Examination of Witnesses (Questions 280
THURSDAY 15 DECEMBER 2005
Q280 Chairman: The argument would
be that it is the kind of book. This is not a reflective account
about the life of a Cabinet Secretary, this is gossip in the office.
That is the fundamental difference. That was what was said to
be completely unacceptable, the kind of book that it was. Around
that there could be no negotiation, either you believe it is an
acceptable project or you do not, it is not something where you
can say, "This little bit of gossip is all right, but that
little bit of gossip is not all right", the project was deemed
to be unacceptable.
Mr Price: Yes, and I disagreed.
I exclude the premise of your question that there is nothing in
the book apart from office tittle-tattle, but maybe that strays
into literary criticism as well. There have been political diaries
in the past written by advisers as well as by ministers and Prime
Ministers and I think they have contributed to our understanding
of government and how it is conducted. I do not believe that a
blanket ban on my kind of book would be legitimate in any form
Q281 Kelvin Hopkins: Does this not
all reinforce the point I am trying to make, that there should
be a Civil Service separate from politics which has very strict
rules and a Code of Ethics, on the other hand, you are an ex-journalist,
a political activist, going to work for a political party. You
are as dodgy as I am. You are a politician.
Mr Price: On that spirit of comradeship
Q282 Chairman: I was struck as you
were speaking just now that you also used the word "naïve",
which was the word Christopher Meyer used. You were both expressing
your naivety in thinking that these books would excite any interest
at all. Maybe that gives you a curious bond because, whatever
else it was, it was a very lucrative kind of naivety, was it not?
Mr Price: It turned out to be
a more lucrative kind of naivety than I had anticipated.
Chairman: Thank you very much for coming
and telling us about it.