BNC Text K6A

On the Record: television broadcast. Sample containing about 10493 words speech recorded in leisure context

11 speakers recorded by respondent number C624

PS5BF X m (john ?, age unknown, tv presenter) unspecified
PS5BG X m (michael heseltine, age unknown, cabinet minister (conservative)) unspecified
PS5BH X m (david walter, age unknown, reporter) unspecified
PS5BJ X m (david ?, age unknown, member of parliament (conservative)) unspecified
PS5BK X m (rhodes ?, age unknown, member of parliament) unspecified
PS5BL X m (Anders, age unknown, swedish transport official) unspecified
PS5BM X m (bill ?, age unknown, professor) unspecified
PS5BN X m (stig ?, age unknown, director general of swedish railways) unspecified
PS5BP X m (tim ?, age unknown, member of parliament (conservative)) unspecified
K6APSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
K6APSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 099601 recorded on 1993-10-10. LocationLondon: Bbc London ( BBC1 ) Activity: Television broadcast Reporting and interviews

Undivided text

john ? (PS5BF) [1] Good afternoon and welcome to On the Record.
[2] We know what the Conservative party thought of Michael Heseltine this week, they cheered him to the echo when he strode on to the platform at Blackpool.
[3] But what does Michael Heseltine think of the party?
[4] And of the direction it has now taken.
[5] In today's programme he gives us an exclusive interview, the first since his heart attack four months ago.
[6] And could British Rail be sold to British Rail?
[7] We've learned that the government can't rely on enough support from its own back benchers to push through privatization on its own terms.
[8] And why should Chinese ancestor worship appeal to government ministers.
[9] John Cole returns from the seaside with answers to the questions you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask.
[10] But first Michael Heseltine.
[11] He's been a force in British politics for a third of a century, but for how much longer.
[12] We've heard nothing from him for the past four months since that heart attack in Italy.
[13] Though the rumours have told us a great deal, he's still far from well, he might need a heart bypass, he's gonna have to retire form politics.
[14] At the very least, his influence over the party and British politics is at an end.
[15] Well it didn't sound at all like any of that when I spoke to M Mr Heseltine, near his home, a couple of hours ago.
[16] I asked him first, How are you?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [17] I'm well.
[18] Er medically, as best as I understand what the doctors tell me, er I'm er fine to carry the responsibilities and strain of er the cabinet job that I had.
[19] But you have to do it g slowly.
[20] Take it a step at a time.
[21] It'd be crazy to sort of do a dive in from the sort of recuperative process.
[22] But er er the er one of the doctors who looked inside my heart They put a local injection, telescope upside, he said I've got the arteries of a man of thirty or forty.
[23] Don't don't quarrel with him.
[24] Don't quarrel with him .
john ? (PS5BF) [25] [laugh] So what does that mean?
[26] No need for a bypass?
[27] Because they [...]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [28] No no no no I just lost the tip of an artery.
[29] Closed down, finish.
[30] So there's it w it wasn't close to the heart.
[31] And so there's n the arteries themselves are very good.
[32] But this tip for reasons beyond my knowledge has gone so there's nothing to be done about it and erm er the last test I had the guy who conducted it said, You've already got the heart off an average sixty year old who hasn't had a heart attack.
[33] And that sort of is very encouraging.
john ? (PS5BF) [34] So you're completely fit er
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [35] Medically yes.
[36] Er but it takes time to recover from the er the the shock and the experience and the unnerving.
[37] But I've come a long way and er so I'll go back next er Wednesday to the department and er er if people will bear with me and put up with it er I'll take it er fairly slowly to start with but I dare say there will come a time when er erm you won't notice much difference.
john ? (PS5BF) [38] What you you say the shock of it.
[39] What what was it like?
[40] All of those of us who haven't had a heart attack live in fear of it obviously and think [...]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [41] Yeah well, I mean we all My father died of a heart attack.
john ? (PS5BF) [42] Mm.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [43] And erm er that was a long time ago.
[44] I si think it's very possible that he wouldn't have erm died under today's
john ? (PS5BF) [45] Today.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [46] conditions.
[47] I had wonderful treatment in Italy.
[48] I was very close to a a hospital with a wonderful cardiac er unit er where they had a professor who was one of the leading Italian in the subject.
[49] I was there within an hour, so I couldn't be more grateful and appreciative.
[50] They're wonderful people, the Italians.
[51] Er anyway that the the but the actual experience, er one knew something was wrong.
[52] I was not frightened, I didn't think anything was that wrong.
[53] But I said to Anne, Look I think you better get a doctor.
john ? (PS5BF) [54] This was before it happened or when it happened? you didn't have sort of intimations that something was going to happen ?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [55] Well I I you see, it's all hindsight.
[56] I think in truth erm er we'd taken a weekend off and er to go to Venice, there was a big er art exhibition on and Anne wanted to see that.
[57] Erm and I I wasn't feeling on top form and er looking back, I perhaps should have gone to a doctor then.
[58] But you don't you know.
[59] Erm but th anyway, there it was and er I had this pain Not not acute, that's why I wasn't that worried.
[60] it didn't last that long.
[61] Erm and from that moment I got into hospital and I had no more trouble.
[62] But I mean of course they plugged me up with all sorts of things.
[63] Wi with of course one disastrous consequence.
[64] Which er I mean, damn the British media like all politicians do.
john ? (PS5BF) [laugh]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [65] One of the things they have to do is to get your uric acid I think it's called erm content correct.
[66] And it it so they give you some m medicine for that.
[67] A side effect of which can be that you can develop gout.
[68] And so the what what what that
john ? (PS5BF) [69] Ah, that explains
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [70] everybody saw was not the
john ? (PS5BF) [71] Mhm.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [72] fit strapping Heseltine which I wished
john ? (PS5BF) [73] You looked terrible.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [74] which I wished to portray.
john ? (PS5BF) [laugh]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [75] But this sort of tottering wreck.
john ? (PS5BF) [76] [laughing] Yes. []
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [77] You know, hobbling to the helicopter [...] it was my
john ? (PS5BF) [...]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [78] foot which had had been had gout induced.
[79] Nothing to do with the heart at all.
[80] Anyway, Sod's Law you know.
[81] [...] that's politics.
john ? (PS5BF) [82] But you did look you did look truly awful in that picture that appeared in the newspapers you looked as if
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [83] Well my real real girlfriends wrote and said, Michael, you've got lovely legs.
Unknown speaker (K6APSUNK) [laugh]
john ? (PS5BF) [84] But did you think you were going to die?
[85] I mean was it
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [86] No no I didn't.
[87] I mean I must be honest, I did not feel that frightened erm it wasn't an acute pain that that I mean I mean one of the things that one has to realize, you can become a heart attack bore.
[88] Very easily.
john ? (PS5BF) [laugh]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [89] Everybody who's had any sort of tremor or experience or much worse, they're all individual and it's no use me talking to you about my heart condition, because you haven't got my heart.
