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.