would you be interested in the job of EU High Representative?
I wanted to do the job. I couldn’t because I was a member of the government who had been called back. To be called back and then to leave a year early would have been impossible. I’m honest about what I say about it in my book. In the circumstances, with David Miliband not taking it, we would have been better to have an economic portfolio on the Commission. But I don’t expect it to become vacant so it’s a hypothetical question which is left hanging in the air.

Let’s talk about the election. There was a time when a lot of people in the Conservatives feared that you might have pulled it off.
We didn’t nearly pull it off. We got the worst result in electoral share.

There was a time at the beginning of the year when it looked as if it could be possible. The Tories were really in the doldrums. The polls were tightening, and a lot of us thought it could happen.
First of all, the Tories were never in “the doldrums”. Secondly, they were making the mistakes that arrogant people often make in politics. They just thought they had to sit tight and allow their opponents to lose the election. When the spotlight fell on them, people found them wanting. There wasn’t enough there. There wasn’t enough substance. There wasn’t enough policy, too few ideas. Also people felt that, for all his brave words, David Cameron had not actually changed, let alone transformed the Conservative Party, and they didn’t want the old Conservative Party back. We could have taken advantage if we’d had a more credible and acceptable position on the deficit. Gordon got the economics broadly right in the financial crisis but he got some of the politics wrong. He seemed to be the guy who was good for the war but not so good for the peace. I said to him on one occasion: “You’re likely to become the Churchill of this.” The guy whose strengths the public recognised in fighting the crisis but they didn’t think was the right person for the next leap forward.

I bet that went down well…
You don’t understand the relationship I had with Gordon. I can say these things to Gordon. You don’t have to sound nasty or spiteful when you say these things. You can have a perfectly good conversation with somebody you’ve known for 25 or 30 years.

But when you read your book, and indeed Alastair Campbell’s diaries, between 1994 and your second resignation, you clearly thought the man wasn’t fit for the job and you advised Tony Blair to get rid of him at one point.
I didn’t advise him to get rid of him. I advised him to reshuffle him. Alastair’s record is a diary. What you are reading is night after night the world according to Alastair’s mind and head as it was then. Mine is a more reflective and analytical book. Drawing yes, on my experiences and what happened, but I hope giving a balanced account. That’s why I include Gordon’s own words on how he saw the situation, why he found it so frustrating, why it was driving him so mad. Just as it was totally aggravating for Tony as well. You see it from both sides.
Tony Blair was being very weak. No, not being very weak. Managing a situation which he was unable completely to cure.

He could have cured it by being stronger. Every time he seemed to give in to Gordon Brown.
It’s very easy for an outsider – and we are all outsiders if we’re not the PM – to say of a prime minister that he should have done this or that. Tony had to trade off or balance the frustrations of having a difficult chancellor, but also a good and effective one in many respects. And consider the risk of destabilisation of his government and the party if he had shuffled Gordon out of the Treasury. Now, that is a judgement call that only a PM can make. True, there were options. But his judgement had to be about what was in the broader interests of the government. How was he going to sustain it? If you contrast Blair with Thatcher, Thatcher’s cabinet fell apart at the end of the 1980s. She drove very senior members to resignation. They walked out and finally got rid of her. That didn’t happen in Blair’s case. If he had shuffled Gordon he might have created the same circumstances which saw Thatcher’s cabinet breaking up at the end of the 1980s.

What about the broader interests of the country? I can’t understand how you, Alastair, Tony Blair – you experienced these deeply unbalanced rages from time to time from Brown – how could you have allowed…
Politics is about passion.

But this went beyond that. There was something fundamentally wrong about the way Brown would react to situations. And yet he was unopposed as party leader.
In a lot of cases Gordon was right. Gordon came into government in 1997 with a clearer gameplan and set of policies about what he was going to achieve than Tony did for the government as a whole.