[90] Erm e e they're all individual and mine I think, looking back, was erm erm er a light er experience and I mean as I've said, the [laugh] the erm er w this telescope they shove up you, er I mean, Chris Patton had the same thing.
[91] Erm is local anaesthetic in the groin.
[92] Up goes the telescope, you're lying there you know, and the doctor told me, he said, Do you wanna watch?
[93] Do you wanna watch?
[94] And I said, Ah.
[95] You know.
john ? (PS5BF) [96] [laugh] Anything but.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [97] Absolutely.
john ? (PS5BF) [laugh]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [98] But erm anyway that's it's all it's all now a few a few months ago.
john ? (PS5BF) [99] Did it change your perspective on anything, on life, on politics, on what you're doing in in in the job?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [100] Well I suppose erm well I [laugh] I I I mean I remember er ludicrous really, sort of thinking of what I would say at the Tory party conference while I was lying in [laughing] that hospital in Venice.
[101] And I actually made some notes [] .
[102] Erm then.
[103] And er so I mean it's you know, I am a politician I mean you know, it's in the blood I've b been in the in the House of Commons now for about a quarter of a century.
[104] Over a quarter of a century, most of it on the front bench.
[105] And erm I like it.
[106] But the fact is I mean I you know, you do ask these questions, your family make you ask these questions quite understandably.
[107] I there are other things I could do.
[108] I'm a manic gardener and I that's what I've been doing.
[109] Erm I could go back to commerce, although er that side of my life is some way behind and it it's always been very successfully done by er my colleagues in the company that I started.
[110] So er you know I I've I've never had a sort of er a one way track about politics, although I adore it and I've er I've enjoyed it hugely Am enjoying it and I
john ? (PS5BF) [111] Ah I was going to pick [...] you said, I have enjoyed it hu I was about to leap in and say, Ah that means .
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [112] Yes ye no no no no no no.
[113] How kind.
[114] Well that's the value of a programme like this, you can correct.
[115] Otherwise that'd be over the headlines.
[116] Heseltine says, Future
john ? (PS5BF) [117] Quite.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [118] is in the past.
[119] You know [...]
john ? (PS5BF) [...]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [120] Which is not exactly what I am saying.
[121] Erm no the fact is that er I I love politics.
[122] It's er and and I have always wanted to be president of the board of trade.
john ? (PS5BF) [123] But what about more ambition, further ambition now?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [124] Well that's a sort of wary question but all politicians [...]
john ? (PS5BF) [125] But you'd expect me to ask it.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [126] I know you're bound to ask it.
[127] And you I'm not going to give any different answer I've ever given.
[128] I my belief is that John Major will win the next election.
[129] I helped to win the last one, I shall help to win the next one.
[130] And er er I I think that er all this sort of chat about leadership challenges and all that, I think that's for the birds.
[131] I don't think we shall see it.
[132] I especially I don't think so after after the very er impressive speech he made on Friday.
john ? (PS5BF) [133] But there is We can come to that in a moment if we may.
[134] But there is something about you that is a bit different to [...] politicians.
[135] Apart from that but Well th that's true that's true .
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [136] Trouble.
[137] Trouble. [laugh]
john ? (PS5BF) [138] And you've had plenty of that.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [139] Plenty of trouble.
john ? (PS5BF) [140] And yet you keep bouncing back or
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [141] Yes.
john ? (PS5BF) [142] swinging back.
[143] I mean, er
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [144] I wrote a book called, Where there's a will.
Unknown speaker (K6APSUNK) [laugh]
john ? (PS5BF) [145] Precisely.
[146] You resigned over over Westland you er er you were defeated for the leadership.
[147] You've had your heart attack, you've been out of action for three months and yet, when you talk to people, when the pollsters go out with their clipboards, they say, Who do you think is most likely apart from the Prime Minister, to lead the Tory party?
[148] And they say, you.
[149] Still.
[150] So what is it about you?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [151] Trouble. [laugh]
john ? (PS5BF) [152] It's got to be a bit more than that.
[153] Ambition ?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [154] [...] Long hair.
[155] Long hair, tall.
john ? (PS5BF) [laugh]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [156] You know.
[157] Been around a long time.
[158] Erm I [...] what is it, who knows, who cares?
[159] You know, if I'm president of the board of trade, I'm a loyal member of John Major's cabinet.
[160] I intend to go on doing that as long as he wants me.
john ? (PS5BF) [161] And the inevitable qu you'd expect me to ask this to you.
[162] If John Major fell under a privatized train, would your hat still be in the ring?
[163] Or
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [164] Well
john ? (PS5BF) [165] would you say, I've had it all now, I do
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [166] I I mean I You know, you never make these er [...] you can get every sort of evasive answer to these questions.
[167] And they're all lies, you know, they may sound nice and they may deceive people, but the truth is, any politician that I know and respect, when it comes to the crunch, if they think they have a chance of preferment and obviously ultimate preferment, take it.
[168] Some of them do it sheepishly, and with reluctance and say, It's never what I ever had in mind.
[169] But they always do it.
[170] Others are honest about it.
[171] Ken Clarke, I like him, I trust him, I admire him.
[172] What does he say, he answers the question straight, just the way I always answered it.
john ? (PS5BF) [173] Which is to say, yes, given another chance, I'd have a go for it.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [174] No I no I don't say that, cos what I always said is you cannot do what your friends will never let you do.
[175] That's the real test.
[176] You cannot If you're in the the House of Commons and there's a vacancy or something of this sort for a job, I mean we don't need to invent a hypothetical situation.
[177] Your friends are the ones who say, Well you're the guy who could do this.
[178] And if they don't say that, or if they positively say, You're not the guy, you're wasting your time.
[179] The only reason that you can make progress in that sort of situation is if there's a body of opinion that says that you should.
john ? (PS5BF) [180] But somebody like you could always find friends to say, Yes you ought to do that [...]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [181] No I don't agree with that.
[182] I d I do not agree with that at all.
[183] I mean, there could I mean I think the House of Commons is now some way past in in my life in the sense I haven't been there since er June.
[184] I've no idea about the mood, I've no idea what people will think of er maybe large numbers Well one journalist said to me in Blackpool and perhaps this says it all, he said, Michael, you're the only really popular person here this week.
[185] You see they've nothing to be frightened of any more.
Unknown speaker (K6APSUNK) [laugh]
john ? (PS5BF) [186] But they're wrong.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [187] Ah but they
john ? (PS5BF) [188] Aren't they because you're saying, I'm still around [...]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [189] [...] No they may not be wr I I mean the the fact I'm around doesn't mean to say that I'm frightening.
john ? (PS5BF) [190] And I haven't changed.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [191] I've never been frightening.
[192] People have misjudged me.
john ? (PS5BF) [193] So you're not going to write your memoirs?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [194] You know, I I I'm I'm unhappy about this memoir business.
[195] I mean, they're self serving aren't they.
