It usually takes me a few days to plough through the Sunday papers, so it wasn't until I was on the bus this morning that I came across Isobel Oakeshott's
big interview with William Hague in this weekend's Sunday Times.
Hague is quoted as saying he would never, ever wish to lead the Tory Party again, saying that his period in charge gave him the "self knowledge" to realise someone else could do it better.
“I’ve got that all out of my system. Totally,” he says. “I’m glad I was the leader but I’m glad I stopped. I’d had enough. I thought someone else would turn out to be more effective than me and that’s very much the case. I’m a fan of DC and I enjoy working with him, and I’ve only come back to help him win the next election. I don’t ever want to be leader again myself. I could happily write books instead. I enjoy that at least as much as politics.”
“No sane human being who’s done it before would want to do it again. You have to have self-knowledge, in any job. I came to the conclusion that someone else should be doing it.”
There is something that rings true about this. In my dealings with Hague, notably when he was at the Welsh Office and I was on the South Wales Echo, I generally found him to be very straight. And that is not a sexual pun, by the way.
Nevertheless, I think there's a difference between actively seeking high office, and not refusing it when it's handed to you on a plate. Or as the old saying puts it: "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them."
The Tories would never again entrust Hague with the task of returning them to power. But I can foresee a situation where, once in power, they might turn to him, as Foreign Secretary and the nearest thing they have to an elder statesman, to hold things together in some future, currently unforeseen crisis.
Would he say no in those circumstances? I doubt it. He is a politician after all.