He had a brilliant side to him, and no doubt still does. But I would argue that he wasn’t fit to be PM and yet he was elected unopposed. Every single Labour MP knew what he was like and yet none of them had the guts to do anything about it.
Who’s the person who called for a contest rather than a coronation? Me! I was the only person who did. I went on the Andrew Marr Show when I was being interviewed from Brussels and said that the interests of the party, the government and the country would be served by a contest, not a coronation. And I was right. Because Gordon suffered more than anyone from the shoe-in.

What was your biggest frustration in the election campaign?
We certainly had zero resources. It was shocking. We couldn’t even use our ad agency. We had no bought media. That wasn’t the case in 1987, let alone 1997. My second frustration was that we had failed to hammer out an electoral strategy and only the leader can make sure that happens. As I describe in my book, that process hadn’t happened. What I wanted was to get the best possible result in the circumstances, but above all to see the Labour Party united and with its dignity intact whatever the outcome. Keeping that campaign together and on track, making sure that we didn’t either fall out or fall apart was quite an achievement, given the pressures. I was the guy in overall charge. I wasn’t organising the campaign itself, others were meant to be doing that. If I made any contribution it was to ensure that we emerged with dignity and, much to people’s surprise, we even emerged having robbed Cameron of an overall majority.

That was a surprise to you? You thought that he was going to win.
Of course it was a surprise, because it’s not happened in British politics. It hadn’t happened since 1974 and even that was a real flash in the pan.

You did not plan at all for a hung Parliament?
The polls did not indicate that would be the outcome. We could and should have started paving the way for that eventuality not weeks before, but years before. We needed a good relationship with the Liberal Democrats of the sort that Cameron and Clegg were able to create. We hadn’t put in that spadework.

In his book on the coalition, David Laws contrasts what your negotiating team were able to do with the Tories.
Do you know the difference? The Tories had a head-start. They had very good personal chemistry between their two leaders.

But they hadn’t beforehand. They barely knew each other.
No, no, no, no. Please. They did. I know a little bit more about this. Thirdly, and most importantly, that was the outcome they wanted.

I shall send you a copy of the book, because I think you’ll find it very interesting. Obviously he’s writing it from a Liberal Democrat perspective.
I’m sorry, Iain. With the number of seats that we won, we were not in a good second place. We lost that election and to put together such a coalition and stay in power on the back of it would have been very hard, if not impossible, for us to achieve. I stand by my view. It’s not a criticism, it’s an observation. Chemistry between Cameron and Clegg was good.

You heard the conversation initially between Brown and Clegg, didn’t you? You were there.
I heard all the conversations and indeed, was in the key meeting…

… and it was a one-way conversation.
It’s not a one-way conversation. Iain, please don’t introduce your views and prejudices … It was a perfectly good conversation between Gordon and Nick. But it wasn’t one in my view that was going to deliver a Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition. The personalities were wrong. The politics didn’t stack up. But don’t blame me or the Labour Party. It would have helped and made a difference if we’d won 20 or 25 more seats. But we didn’t.

What book are you reading at the moment? Niall Ferguson’s biography of Siegmund Warburg.
What’s your favourite view? The view from Anacapri towards Naples.
Best friend in politics? Roger Liddle.
What food do you most enjoy? Apart from mushy peas obviously? Unfattening Italian.
What do you do to relax? Read, run and cycle, and look at DVDs, but very infrequently.
What makes you cry? Emotion.
Invite four people to a dinner party, living or dead. In politics they would be people like Hugh Gaitskell, Harold Macmillan, Jack or Bobby Kennedy. What women would I invite? Difficult. Oh, Barbara Castle.
Which period in history would you most liked to have lived through? The Second World War and the Labour government that followed.
If the producers of Strictly Come Dancing come knocking at your door, what might you say? They had their opportunity and now they can get lost.



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Iain Marks International Women's Day in an hour long discussion

With Harriet Harman, Zoe Williams, Cristina Odone and Mary Beard

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BOOK REVIEW: 'What Happened' by Hillary Clinton

30 Mar 2018 at 17:15

There are some books you finish reading and think to yourself: “Why in God’s name was this book written?” In the case of Hillary Clinton, I suppose it was cheaper than paying for hours of therapy.