[196] And they're all to to put the person's point of view.
[197] And erm I I I find it I mean I'm not going to be sort of holier than thou about it all I mean, perhaps I myself might be tempted er one day.
[198] Erm but the idea that someone is putting it all down, all those private conversations, all those tensions, and it's all being recorded, not to present the historic truth, but to present the truth as the person wants history to read it.
[199] That's what always happens, they're self serving, self pleading, self justifying.
[200] Er perhaps they're helpful to the historians because they can then put them all in a room.
[201] Although I must say I I mean, one of the most fascinating pieces of politics I was ever involved in, was when I had to defend Mrs Thatcher over the Belgrano incident.
[202] And people were very kind about the quality off the speech that I made that that did it.
[203] I believed she was one hundred percent right.
[204] I believed then and I believe now.
[205] I must make that absolutely clear.
[206] But I had to get together in one room, the admirals, the intelligence people, the civil servants, all the people who'd played a critical role in advising her.
[207] It was only six months before, they couldn't agree.
[208] I wonder what each of their memoirs would look like.
john ? (PS5BF) [209] So what about mrs Thatcher's memoirs?
[210] The timing.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [211] Well I glanced Yeah, yeah.
[212] You know, look, I did a deal with Mrs Thatcher in nineteen eighty six, that I wouldn't open up many of these issues, and if she sticks to the deal, I'll stick to the deal.
john ? (PS5BF) [213] But she hasn't.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [214] As far as I'm concerned, personally, so far, she has.
john ? (PS5BF) [215] What was the deal then?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [216] That I wouldn't pursue the issues of nineteen eighty six.
[217] And I I haven't I [...] with the No it's very simple, I left it to the select committees of the House of Commons.
john ? (PS5BF) [218] But we're talking about now, we're talking about Mrs Thatcher having written
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [219] I [...] deal
john ? (PS5BF) [220] a set of memoirs er critical of the Prime Minister while he's still in office .
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [221] Erm er I'm she hasn't been critical of me.
john ? (PS5BF) [222] No but she's been critical of lots of other people.
[223] Well we don't know for sure yet about what she's said about you.
[224] Do we.
[225] If [...]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [226] That's what I said, If she sticks to the deal, I'll stick to the deal.
john ? (PS5BF) [227] S [laugh] But but y what what you're saying is that if someo Have you seen the book by the way?
[228] Have you read the book?
[229] Right .
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [230] No.
[231] No.
john ? (PS5BF) [232] So if somewhere later on in the book she says, Michael Heseltine was a rotten old so and so.
[233] erm
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [234] I'm sure we know that she thinks that, so that won't actually sort of provoke great reaction in me.
john ? (PS5BF) [235] What would it need to provoke you then?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [236] We'll just see.
john ? (PS5BF) [237] What about, what she has had to say about John Major?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [238] Well look, let's stand back.
[239] My interest is in the unity and success of the Conservative party.
[240] I don't want to see I I deeply deplore the divisions between left and right and the accentuation of often very phoney distinctions and mislabelling that goes on.
[241] It's a development that has grown in my political lifetime over erm I suppose twenty years now.
[242] And I ... don't like ... that aspect of politics, the divisiveness of it all, the personal sort of er attentions of it all.
[243] I know it's there, but I thought that John struck with me a very powerful note, when he said in his conference speech, I should share these things first in private.
[244] And I don't think it would do any good for me on this programme, or any of my colleagues, and of course the media will be now all over the place trying to achieve this.
[245] To get instant reactions, instant comments which will blow the thing up.
john ? (PS5BF) [246] But you're clearly unhappy about it.
[247] I you you you've made that quite clear .
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [248] I I cannot I I cannot believe that it is w within the the standards of the conservative party that I joined, that this sort of diary writing, gossipy, pseudo history er is part of the convention.
[249] I think er one of the papers made this erm I think Alec Douglas Hulme er has set a sort of standard which I would admire.
[250] Er there were always memoirs, but I think that the nature of them has changed.
[251] And I and not sure it's Well I am sure that it's for the worse.
john ? (PS5BF) [252] It's causing damage?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [253] I don't think that the people come out of it well.
john ? (PS5BF) [254] Any of them?
[255] Including the authors?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [256] Er I think particularly the authors.
john ? (PS5BF) [257] Should there be er a change in the rules?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [258] What rules?
john ? (PS5BF) [259] That says, Well there aren't any rules at the moment obviously but but should there there are rules for for for civil servants, should there be rules for politicians?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [260] Well there are rules but cur
john ? (PS5BF) [261] That say
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [262] curiously enough, they seem to have I mean I I have
john ? (PS5BF) [263] Yeah, but they have only to do with things like national security and and
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [264] Yes but er I I think that erm er the little by little, the conventions have been stretched.
[265] And of course there's huge
john ? (PS5BF) [266] [...] do you think they should be tightened up again?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [267] There's huge money.
[268] Dramatic money.
[269] You know.
[270] And and and and have no illusions, the money and the contents are very linked.
[271] That it's no use going round saying, Well here's my view of history as I wrote it.
[272] Er and it's factual it's it's analytical, it's it's erm devoid of the sort of bitchiness of politics.
[273] Cos you won't get enough money.
john ? (PS5BF) [274] You mean people spice them up [...]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [275] Oh yeah, sure sure.
john ? (PS5BF) [276] You think Mrs Thatcher's done that?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [277] I have no idea.
[278] I wouldn't dream of making such an observation.
john ? (PS5BF) [279] But it sounds as though you suspect that.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [280] I I'm not going to be drawn even by your deft questioning
john ? (PS5BF) [281] Alright but the rules
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [282] in this direction.
john ? (PS5BF) [283] But the rules ought to be changed.
[284] There ough the rules ought to be hardened up to stop this kind of thing going on
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [285] I I I I I doubt if you could have rules.
[286] I doubt any more whether we live in the sort of society where you could have such rules.
john ? (PS5BF) [287] Since we're talking about rules, what about erm Mrs Thatcher, Lady Thatcher wanting to change the rules so that a sitting Prime Minister can't be challenged. [...]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [288] Oh no certainly not.
[289] Certainly not.
[290] Certainly not.
[291] I w I I personally er made it clear at the time when they changed the rules er er fairly recently, that I didn't think they should.
[292] Erm I think that er erm politicians understand full well the nature of the profession in which they're involved and the parliamentary party is erm more than able to exercise a proper judgement, er I don't think there's any case at all for er changing th I don't think there was a case for changing the rules and I don't think there is a case for changing the rules today. [...]
john ? (PS5BF) [293] So you're out of step with people like Douglas Hurd and Norman Fowler?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [294] Well I mean I you know the let's have a discussion.
[295] I don't think [...] it's not a not a complete You can't get a headline, Tories divided over rule changes.
[296] You know it's
john ? (PS5BF) [297] I don't know, it's an interesting
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [298] No no I don't believe that.
