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Former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Roy Hattersley
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW WITH ROY HATTERSLEY, FORMER DEPUTY LEADER, LABOUR PARTY, MAY 6TH, 2001

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Now what about this idea of another Labour landslide, the Tories obviously don't want to see one, but Labour's Roy Hattersley doesn't want one either, writing in the Mail on Sunday today and he's saying he doesn't want to see another huge majority for Tony Blair and he joins us now from Sheffield where Sheffield Wednesday are still in the first division, good morning Roy.

ROY HATTERSLEY: Morning.

DAVID FROST: Why have you, why have you come out with this rather fetching slogan?

ROY HATTERSLEY: Well first of all I think it would be bad for democracy if the Labour party were to win, as newspapers were predicting last week by 220, 230 seats. The new Parliament would begin with the certainty that Tony Blair and the Labour government couldn't be defeated when the next election comes in 2005 and the idea of a Parliament in which the opposition knows it can't win and a government knows it can't lose seems to me to produce all the problems we've had in Parliament for the last four years which is an opposition debilitated by its own weakness, I think it's the most feeble opposition, the most incompetent opposition I've seen in 50 years in politics and a government that took too much for granted. Heaven knows I want the Labour Party to win but I want them to win in five years, in ten years, I want it to become what Harold Wilson called the natural party of government but I want us to have to fight for the victory and deserve the victory.

DAVID FROST: But the practical sideż

ROY HATTERSLEY: It's more important in one sense to me as a partisan politican, I think a huge majority would be bad for the Labour Party, it would convince Tony Blair in particular that the sort of middle ground politics that he believes in is the formula for the future. And I want a much more radical government, I want a real Labour government, I think that would be more likely with a majority of 50 than with 200.

DAVID FROST: Surely not because I mean if there was this huge vote for the right-wing and for William Hague, I mean that's not a basis on which he would be more radical, I mean it's much more likely to be, I mean that would be a massive vote of confidence, I mean you're talking here that you're wanting the Tories to take 65 Labour seats aren't you and that would be fantastic?

ROY HATTERSLEY: It could be the Tories, it could be the Liberal Party which in some ways is more to the left than the Labour Party these days. But the important issue is not the arithmetic, the important issue is what it does to Tony Blair's psychology, now we've always believed in politics that the large majority gave government confidence to do radical things. In fact it didn't happen that way over the last four years and that's because Tony Blair doesn't lack confidence, he doesn't lack integrity, he doesn't lack ability, what he likes is the philosophy of democratic socialism.

DAVID FROST: One of the other damages Roy?

ROY HATTERSLEY: More, more in that direction

DAVID FROST: One of the other damages Roy though would be, you're a very strong pro-European, I mean everyone says that he'll really go for Europe after this election if he gets a big majority, but if, if the anti-Europe vote loses him 65 seats, if he's in that sort of situation all your dreams of Euros and single currencies and federal Europe will go?

ROY HATTERSLEY: No I don't think so for a minute, we would have said this at the last election and many of us hoped and believed that if he got a big majority and had that enormous popularity for what, three months, four months afterwards, more popular than any Prime Minister had been for I think since the war including Margaret Thatcher, he would have then gone, as many of us though he should go, for an enabling referendum which enabled him to go into the single currency when the terms and the time were right. I think what we need is something that stimulates Tony Blair into assuming that some of the principles which were once the Labour Party's heart and mind are more likely to win him success in 2005, 2010 than just floating along in the middle of the road. Let me give you an example, I read in the papers today that over the next 48 hours the government may announce that it's not going to increase income tax through the lifetime of the Parliament. Now this has a number of implications, the first implication is we won't spend as much on health and education as we need to. The second is that Tony Blair is saying again that the least advantaged, the most deprived, the sort of people I used to represent in Birmingham are out of the election equation. It's not their votes he's after it's your vote, it's my vote if I had one, it's middle England vote. Well I think if he was under more pressure he'd take more seriously and pay more respect to those people the Labour Party ought to be helping most and aren't helping enough.

DAVID FROST: Alright let's, let's get to one very vital practical point, if, if the Tories are going to win 65 seats, if Labour's going to lose 65 seats then, and you have, let's take four constituencies with under, under 1,000, there's Kettering, there's Wellingborough, there's Romford and there's Rugby, all with under 1,000 majority for Labour, you are therefore saying to those Labour voters in those four seats that they should vote Conservative or Liberal Democrat?

ROY HATTERSLEY: No you're asking me the same question you asked Ted Heath, if I lived in any one of those constituencies I'd be supporting the Labour candidate.

DAVID FROST: Well how does your thing come true then Roy?

ROY HATTERSLEY: Well, mostly in a marginal constituency, in High Peak in Derbyshire because by nature, by instinct, by heart I'm a Labour man and I want to see a Labour government elected. What I'm saying is the ultimate result for the country and for the party would be best if there was a Parliament that could bring more pressure on Tony Blair. But were I still in my Commons status and able to vote on June the 7th or whatever it is, believe me I'd be putting my cross next to a Labour candidate wherever it is because my instincts are too strong to do any other. But I would believe, indeed I would know that the Labour Party I want to see, the Labour Party I work for, the Labour Party I helped to preserve during those desperate days of the early '80s would probably have a better performance in the next Parliament if it didn't take everything for granted.

DAVID FROST: And in your paper this week, I mean you're in the Mail on Sunday, on the next page Roy there's a large feature that say Robinson close to standing down over cash from Maxwell, and there have been other things saying that with that, with that sort of scandal going on it would be better for, better for Labour if he was to stand down. If you were talking to Geoffrey Robinson what advice would you give him?

ROY HATTERSLEY: I was talking to him on Friday telling him to stay for lunch? So we didn't talk about this. I would give him the advice that any libertarian would give, he hasn't been convicted, the Parliamentary inquiry has given him three months of the sort of appeal and I don't believe we could pronounce him guilty until that three months is over and he's had the chance to produce his evidence. And if I were a voter in Coventry I would without hesitation vote for Geoffrey Robinson because he's a Labour candidate. I'm a Labour man and I want to see a proper Labour Party in power, but a proper Labour Party, a real Labour Party, a Labour Party which fulfils its historic destiny which is to help the people who need help most.

DAVID FROST: Roy thank you very much for joining us this morning.

ROY HATTERSLEY: My pleasure, thanks for having me. DAVID FROST: Roy Hattersley there.

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