Blair V Major the Great Election Debate (Round One); Broadcaster Martyn Lewis Recently Interviews Both the Main Party Leaders,toady,at the Start of an Election Campaign Which Promises to Have Live TV Debates between Them as a Centrepiece,he Reveals What They Had to Say

Daily Mail (London), March 17, 1997 | Go to article overview

Blair V Major the Great Election Debate (Round One); Broadcaster Martyn Lewis Recently Interviews Both the Main Party Leaders,toady,at the Start of an Election Campaign Which Promises to Have Live TV Debates between Them as a Centrepiece,he Reveals What They Had to Say


Byline: MARTYN LEWIS

FOR the first time in history there is a possibility that the leaders of the two main parties in Britain will meet head-to-head in live pre-election TV debates.

But while broadcasters and politicians haggle over the details, the Daily Mail can give a foretaste of what is to come.

Martyn Lewis, one of Britain's most respected news broadcasters, has interviewed both John Major and Tony Blair recently for his forthcoming book Reflections on Success, in which famous achievers talk about their route to the top.

Here, in exclusive extracts from those interviews, the two party leaders offer a fascinating insight into their personal beliefs, their ambitions and the battle ahead, starting with Tony Blair.

BLAIR ON ACCESS

Do you think that success is a goal in itself, or must it be tied to a particular vocation?

FOR me it has to be. For example, if we were to win the General Election, obviously that would be a success, but ultimately I would only feel I'd succeeded if I'd achieved something with that victory.

People often say to me: `You've made a big success of your life so far,' and I say to them: `I haven't really, because the purpose in my life is to change things and all I've done is get myself into the position where I've got the opportunity to do that.'

The test for me is not how good an opposition you run, but whether you can run a good government, which is why this interview may be a bit premature. Success to me derives from what you believe your life's purpose to be.

Do you think success derives from life's accidents or that it is a product of a single, relentless determination?

I'M A a great believer in the fact that most achievement is born out of struggle, that it never comes easily. One of the few advantages of the job I do is that you get to meet a broad range of people who are, I suppose, highly successful, or at least at the top of their chosen profession.

With each of them - maybe they're a famous writer or a big business man - you always think they must be sitting back and thinking life is just wonderful, but when you meet them, they're still striving, there's a goal to be achieved.

I'm never quite sure what the interplay is between what is naturally within us and what is the product of circumstance. You can occasionally meet people who, for no particular reason, have been born with enormous drive and determination; but usually you find that the person has been aware that they've had something to overcome, that they've needed the edge that comes from thinking: `I've got to get out there and make something of my life.'

When I think back, I became aware - when my father became very ill when I was ten or 11 - that life can be bad as well as good. There was a sense of insecurity, that life wasn't going to be easy . . .

Are you more likely to be successful if you do have a sense of insecurity?

YES. I don't believe I will ever think: `Right, that's it, I have succeeded.' I think I will always be saying: `I could be doing more, I should be doing more, I've got to do it better.' I think, in the end, very few people I know succeed without a lot of hard work, dedication and application.

What are the qualities needed for a cabinet minister and prime minister?

TO BE able to take decisions sensibly . . . to distinguish between what is and is not important.

As a Leader of the Opposition, you're in a position of executive responsibility, and the great thing is to decide which battles to fight and which not to fight; you have to keep your eye on the big picture. It's the same for a cabinet minister and for a prime minister. You've got to have a very clear set of objectives and goals. You need to have an absolutely clear determination to get there.

On failure

What were your biggest failures and how did you recover from them? …

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