Half way through this book I wanted to give up. Indeed, I had that thought after the first chapter, to be honest. Up to 75% of the way through I intended to start this review with the words: “This is one of the worst political books I have ever read.” The reason? Because every page was a vain search for the answer to the question: why did I lose? And that’s what makes this a bad book, because she never really comes up with the answer. It’s a very human thing to examine the reasons why you lost. I’ve been through it myself. The difference is, I came up with the answers and she didn’t. Much of the book is devoted to a plethora of reasons for her defeat, which Hillary herself had nothing to do with. A presidential election gives the voter a binary choice. And when the choice is Trump or Clinton and Clinton loses, it’s natural to do a bit of self examination. The closes she gets is on page 399 when shw writes:

“I have come to terms with the fact that a lot of people – millions and millions of people – decided they just didn’t like me. Imagine what it feels like. It hurts. And it’s a hard thing to accept. But there’s no getting around it.”

She scratches the surface of trying to understand why so many voters took against her. But she curiously takes comfort from the fact that although she lost the election, she won the popular vote. She shouldn’t. She won votes in the wrong places. Her campaign was a disaster in planning, execution and targetting. And she didn’t have the political dexterity or political acumen to turn political threats into opportunities.

There are 18 chapters in this book. Only three of them are worth reading. The chapter on the email scandal is worth it – her ire against James Comey is real – but the best chapter in the book is titled “Trolls, Bots, Fake News and Real Russians”. In these pages Clinton looks at Russian involvement in the election of the Russian state and Vladimir Putin in particular, she analyses his motives and methods and very concerning it is too. She’s obviously researched the issue incredibly well and anyone reading this chapter will find it utterly compelling and convincing. Given recent events it is clear that a pattern is emerging. Her analysis of Trump’s motivations for being so positive about Putin may be written off as the rantings of a political opponent, but that would be to misjudge what Clinton writes.

I do wonder how much of this book Hillary Clinton wrote herself. The folksy style is just not her – or at least not the ‘her’ we all know. Given that in normal circumstances I’d be a Republican supporter, you may think I write this with right of centre motivations in mind. Not at all. Given that the Republican Party is now more of a religious sect than a mianstream political party, I’m someone who would have voted Democrat for the last three presidential elections. I would have voted for Hillary. Unfortunately this book demonstrates all the reasons so many other people didn’t.

I did not enjoy this book, but I suppose I am glad I read it. It confirmed a lot of what I had thought about Clinton and it confirmed my view that she still doesn’t really understand why she lost, and her part in it. But most important of all it issues a stark warning for the future about dealing with the cyber threat from Russia. And that’s why this book does us all a service. So skip the other chapters. Just read that one.



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LBC Book Club: Iain talks to Amanda Prowse

Amanda Prowse talks about her new novel A LITTLE LOVE

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ConHome Diary: The Weasel Words of David Gauke, Theresa's Great Fortnight & Oblivion Beckons for UKIP

30 Mar 2018 at 13:32

I’m afraid David Gauke’s weasel excuses for not himself launching a judicial review on the John Worboys case just won’t wash. It should never have been left to two of his victims to have to bring the case, and no amount of wriggling on the part of the Justice Secretary will change that. Sometimes politicians have to lay the law down to their civil servants and advisors, even if political risk is involved. If the victims could win a judicial review then I’m damned sure the Justice Secretary could have if he and his department had deployed the correct arguments. On the day that the victims launched their crowdfunding appeal listeners on my show raised a five figure sum. One of the victims messaged me on Wednesday, following the verdict, to say that without us doing that they could never have launched the appeal. I am proud to have played a part in enabling them to go ahead, but I am ashamed that the system let them down so badly. It’s now up to David Gauke to put that right. And quickly.
Ukip really does have a deathwish. This week they drew up the rules of their latest leadership election. They make for interesting reading, especially through the prism of ensuring that only candidates unpopular with the electorate will be able to stand. Each candidate must put down a deposit of a whopping £7,000, and must have either served as an MEP or stood for Parliament, and have continuous party membership of at least five years. Well that rules out Suzanne Evans and Patrick O’Flynn. Which I imagine was the point.
Betway have already closed the betting on the contest and have made acting leader Gerard Batten the favourite. He’s been largely anonymous since taking over the post, possibly because he has had to concentrate on rescuing the party’s finances. It’s entirely possible the party could be bankrupt by the time voting closes, given they have to find £170,000 to pay to the High Court over a disastrous libel action brought by one of their MEPs Jane Collins against three Labour MPs.
So what happens if Gerard Batten wins? To quote the famous song, the only way is up. The party is down to 1% in the polls and is likely to lose very single councillor it won back at its high watermark in 2014. If Batten is to make any headway surely he has to do things. First, abandon the anti muslim obsessiveness. Second, sack the odious Alan Craig, who was laughably appointed as Education and Family spokesman. The man is a Christian fundamentalist who has a record of religious bigotry and believes in gay cure therapy. I know several people who have left UKIP following his appointment. I hope there are many more who will follow.

