Grabbing a cabinet minister for an interview in the middle of a crisis is not easy. We have managed it this month, however, with our cover star William Hague. Speaking to him at his most difficult period in the Foreign Office so far, Amber Elliott found him friendly but cautious. Hague defends his actions during the evacuation of British nationals from Libya but also remains wedded to promoting trade heavily through the Foreign Office. Hague has never been a typical politician, even by today’s standards – he was exceptionally young in both his rise and fall from the top. Now he’s back in the cabinet as “the younger elder statesman” in the memorable phrase of one insider. Hague has found himself being accused of incompetence, a dangerous charge for a politician. It can easily turn to ridicule and then you’re in deep trouble. Like all his cabinet colleagues, Hague must define himself, despite the spending cuts, as a success. His challenge is to explain that to the outside world. As our stunning opening spread shows on p56, the Foreign Office is steeped in history, yet this is the start of a new era. We also interview his shadow, the highly experienced, calm and dogged Douglas Alexander on p50, as part of a foreign affairs special. I can’t escape the feeling that Hague must up his game to a new level to prosper. With events in the Middle East developing, he does not have the luxury of time. We’re the only magazine in which you’ll find exclusive interviews with the prime minister, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg on their PMQs experiences, plus Scotland’s first minister and other party leaders as we look ahead to the Caledonian battle on 5 May. We also catch up with Labour MPs on the coalition policies they loathe the most. No one rivals us for the number of politicians we feature. This is what we mean when we call ourselves the best guide to political life in Britain.
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On the Cover William Hague photographed exclusively for Total Politics by Alister Thorpe on 22 February 2011 at the Foreign Office, London.
4 | April 2011 | Total Politics