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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 June 2006, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
Labour moderniser
On Sunday 11 June 2006, Andrew Marr interviewed Roy Hattersley

Please note "BBC Sunday AM" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Roy Hattersley
Roy Hattersley

ANDREW MARR: Now Roy Hattersley is a politician who knows a thing or two about the Labour Party when it's in trouble.

A Minister in the 70s, helped save it during the turmoils of the 80s but never made it back to government in his days as deputy leader.

Recently he's been a torch-bearer for traditional Labour, or maybe he would say real Labour if not old Labour. Lord Hattersley, lucky man, is in the Peak District this morning. Welcome. It looks beautiful.

ROY HATTERSLEY: Good morning. Can I start by arguing with the word traditional. One of the great achievements, public relations achievements of Tony Blair and his friends, is to portray those who disagree with them as being old-fashioned.

I don't want to back to '45 or '64 or '74. I was a reformer when Tony Blair was fighting elections on leave NATO, leave Europe, nationalise everything. I'm a moderniser too. But there's a difference between one form of modernisation and another.

And the form of modernisation I want to see is consistent with what the Labour Party should stand for, marvellously explained by Harriet Harman a moment ago, equality she said. The Labour Party is a party of equality. We want a modern party of equality.

ANDREW MARR: How serious do you think the travails of New Labour are at the moment, and what should happen?

ROY HATTERSLEY: I don't think they're so serious that we won't win the next election. But I'd like to get on with the business of winning straight away.

I'd like to start the policy changes which have got to come about, the renewal, the reinvigoration, which makes that election victory certain. And I think it's very difficult for that to begin while the Prime Minister, this Prime Minister, is still in place. I think it might just be possible to reinvigorate the Labour Party with Tony Blair at its head if he was going to be there at the next electorate. I think it would be difficult but I think it would be possible.

Since we know he's going to go there's an illogical nonsense in saying let's start reinvigorating the party, however in six months' time, a year's time, two years' time there'll have to be this sea change, a new Labour, a new leader. I think in the party's interests and the government's interests, and the country's interests, Tony Blair should go very quickly indeed. And I think until that happens the real policy of reinvigoration can't be put in place in a way I want to see.

ANDREW MARR: And what do you think the proper timetable would be? Should he announce it now, should it announce it at the Party conference?

ROY HATTERSLEY: Well you say a proper timetable. What he mustn't do and I think he's got more sense than to do, is to have some nonsensical arbitrary date, I want to do ten years, I want to do more than Mrs. Thatcher, I want to see something through.

If I had my way, if he asked my opinion - which he hasn't done for ten years - but if he were to ask my opinion, I'd suggest to him that he want at the party conference. There's a lot of talk about him saying this is my last party conference. Whether he believes it or not, I'd like him to go out on a high note. And if his speech to party conference this year said see what we've done together, these marvellous things may now have been forgotten.

The attack on poverty that Lord Rogers talked about, the minimum, wage, the extension of expenditure on schools, new schools all over the country, new hospitals round the country. See what we've done together in the name of democratic socialism, very proud of my achievements, but more to be done and probably the torch now has to be passed on. He'd leave on a high note, the party would love him and the party could get on with the business of reinvigorating itself.

ANDREW MARR: And when that comes do you think there's going to be a contest, do you think there should be a contest?

ROY HATTERSLEY: I would like to see a contest. I'm unequivocally in favour of Gordon Brown who is, as I say, a moderniser. The idea that Gordon is going to take us back to a 1945 Labour Party is a canard put about by the Tory Party and some of Tony Blair's more fanatical friends.

Gordon will want changes. I share a view of one of Tony Blair's advisors who said to me the other day, the trouble with new Labour it isn't new enough and it isn't Labour enough. And I think Gordon Brown will make it both those things. It will be Labour but there'll be more reforms, there'll be more radical policies, there'll be more changes.

But there's several other candidates. Alan Johnson I think has got more sense than to stand, but I would be perfectly happy to see Alan Johnson in the highest echelons of the Labour Party. And I think Harriet Harman who just spoke I thought with very great eloquence on your programme a moment ago, there's a lot of good material there. And I want these people to get on with the business of a big majority after the next election.

ANDREW MARR: You started off the conversation, Lord Hattersley, by saying that you didn't think the Labour Party's trouble was so great that they wouldn't win the next election. But what happens if the Prime Minister does decide to stay on for a couple of years?

ROY HATTERSLEY: I think it makes it more difficult. I certainly don't think it makes it impossible, but I think it makes it more difficult. Because there are a number of things which are held against us now, rightly or wrongly, which are associated with the Prime Minister.

The reasons for going to war in Iraq, which turned out to be, well shall we say less accurate than we originally were told, well that's attributed to the Prime Minister. The apparent, I'm careful to say apparent, sale of honours, that's attributed to the Prime Minister. I say again attributed to, it's the public perception, the number of things out there that the people think of as associated with Tony Blair. Until that's wiped away it will be very difficult to continue.

ANDREW MARR: Absolutely. And all the time David Cameron is, it seems very successfully repositioning the Conservative Party much nearer the middle ground in British politics.

ROY HATTERSLEY: Well one of the reasons I think we're going to win, one of the reasons I'm sure we're going to win is because of David Cameron. I mean David Cameron's has no policies and sooner or later he's going to have to say something precise and hard and definite. And that's when the votes begin to drop away. It's very well him cycling around the country being a nice chap, which I have no doubt he is. But people don't vote for nice chaps without policies.

The moment he starts developing something which is precise and hard, I think he becomes much less attractive a party leader, leading a much less attractive party than seems the case today. I don't believe David Cameron is the threat that some of his sycophants in the newspapers make out. I'm very happy to see us fight against David Cameron and I think Gordon Brown fighting against him, telling it like it is, the hard, honest, straightforward "son-of-the-manse". I think that's an ideal position for the Labour Party to be in when the election comes.

ANDREW MARR: Lord Hattersley, thank you very much for joining us. I'll leave you to highly attractive Peak District in the sunshine. Thank you very much.

ROY HATTERSLEY: It's nice to be here, even more of a pleasure to be right here.

ANDREW MARR: All right, indeed.


NB: this transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy

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