[299] I think it's perfectly reasonable that the parliamentary party should have those sort of powers.
[300] And I'll tell you why I think it's reasonable, Because they would only use them seriously in extreme circumstances.
[301] [...] doesn't matter if I'm not going to name any names but I mean I've seen some people who it's been suggested might stand [...] two hoots of a flick of a finger whether someone of the sort that I've seen mentioned, stood or not.
john ? (PS5BF) [302] You are Are you thinking of Mrs Theresa Gorman there ?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [303] I'm not going to I'm not I'm not going to be drawn into discussing the names of any particular person, I'm merely saying it would be of no consequence.
[304] It would be a joke.
[305] Erm anyway I don't think it's gonna happen and I don't think it should happen.
[306] Let me make that absolutely clear.
[307] But nor do I think that you should somehow try to cosset the position of the leader of the party.
[308] In the extreme circumstances.
[309] Cos otherwise, I can tell you what the alternative is, the alternative is the men in grey suits which is a equally arbitrary process and it can as actually concentrate power in the hands of a very small number of people o sometimes perhaps unrepresentative of the parliamentary party.
john ? (PS5BF) [310] Is John Major unassailable now?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [311] Yes I think er I mean my own view is that he well er erm lead the party at the next election and he'll win it.
[312] Er w I think there's a there's a desperately boring feature about the present political circumstances from the media's point of view.
[313] And the more you stand back and look at it, the clearer it is.
[314] Every political leader of an advanced democracy, is in deep trouble, whether it's in America, Japan, France, Germany or Britain.
[315] They're in deep political trouble because the the electorate is simply distanced from the messages they have to put over.
[316] For very obvious reasons.
[317] The electorate is going through a very difficult period.
[318] The economy has got huge problems associated with it.
[319] People's lives are are profoundly affected.
[320] So when a politician comes and says, Well it's gonna get better, we've gotta try harder, this is the policy we're gonna pursue.
[321] They're all saying, [...] it's not doing me any good.
[322] And it's not until that economic climate changes that people are l are able to to relate to what the politicians say.
[323] There's nothing new in any of this, I remember nineteen eighty one.
[324] But the media can't say that, they can't interpret that because what they've got to do is sell to their readers, a story which the readers want to hear.
[325] And so the media are constantly giving the impression that there's something that the British government should be doing.
[326] Whilst there's a world economic malaise.
john ? (PS5BF) [327] Not sure you can blame the media altogether, I noticed you said there in almost these words er, John Major will the lead the Conservative party into the next election and the Conservatives will win.
[328] You said exactly that I quote word for word in November nineteen ninety and a week later what happened?
[329] You challenged Mrs Thatcher and brought her down.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [330] Well it's interesting that er I mean these quotations get It must be very clever research.
john ? (PS5BF) [331] Well you offered it. [laugh]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [332] Yeah well okay, well I haven't I mean, I I did I did actually think that Mrs Thatcher would lead us into the election.
[333] Er I thought that it was wrong that she should, as everybody knows.
[334] Er and I think frankly erm we won the election because she was not leader of the party.
[335] That was my view and still my view and I think John Major fought a very distinguished campaign er against the pundits it has to be said.
[336] er I hope I did everything I could to help.
[337] As I did Mrs Thatcher.
[338] Nobody worked harder in the nineteen eighty seven general election than I did.
john ? (PS5BF) [339] Yeah but the point I'm making is that you thought that would happen then.
[340] You say it may happen it is going to happen now.
[341] Why should we believe it now any more than we believed it then .
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [342] Well I I I mean there i thinking back, I didn't think at that stage, I hope I'm right about this,th that I had any idea that Geoffrey Howe was going to resign.
[343] I never had the slightest intention of challenging Mrs Thatcher.
[344] There was never my my view and and one day I shall if I ever get round to it I might set this all out.
[345] My view was
john ? (PS5BF) [346] Write your memoirs?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [347] Yeah.
[348] In nineteen eighty six, my view was a very very clear one.
[349] To survive.
[350] I mean nobody thought I could do that.
[351] I mean not many people who'd clashed with mrs thatcher did survive.
[352] But I did, that was my determination.
john ? (PS5BF) [353] John Major is beset with problems, you wouldn't
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [354] Yeah.
john ? (PS5BF) [355] argues that.
[356] In fact you said er again if if I may offer you one of your quotes erm, If you have back benchers who won't support you, that limits governments abilities to take decisions.
[357] you said that a few months ago.
[358] Since
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [359] Yeah.
john ? (PS5BF) [360] then he's lost er you've lost another seat so his majority is even smaller, it's down from nineteen to seventeen.
[361] So his er abilities to take decision are even er take decisions are even more limited now than they were then aren't they.
[362] He is in greater trouble now than he was the for all sorts of reasons .
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [363] Well no that doesn't follow.
[364] No no.
[365] Er What I said then was true.
[366] But it doesn't follow that he's in greater trouble now because
john ? (PS5BF) [367] Smaller majority.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [368] Er no.
[369] It isn't a small majority in any serious sense of majority .
john ? (PS5BF) [370] Smaller majority.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [371] It is only small because a very limited number of Conservatives on the back benches are not totally reliable on too many occasions.
[372] And it tends to be I'm sad to have to say it, it tends to be a limited number of colleagues who are totally I think, removed from the mainstream of what the majority off us want to see, who are to prepared to withhold their voted in the House of Commons.
[373] And I think that there's going to come a point.
[374] D I think John er put this question fairly to conference, If the Tories want to behave like the Labour party did, then we'll pay an electoral price for it.
[375] I I'm not against I can't be against the right of a c of a member of parliament to withhold their vote from their government.
[376] I have done it on about three occasions in a third of a century.
[377] And I wouldn't change that vote and I respect people who are prepared to do it.
[378] It requires guts and integrity.
[379] I'm not against that.
[380] But for the sort of College Green psychology and the and the
john ? (PS5BF) [381] For people who don't understand, College Green is the bit of greenery outside Westminster where people rush out to be interviewed on camera .
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [382] The dash The the the sort of headline dash out of the House of Commons, the moment the news breaks, to get on television with some quick quote.
[383] And then to withhold one's vote as with almost a matter of habit and routine, that cannot be in the best interests of the Conservative party.
[384] And you have to realize, none of us are there cos we've got happy smiling faces.
[385] We're there because the Conservative party chose us, and put us there.
john ? (PS5BF) [386] Yeah but [...]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [387] And so we have obligations to them.
john ? (PS5BF) [388] But you're not there you're not in parliament to represent the Conservative party, you're in parliament to represent your constituents.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [389] I I think you've got to just look at that constitutional concept.
[390] The constituency that chose you was the Conservative party.
[391] That that chose you.
john ? (PS5BF) [392] But you represent every individual in that constituency .
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [393] The the the [...] no no no no You were chosen by the Conservative party.
[394] You then stand for election.
[395] The reason why you're elected is because a sufficient number of people wanted a Conservative government.
