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William Hague says that appearing on Have I Got News For You is incompatible with being a Front Bencher

William Hague happy 2 Earlier today we published a first tranche of William Hague's answers to the questions you recently wanted to be put to him.

In this second tranche, covering a mixed bag of party and personal topics, the shadow foreign secretary seems to suggest that he thought it wrong of Alan Duncan, the shadow leader of the Commons, to appear on a recent edition of Have I Got News For You. Mr Hague explains that he opted not to make further appearances on the show himself after joining David Cameron's Shadow Cabinet on the grounds that it was in his view "incompatible with being on the Front Bench".

Here he also reaffirms that he will write no more books while he remains in frontline politics, he reveals that he can only drink "a few" pints in a sitting, and states that he is optimistic about the progress the Conservative Party is making in the North of England.

ConservativeHome: Boris excelled and broadened his fan base by doing Have I Got News For You and you too endeared yourself to the public by your appearances on the show (although perhaps now you're shadow foreign secretary you regret referring to the French as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys"?) That said, your friend and colleague Alan Duncan got himself into a bit of trouble with his recent appearance on the programme. Would you advise other colleagues to do the show and what advice would you offer to any Conservative politician who has decided to appear on it?

William Hague: I had a really great time hosting Have I Got News For You on several occasions, but I took the view that appearing on it is not compatible with being on the Front Bench. It is always fun, but the trading of insults that is a necessary part of the programme is best suited to people with relatively few responsibilities so while I don’t actively discourage anyone from appearing on this excellent programme, I would always advise Front Bench colleagues to bear this point in mind.

CH: You are Chairman of the Party's Northern Board. How optimistic are you that inroads will be made in the North in the next election, and will it prove a problem for the party if serious inroads are not made?

William Hague: Since we established the Northern Board at the beginning of 2007 I have become steadily more optimistic about the progress we have made and are capable of making in the future. Roughly speaking, we have in that time doubled our fundraising across the North of England and doubled the numbers of our campaigning staff, with excellent campaign centres established in Salford, Bradford and Newcastle. Last year, for the first time in a long time, our share of the vote in local elections increased by the same amount in the North of England as in the rest of the country. We also have some great candidates in our target seats, overwhelmingly born and bred in the North themselves. So I now think we are making good progress, which is vitally important because the Conservative Party must always be a national party.

CH: I really enjoyed reading your biographies on William Wilberforce and William Pitt the Younger. Have you got any plans to write another book on a political figure from this period, like Edmund Burke perhaps?

William Hague: Thank you - I very much enjoyed writing them, and found that process the most satisfying of my whole professional life so far. I certainly have plans to write more books, and they are likely once again to be centred on the late 18th century, but these plans are on hold for as long as I am active in frontline politics. So it may be a while before you need to look out for my next publication!

CH: Thirty two years ago, you wanted "to be free". Do you feel more free now than then?

William Hague: Yes, in many ways. I grew up in an area of Yorkshire dominated by nationalised industries, local authority housing and a school system devoid of choice, so personally I feel much freer now than then. However, in recent years the surveillance state has been encroaching on freedoms in new ways: a new government must do a better job than this one has of balancing liberty and security.

CH: How many pints can you really drink in a sitting?

William Hague: Only a few. In this sense, I am a pale shadow of my former self.


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