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BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST HOSTED BY ANNE MACKENZIE INTERVIEW
FRANCIS MAUDE, MP AUGUST 6th, 2000

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

ANNE MACKENZIE
Now William Hague was in the States during the week meeting Republicans at their convention in Philadelphia. He said presidential hopeful Governor George Bush was an impressive man with a proud record whom he wished well and he praised Mr Bush's promotion of compassionate conservatism, lacking it to his own party's common-sense revolution. It's not the first time William Hague has been to the US to pick up policy tips from the Republicans, but is compassionate conservatism a realistic aim for the Tory party? Well I'm joined from Brighton by the shadow foreign secretary, Francis Maude. Francis Maude, first of all, was it sensible for Mr Hague to come so close to endorsing George W Bush, bearing in mind that when John Major went up against Clinton he paid the price for it - Tony Blair's staying well out of this race.

FRANCIS MAUDE
Well I think you have to be wary of actually endorsing a candidate but, you know, the Republicans are our sister party.

ANNE MACKENZIE
He did come very - he did come very, very close indeed, didn't he - he all but said vote George Bush?

FRANCIS MAUDE
Well I mean we, we all know that actually it's very counterproductive anyway for politicians from other countries to seek to intervene in a domestic election and so even if we wanted to influence the outcome, direct intervention would not be the right way to do it. But, you know, the Republicans, as I say, are our sister party and we are close to them, we have a lot to learn from each other and we do so.

ANNE MACKENZIE
Right, so what is compassionate about your conservatism?

FRANCIS MAUDE
Well conservatism, is essence - essence - compassionate and I think this word compassionate is so over-used in, in politics because it tends to be used as a term of art for more state spending, for bigger governance

ANNE MACKENZIE
But you know

FRANCIS MAUDE
for those who believe that to be compassionate, as a politician, it involves spending other people's money. Conservatism's a very

ANNE MACKENZIE
But, forgive me but

FRANCIS MAUDE
which is based on the belief that people are themselves, by instinct, compassionate and

ANNE MACKENZIE
But you - hold on a second -

FRANCIS MAUDE
costs less and people pay less tax, then you have a more compassionate society.

ANNE MACKENZIE
- hold a second - you yourself are using the word compassionate as an attempt to win votes. You're saying compassionate conservatism is the way forward. Now most people think of compassion as kindness to the vulnerable. Your views on asylum seekers and Section 28, for example, couldn't be viewed as kind.

FRANCIS MAUDE
No you asked me what - you asked me what I meant by compassionate conservatism. You introduced the phrase. I'm telling you why conservatism

ANNE MACKENZIE
I think George W Bush and William Hague introduced the phrase.

FRANCIS MAUDE
compassionate. And the point is this, that when the state does less and people pay less tax, you have a more decent and more compassionate society, because good gets done. Most people, you see, aren't mean and selfish and greedy. Most people don't want to walk by on the other side of the road when they see people in need, they want to go and help and most of them do. And when the state does less then people will do more, not just for themselves but for their families, their communities and for each other. And that's how you get a stronger society, not just a stronger economy, and the state does less.

ANNE MACKENZIE
But you see, I think the problem is perhaps this definition of compassion as you said you're talking about a kind of economic compassion

FRANCIS MAUDE
No, I'm not at all.

ANNE MACKENZIE
seem to think that compassion is sympathy or kindness to people who are more vulnerable than themselves

FRANCIS MAUDE
No.

ANNE MACKENZIE
said there are certain policies, fair or not, there are certain policies like Section 28, asylum seekers, where you appear to be less than compassionate, as most people understand the word. Now that is a problem for you if you're trying to present your party as compassionate.

FRANCIS MAUDE
No I don't see that at all. I think a lot of this is about how you talk about things but actually most people, most people who have decent, as I say, and compassionate instincts agree with us that it's quite wrong for us to be encouraging people to be bogus asylum seekers and come and try and be, effectively, illegal immigrants here. We actually, because we want to preserve Britain's decent and honourable tradition of actually providing real asylum to genuine refugees, so we have to ensure that the system isn't abused. But I mean a system where actually people get onto lorries illegally in France and Belgium, where as far as I know their political freedoms aren't at risk, in order to come to Britain, that's a system which is deeply wrong, and most people understand that.

ANNE MACKENZIE
Okay that

FRANCIS MAUDE
And it isn't kind to people to have Britain seen as a sort of soft touch which encourages people to try their luck here. You know, those 50 or so Chinese who died in the most horrific circumstances in a lorry, now that you can say is the result of Britain being seen as a soft touch for people to get into. it's not compassionate to encourage that.

