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Breakfast with Frost
William Hague MP
BBC Breakfast With Frost Interview: William Hague May 11th, 2003

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

DAVID FROST: And now we move on to the subject of the Tory Party, our next guest has been described as a Titanic figure and we all know what happened to the Titanic. Now that's actually, to be fair, that's not my joke, that's actually William Hague's joke, his joke and I'm just returning the compliment. William are you there this morning

WILLIAM HAGUE: I am, good morning David, yes I remember saying that about you when I interviewed you for charity a few months ago, so you've got your own back now.

DAVID FROST: That's right, one, one all now, but all with your material you see this morning. Let's begin with, with this lock-away, or bonding session. You had a similar one when you were leader, does this one seem to you to have been effective and what persuaded you not to go

WILLIAM HAGUE: Well taking the last point first I think ex-leaders should be supportive but should not be kicking around at meetings like that, I think ex-leaders get in the way and that's my attitude generally to being an ex leader in the Conservative Party, support your successor but don't cut across what he's doing and turn up at all the meetings interfering in what is going on. I will be there at the next general election supporting the Conservative Party getting re-elected to power. Do these things work? Well yes I think they do because MPs do need to work together, they need to know each other better this is true with all the parties now, Parliament doesn't sit anything like the hours that it used to sit and it doesn't sit in the evenings any more and so you actually have to recreate artificially the social contact between MPs that used to happen naturally in the corridors of the House of Commons. I think that's an important thing to do and I hope this one has gone well.

DAVID FROST: And what about, the Guardian had an interesting thing about what would be the really, Labour isn't working years ago to the Conservatives, what now would be the right sort of slogan, they had one "it always rains less under the Tories". But what do you think is the single thought that has to be encapsulated into something that would be a believable and distinctive one sentence message for the Tories that would get through to people?

WILLIAM HAGUE: Well I know that a new strategy document, new policy document will be launched this week with a title of fair deal for everyone. I think that is a good policy, I think that is a good way of putting it because a lot of people in our society don't feel they're having a fair deal at the moment. Oliver Letwin was talking about the way law and order is enforced in this country and how often the generally law-abiding are picked on and the regularly criminal are not and so are not resolved, are not brought to justice. And I think a fair deal for everyone is the right idea, is the right thought and the party will be presenting policies on health and education across the board to try to bring that to fruition. So I think the party's on the right lines, I know it's already had a bit of stick on your programme this morning from our former colleague David Mellor but I think the party is doing the right things, I think Iain Duncan Smith is doing the right things and I think we should support them in doing that.

DAVID FROST: Do you think David Mellor, what he was saying this morning, reflects a widespread view among Conservatives and ex-Conservatives?

WILLIAM HAGUE: I don't think so, I think there is much greater satisfaction with last week's local election results than David was referring to. After all these were substantial gains, five or six hundred extra seats on top of everything that we gained before, people say well we gained1300 seats but we, we kept those, we gained five or six hundred more on top of that. So there is no doubt that the party is making progress and you can see it at the local level around the country. You can see Conservative councillors being elected where they haven't been elected for years.

DAVID FROST: Yes ...

WILLIAM HAGUE: But they've now been ...

DAVID FROST: At the same time ...

WILLIAM HAGUE: Sorry, sorry David.

DAVID FROST: Not at all, not at all, the old delay on the line, but at the same time we know from, from, from 1999 and 2000 you know that when you had 33 per cent and then you had 38 per cent that those figures didn't translate into the election result that you would have wishes, they almost had no effect and even at this point there's a UGov poll showing that people who said they were going to, a majority were going to vote for the Conservatives but when asked about the next election it was plus seven per cent for Labour. I mean how, you couldn't do it, but I mean how do you translate local victories into a national victory?

WILLIAM HAGUE: Well I would have given anything for regular surveys that showed plus seven for Labour which is what, what we're getting at the moment, or plus two or plus ten or things like that. You know the surveys when I took over as leader of the party were plus 40 for Labour, 60 per cent Labour and 20 per cent Conservative in my first few months as leader of the Conservative Party. So we are now in a completely different situation, we are getting back to more normally competitive politics and we are in a situation now where people trust in the government and their faith that the Labour Party will deliver on all its promises, that faith is now evaporating whereas the faith was still there at the last general election. So I think the Conservative Party has a much bigger opportunity than it had four years ago at the equivalent stage of the last Parliament, the path now is to take the opportunity and yes there is still a big struggle ahead of us, a huge mountain to climb of course for the Conservative Party, in electoral terms from the last two elections but I think it is doable and I think the most important thing is we're doing the right things, the leadership is doing the right things. So I want to support them rather than snipe at them.

DAVID FROST: Except with Barry perhaps, that wasn't helpful was it?

WILLIAM HAGUE: Well I think in the context of everything we just talked about, disagreements about personnel are really a minor matter, I know they've become the subject of a lot of media attention but they happen in all political parties, they happen in all organisations, Iain has obviously listened to the, to the other people in the party, to their point of view and now agreement has been reached on it. I think that matter is over and done with and the key thing is what is the Conservative Party going to do and how does what one, Iain now intends to go on and sell out ....

DAVID FROST: And what about the future because I talked to a great many Conservatives who say with great certainty that whenever it is after the next election or whenever, that the next Tory leader will be William Hague part two, would you rule that out 100 per cent or would you say that might have be an attractive scenario in a few years time?

WILLIAM HAGUE: I don't think it will be an attractive scenario in a few years time, I mean ask me what I will be doing in 20 years time, I don't know and I won't rule anything out, who knows what will happen in politics in decades ahead. But I no more sit there thinking that I want to be leader of the Conservative Party again then I think about being the next person to fly to the moon and I have done that and I've had that experience and it didn't work out exactly as it was intended to must as I enjoyed it and I'm not looking to do it again or to come back into the front line of politics in any form in the next few years so I think in the context of your question in the next few years the answer is a categoric no, there isn't a vacancy anyway, I hope there isn't going to be a vacancy and I think it is best for a political party for someone who's been at the top but had some problems to stand back and let other people do it. I think that's best for the party and it's certainly best for me because I enjoy life now, perhaps more than I've ever enjoyed it before, I'm in no hurry to change the situation I'm in.

DAVID FROST: Well that's a very good reason which you, you've probably broken a few Tory hearts around the country today I'm afraid but we thank you for being with us, as ever.

WILLIAM HAGUE: Thank you very much David.

DAVID FROST: William Hague there, breaking hearts as we said.


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