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Shadow Foreign Secretary Francis Maude
Shadow Foreign Secretary Francis Maude
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST HOSTED BY PETER SISSONS INTERVIEW: FRANCIS MAUDE MP SHADOW FOREIGN SECRETARY

AUGUST 12TH, 2001

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

PETER SISSONS:
All eyes are on the current shadow cabinet, most of whom originally threw their collective weight behind Michael Portillo. Now some of those supporters have joined forces by announcing their intention to set up a new policy forum away from the auspices of Central Office and here to tell us why, in his first television interview since Mr Portillo dipped out of the race, is the shadow foreign secretary Francis Maude. Good morning, Francis.

FRANCIS MAUDE:
Good morning.

PETER SISSONS:
So Portillo drops out but the court Portillistas live on to carry forward his ideas?

FRANCIS MAUDE:
Well it's actually much less about Michael Portillo than about the agenda for change. I think all of us after the last election realised quite how desperate the position of the Conservative Party is and what really serious, radical, deep-rooted changes there need to be in our party if we are to have a chance of winning again. In fact, if we are to arrest the relative decline, and so what we are determined is that the agenda for change, the need for really deep change in the party, that continues, that it isn't lost with with

PETER SISSONS:
A party within the party?

FRANCIS MAUDE:
No, no.

PETER SISSONS:
Will be the allegation ...

FRANCIS MAUDE:
No, I don't think it will be. I think this is about a movement. It's about promoting the change, developing the ideas and promoting them within the party so that we can actually make ourselves an electable party.

PETER SISSONS:
If the leader is doing his job, he'll do all that won't he?

FRANCIS MAUDE:
Yes, but this is actually genuinely designed to help the new leader, whoever it is. I mean the new leader, neither of the two leadership contenders has really been talking about the agenda for forward-looking, modernising change that the party needs to embrace and I think it's important that they should. Because actually one of the things that should be the hallmark of the new Conservative Party, a modern Conservative Party is an absolutely relentless commitment to honesty and straightforwardness, to straight-dealing, saying what we stand for, what we're for. And being very clear about it. And sort of moving away from the old, sort of, games playing, adversarial type of politics that people are fed up with. One of the reasons people are so disillusioned with politics. And I think it's very important therefore that the new leader of the party makes it clear now, so that means both of the contenders, make it clear now that they are ready to embrace this kind of programme of change.

PETER SISSONS:
Well, what's going to be said is being said already, Amanda Platell, who you may be familiar with, is writing in the Sunday Mirror today, that you're setting up a new think tank to develop policies aimed at changing the way party thinks, sounds and behaves. She says that in fact it will be a Trojan horse, a vehicle for the Portillista pyromaniacs to enter the arena under disguise and attack the leadership again.

FRANCIS MAUDE:
I don't think Amanda Platell has very much credibility on these matters. You know we are not actually Portillistas, I'm not a Portillista, I'm a Conservative who deeply believes that the Conservative Party at this stage in its life, as it has at various other stages, has got to renew itself. Has got to make itself relevant to the needs the people see today and tomorrow. We have tended to be rooted too much in the past and unless we throw ourselves forward, and that means changes right through the party, yes, among the MPs, yes, right through the voluntary party, the way we organise ourselves, the way we think and the whole outlook, not our philosophy, not our beliefs, our values, which actually are timeless, they go back right through the decades and centuries the Conservative Party's existed, but our outlook and the way in which we apply those principles to the things which people care about today. And if we do that when we're dead.

PETER SISSONS:
Well, let's get down to brass tacks. Who will you be voting for in the leadership election?

FRANCIS MAUDE:
Well, I'm not going to say that. I'm

PETER SISSONS:
You're not going to abstain?

FRANCIS MAUDE:
I'm not going to abstain but I'm not going to say who I'm going to vote for

PETER SISSONS:
Have you decided who you are going to vote for?

FRANCIS MAUDE:
I'm not going to say anything about it.

PETER SISSONS:
But have you decided?

FRANCIS MAUDE:
No, I'm not going to say anything about whether I've decided, or who I'm going to vote for. I'm just, it's a matter of very slight importance it would seem to me, I'm one of 330,000 Conservative Party members

PETER SISSONS:
It's of slight importance who the present shadow foreign secretary votes for in the leadership election? You have influence in the party.