ANNE MACKENZIE
Okay, well we heard Ivan Massow earlier in the programme condemning the party's lack of compassion as he saw it. Now you've played down his defection but it has to be a blow to any pretensions that you have to appear an inclusive party to lose someone like Ivan Massow.

FRANCIS MAUDE
Well I don't see why. I mean we are an inclusive party, we are a national party, we always have been - we must be. If we're not that then we can't succeed. And we will always include people, a very wide diversity of people.

ANNE MACKENZIE
But if you hope to widen your membership, you need people like him, don't you, with a kind of a metropolitan credibility, apart from anything else, to show how diverse Tory supporters can be. He was always an impressive person to have on your list and now he says that he can't stand to be a Tory any more because you're too nasty.

FRANCIS MAUDE
Well I'm sorry if he feels like that. I mean I've only met him once in briefing, in brief, in a corridor in the House of Commons, so I can't really comment on him. The idea that he was at the centre of the Conservative Party is obviously a nonsense. But people come and people go and that's just part of life in any political party.

ANNE MACKENZIE
One of the most damaging charges he levelled against Mr Hague though was that in private Mr Hague was making progressive noises, and is making progressive noises about gay rights, while in public exploiting the suspicion that the public have of gays, which is both hypocritical and dishonest, he says.

FRANCIS MAUDE
Well I think this is all a lot of nonsense. I'm not prepared to be accused of being homophobic or intolerant - I had a brother who was gay, who I loved dearly, who died of Aids - and, you know, the idea that we don't, are not all sort of decent and tolerant of people of a different sexual orientation, people who are gay, there, it's just nonsense - there've always been people who are gay in the Conservative Party and there always will be and I don't see why people get so excited about it.

ANNE MACKENZIE
Well we have to move on to Montenegro, the two British policemen are still being held in Yugoslavia. Some - at least one newspaper's suggesting today that they may be being held as kind of hostages against release of war crime suspects from Serbia. Whether or not there's any truth in that, what do you think Britain should be doing about it?

FRANCIS MAUDE
Well there's a very dangerous situation developing in the Falklands. Montenegro is clearly moving towards seeking independence, that will trigger, one suspects, armed intervention by the Serbians, by Milosevic, and, you know, this is going to be very dangerous, it will trigger a civil war and British troops are on the edge of that as a Nato force in Kosovo, just over the border, where more than a year after the Kosovo conflict ended there is still no peace. We've won the war but are losing the peace. There still isn't anything remotely resembling a civil society ... in Kosovo.

ANNE MACKENZIE
So what - what should we be doing? We're assuming that there is some kind of civil war or if Milosevic does attempt to, to wipe out the government in Montenegro, does Britain just stand by?

FRANCIS MAUDE
Well I think the first thing is that this is one area where some more co-ordination between the European countries and the West generally, actually - including America - of their attitude to Montenegrin independence is rather important. At the moment there are mixed signals being sent, some countries are encouraging independence, others are playing it down.

ANNE MACKENZIE
And should we, should we be encouraging -

FRANCIS MAUDE
very dangerous.

ANNE MACKENZIE
Should we be encouraging independence in your view?

FRANCIS MAUDE
Well I think it's very dangerous to encourage it if we're not then prepared to back up those who actually go for it and declare, because we should be absolutely clear that there is no way, as far as I can see, that the Serbs will allow Montenegrin independence to be declared and just go along with that. Milosevic is making that very clear, everything he's doing makes that clear.

ANNE MACKENZIE
So can I clarify

FRANCIS MAUDE
So to encourage it, without actually being prepared to back it up would be quite wrong.

ANNE MACKENZIE
Can I clarify whether you think though that we should be prepared to back it up. That we should encourage it and that we should back it up as we did in Kosovo, or do you think that we should just stand back and let Milosevic do what he wants in Montenegro?

FRANCIS MAUDE
Well it's a different situation from that in Kosovo, because Kosovo was part of Serbia. Montenegro is not, it is an independent, it's a separate republic which is part of the Yugoslav - the only remaining part, with Serbia - of the Yugoslav federation. So it's constitutionally a different position, Montenegro is actually more independent to begin with. But it's all a question of follow through, it would very dangerous, as I say, to encourage it without being prepared really to go through with it and, you know, I think the evidence of Kosovo is that we were prepared to do all the sort of whiz, bang stuff in the conflict, and to conduct, effectively, a war from 15,000 feet against Milosevic, but we haven't been prepared - the West generally - to follow it through with what's needed to create a, a proper civil society, and so we've got what looks like a long-term protectorate developing, it's very hard to see at the moment how there is an exit for the West from Kosovo.

ANNE MACKENZIE
Francis Maude, thank you very much indeed for joining us. ENDS

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