I can’t say I am surprised that Mark Zuckerburg has turned down the DCMS Select Committee’s invitation to appear before them. If you write a rudely worded letter to someone, don’t be surprised if they give you middle finger.
I doubt there are many people who can deny that Theresa May has had her best fortnight in her time as Prime Minister. In fact, it’s so good that it wouldn’t surprise me if, on her walking holiday in north Wales, she decided to call an election. I jest, of course, but had last week’s disastrous election hadn’t happened I suspect there would be a lot of election speculation going on right now. She’s secured the Brexit deal a lot of people predicted could never happen, and she’s show real leadership in her reaction against the nerve agent attack in Salisbury. Her diplomatic skills have been on display for all to see. For nearly 30 countries to expel Russian spies is unprecedented, and it is almost entirely due to the way Theresa May had led Britain’s diplomatic efforts. The Foreign Office deserve a lot of praise too. Nick Boles tweeted about the fact that in January he went on record criticising the prime minister for a lack of domestic policy agenda and for a lack of ‘grip’. On Tuesday he followed that up by declaring he was now satisfied that a firm grip was on the tiller and domestic policy ws firmly back on the agenda. Long may it continue.

Alex Salmond’s RT show goes from bad to worse. I’ve just had a press release to inform me that his star guest this week is Lembit Opik. Need I say more. The sooner this sorry show is pulled from the RT schedule the better. It will leave Alex time to try to recover his reputation. To take the Kremlin rouble at this time is simply unforgiveable. In other times we’d have dubbed him ‘Lord Haw Haw’. I hope any Conservative MP who features on this channel in future will face deselection from their local party. All they achieve is to give succour and support to a rogue state. A state which is fast becoming an enemy state.
I was going to write a vicious denunciation of Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to anti-semitism and explain why he’s not fit to be Prime Minister. But why bother. He’s done it so well himself.

If you live near Bath I’ll be appearing at the Bath Festival with Jacqui Smith, where we’re recording a live edition of our FOR THE MANY podcast. It’s at 11am on Sunday 20 May. Do visit the festival website if you’d like to come to see us.



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Iain plays umpire in Brooks Newmark v Alexander Nekrassoc

Seconds out...

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Book Review: 'Winning Here' by Chris Rennard

27 Mar 2018 at 15:40

It may have taken my 15 years, but I always get my man in the end. Back in 2003 I asked Chris Rennard to write a book about the art of political campaigning. If my memory is correct, he liked the idea but didn’t feel he could do it while still working actively for the LibDems. He’s now written the first volume of his memoirs covering his life up until 2006, and I published the book in January.

To understand the success of the Liberal Democrats in the period 1988-2006 you absolutely have to read this book. Rennard has an encyclopeadic memory for details of each and every by-election and doesn’t hold back in his assessment of all the various personalities involved in the LibDem politics of the period. His insights into the leaderships of Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy shed a lot of new light on the politics of the period. He is especially good on Kennedy, analysing in detail the trials and tribulations the party went through on deciding to oppose the Iraq war, and also the events which led to Kennedy’s fall from power. He also gives fresh insights into how he and the party handled the Mark Oaten and Simon Hughes media scandals.

