Whips Reflect Hilary Armstrong 4 July 2023
16 November 2023
My PPS [principal private secretary] used to say to me, “I work for you 51% of the time, and for everybody else, 49%.” And he would make sure that the conventions around relationships between the main parties – not just the two parties – and we would discuss how I should be handling them, in terms of making sure that the constitutional things were attended to. [...] I used to say to the backbenchers when we had them all together, “the important thing that you need to do is give yourself wriggle room, because if you make a definitive statement before you’ve heard any of the arguments about a piece of legislation that is coming down the track, you then have to find how you unravel that, or you’re constantly in trouble.” So it was a political job. [...] There was a meeting of the whips before business every day, and that was always run by the deputy, but the deputy and I would have five minutes beforehand just to agree what we needed 4 MINISTERS REFLECT to get on the table that day. [...] 10, and I would pop into the political office every morning really, at some stage, and I would sometimes bump into the PM, sometimes not, and he would always say, “how are they all? How are the little darlings?” And then he would say, if there was anything coming up, “what are the numbers?” So we always had to be on top of the numbers, that was what he was interested in. [...] We had women who had moved their families to the constituency in order to be with them, because by the time I was being elected that was seen as an important thing, that you lived in the constituency.