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On the extracts from my diaries (97-99) in tomorrow’s Guardian

Posted on 14 January 2011 | 3:01pm

The Guardian asked me to plug their paper for the morning .. so dear readers, go out and get The Guardian tomorrow. Done.

Despite it being a Lib Dem paper, I chose The Guardian to run extracts from volume 2 of my diaires, Power and the People, which is out on Thursday, and orderable on Amazon here now, in part because I thought they did a perfectly fair editing job when they ran extracts from volume 1, Prelude to Power, last year (paperback also out on Thursday, plugs over)

It is not an easy task to get 350,000 words down to a few thousand, so I have largely let them get on with it. It will kind of defeat the object if I tell you what they are proposing to run in part 1 (part 2 is on Monday) but here are some of the names I expect you to see if you get the paper in the morning – Blair (T and C), Clinton (B and H), Monica (L), Saddam, Milosevic, Thatcher, Robin Cook, Chirac, Yeltsin. God makes it in there, despite me not doing Him – (TB does) – alongside John the Baptist. It pains me that they have deemed Piers Morgan worthy of inclusion (only as a sidebar) but then news is chemical/topical and with his new show in America about to start, he is certainly topical. Arsenal fan Piers will be pleased that Arsene Wenger makes it, as does an even greater football manager, Sir AF. Room for a fellow diarist too, namely my fellow AC, Alan Clark.

I think the Tories and the Lib Dems will find this volume particularly interesting because it covers the first two years of government. I think some of the challenges and difficulties we faced will be familiar to them, I suspect they will be able to learn things, both from what we did well and what we did less well. As time passes, I find my perspective on both changing.

But it is remarkable to me that the line seems to have established – not least because David Cameron says it so often – that we didn’t do much in our first term. I think this volume goes some way towards correcting that impression. The peace agreement in Northern Ireland alone in my view puts TB in the top rank of Prime Ministers, and this volume covers the Good Friday Agreement, and the Omagh bombing aimed at ripping the peace process apart. Kosovo was another success story, and the volume ends with that conflict still raging.

This is also the period of Bank of England independence, devolution to Scotland and Wales, the minimum wage, the New Deal, Sure Start, welfare reform, a new approach in Europe, TB trying to get a new thing going with the Liberals. We had our fair share of scandals too – Robin Cook’s marital problems, Bernie Ecclestone, Ron Davies’ moment of madness walk on Clapham Common, Peter Mandelson’s loan from Geoffrey Robinson. And there was Diana’s death, which will no doubt feature somewhere in the Guardian extracts I’d have thought.

Also in this period we had Pinochet pitching up in the UK; a ‘world leaders’ day out’ at King Hussein’s funeral; the handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese; a bloody negotiation to appoint the first European Bank president, a series of difficult summits when TB chaired both the G8 and the EU.

So all political and human life is here. And it starts (or some of it does) in The Guardian tomorrow. Will that do Kath [Viner, deputy editor]? And don’t ever dare call me a pussycat on twitter again, or else you cop it in volume 7.

  • Chris lancashire

    The Guardian – a Lib Dem paper? Eh?

  • Trudi Fletcher

    I just finished volume 1 and here you are with another one. Also read The Blair Years and was amazed how much you left out, which became clear when I read the full volume 1. As a political activist I found the campaigns really fascinating but I am looking forward even more to government. I cannot think of anyone who has done anything like this before – there are plenty of diaries but none from so close to the real centre. I get The Guardian anyway but will spread the word! Good luck

  • Ehtch

    Best way to keep in touch with the masses that matter, is get the Daily Mail every morning. I recommend it.

    Just treat it as a delivery of a comic.

  • Paul Adams

    I had totally forgotten about ron Davies. Now it is all coming back to me. Badgers. Writing sorry on his hand. Rastas. Oh my God do we have to relive all that

  • Catherine Marshall

    ARe you really going up to volume 7? How many has that other TB (Tony Benn) done?

  • Brianweds

    The one para where you list Labour’s achievements in first year of govt show how much of a lightweight Cameron is. his gloss and that of the coalition is coming off very quickly. You can only get away with ‘smoke and mirrors’ for so long and his big problem is that he has no basic political philosophy (you can’t count the botox and the false smile matches the false tan).
    A couple of stories on the BBC website this afternoon have brightened my Friday. ‘Rodent penis bite’ man may sue and ‘George Galloway hurt by Gail Sheriden Holyrood bid (BBC Scotland).
    Surely the BCC have mixed up the headlines on these two stories?
    Best of luch with the book launches thie weekend Big Al.

  • Ehtch

    So he was struggling with his sexuality at the time. Us welsh are coming out more than an average politician these days, it seems.

    And before you have any rumours to spread, I open for glamorgan, with a straight bat, so there, honest…
    Good video by here of Maldwyn, back in 1978, following Wales in rugby, in France you know – oh love him,

  • David Gersch

    I usually enjoy your blog but the snide aside, about The Guardian, stopped me from reading any further. Saying it is Lib Dem paper is a bit rich coming from someone who helped take the Labour Party into a right centre.

    I guess you read your well-esteemed alma mater, as a source of eight on Journalism? Irritating.

  • Dave Simons

    Just before Christmas I went for a walk on a bit of moorland in the southern Pennines, and a few weeks later I’m still feeling the benefit. But in order to do this as recently as the summer of 2004 I had to go through a laborious process of locating the address of the shooting syndicate that leased the moorland from a water company, and then writing to ask permission to walk on this moorland at a certain time on a certain day. The quicker alternative would have been to trespass and feel under surveillance of a gamekeeper, and gamekeepers in the southern Pennines are not usually endowed with much in the way of the social graces.
    The difference between summer 2004 and just before Christmas 2010 was the enactment in September 2004 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000). This bit of legislation from Labour’s first term rarely gets mentioned in Labour’s list of achievements and it is probably of minimal interest to a nation of couch potatoes, a quarter or so of whose children have an obesity problem. Nevertheless it was the culmination of over a century of campaigning, and like the National Parks and Countryside Act (1949), it was the work of a Labour government. The contribution which the Tories have consistently made to the matter of public access to the countryside can be summed up in three words:


  • Phil

    Comparisons with 1997-2001 achievements – which were indeed significant – unfortunately also bring to mind how much New Labour lost it from 2001 onwards after it moved far further from positions that its traditional support was comfortable with. A lesson which the present leadership seems to have taken on board.

    Until the Guardian editorial team renounces its support for the Lib Dems in the 2010 General Election, it is entirely correct to continue to refer to the Guardian as a Lib Dem paper. Goodness knows, if they were really a Labour paper, with the formation of the coalition they would have done so by now.

  • ambrosian

    All credit to you for not flogging your diaries to the Mail (who would pay more), unlike the ‘saintly’ Tony Benn who then made it worse by saying it was done by his agent and ‘nothing to do with me, guv.’