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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 March 2007, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Alan Johnson: the Labour leadership
Becky Milligan, on the Politics Show, Sunday 25 March 2007, interviewed Alan Johnson, Education Secretary

Alan Johnson
I have impeccable working class credentials but I don't take them out every five minutes and polish them
Alan Johnson

Alan Johnson this weekend told the BBC One Politics Show that he wants to remain as a Cabinet Minister, even if he is elected as Deputy Leader, and that he did consider standing for the Labour leadership. He said:

"I would like to remain as a cabinet minister. I like being a front line politician and there?s no reason why as Deputy Leader I can?t stay as Secretary of State for Education, provided the Prime Minister decides that what he or she would want me to do. So I want to stay in front line politics. I don?t see the Deputy Leader as some kind of party apparatchik I see it as an essential complement to the Leader."

On Gordon Brown, he said:

"Gordon is extremely charming ? he doesn?t need any lessons in charm from me ? but I have worked with Gordon for a long time and I think I can complement his tremendous leadership skills, his tremendous intellect, his great sense of a moral purpose in politics."

On the leadership campaign:

Becky Milligan: Not so long ago about six months ago you were being tipped as a possible labour leader that sort of faded away now as a candidate for deputy leader when the post becomes vacant there seems to a sense that your campaign has not lifted off why is that?

ALAN JOHNSON: "I made it clear from the start I am interested in the post as deputy leader but that the campaign starts when the current Deputy Leader who?s very good steps down, now John has announced he?s going to step down at the same time as Tony Blair. That?s when the election starts. "

Becky Milligan: What about the leadership?

ALAN JOHNSON: "The run up to our conference there was a febrile atmosphere around, it looked like everyone was going to be throwing their hat in the ring. And I thought if everyone?s doing it I might as well do it as well. Then everything calmed down we came away from our conference very united very determined that yes there may be a contest but there?ll only be a conference if two candidates or two three four candidates genuinely think they can do that job."

TRANSCRIPT OF THE WHOLE INTERVIEW FOLLOWS:

Becky Milligan: What about if people in the café talk about deputy leadership -

ALAN JOHNSON: oh do you think they will -

Becky Milligan: they might do,

ALAN JOHNSON: I'll confirm that I'm running to a grateful nation who will no doubt be cheering, saying actually we weren't concerned about the budget or taxes that's the best news we've had all day.

Becky Milligan: He's your archrival isn't he? You're neck and neck with Hilary Benn.

ALAN JOHNSON: Yeah but we're great friends. I`d be in there cheering he's a great speaker as well. So rivals but comradely rivals

ALAN JOHNSON: Well I like to think I can enhance the leadership team, I can bring to it experience I've spent my life, I've never studied politics, I never studied very much but I've lived through a political process that's been quite extraordinary. I believe I can relate to people from all kinds of backgrounds because I' m interested genuinely interested in other people and my politics is about ensuring that there is a close link between peoples aspirations and their ability and their determination to get on in life.

Becky Milligan: What would you like the job to be would like to be cabinet do you want to be - just a link between the party at large and the leader - I mean how do you see it?

ALAN JOHNSON: I would like to remain as a cabinet minister I like being a front line politician and there no reason why as deputy leader I cant stay as secretary of state for education, provided the prime minister decides that what he or she would want me to do. So I want to stay in front line politics I don't see the deputy leader as some kind of party apparatchik I see it as an essential complement to the leader

Becky Milligan: When I was in the cafe with you one of the people there said oh Alan Johnson, terribly charming that would be fantastic especially with Gordon Brown as leader:

ALAN JOHNSON: Gordon is extremely charming he doesn't need any lessons in charm from me, but I have worked with Gordon for a long time and I think I can complement his tremendous leadership skills, his tremendous intellect, his great sense of a moral purpose in politics.

Becky Milligan: Some of the people I've been talking to politicians about you being deputy leader and what they make of it they agree charming man, but what they worry about is that you haven't got the bottom, you haven't got the experience:

ALAN JOHNSON: I think I have a fabulous bottom. But in terms of the other things you mentioned I think that is unfair criticism I don't think anyone could say I have lived a life in some kind of back water as a political student or a research officer I've been in the front line right through my career as a trade union official, trade union leader and as a member of parliament and a Government Minister.

Becky Milligan: People are looking at you as someone who could be the deputy leader of the labour party, what is your background what do they need to know about you?

ALAN JOHNSON: Well you know I have impeccable working class credentials but I don't take them out every five minutes and polish them. So I don't like to get into what my personal life was like and all of that. But you know I come from where I come from. I left school at fifteen, I had to work as a shelf stacker at Tescos before they sacked me but that is another story. Then I became a postman I raised three children on a council estate, you know I've been through the kind of problems people face in their day to day lives.

Becky Milligan: Not so long ago about six months ago you were being tipped as a possible labour leader that sort of faded away now as a candidate for deputy leader when the post becomes vacant there seems to a sense that your campaign has not lifted off why is that?

ALAN JOHNSON: I made it clear from the start I am interested in the post as deputy leader but that the campaign starts when the current deptuy leader who's very good steps down, now John has announced he's going to step down at the same time as tony blair. thats when the lection starts.

Becky Milligan: What about the leadership?

ALAN JOHNSON: The run up to our conference there was a febrile atmosphere around, it looked like everyone was going to be throwing their hat in the ring. And I thought if everyone's doing it I might as well do it as well. Then everything calmed down we came away from our conference very united very determined that yes there may be a contest but there'll only be a conference if two candidates or two three four candidates genuinely think they can do that job.

Becky Milligan: But its not ruled out... in the future:

ALAN JOHNSON: It is really yeah yeah. I mean no one can tell. Never say never in these circumstances but you know I've got no aspiration to lead the party now or in the future.

Becky Milligan: Secretly would you actually prefer to be a rock and roll star and do you think there is still a chance you could Be discovered?

ALAN JOHNSON: What makes you think I am not going to be a rock and roll star. What's secret about this? This is just a holding position before I get to be a rock and roll star. I don't know what could hold me back I've got the charisma, I've got the looks I've got the ability I'm a fabulous musician my song Bad Skin you know the middle eight is "how can any girl want to be with ya, when every kiss she gets just tastes of nivea". Brilliant, you're impressed. This is going to make me a lot of money make me a big star. its just a matter of time, in next few years.

END OF INTERVIEW


Please note BBC Politics Show must be credited if any part of these transcripts are used.

NB:These transcripts were typed from a recording and not copied from original scripts.

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


Let us know what you think.

The Politics Show Sunday 25 March 2007 at 12.00 BST on BBC One.

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