Speaking of the Parkinson's disease that now afflicts him, Thorpe says:
"The saliva and shakes make me seem gaga" the 78-year-old says of his disease. "I'm not. I remember pretty much the lot."He rates his own contribution to the party highly:
Thorpe sees himself as a guardian of the Liberal vote through difficult times. "It's now a three-party system and I think I built it up. I know it's an arrogant thing to say but, if it weren't for me, the party would have disintegrated."And, of the affair with which his name is now inevitably associated, he says:
"If it happened now I think ... the public would be kinder. Back then they were very troubled by it," he says. "It offended their set of values."
Harold Wilson thought the allegations a Conservative smear, asking in a memo to one of his ministers, Barbara Castle, why damaging details surfaced later in the 70s at a time when Labour might want to go into coalition with the Liberals, rather than earlier when Heath wanted them.
There are supposed to be new details that will emerge about the Thorpe trial only after his death - all he will say now is that it was more likely to have been his opposition to apartheid that brought about the trouble. "South Africa certainly attempted to smear me. They made life very difficult.