Some of the best bits of the book concern the concept of LibDem pavement politics. Rennard may not have been the inventor of pavement politics, but he will forever be associated with its developement and implementation. His skill in developing strategies to win both local and national by-elections leaves the reader awestruck. When he was in charge of by-elections the LibDems would invariably win them. Nowadays they rarely do. There’s a reason for that. Rennard isn’t in charge any longer, and people who think they know better than him aren’t fit to lick his electoral boots.

Some LibDems who aren’t fans of Rennard may think he overclaims the successes he contributed to – or overplays his role in them, but they would be mistaken. I know from personal experience his ability to stick his finger into the electoral wind and see which way it is blowing. Back in the summer of 2003 I told him I was thinking of applying to stand against Norman Lamb in the 2005 election. Lamb had a majority of 483 at the time, and I thought I could easily overturn it. Rennard told me I should look elswhere, but I thought I knew better. He said: “Dont go for it, Norman will increase his majority to more than 10,000”. I laughed. I wasn’t laughing on election night when the majority was announced as 10,606. I’ve often wondered how different my life might have been had I taken Chris Rennard’s advice…

But the real beauty of this book is found in the first few chapters detailing Rennard’s childhood in Liverpool. I often skip reading about people’s childhoods in books of this nature, but that would be a great mistake in this case. I won’t give too much detail but suffice to say there wasn’t a lot of money around and following his mother’s untimely death Chris and his younger brother were left to their own devices. His ability to come through that and finish his schooling is something to behold, given the circumstances. Like a lot of people, Chris Rennard then found a new family in the Liberal Party. It embraced him, encouraged him, but it also used him, and then, when he became an inconvenience they spat him out.

Just an accusation of wrongdoing can render you a non person in the political world, whatever the truth turns out to be. A forty year history of sacrificing your personal life and your health counts for little when you become the centre of sexual harassment allegations. Five years on, everyone remembers the allegations, but I wonder how many people remember that both the party inquiry and the police inquiry found there was no evidence and therefore delivered a verdict of ‘no further action’.

I’ve had various people tell me I shouldn’t have published this book, given those allegations. I stand by the age-old principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. What a pity so many people in the so-called ‘liberal’ Democrats find that such a difficult concept. Chris Rennard has a fascinating story to tell, and he has every right to be heard. Those who think the LibDems have nothing to learn from him illustrate why they remain at 7% in the polls, have lost most of their MPs and have their lowest number of councillors for decades.

You can buy WINNING HERE here


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Iain has a sparky clash with a Russia Today broadcaster

Doubt he'll be back

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WATCH: CNN Talk: Who Would Win a Trade War + the French Terror Incident

23 Mar 2018 at 14:17

We had intended to spend the whole show talking about Trump’s trade tarriffs but then the news broke that a terror incident was underway in South West France…



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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to John Bird & Judith O'Reilly

John Bird discusses his book THE NECESSITY OF POVERTY and 'Wife in the North' Judith O'Reilly talks about A YEAR OF DOING GOOD.

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ConHome Diary: Fish, Leaks and the Art of Chief Whippery

