Tony Blair's memoirs were only published at 8am this morning and whilst most of the papers carry stories based on excerpts which have apparently been circulating, there is no serialisation and only the Guardian appears to have secured an interview with the former Prime Minster himself (Andrew Marr's interview recorded in the last few days will be screened on BBC2 tonight at 7pm).
Here is a summary of what Blair tells the Guardian:
He admits that banning foxhunting was "not one of my finest policy moments" and in retrospect a mistake: "I think yes on balance it was in the end. It's not that I particularly like hunting or have ever engaged in it or would. I didn't quite understand, and I reproach myself for this, that for a group of people in our society in the countryside this was a fundamental part of their way of life."
Why the Freedom of Information Act was not "sensible": "It's not practical for government. "If you are trying to take a difficult decision and you're weighing up the pros and cons, you have frank conversations. Everybody knows this in their walk of life. Whether you are in business – or running a newspaper – there are conversations you want to have preliminary to taking a decision that are frank. And if those conversations then are put out in a published form that afterwards are liable to be highlighted in particular ways, you are going to be very cautious. That's why it's not a sensible thing."
On his relationship with Gordon Brown and his feeling that he would be a "disaster" as Prime Minister: "Towards the end it got extremely difficult and there's no point denying that… [Unless Brown defined himself as a New Labour successor, his premiership] "was going to be a disaster. I knew it."
Why Labour was doomed to lose under Brown: "In the end we had to keep the idea of a modern progressive Labour party, at the cutting edge of the future … And if we departed from that, it was going to be a disaster. We were going to lose if we did that."
Why people may now underestimate Brown: "I think the danger with Gordon now is that, people having underestimated the difficulty with him when I was prime minister, they are in danger of underestimating the strength now that he's had his own period as prime minister. The truth is he was and is someone of extraordinary ability, capacity, energy, determination and made a huge contribution to the government. Now, in that last period it became difficult, very difficult, because we were disagreeing about fundamental areas of policy, on reform."
Why Labour will not be elected if it defaults to an attack on "Tory cutters and Lib Dem collaborators": "You've got to provide a strong way out of the deficit… How you withdraw your stimulus is, let me put it this way, a right versus wrong issue not a right versus left issue. Now the composition of spending and whether your policies on public services reform and welfare help the poorest or not, that's absolutely right versus left. But on the deficit itself it's right versus wrong. You've got to have a way out of it and it's got to be credible… If you simply say no you aren't going to succeed."
His view of the size of the State: "I think the single biggest danger with the financial crisis was a view that gripped a lot of progressive politicians that somehow people were going to want the state to come back in fashion. I didn't think that and don't think that. I personally think – and that's why I am still an advocate of third way politics – that there is a concept of the state that is strategic and empowering that is actually the right idea. I'm not in favour of the big state and not in favour of the minimal state. I think there is a concept of a reformed and reinvented government that is where myself and Bill Clinton were in the early 21st century that I still think is the right idea.
His justification of the Iraq War: "I don't seek agreement. I seek merely an understanding that the arguments for and against were and remain more balanced than conventional wisdom suggests… When I use the word responsibility, I mean it in a profound way. I say in the book the term responsibility has its future as well as past tense. And that's what I feel. It's not a coincidence I am devoting a large part of my time now to the Middle East or to religious interfaith."
His belief in the need to tackle radical Islamism post-9/11 and to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons: "What was shocking about September 11 was that it was 3,000 people killed in one day but it would have been 300,000 if they could have done it. That's the point … I decided at that point that you cannot take a risk on this. This is why I am afraid, in relation to Iran, that I would not take a risk of them getting nuclear weapons capability. I wouldn't take it. Now other people may say, come on, the consequences of taking them on are too great, you've got to be so very careful, you'll simply upset everybody, you'll destabilise it. I understand all of those arguments. But I wouldn't take the risk of Iran with a nuclear weapon."
His insistence that he has never condoned the torture of terrorist suspects: "This notion that I have ever condoned or would ever condone torture in any circumstances is complete rubbish. I totally disagree with it and I would never condone it, not in any circumstances. I think it is not just morally wrong. I think it is an extremely foolish and stupid way to try to gather information. I don't know where this has all come from. I don't know whether people in other countries, like the US, were doing these things. I honestly don't know. And therefore when people say 'Will you condemn it?' I say I'm not going to condemn something I really don't know about. But what I do know is that nobody in the UK system, as far as I know, would ever have either engaged in that or condoned it. I actually feel strongly about it, so it's just simply not true."
His "adoration" for the Labour Party: "What people should understand is that I adore the Labour party… As I say in my introduction, I feel the most enormous debt of gratitude to the Labour party and huge loyalty to it. I just want it to win. I want to see it win because I think that a modern progressive Labour party is better for the country than a Tory party."
His refusal to officially endorse a candidate in the leadership election: "People know where I stand in the Labour party and what I believe in. But I don't want to get into the business of making formal endorsements and so on."