A lot of people have accused you of being a sort of “Blair-lite”. How would you respond to that? Apart from anything else, how do you feel about Mr Blair as a person?

Yah, well, y’know Tony was really rather good about my taking over the Conservative Party. He sent me a congratulatory letter and even gave me a charming present: a pot plant thing. Bit like a marrow. Said it had a lovely scent so it would be nice to have in my bedroom.

And, y’know, since it’s been growing in there I feel like a new man. At least that’s what my wife says. [Laughs stiffly.] I don’t find myself worrying so much about decisions any more. I think what we have in Britain and in the Party now is a kind of collective—communitarian if you will—way of thinking. Almost like we’re tuning into the voters’ shared mind. And I like what I’m hearing. Determined and bold. Caring, but resolute. Hope for our children. A New Conservative Party for a new century. Forward not back.

I think with our new NHS policy, for example, people realise that there’s nothing to be afraid of. We’re not going to hurt them.

Once people understand, they’ll be grateful. I remember how Thatcher and I fought against it. We were wrong.

Y’know, politics in Britain has changed almost overnight. The Conservatives have been asleep for a long time, but we’re being reborn into a new world.

Here, I’ve taken a cutting for you and put it in a fresh pot. You don’t need to water it much. You don’t need to do anything.