23 Mar 2018 at 12:57

I don’t know the new government chief whip Julian Smith, but if reports from a meeting held this week by him for Scottish Conservative MPs and others on fishing rights, he’s going to have his work cut out if he is to maintain party disciple over the 21 month Brexit transition period. I don’t remember a private meeting like this ever having leaked before, but he is reported to have wondered aloud why the MPs there were so concerned given “fishermen don’t vote Labour”. If he really does think that, let alone be willing to articulate it, it is nothing short of a disgrace. No group of voters should ever be considered beyond the reach of the Conservative Party. In addition, as chief whip it is his job to show he understands the concerns of his flock, even if he disagrees with the point they are trying to get across. The more worrying aspect of this encounter, though, is that one of the MPs present felt it was OK to leak details of what was said. It’s unprecedented for an MP to leak details of meetings with a chief whip in this manner. But it also indicates a lack of control on the part of the whips’ office. A grip needs to be got, and quickly.
In terms of the substance of the issue anyone will sympathise with the fishing industry. They had been led to believe that they would be free from the shackles of the Common Fisheries Policy on 29 March 2019, and now it won’t happen until 1 January 2021. Their main beef is that in the next two quota rounds, Britain won’t have a seat at the negotiating table. You can see why they would be concerned, but on the other hand, having a British seat there hasn’t made an awful lot of difference for the last 45 years, has it? Michael Gove’s only defence is that they should have their eye on the main prize, and that it’s not too long to wait until we can totally take back control. Up to a point. Does anyone seriously think that we won’t negotiate away some access to European fisherman as part of the free trade deal?

So the Pound is now 1.15 against the euro, its highest level since the referendum, and 1.42 against the dollar. It’s been creeping up in recent months, which partly accounts for the significant drop in inflation in February. Brexiteers need to remind people of this, given that Remainers are still peddling the narrative that the Pound is still 20% lower than it was in June 2016. Fact: in mid June 2016 the Pound was around 1.26 against the euro. Currently 1.15 against the euro, it’s down around 8%. Against the dollar it was 1.44 in mid June 2016 so it’s recovered virtually all its ground. These are inconvenient facts to Remainers, but that’s what they are: FACTS.
When I read that the new British blue passports are to made by a French company it was a real #facepalm moment. Apparently in the tendering process ministers, under EU law, aren’t allowed to know the identity of the bidders and when they sift through the three bid documents any identifying information has to be blanked out. There were three bids, one from the current British suppliers, one from Germany, and the winning French one. Ministers will protest that their hands are bound. You have to ask what the point of being a politician is nowadays if they are not allowed to choose a British company to make British passports. Still, all that will change on 1 January 2021. It will, wont it? Won’t it? Or will part of the price of a free trade deal be maintaining EU procurement rules? It had better bloody not.

I really do fear for the future of the British high street. Every week we hear of a chain of shops going out of business or reporting poor results. This week it was the turn of Moss Bros. I don’t know how typical I am of shoppers, but I buy virtually everything I need online nowadays. I’ve even started buying shoes and suits online having found two brilliant suppliers whose customer service is outstanding. Coogan London and Empire Outlets, since you ask – and no I’m not being paid or given freebies to promote them. I can’t remember the last time I went into my bank. I do all my banking online. My partner tends to do the supermarket shopping (thank God), but on the rare occasions I run out of toiletries, I will order them in bulk online. If a 55 year old like me is doing this, then you can bet that a very high percentage of teenagers and people in their twenties are doing exactly the same. In general, people will always make rational economic choices, and if they get a good service at a cheaper price, they will continue to shop online. Amazon led the way in this regard, and continue to do so. The trouble is, they have created a virtual online monopoly in terms of bookselling, and they’re now trying to do the same in other retail sectors. The reason for their success is that they are almost 100% reliable and offer products cheaper than you can get them elsewhere. It’s a winning combination. However, their trading terms with suppliers leave virtually no room for negotiation, and in the end, if they push too far on purchase price they may find they end up killing the geese that have laid their golden eggs.



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A Rather Too 'On Message' Priti Patel Refuses to Congratulate Jeremy Corbyn

Oh dear

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WATCH: CNN Talk- Are We Being Manipulated by Social Media?

21 Mar 2018 at 14:46

I argue it’s no different to the way political marketeers have tried to influence the electorate in the past…



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Tory MP Heidi Allen Goes Totally Off Message...


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WATCH: CNN Talk - Is Vladimir Putin the world's most powerful leader?

19 Mar 2018 at 22:12

As the Russian president secures an overwhelming election victory, is Vladimir Putin the world’s most powerful leader?

By the way CNN Talk is now available as an iTunes podcast. Do subscribe!



