9 March 1998

Rt. Hon Lord Tebbit CH

I think the Dome is going to be to the typical Disneyland impresario what the Lord Chancellor is to interior decorators. It has a most extraordinary history and as people will recollect it was one of my former colleagues who started the thing off (Michael Heseltine). It seemed quite bizarre to me to decide to build a building before you’ve decided what you want to have in the building, and contrary to normal human experience.

When you look at what is going to be inside this temporary building – this sort of twenty-first century "prefab", I suppose we should call it – what does it say? It’s suppose to be about celebrating the millennium, the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ. Does it say anything at all about the great cultural history of these last 2000 years, or anything about Britain’s part in that great cultural history, indeed, anything about Europe’s part in it? No. It’s a dumbed down operation. It’s a Disneyland operation. The Prime Minister said it would be the most exciting day out in the world. He’s obviously never been white water rafting for a start! He may find he’s got more exciting days at the dispatch box before the end of this parliament. I think it’s the most extraordinary thing. Why not take a ticket to Disneyland and see the real thing now?

The French had the good sense not to try to put anything inside the Eiffel Tower, and I’m still not reconciled to that vulgar, dirty, concrete monstrosity on the South Bank, which is the hangover from the exhibition of 1951.

Peter Mandelson hasn’t yet discovered that he’s going to have a building with, in effect, in intellectual terms, nothing inside it!

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