Ruth Davidson interviewed Tony Blair in her first LBC show, with the former prime minister touching on childhood, life in Downing Street and more as he spoke to Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader on ‘An Inconvenient Ruth’. 

We look at some of the key topics and talking points discussed on the broadcast with Ruth Davidson and Tony Blair. 

Life in Glasgow 

Touching on his childhood, Tony Blair mentioned how much of an impact his life in Scotland had on him. He said life in Glasgow had a significant impact on his life and that as a child he had a bit of a “bit of a Scottish accent.” Mentioning trips to Stepps, the former prime minister told Ruth Davidson “Scotland was very much part of my life.” 

The Labour Party

Unsurprisingly the subject of the Labour Party was part of the conversation. Tony Blair stated that after the Labour Party narrowly missed out in 1992 he became “convinced” that the party needed reform saying that both himself and Gordon Brown worked tirelessly discussing “the right position for the Labour Party to be in”.

READ MORE: Ruth Davidson to join LBC as radio host with first show featuring Tony Blair

Expressing his views on time spent in Opposition, he said that doing so in his 30s was not as it gave him time to prepare. He did say that he felt sorry for those who stayed in opposition in their 40s and 50s when they should be at the height of their power. 

On his rise to the leader of the Labour Party, he added that he believed one of the reasons he was successful in becoming the leader of the party was to find someone who could help Labour win the south of the UK. 

He stated that his main aim for changing the perception of the Labour Party was so that it was “competing with the Conservative Party” and reunite voters adding that the main aim of his Labour Party was “not that it governed, but that it governed sustainably” making sure it had more than one term in office to ensure lasting change. 

HeraldScotland:

Life in Number 10 

On his entry into politics, Blair said he was “fascinated” by politics and on his first visit to the House of Commons he thought “this is where I’ve got to be”.

He said on the job of Prime Minister: ” I would never use the word enjoy to describe it” adding “I felt the responsibility so large I would never use the word enjoy about it. 

“I was immensely motivated, that’s a different thing though, isn’t it?”

On life in Number 10 he said that was the case “even though you’re surrounded by people because, in the end, the decisions stop with you. 

“For me, I felt the responsibility is so large, I don’t think I’d ever use the word enjoy about it,” he said.

“When I think of all the opportunities that have come to me as a result of being Prime Minister, I could never have done any of that without being Prime Minister. I am completely grateful but the truth is it is an enormously stressful job.” 

Iraq War 

Davidson also asked how Blair had made the decision to go to war in Iraq. On the War on Terror the former PM said that while some may disagree or believe that he was wrong “There are those are the decisions you have to take on the basis of what you think is right.”

He added:“You have to do what you think is right, - sometimes people forget what 9/11 was like and the aftermath of it and our belief that if we didnt take dramatic action we would be subject to further acts of terrorism”

He also said that keeping alliances strong with the US and Europe was also part of his decision saying that as Prime Minister there are “big alliances you need to keep strong - one is America and one is Europe”  

Covid-19

On the subject of Covid19 Blair called for greater world leadership in the tackling of the Covid-19 pandemic saying that even with Trump in the Whitehouse he would have tried to reach out to world leaders to work together to try and better combat the pandemic. 

He called for more unity on sharing what works and what doesn’t - with the end goal being in his opinion rapid on the spot testing which would be “a bridge to a vaccine.” 

On this issue of international coordination, Blair said that if he was leader he would be trying at least to get world leaders working together on issues such as quarantine best practice and more but admitted that the unprecedented situation and the scope of world politics makes it exceptionally difficult. 

He said that the “American first doctrine makes it difficult” for countries to work together with the US as it is contrary to the principle of coordinating with other countries. He also added that the issue is complicated by the political fallout of the US and China. 

The subject of testing for coronavirus was mentioned during the interview with Blair saying people without coronavirus symptoms should be tested for the disease, even if the results are not “fully accurate” 

Mr Blair said that as the “largest part” of those who contract Covid-19 do not display symptoms of the virus, it was “sensible” for testing to be made more widely available. 

He added that as “you can’t eradicate” coronavirus, the country would have to “live with it” until a vaccine is found.

“That’s why literally for six months, I’ve focused on the issue of testing and we have got to use all the testing capability at our disposal, and for reasons that I completely understand but disagree with, at the moment we’re only testing people with symptoms.

“The largest part of the people who get this disease are asymptomatic, so they don’t know that they’ve got it, so if you’re only testing people with symptoms, you’re missing the majority of people.

“Even if using all these tests that are available, even if these tests are not fully accurate, enough of them are accurate enough in my view to make it sensible to make them available, because you will at least have the best chance of picking up large numbers of asymptomatic people, whereas at the moment you’re not picking up virtually any of them.”

HeraldScotland:

Social media

Davidson asked the former prime minister if social media meant it was harder to be a politician now than when he was in office. Blair said he wouldn’t be Prime Minister if social media had existed when he was at university. “Look, my view is that social media is basically a plague on politics.”

He said social media “widens and accentuates” cultural divides, adding that politicians now have to deal with a “continual social media cycle” instead of the traditional news agenda.

“It’s divisive in its nature because it’s all about impact and I think that’s quite a disconcerting impact on politicians.”

He added that conventional media had become “very divided” and said this was “why the central ground of politics struggles at the moment”.

Blair said that the effectiveness of social media makes it a challenge to politicians now saying “I like to hear reasonable arguments made reasonably.”

READ MORE: Social media is a plague on politics, Tony Blair says

When asked about Rupert Murdoch and his influence during his tenure and comparing it to social media he said that it never felt that the media was in his pocket but as a politician, he would be expected to use the best medium available in the most popular way.  

Technology 

Blair stated that one of the biggest issues in politics right now is the technology revolution - calling it the equivalent to the Industrial revolution. He suggested that those politicians that learn to understand it and use it will govern the future.

However, he said that leaving Europe will make it difficult for the UK to become a world leader in technology saying that the UK can be a technology centre out of Europe but that the nation is “ unnecessarily limiting” itself out of the European market.

He also added “this technology issue is going to mean big changes in government and public sector - if you’re progressive in politics that's your message”