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LBC Book Club: Iain talks to June Brown

Iain talks to June Brown, aka Dot Cotton, about her autobiography

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UK Politics

EXCLUSIVE: The 100 Most Powerful Politicians of the Last 100 Years

18 Mar 2018 at 21:49

1 Winston Churchill Con
2 David Lloyd George Lib
3 Clement Attlee Lab
4 Margaret Thatcher Con
5 Harold Wilson Lab
6 Stanley Baldwin Con
7 Edward Heath Con
8 Ramsay Macdonald Lab
9 Tony Blair Lab
10 James Callaghan Lab
11 Harold Macmillan Con
12 R A Butler Con
13 William Whitelaw Con
14 John Major Con
15 David Cameron Con
16 Anthony Eden Con
17 Neville Chamberlain Con
18 Gordon Brown Lab
19 Sir John Simon Lib
20 George Brown Lab

(For full list see end of this blogpost)

Back when I was running Politico’s Bookstore in 2003, I compiled a list of the most powerful politicians of the 20th century. Using a Eurovision Song Contest type points system, the list showed which politicians had wielded the most power and exerted the most influence on life in Britain in the last century. The criteria for inclusion was that the man or woman had to have held one of the major offices of state. So they had to have served as Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Foreign Secretary or Home Secretary, or been a leader of one of the three political parties which have existed over the last century.
Fifteen years on, I have repeated the exercise but used the end of the First World War as the starting point. Obviously trying to work out who the most powerful and influential politicians of the last one hundred years are cannot be a completely scientific exercise. I could easily argue that Nigel Farage deserves to be in this list, but he’s never been an MP. Had I included him just on the basis of having led UKIP, he would only have come in at 80th.
If a politician held one of the great Offices of State at the beginning of 1919 I have also awarded points for their previous positions. Churchill is the main beneficiary of this. Had his pre 1919 career not been included he would have dropped to fifth, one place below Margaret Thatcher
There are 12 Liberal politicians in this list, 39 Labour and 49 Conservatives. Of the top 20, 11 are Conservatives, 2 are Liberals and 7 are Labour.
There are 96 men and 4 women on the list – Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May, Margaret Beckett & Jacqui Smith. There is not a single openly gay or ethnic minority politician on the list.
The top ranking politician never to have become Prime Minister is R A Butler in 12th place, just ahead of William Whitelaw.
Political careers tend to burn out more quickly nowadays and politicians leave politics at a younger age. Thatcher, Major and Blair all became Prime Minister with comparatively little experience of major offices of State. James Callaghan, who was only PM for 3 years, achieves quite a high rating in the list index because he had also held all three major offices of state before reaching the top of the greasy pole. For the same reason, Ted Heath is 7th in the top list, ahead of John Major in 14th place despite Major having served as Prime Minister for twice as long.
Despite his 34 years in Parliament, Jeremy Corbyn only scrapes into the list in last place. If he wins the 2022 election and serves a full five year term, he would still only manage to climb into the mid 50s.
It’s interesting to see so many names from the early part of the century whose influence has endured longer than their reputations. Ramsay MacDonald is in 8th place, while Sir John Simon figures in 19th place.
But who could say what Sir John Gilmour did to be at 63rd place, or Sir David Somervell in 83rd place?
Other positions of interest are: David Cameron (15th), Gordon Brown (18th), Roy Jenkins (22nd), Ken Clarke (24th), Michael Heseltine (29th), William Hague (40th), Nick Clegg (51st), Neil Kinnock (55th), Jeremy Thorpe (60th), John Smith (71st), Ed Miliband (80sth) and George Osborne (88th).
Editor’s Note

The index contains a list of the 100 politicians who held senior office (Prime Minister, Party leader, Speaker, Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary or Chancellor). Points are awarded as follows per annum, in a Eurovision style system…

Prime Minister 12 points
Party Leader 10 points
Chancellor, Home Secretary or Foreign Secretary 10 points
First rank Cabinet Minister (eg Defence, Environment) 8 Points
Second rank Cabinet Minister (eg Agriculture, Transport) 7 points
Minister of State 5 points
Parliamentary Under Secretary 4 points
Shadow Cabinet Senior position 3 points
Shadow Cabinet Junior position 2 points
PPS 1 point
MP 1 point


