After sitting down with the Secretary of State Defence and quizzing him about his leadership ambitions, I thought it only right to provide the fresh-blood with the same opportunity to get their thoughts on paper. In their first interview, the Culture Secretary and leadership challenger /u/A1fie335 spoke to The Spectator about their vision.
While nobody is questioning your ambition, you could be said to lack experience. Some people rate experience very highly, and others think either you are born with leadership qualities or you aren’t. Which school of thought to do you belong to, and do you think your lack of experience could hold you back?
I do understand that people may think that and to a certain extent they are correct but not completely correct. Time doesn’t always equal experience and what you are capable of. I have been told throughout my time here that I am capable of doing many things and I am enthusiastic.
You’ve recently been appointed to cabinet as a Secretary of State. First of all, congratulations. Secondly, what do you intend to do with your newfound political power? While not the biggest, culture is an established department with a sizeable budget, a team of civil servants and a remit which touches many people’s lives; I’d love to hear your plans.
Thank you. This an important position in an important department so I am dedicated to do what I can. As you may know I was the Culture Minister in the Scottish Government and I will be able to do more. One of my biggest focuses will be Theatre and the entertainment industry as that is one of my passions. Of course I won’t just limit myself to that because there is so much more to do!
You’re running to be leader of a party which often finds itself as a kingmaker, so you’re obviously ambitious and eager to rise through the ranks of British politics. With that in mind, I’m sure you aspire to more than DCMS, so if you had your pick of the departments, and you very well may soon enough, which office of state would you choose and why?
I would actually stick with being in DCMS, it’s something I’m passionate about and something I know I can do well.
Now, time for a more hard-hitting question. Liberal Democrat leadership signed off on the Drug Reform Bill, a major piece of legislation which has massive implications for people’s lives. For its authors, it’s a piece of flagship legislation. For the Liberal Democrats to provide their parliamentary support for the bill from its early stages, and then to retract that support at the eleventh hour, demonstrates a serious lack of reliability and almost a fickleness. As a party which needs a good reputation as a partner to hold influence, how are the Liberal Democrats going to make amends?
We did confirm this with SapphireWork today as I had a chat with her and I will be talking to the Conservatives later tonight. We came to a mutual agreement with the Health Secretary on withdrawing co-sponsorship. I do see how that may appear as having a lack of reliability but as the Executive in the Liberal Democrats, we will make sure that there is better communication if we find ourselves in a similar situation but I will not let that happen again if I do become Leader.
More on the matter of the Liberal Democrat’s relationship with currently the largest party in the House of Commons, the Conservatives; there can be no doubt that the Liberal Democrats have shifted considerably to the left in recent months and recent rejections will only have undermined an already strained, and straining, working relationship. Do you think the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats can work together in the future, would a third CleggCo government be viable, and if not, does that not leave Liberal Democrat influence dented?
I would definitely be open to improving that connection with the Conservatives and possibly work with them in the future. I feel as every connection with a party can be improved even if there has been previous affairs between them.
Specifically, about whether or not the Liberal Democrats have shifted this way or that, tell me about your personal politics. Where do you identify on the political spectrum if you can be pinned down?
I would say I’m a left leaning liberal. I do believe in devolution as that can allow Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to thrive especially with their own Culture. Of course with that all in mind, I will never oppose listening to someone else’s opinion if it’s the same as mine or not.
Strangely for modern British politics, /u/A1fie335 ends on a conciliatory note. Refreshing and welcome indeed, one wonders if we are about to turn a corner in political discourse with a new breed of more temperate politicians, or if this bright-eyed and bushy-tailed leadership hopeful is simply still enjoying their political honeymoon period.
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