[396] Now it's perfectly true, they understand I hope rightly, within the framework and philosophy of the Conservative party, that you have to respect the integrity of the individual.
[397] But it doesn't mean to say that you are sending somebody who says he's a Conservative, going to support a Conservative government, and the moment he gets there is to be found all over the place.
john ? (PS5BF) [398] Yeah but if you feel strongly about a particular issue, erm Elizabeth Peacock, during the er coal pits erm dispute when she was very very upset at what your You were planning to do, closing down all those coal mines and and she went public about it.
[399] She she it was for her a matter of conscience.
[400] And she was representing the interests of her constituency.
[401] You're not saying she shouldn't have been allowed to do that, she should have gone to John
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [402] No I'm
john ? (PS5BF) [403] Major quietly or to you quietly in some back room and said, Look I'm a bit bothered about this .
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [404] No.
[405] I've made it clear I I personally like virtually all colleagues at some stage voted against my party.
[406] I and that will always be a right and proper thing for a member of parliament to do.
[407] But it has to be done with great care, infrequently It is if you like, a nuclear deterrent in that sense.
[408] And I don't quarrel with Elizabeth Peacock who I like and admire and get on very well with.
[409] And actually have been to support on many occasions in her constituency.
[410] Erm but but I I'm not think of of Elizabeth as a matter of fact.
[411] And there are some colleagues who are today, much more lax with their loyalties.
[412] And
john ? (PS5BF) [413] And I mean you yourself, you know, during the Westland you you you left a cabinet meeting, apparently Mrs Thatcher thought you were going to the loo and you went on television to say, I'm resigning because I think she's got it wrong over Westland.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [414] She didn't think I was going to the loo.
john ? (PS5BF) [415] Well so we were told.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [416] I dare say that's what you were told.
[417] It's
john ? (PS5BF) [...]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [418] not what she thought.
john ? (PS5BF) [419] Did you say to her, I'm going out to re [laughing] I'm going out [] and I may be gone for a long time.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [420] I if I remember correctly those are words that led to the death of a very distinguished explorer.
[421] I had no intention of dying the political death.
[422] Er the erm er fact of the matter was that er er as has been recorded by those less emotionally charged at that moment, I didn't flounce out of the cabinet.
[423] I had made it quite clear
john ? (PS5BF) [424] But you went on telly minutes later.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [425] Oh there was a television camera as you left Downing Street .
john ? (PS5BF) [426] You went to a press conference.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [427] Er that was [...] four o'clock in the afternoon.
[428] No no I mean the the I mean when I've g been drawn er down a road I don't intend to go
john ? (PS5BF) [429] No because the the point I'm trying to make is that it is unrealistic surely for the leader of the party to say to his MPs who aren't delegates after all, but who represent the interests of their constituencies, Shut up, come to me privately if you have any concerns.
[430] That's not realistic is it .
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [431] I I I think he said, First, to me privately.
[432] In other words, you talk it through, you try to resolve it.
[433] Not dash for the television cameras.
[434] That was the point that I heard him make [...] in Brighton.
[435] And and even there will come a time after the private dialogue, where he people have the right.
[436] I let me give you an example, I've always respected erm Teddy Taylor and John Biffen who have taken the extreme view on Europe.
[437] Er I think they genuinely believe their case, it's not a case that I believe, but I I've always genuinely respected them for the case they take.
[438] Er so I I don't find it in my in myself to condemn people who as Conservatives take a different view to myself.
[439] But there has to be a degree of discretion, a degree of responsibility.
[440] And you cannot have a situation where the the sort of almost the norm is, Any difficult decision the government is gonna have to take, there'll be a dozen colleagues who say, not for us.
[441] I mean I I just do not really understand whether people fully realize the gravity of the economic situation that we face.
[442] We're gonna have a very difficult set of decisions to take, they're gonna be tough, there's no other government would take these decisions.
john ? (PS5BF) [443] And there is a division within the party isn't there, a real ideological divide within the party over how to deal with that, whether to raise taxes, whether to cut spending further?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [444] Well this is the what I keep reading about the right left divide.
john ? (PS5BF) [445] Well I didn't use that phrase but
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [446] First first No you didn't I mean no There's no reason why we shouldn't.
[447] Er every party is a coalition.
[448] It consists of a whole range of interest groups, a whole range of people with great integrity, but approaching politics from a different point of view.
[449] And the only basis upon which you can l lead a party of that sort, is to find a pivot th where you around which you can coalesce.
[450] if ever you get to the stage where the left of the party or the right of the party, either extreme wing, feel that they've got such power, that they can pull the whole thing their way, the danger is that the bits at the other end will snap and that of course is the disunity danger which had absolutely devastated the Labour party, where the left did exactly that and the moderate centre That's if you can call it that, snapped off.
[451] For the Conservative party which is in essence a party of power, huge historic perspective, huge experience of power, ever to get itself in a position where it's perceived to be struggling to the point of self destruction, would have its political consequences and they would be dire.
john ? (PS5BF) [452] Let's look not so much at the left right divide, but but at the tone of the party.
[453] Some people say that since you've been away, and the conference illustrated this quite dramatically, particularly the fringe meetings.
[454] The tone of the party has changed.
[455] On Europe for instance, we've had er Mr Major telling the Europeans to get the your tractors off our lawns.
[456] David Hunt calling Delors a jumped-up socialist bureaucrat.
[457] That sort off the language, the tone seems to have changed, to have got harder.
[458] On Europe first.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [459] Well Er I I hear what you say, I my views on Europe are very simple.
[460] It's impossible to overstate the economic relationship we now have with Europe.
[461] Two th nearly two thirds of our trade goes with Europe.
[462] I don't mind the sort of the use of language that gives this or that impression if that's what contemporary politics demands, I'm as guilty of that as er the next man.
[463] But if we create a psychology in this country where to the men and women who earn the crust upon which we depend, our business community, are switched off to the significance of Europe, there's only one people who'll suffer and it is us.
john ? (PS5BF) [464] And when Peter Lilley says for instance
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [465] I am not prepared to [...] yeah yes, but you will not get me to to separate myself from my colleagues .
john ? (PS5BF) [466] Half Well let me let me finish the the quote because Well there are but but but but Well alright but but Peter Lilley is saying, is suggesting in a in a speech at a party conference that half the population of continental Europe are scroungers.
[467] I mean one wonders how that helps this kind of partnership.
[468] That that you obviously think is so important.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [469] Well I'm not prepared to become involved in er er discussing the speeches which I didn't hear or er which may well be out of context or anything of that sort.
[470] I'm not prepared to do that.
[471] No no but John, frankly
john ? (PS5BF) [472] Oh come on, you heard that.
[473] You know that wasn't out of context.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [474] It simply it simply doesn't serve a purpose for me to allow that division to open up.
[475] I will only use my words to describe my circumstance.