FRANCIS MAUDE:
I only have one vote among 330,000 so I'm going to keep my position to myself as I'm perfectly entitled to do. But all I'm saying is whoever is the victor in that contest, whoever is the new leader of the party, unless he's prepared to embrace wholeheartedly the agenda for change, for modernising this party, for making us a party that has credibility, at the moment our credibility with many of the electors on some of the issues that they themselves worry about, wake up in the morning worrying about, is so low that actually we can come up with the most brilliant policy ideas but actually we contaminate those ideas because people don't think that we're interested. For example, the public services.

PETER SISSONS:
Can we, can we assume then, that you won't automatically say you'll serve under the next leader but you will be wanting to know when he is elected how he reacts to these ideas before you say yes, I will join your shadow cabinet if invited?

FRANCIS MAUDE:
Well I would want to know really before whoever it is is elected because I think having a deathbed conversion, a conversion at the end of the contest to these kind of ideas is not going to be very convincing. I will want to be convinced before this contest ends that whoever is the new leader of the Conservative Party really understands how deep the problem that we have is and how deep the need for change is.

PETER SISSONS:
But in principle you have no objection to serving under either of the candidates?

FRANCIS MAUDE:
Well I would want to be very convinced that they are serious about change, and, you know, there are lots of ways of serving other than being in the shadow cabinet or on the front bench. And I am going to remain very active in Conservative politics, but not necessarily on the front bench.

PETER SISSONS:
So you and Michael Portillo and others from the shadow cabinet could all be sitting there in a row on the backbenches sniping away at the new leadership if they come out of line on the things about which you feel most passionately?

FRANCIS MAUDE:
I'm not going sniping The reason for saying this week as we have done, that we're proposing to set up this new forum, is precisely to avoid the accusation that this is a sort of opposition to the new leader. Because we're saying is this is actually a proactive, positive message of change that the party's got to embrace and so we're saying that, whoever the new leader, whether it was Iain or Ken, this is what we think they've got to pursue. And that's why we're making the case now rather than leaving it until after the election.

PETER SISSONS:
OK, well now you are of course still shadow foreign secretary and briefly we must address one or two of the big issues which are on your plate. First of all, Zimbabwe. There seems to be a new upsurge in violence and intimidation with many more farmers getting off the land. What's the answer? Is there a further British line, a further Commonwealth line, international sanctions against the ruling elite banning their travel around the world? What is the, where would you start?

FRANCIS MAUDE:
Well, there are some things that can be done. It isn't just the farmers, farmers are having a terrible time but actually there are thousands, tens of thousands of ordinary black Zimbabweans who are being terrorised. People who actually nail their political colours to the mast are being beaten up, terrorised, intimidated and actually lots of others who haven't done so are being terrorised just in case they do. So we should have no illusions about this. The anti-white thing is very real but it's being whipped up deliberately by Mugabe as a cover for his desperate efforts to keep himself in power. Yes, there can be international action.

PETER SISSONS:
Do you believe Mugabe is a racist?

FRANCIS MAUDE:
I think he probably is. But I don't think that's, I don't think he's motivated primarily by racism. He's motivated primarily by the desire to keep his hands on the levers of power, so that he can continue to enjoy the mostly illicit fruits of office, not to prevent any successor from unravelling all the appalling things, and uncovering all the appalling things that he and his cronies have done. So, yes, an international travel ban, I mean, when President Chirac and the Belgian prime minister earlier this year gave a sort of full-state welcome, red carpet welcome to Mugabe, that gave them propaganda material for months afterwards and so, you know, we've got to stop all that. No travel for Mugabe, no travel for his cronies. Looking at their international assets, at their overseas assets. They've been robbing the place blind. Actually and then looking at international investigations into their history of wrong-doing, sometimes going back years to the Matabeleland massacres in the early 1980s. There are some terrible things have been done.

PETER SISSONS:
And just briefly, the Middle East, we're going there next, I mean, no glimmer of hope there?

FRANCIS MAUDE:
No, I don't think there is really, at the moment. Except, because I think there isn't any sign that the Palestinian leadership is at the moment serious about controlling the wild men who are pursuing this course of terrorism. And it's very easy to criticise Israel, Israel, the Israeli government's always a soft target for the West to criticise. They have had to put up with a huge amount of difficulty. They are the ones that are surrounded. There has to be a willingness on both sides to compromise. If Arafat, Yasser Arafat had been willing to accept the enormous concessions that Prime Minister Barak was prepared to make at Camp David, back what, now, two, no, a year ago, then I think the whole picture would look very different. Very risky for Barak to do it, it would have been risky for Arafat as well, but brave men have to make risks in order to make great changes.

PETER SISSONS:
We can put that very question now to a spokesman for both sides. Francis Maude, thank you very much for joining us this morning.

END


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