Robinson: `Blair is as dictatorial as Thatcher'
Saturday 01 May 1999
In his first interview since his spectacular fall from office with Peter Mandelson, Mr Robinson also claims the Prime Minister is just as interested in "spinning" policies as the policies themselves.
The millionaire MP's comments will be made in Blair's Way, a Channel 4 documentary to be screened tomorrow night, which assesses the impact of Mr Blair's leadership style.
It will be preceded tonight by another Channel 4 programme in which a former adviser of the late Labour leader John Smith claims Mr Blair's predecessor would have encouraged a more "consultative approach" to government. In If John Smith Had Lived a Labour MP admits that he does not believe he would have won his parliamentary seat if Mr Blair had not become leader. It also includes claims that Mr Blair would "bang his head against his desk in frustration" at the slow pace of internal party reform under Mr Smith's leadership.
Mr Robinson - whose pounds 373,000 home loan led to Mr Mandelson's resignation from the Cabinet, and one of the blackest periods of the Government to date - will say that Mr Blair's style is similar to that of Margaret Thatcher. "It seems to me Tony's taken the Thatcher model a bit further really and the role of Cabinet is very restricted indeed ... some of the cabinet meetings only last 20 minutes for example. In the old days they would go on for hours," he says.
"He's also very interested in policy and he's also very interested in the presentation of policy and the two are pushed parallel in his evaluation of it."
Ron Davies, who was forced to resign as secretary of state for Wales over the Clapham Common affair, also tells the programme that Mr Blair's grip on the Government is total.
"When you arrive at Cabinet, basically the decisions are taken and it's the final collective seal of approval," he says.
Tonight's John Smith programme, which marks the fifth anniversary of his death from a heart attack, addresses for the first time one of the most sensitive issues within the Labour Party. Some Blairite MPs say privately that a Smith leadership would not have transformed the Labour Party in a fundamental way and might not have achieved outright victory at the last election. Stephen Twigg, whose defeat of the former Tory cabinet minister Michael Portillo was the most spectacular result of the 1997 election, will say that he would not have won his seat if Mr Smith had remained leader.
"I don't believe it's likely that I would have been an MP in Enfield Southgate without Tony Blair and New Labour," he says.
"I think we would have done very well, I think we would have succeeded in winning all sorts of votes that we didn't win before. But I think that New Labour itself and Tony Blair's leadership were crucial in constituencies like mine."
- 1 Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
- 2 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 3 Nick Kyrgios calls former Olympian Dawn Fraser a 'blatant racist' after she tells Wimbledon star to 'go back where their parents came from'
- 4 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Man who was struck and killed by lightning in Brecon Beacons 'was carrying a selfie stick'
Greece debt crisis as it happened: EU chiefs at loggerheads hours before Alexis Tsipras’s last ditch deal proposals
Bakery sends 'horrific' version of Frozen-themed birthday cake to unsuspecting customer
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
Greece debt crisis: Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande issue Athens with 24-hour ultimatum to avoid crashing out of the euro
Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...