[476] And I know that whatever the rhetoric, Mrs Thatcher used all the rhetoric, nobody took us further into Europe than Mrs Thatcher.
[477] All these regulations that we're now having to I'm having to with expert er help from my colleague er Neil Hamilton, having to look at and redo, do you know where they all came from?
[478] Most of them came from the single European act.
[479] From the Cofield agenda.
john ? (PS5BF) [480] That Mrs Thatcher [...]
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [481] Which which Mrs Thatcher rightly committed us to and rightly whipped us through the house [...] And and it and it
john ? (PS5BF) [482] Right, so we're to ignore all these things that we hear at the conference.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [483] There is no difference between the the endless bad mouthing between local and central government, as one tries to blame the other.
[484] And central government trying to blame the Europeans.
[485] The fact of the matter is, every directive that comes out of Europe, comes with the agreement of the British government.
[486] That's where it comes from.
[487] It comes to us, we have to put it through the House of Commons.
[488] And often we are the people who embroider it and overbear it with all the complications ent that that are that are part of it.
[489] And do you know where a lot of the the erm the directives from Brussels come from?
[490] They come from British pressure groups, who go to Brussels with their particular case and argue in Brussels to start the process of creating these regulations.
john ? (PS5BF) [491] Alright, let's lets look at some something else where people will say, are saying, the party has shifted, clearly clearly shifted towards the right.
[492] And that's social policy.
[493] Erm and and I know you I'm not expecting you to comment on your colleagues, but let me quote something else that Peter Lilley said, The massive expansion of the welfare state since the war, has not been accompanied by any diminution of social problems.
[494] Any diminution of social problems.
[495] That's sending quite a signal isn't it.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [496] Well I'd go further.
[497] They're worse.
john ? (PS5BF) [498] So poverty is worse?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [499] Er not relative not relative poverty because obviously the tide of prosperity has brought up the living standards of er the western world.
john ? (PS5BF) [500] It's better not to have to have pensions than not to have pensions, surely not .
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [501] But but but look at the look.
[502] Oh no no no oh no that th er I that is not in er what I was talking about was the social values, er not the existence of the welfare state.
[503] That has I mean most of the welfare state has been er it'll either created or extended by Conservative government so [...]
john ? (PS5BF) [504] But Beveridge achieved nothing?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [505] Er no, Beveridge did, but he never intended to achieve what we've got.
[506] Er [...] I mean, you will know that I wrote a book [...] called No time for Ostriches in when I was on the back benches, in favour of work fare.
[507] Er I I think that with three million people out of work, we have an unemployment problem which creates erm a a disadvantage group particularly in some of the stress urban areas where we have to look at more radical solutions to what is basically the payment of cash for nothing in return.
[508] Now I have said that, it's not government policy, perhaps I'm stretching over the bounds of saying it, but er those these ideas are around.
john ? (PS5BF) [509] But clearly, what you have said in the past has led us to believe that you think self help does not solve all the problems, the government now seems to be telling us
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [510] You can't how can how can you talk about self help solving all the problems when you've got an aging population who'll never work again.
[511] I'm talking about people who are already retired.
[512] There's absolutely no point in saying to some sixty five year old or or seventy year old who's living on a state pension in a council house, What you've got to do is help yourself.
[513] What's it mean?
john ? (PS5BF) [514] So the government must help?
[515] The state must help ?
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [516] Well what c what what a what does the language of self help mean to a seventy year old living on a state pension in a council house?
[517] What does it mean?
[518] And unless you answer that question, you're just pandering to people's emotions.
[519] Now if you say to me, this is I go back to my work fare, If you're talking about the the young kids of of sixteen or who've left school, haven't got a job and they say, Well I want my my welfare benefit.
[520] You are entitled to say, Well okay we understand you've got a problem, we know that there's an economic er er difficulty across the world, what are you gonna give us in exchange?
[521] And Beveridge would have been perfectly happy with that question.
john ? (PS5BF) [522] Peter Lilley wouldn't.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [523] Well [...]
john ? (PS5BF) [524] Oth Alright, I won't use the name Peter Lilley if you don't if you prefer I didn't.
[525] Others in the cabinet would not.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [526] Well s s but why so why should
john ? (PS5BF) [527] So many of those speeches [...] Blackpool
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [528] Why should we be worried about the existence of a debate in a cabinet.
[529] I mean this is So n I remember, I used to go to NATO alli er er er di discussions as defence ministers.
[530] And people would sort of say, There's a division in NATO.
[531] as though it was a crime.
[532] What was it, it was an alliance of democratic nations.
[533] If you can't have a debate there, where can you?
john ? (PS5BF) [534] Well if
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [535] If you can't have a debate in cabinet, what's the point off cabinet?
john ? (PS5BF) [536] I y c Yes, debates in cabinet perhaps, but we're not talking about debates in cabinet, we're talking about speeches made at Blackpool or at fringe meetings of Blackpool, which lead people to believe that the government is moving substantially towards the right.
[537] Now that's significant, that isn't just a this isn't just a debate about some vague ideological nicety, how many angels on the head of a pin?
[538] This is fundamental to the way British politics is going .
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [539] Well you should y I I I er these la these these labels are so difficult to fit because if you say, Moving to the right, you then have to show me what policies the government is pursuing and you'll probably find that I either play the part in thinking off [...] argu arguing for them some years before some of my colleagues.
john ? (PS5BF) [540] Well I'm talking about policies that haven't yet been instituted.
[541] I mean
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [542] Sure.
john ? (PS5BF) [543] we've got we've got Michael Howard now talking about, Maybe it's better if er if the illegitimate children of single mums erm are adopted, rather than stay with their mothers.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [544] Well I mean that is i i something that [...] well to the best off my knowledge, the government has not announced or taken any sort of decision on.
john ? (PS5BF) [545] But the Home Secretary is saying, you know, This is something we will think about .
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [546] Well I you'll forgive me the disadvantage, I'm not trying to cop out, but the disadvantage of not having been [laughing] immediately involved [] is that I haven't seen that quotation from Michael .
john ? (PS5BF) [547] Alright but if but you would not approve of that kind of language of that kind of er expression of government intent if that's what it was .
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [548] I I I I would I think that would be something that would be controversial.
[549] Er I would like to k to know more about what Michael is saying before I got involved in any discussion of that.
john ? (PS5BF) [550] And when Mrs Thatcher, when Lady Thatcher, talks about the Thatcher inheritance, that much more sincure being that much more secure .
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [551] I I have always been worried about the personalization of er what I believe is the great traditions in the Tory party.
[552] I know I've worked for Churchill, Eden, MacMillan, Hulme, Heath, Thatcher, we never had this personalization of the great traditions until very recently.
[553] And frankly I think it and I hope to God that John I d I know he doesn't want to see it happen to him, I hope to God it doesn't.
