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8th November 2011
Tony Blair on Philip Gould: “He was my guide and mentor. A wise head, a brilliant mind, and a total rock when a storm was raging.”
Yesterday Tony Blair was interviewed by Channel 4’s Jon Snow on the late Philip Gould and his influence on New Labour. Clearly the former prime minister was very close to Mr Gould. When asked by Mr Snow when was the last time he visited his old friend, Mr Blair says “yesterday” (Sunday), the day that was to be Philip Gould’s last. Four minute video interview, also at Tony Blair’s website, follows –
Blair: “Of all the things he has done in his life, I don’t think there was anything quite as remarkable as the way he faced death and took it not just with extraordinary dignity and courage but left those of us behind feeling great hope about the future as a result of the way that he did that.”
And from Tony Blair’s website –
Blair: “He became indispensable. He was always a constant advocate for the British people, their hopes and anxieties. So his political contribution was immense.”
“But then as his illness gripped him, he became something more. In facing death, he grew emotionally and spiritually into this remarkable witness to life’s meaning and purpose. No one who saw him in those last months was unchanged by him. And the bond between him and his wonderful family was a joy to see.
“I feel very proud and privileged to have known him and to have been his friend.”
Philip Gould’s life, background and career here below
The full video of the Andrew Marr interview of Philip Gould is here at the BBC website (19 minutes). You may notice that in the longer, complete video interview, the BBC chooses NOT to open with Mr Gould criticising Tony Blair, as they do with the shorter excerpt. Purely incidental, but of course.
As for Mr Gould’s thoughts I do not as it happens agree with this – “a greater sense of purpose was missing from New Labour.” In fact today, from all sides, its opponents point out incessantly that New Labour’s sense of purpose was clear. Though their interpretations of that “purpose” vary dependent upon whose often stepped-upon fingers are doing the pointing.
The short version (11 mins) interview below on the Andrew Marr show on 18th November has been updated with the announcement of the death of Mr Gould.
Philip Gould, Baron Gould of Brookwood (born 30 March 1950) is[sic] a British political adviser closely linked with the Labour Party and Tony Blair. He was strategy and polling adviser to the party in the general elections of 1987, 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2005. Gould was one of the key architects of the modern communications revolution inside the Labour Party of the 1980s, which resulted in the emergence of New Labour. As such, he was a close colleague of Labour’s Director of Communications in the late 1980s, Peter Mandelson, and Alastair Campbell.
Gould grew up in Woking, where his father was a headmaster, but failed his 11-plus and went to a Secondary modern school. Leaving school with only one O-level, he went on to study at East London College, based in Toynbee Hall, where he gained four A-levels. He subsequently won a place at the University of Sussex in 1971 to study politics, graduating in 1974. Gould then went to the London School of Economics to study for an MSc in the history of political thought, where he was taught by the eminent political scientist Michael Oakeshott. More recently he has returned to the LSE to teach a course in Politics and Communication.
After a career in advertising, and with the success of his wife Gail Rebuck (later CEO of Random House UK), whom he had met at Sussex, Gould founded his own polling and strategy company, Philip Gould Associates, in 1985. Appointed by Mandelson (a friend from University), Gould recruited the Shadow Communications Agency, a team of communication volunteers, who created Labour’s admired, if unsuccessful, 1987 election campaign. This led to his position of influence within the Labour Party under Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair.
In the afterword of his (only) book The Unfinished Revolution: How the Modernisers Saved the Labour Party (1998) he proposed the amalgamation of the Labour and Liberal Democratic Parties, the purpose of this being the unity of all anti-conservative forces in Britain. This, he said, should facilitate the creation of “the progressive century”, “a century in which progressive politics can take hold, and in which the great majority of working people are helped and supported … not now and again but again and again”, this being in contrast to the previous “conservative century”.
He was the writer of a leaked memo which, in 2000, described the New Labour brand as being contaminated. On 7 June 2004 he was made a life peer as Baron Gould of Brookwood, of Brookwood in the County of Surrey.
He has two daughters; one, the Hon. Georgia Gould, works as website and online coordinator for the Tony Blair Foundation.
Preceeding an interview with Andrew Marr on the Sunday morning BBC TV show, 18 September 2011, it was revealed that his treatment for three-times recurring cancer had been unsuccessful, and that he would only have a few months to live. He discussed this in detail in the interview.
Also see transcript of the above interview, 18th Sep 2011 – misnamed Transcript of Nick Clegg interview
OTHER ARTICLES ON PHILIP GOULD’S DEATH
Simon Hattenstone Guardian article –
- If he was told he could have another 10 years but he’d lose the intensity of the present, would he take it? “I would not move. This is where I should be. I think, I think I should be here.” Another pause. “But the moment I say that I think, what about Gail? Probably I’d take the 10 years because of Gail.”
- Of all his political friends, he says, Tony Blair has proved the greatest revelation. They had worked together for 13 years and had been close, but only in a professional way until his illness. “Obviously he’s religious and we communicated on this spiritual level that changed our relationship completely, and made it very special. He contacts me on an almost daily basis, and texts me continually.”
- When the cancer returned for the second time, Blair told him that it hadn’t finished with him, and now was the time for Gould to discover his purpose in life. And that is what he has been doing ever since: reckoning. And yes he has loved the politics, but he says it’s time to let that go. In the end that has not been his chief purpose. So what has been? “The purpose now is just to live this life of imminent or emerging death in a way that gives most love to the people that matter to me, and I suppose prepares me for death.”
- As I leave, he says this might well be his final interview. Does that bother him? “No, it doesn’t worry me at all. It feels fine.” He smiles again. “On to the next thing.”
2. Obituary at The Huffington Post by pollster Peter Kellner.
- ‘Philip Gould, the best listener in politics’ (guardian.co.uk)
- You: New Labour architect Philip Gould dies aged 61 (guardian.co.uk)
- Philip Gould: architect of New Labour and close aide to Tony Blair (telegraph.co.uk)
RIP – Philip Gould. The Unfinished Revolutionary
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