1 Winston Churchill Con 455
2 David Lloyd George Lib 368
3 Clement Attlee Lab 359
4 Margaret Thatcher Con 353
5 Harold Wilson Lab 309
6 Stanley Baldwin Con 275
7 Edward Heath Con 269
8 Ramsay Macdonald Lab 263
9 Tony Blair Lab 254
10 James Callaghan Lab 241
11 Harold Macmillan Con 239
12 R A Butler Con 225
13 William Whitelaw Con 215
14 John Major Con 212
15 David Cameron Con 211
16 Anthony Eden Con 208
17 Neville Chamberlain Con 204
18 Gordon Brown Lab 193
19 Sir John Simon Lib 193
20 George Brown Lab 193
21 Andrew Bonar Law Con 191
22 Roy Jenkins Lab 188
23 Sir Austen Chamberlain Con 183
24 Kenneth Clarke Con 176
25 Herbert Morrison Lab 175
26 Herbert Gladstone Lib 172
27 Sir Geoffrey Howe Con 169
28 Peter Thorneycroft Con 168
29 Michael Heseltine Con 167
30 Alec Douglas Home Con 167
31 Sir Archibald Sinclair Lib 164
32 Denis Healey Lab 164
33 Selwyn Lloyd Con 157
34 John Prescott Lab 156
35 Reginald Maudling Con 148
36 Jo Grimond Lib 143
37 Clement Davies Lib 143
38 Jack Straw Lab 137
39 Margaret Beckett Lab 137
40 William Hague Con 135
41 Sir Kingsley Wood Con 135
42 Michael Howard Con 134
43 Sir Malcolm Rifkind Con 134
44 Leon Brittan Con 132
45 David Steel Lib 131
46 Sir Herbert Samuel Lib 130
47 Sir Samuel Hoare Con 130
48 Iain Macleod Con 130
49 Douglas Hurd Con 129
50 Paddy Ashdown Lib 128
51 Nick Clegg Lib 127
52 Michael Stewart Lab 127
53 Lord Carrington Con 124
54 Theresa May Con 123
55 Neil Kinnock Lab 120
56 Hugh Gaitskell Lab 120
57 Anthony Barber Con 120
58 Norman Lamont Con 116
59 Michael Foot Lab 115
60 Jeremy Thorpe Lib 110
61 David Owen Lab 110
62 Kenneth Baker Con 110
63 Sir John Gilmour Con 108
64 Robin Cook Lab 107
65 Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe Con 106
66 Arthur Henderson Lab 104
67 William Bridgeman Con 103
68 Francis Pym Con 101
69 Iain Duncan Smith Con 101
70 Chuter Ede Lab 100
71 John Smith Lab 99
72 Charles Kennedy Lib 98
73 Ernest Bevin Lab 94
74 Anthony Crosland Lab 94
75 Hugh Dalton Lab 93
76 David Blunkett Lab 93
77 Nigel Lawson Con 92
78 Patrick Gordon-Walker Lab 91
79 Philip Hammond Con 90
80 Ed Miliband Lab 89
81 John Reid Lab 85
82 Sir Stafford Cripps Lab 83
83 Sir David Somervell Con 83
84 Henry Brooke Con 83
85 David Waddington Con 83
86 Alan Johnson Lab 83
87 Robert Carr Con 81
88 George Osborne Con 81
89 Merlyn Rees Lab 80
90 Gwilym Lloyd George Con 73
91 David Heathcoat Amory Con 72
92 Jacqui Smith Lab 71
93 Sir William Joynson Hicks Con 66
94 David Miliband Lab 64
95 Sir John Anderson Con 64
96 Sir Frank Soskice Lab 63
97 John Clynes Lab 63
98 Jeremy Corbyn Lab 61
99 Charles Clarke Lab 59
100 Philip Snowden Lab 49



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Iain interviews John Campbell about Roy Jenkins

John Campbell's biography of Roy Jenkins is one of the best books of the year

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