[554] Because it it's it's it's a I mean frankly it it gives the impression that this remarkable political force which has governed a democracy longer than any other political f party in history, has somehow or other created a new philosophy in the last ten years.
john ? (PS5BF) [555] Mi
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [556] What have we been doing all this time?
john ? (PS5BF) [557] Michael Heseltine I'll have to stop you there, thank you very much indeed.
michael heseltine (PS5BG) [558] Thank you.
john ? (PS5BF) [559] Michael Heseltine talking to me a little earlier today.
[560] And now to the government's plan to sell off British Rail.
[561] Before the summer holidays, the House of Lords carried an amendment moved by Lord Peyton a former Conservative minister, which allows British rail to bid against private companies for franchises to operate services.
[562] the transport secretary John Macgregor has been totally opposed to that because it would mean nothing changing in effect.
[563] B R would still run B R. However, as David Walter discovered, he may not have enough troops in the Commons to reverse that amendment. [music]
david walter (PS5BH) [564] The Gatwick express, on the fast track to the private sector.
[565] [music] today this becomes the first railway shadow franchise, its operations hived off into a separate company ready to be sold.
[566] These plans are running to schedule, the rest of rail privatization is not.
[567] The problem is Lord Peyton's amendment in the Lords last Summer.
[568] That allowed British Railways itself to bid for franchises, something the original bill rules out.
[569] The government fears that it wrecks the bill, that b R with an unfair advantage over its competitors, could keep lines like this in its clutches.
[570] But lord Peyton has many fellow travellers in the Commons.
david ? (PS5BJ) [571] Since we had the debates in June, we've had the unfortunate experience er of stagecoach.
[572] Which basically found it couldn't make a railway service run and dropped it.
[573] We've had the winter timetable which er proposes some quite serious cuts in services, and we've had of course, the constant rumour off fairs increases.
[574] So for all those reasons, I think my colleagues may be more inclined to go for a cautious approach that's enshrined in the Peyton approach, than they were back in er June.
rhodes ? (PS5BK) [575] I think the government should slow down on all its activities at the present time and concentrate on getting the economy right, and everything else put on the back burner.
[576] And that should apply also w with the railways.
[577] There's no great enthusiasm in in this country for railway privatization.
[578] The railways must be kept together say on the on the Peyton amendment and they could raise money on the private market.
[579] but it keeps together The idea that they're going to broke up br broken up into competing er items, worries people in my constituency and it also alarms me.
david walter (PS5BH) [580] Tories who feel rebellious about the railways, may not have to push their protest to the point of voting against the government.
[581] A humiliating defeat which he suffered at the hands of Lord Peyton in the house of Lords, has concentrated John Macgregor's mind.
[582] And he's promised to look again at the case for allowing British Rail to bid for franchises.
[583] The rebels have been conducting intensive negotiations with him behind the scenes.
[584] And they're hopeful that he will give way.
[585] Sweden's railways provide a model of the kind of system that Britain could have if the Peyton amendment stays in the railway privatization bill.
[586] This line, winding its way between the isolated communities of Erstogoetsland Southeast of Stockholm, was one of twenty one regional railways offered for sale five years ago.
[587] A private operator won the first five franchises, but after that, the state company S J won all but one of the remaining sixteen.
[588] On this line, they beat off two private sector competitors.
[589] This line goes to Linnchurping seat of the regional government of Erstogoetsland Which had the task of awarding the franchise.
[590] They chose the state railways because theirs was the lowest bid.
[591] they gave them a three year trial period, to see how attractive they could make the service.
Anders (PS5BL) [592] We had to see what happened to these railways er is more people going to er to go by train, or are less going to go.
[593] And er we got the results now and er we more than doubled it.
[594] it's more than double as much people who is today going by train than before. [music]
david walter (PS5BH) [595] Swedish railways are among the world's market leaders.
[596] Their pride and joy is the X two thousand, a tilting passenger train that operates at high speed on conventional track.
[597] Britain abandoned a similar project eleven years ago.
[598] in the five years since they were first subjected to competition, Swedish Railways have transformed both their efficiency and their performance.
[599] Some experts believe that British Rail would respond to competition in the same way.
bill ? (PS5BM) [600] It is possible to consider a situation where most franchises remain being run by groups of B R managers and a few franchises are run by private sector companies.
[601] The advantage of that would be that if the private sector does have things to offer in the way of better labour practices, better marketing ideas, then these will be copied by the B R system and in Sweden it's quite evident that although very few franchises have gone to the private sector, it has had a quite drastic effect on the way in which the state railway goes about its business.
david walter (PS5BH) [602] Certainly Swedish Railways have taken to acting as toughly as any enterprise in the private sector.
[603] While improving the quality of their service to passengers, they've cut their staff by thirty percent.
[604] Since they were first expose to competition.
[605] The customers enjoy all the benefits of private sector efficiency from a state company.
stig ? (PS5BN) [606] We have restructured the whole company and we are working exactly as a private company.
[607] And we have also done introduced the same working methods er as you can find er outside in the private industry.
david walter (PS5BH) [608] Cos there are people in Britain who simply don't believe that the public sector can be as efficient as the private sector.
stig ? (PS5BN) [609] I think we can show that this is possible.
[610] Er and as you said, the only goal we had to start with was that we should turn the big losses into profit.
[611] This was going on.
[612] And this was just enough for us, coming from the industry.
david walter (PS5BH) [613] in Sweden, introducing competition's had a dramatic effect on the state run railway system.
[614] The experience here suggests that a publicly owned operator can provide a better and more efficient service than private enterprise, given the right conditions.
[615] And the same could apply in Britain.
[616] At least a growing number of Tory MPs are coming round to the idea.
[617] [music] The key question is how many Conservative m Ps are on board for the Peyton amendment.
[618] The Tory whips are busy counting heads to work out whether there'll have to be a government retreat.
[619] For a start they can't guarantee the Ulster Unionists'll be on the government tickets this time.
[620] The bill could create an precedent for Irish Rail from the Republic to buy Northern Ireland Railways.
[621] As for Tory M Ps, some of them prefer to remain anonymous, but On the Record has now found twenty one members who've told the government, they back Peyton.
[622] On top of that, there's the Buckingham MP George Walden who's likely to abstain on the whole bill.
[623] And there are enough Tory back benchers who's names are in the open to force the government to compromise. [music]
david ? (PS5BJ) [624] I know that certain of my er West Country colleagues er are uneasy about the bill.
[625] I I detect a very considerable unease in the Home Counties.
[626] Where as I say, the railway is a very very important issue.
[627] Erm and I do not detect talking to colleagues say on the right of the party, any great enthusiasm for this measure in the way it's presently er designed.
[628] So I think that er we are in quite a strong position.
tim ? (PS5BP) [629] you only need a a handful of colleagues with strong views er opposing an issue you immediately create a cliffhanger.
[630] There's very little that the that the chief whip can do to avoid that situation.
[631] On a matter of importance but divided opinion, like privatization.
[632] But I think there is room for compromise here.
