The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

Of course, there are natural -- there's a natural symmetry between the press and politicians. The politicians -- all of them, myself included -- would like to have a supportive press. The press have a quite different objective: they need stories, and they wish to sell their newspapers.

So it was quixotic for me not to be close to the press. I wasn't able to seek to influence, in the way perhaps others had been, editorial support in particular. I didn't do that (a) because I thought I wouldn't do it very well -- in fact, I'm sure I wouldn't have done it very well -- but secondly, I did think it was rather undignified. I think there is a different role for the press and the government. The role for the government and politicians is to, as best as they can, run the country and determine what legislation is correct for it. The role of the press, it seems to me, is to hold the government to account. They may do that fairly or unfairly, but I think once you begin to meld those roles, then I think neither the politicians nor the press are doing the job properly that they are best fitted for. And so I thought -- and this may well have been quixotic; most people will tell me it was -- I thought a relative distance between the press and the government, and particularly myself, was a good idea.

Now, it would be easy to misunderstand that and to say that indicated a hostility between me and the press. I wasn't hostile to the press. Indeed, when I first became Prime Minister, I tried to -- I didn't try; I did get the Guardian and the Independent back in the lobby, from which I think they'd excluded themselves, if I remember correctly. I did appoint a press secretary who I thought would serve the press well, be uncontroversial, and would be able to speak in a manner that the press would accept as being authoritative.

So I was keen to build a good relationship -- let me not pretend anything otherwise -- but I thought too close a personal relationship was probably not for me.

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