[633] I'd be surprised at the end of the day if er we didn't find a solution that would enable John Macgregor to go forward.
david walter (PS5BH) [634] The privatization bill will probably have to go back to the upper house, whatever happens in the Commons.
[635] Lord Peyton has the right to stick to his guns and he's disinclined to give in after the majority he won last time.
[636] His amendment was carried by thirty eight votes.
Unknown speaker (K6APSUNK) [637] They have voted, contents, one hundred and fifty, not contents, one hundred and twelve.
[638] So the contents have it.
Unknown speaker (K6APSUNK) [639] As far as I know, the all the people who voted er for the amendment, will continue to do so and a great many of of those who voted against it and were quite unaw were not at the time a fully aware of what is proposed, er may well change their mind.
[640] So I think the government would have quite a task on it's hands.
david walter (PS5BH) [641] There's certainly a lot of passion about this in the house of lords.
Unknown speaker (K6APSUNK) [642] Er the House of lords is not a particularly passionate place but er nevertheless it is capable of strong feelings and er I don't think it it expressed a fairly clear opinion on this occasion.
[643] Er and I think it's likely to hold to it.
david walter (PS5BH) [644] Back at Victoria, passengers who want to travel to Gatwick, now have a choice of fare.
[645] On the Gatwick express, there's the luxury price.
Unknown speaker (K6APSUNK) [646] Eight sixty please.
david walter (PS5BH) [647] Alternatively they can travel on the slightly slower Network Southeast for only seven pounds fifty.
[648] Tory loyalists argue that the Peyton amendment would jeopardize this sort of competition, because it would deter enterprising B R managers from leaving the public sector to stage management buy-outs.
tim ? (PS5BP) [649] I don't think that I could ever support the Peyton amendment, the amendment in the house of lords, which if I get it right, would permit B R as an organization to bid for franchises.
[650] I don't mind managers getting together and having in a sense management buy- outs.
[651] Teaming up with private individuals to bid for franchises.
[652] But iff you actually allow B R as an organization to bid, I think it's making a nonsense of privatization because you're saying in essence there isn't anything wrong with B R management at the moment and we'll let them take over the network.
[653] And in that case why, why privatize?
david walter (PS5BH) [654] All the same, MPs from the right of the party are boarding the Peyton train along with left wing Tories.
[655] if John Major intended the bill to convince the right of his radical instincts, he may have misjudged them.
rhodes ? (PS5BK) [656] I don't think rail privatization has ever been really debated inside the conservative party.
[657] Most people prefer privatization on the right of the party, where I stand, but it's not something that we get up early in the morning and actually pray for at every day.
[658] And I think at the present time, all of us on the right are more concerned about getting the economy right and cutting government expenditure that carrying on with er schemes of a privatization that might or might not succeed.
david walter (PS5BH) [659] What do you think the position of the transport secretary would be in the House of Commons if he was forced to drop what is after all a very major plank of his programme?
Unknown speaker (K6APSUNK) [660] Well er they would er Knowing the House of Commons as we do, there would inevitable be some catcalls and some hoots of derision.
[661] But I don't think go governments or ministers should be deterred by them.
[662] Indeed I think that the the the present secretary of state for whom I have great respect and regard, I think he would be very well advised to think again, because I think that the temporary derision that he would meet in the House of Commons would be nothing as compared with the the er the wounding that he will sustain later if and when things go wrong with these proposals.
david walter (PS5BH) [663] At the end of September, a flight across the channel achieved a notable victory on the issue of airline subsidies for the transport secretary, John Macgregor. success for his team on the railways bill, may prove more elusive.
[664] A climb-down wouldn't be easy.
[665] They've already spent two hundred million pounds preparing for privatization.
[666] But with the government under fire from so many directions, the pressure to give way on the Peyton amendment, could be difficult to resist.
john ? (PS5BF) [667] I'm not sure about a U-turn on a railway line, more of a shunt perhaps.
[668] However, now for the return of our resident sage, John Cole. [music]
john ? (PS5BF) [669] So it's unity then?
[670] Well only up to a point Lord Copper.
[671] returning from my prolonged Summer break, I was initially almost as sceptical as the Tory faithful at Blackpool that John Major faces a leadership crisis.
[672] And the ecstatic reception for his speech, might confirm that view among the politically innocent at least.
[673] So might the way in which this week has gradually marginalized Margaret Thatcher.
[674] A senior minister, looking at the vast new platform which turned the Winter Gardens into a television set, suggested that it really ought to contain a pantheon for past leaders.
[675] Ted ought to have been there years ago, he said, and now it's time for Margaret to be elevated.
[676] We could venerate them as ancestors.
[677] A bit Chinese?
[678] I ventured.
[679] No no, he answered, this is Maoist ancestor worship, just the Tory variety.
[680] The crisis only seems to eased because of ruthless conference management and because Tories have looked over the precipice and seen the disastrous consequences of disunity.
[681] At least some of them saw that.
[682] Others on the right saw the fearsome prospect of a Kenneth Clarke leadership.
[683] Clarke himself believes the party simply couldn't bear another leadership contest coming so soon after the Thatcher dismissal.
[684] Tories are not much given to Freudian analysis, but one minister said, the party remained psychotic after the trauma of three years ago.
[685] The victor, presumably Ken Clarke, would be like a Goth or Vandal marching into the smoking ruins of Rome.
[686] But what if John Major's party does badly in the European and council elections next year.
[687] This Loyalist replied, Ah well if John were blamed for that, he'd be in trouble.
[688] Another major enemy said, with ostentatious sadness, that he feared once the public decided a Prime Minister was not up to the job, he'd find it all but impossible to eradicate that impression.
[689] One insider speculated whether if party opinion remained against him, Major would like the more sporting of his cricketing heros, walk from the wicket, even before the umpire's dismissive finger went up.
[690] Those who know him best think, he's more of a fighter than that.
[691] The received wisdom is that if the leadership crisis does erupt, it'll happen this time next year.
[692] Meanwhile prospective runners move with studied casualness into the saddling enclosure.
[693] Clarke's the unchallenged hero of one nation Tories.
[694] Michael Howard, the senior right winger now, might not have as much support as the more philosophical Michael Portillo.
[695] Two junior ministers complained to me of Portillo's ideological zeal in cabinet committee.
[696] When others urge caution for electoral reasons, he argues that it's not worth being in government if you can't do the things you believe in.
[697] The minister himself recognizes this portrait but delights in the political clout he has as the treasury man on many such committees, able to range over the whole field of policy.
[698] But Portillo whose Spanish name meaning the narrow gate, is very citable to a man responsible for sanctioning public spending bids, would need a department of his own before he became a serious leadership candidate.
[699] Oddly, if the P M risks giving him one in the next reshuffle, it might be a sign that his own confidence is returning.
[700] Ministers and whips are worried what the mood of their MPs will be when they get back to Westminster.
[701] Most fears centre on whether the Maastricht rebels and populists like the Wintertons, Tony Marlowe [recording ends]