20/06/2011 Daily Politics


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Afternoon, folks, welcome to the Daily Politics. European finance


ministers meeting in Luxembourg have agreed in principle to provide


Greece with emergency funding of �10 billion. But they say it's


dependent on the Greek parliament approving a new round of austerity


measures. We'll be asking, are they just throwing good money after bad?


Ministers are to stick to their timetable for changing the state


pension age despite being urged to think again by backbench MPs.


Are free schools all the rage? The Government hopes so! It says more


than 100 of them will open next year run by parents, teachers and


charities. And gone but in no way forgotten.


We'll be discussing the legacy of the anti-war campaigner Brian Haw,


All that in the next half hour. And with us for the whole programme


today is the former deputy headteacher who was forced to


resign from her job following a speech she made to the Conservative


Party conference, Katharine Birbalsingh. Welcome back. First


this morning, let's talk about pensions because MPs unhappy at the


Government's plans to raise the retirement age for men and women to


66 by 2020 will get a chance to voice their opposition when the


Commons debates the Pensions Bill today. Critics say the move is


unfair on around 330,000 women who will be forced to work for two


years longer than they expected. But ministers are, so far, sticking


to their timetable. Our correspondent Jo Coburn can tell us


more. We are talking about quite a bit of opposition. Yes, cross-party


opposition. Not many Tory MPs, 61 signatures for an early day motion


to force a debate on this issue. A significant number of Lib Dem and


Labour MPs who are leading this campaign are saying remitted --


women will be targeted unfairly because of the equalisation of the


state pension age for men and women. They have already agreed to


increase the state pension age to 66 by 2020, but in order that men


and women will be able to get to that stage at the same time, they


will have to increase the rate for women and there will be a certain


group of women who will not be able to claim their pension until 65 by


2018 and they will be unfairly poor. I heard that Iain Duncan Smith


himself has expressed reservations to George Osborne. In view of the


fact that even the welfare Tsar is uncomfortable, how long can they


stick to that possession -- position? Iain Duncan Smith will be


uncomfortable, they will be uncomfortable that the idea that


women might be unfairly targeted. What we don't have is the exact


figure, how much money would have to be thrown at this in order to


subsidise and pay the women they might lose out over those 18 months.


But some of the figures have been something like �3 billion. The


Treasury would have to come up with that and at the moment I don't get


the sense they are keen to do so. That doesn't mean they have closed


the door on this, but the issue will be raised this afternoon and


it will be interesting to see whether they give any indication


that in a few years they might tried to find the money. Thank you.


Looking forward to working until 66? I have to say I do love


teaching. I would happily teach forever. 66 might be too early!


Indeed, it would be for me. But I realise that is not necessarily the


normal response from people. Clearly it is a concern. People


having to work longer. But at the same time, our population... We


can't have it all. We have to live within our means. People are living


longer. I was about to say unfortunately, it is not


unfortunate, but there are consequences. His there anybody in


the teaching profession in the state schools, you have got to


retire at the retirement age? you can continue working longer if


you want. In teaching it is always said that the longer you wait to


retire, the more likely you want to die earlier. It is such a stressful


job and it takes so much out of you that when you stop suddenly, you


are in a bit of shock. Treadmill. Yes, you have to go on forever.


The Greek debt crisis and the austerity measures that the


government is trying to implement make the situation in Britain look


like a walk in the park. The government in Athens says it will


run out of funds within weeks unless it receives the next tranche


of money from the bailout agreed last year. EU finance ministers


meeting in Luxembourg have postponed a final decision until


the Greek parliament agrees a new round of spending cuts. But they


will also need to negotiate a second bailout to prevent a default


further down the line. Not everyone, though, is happy about more public


money being committed. Anita has more.


Are we just days away from a Greek tragedy? Last year, economic


collapse was averted by a 110 billion euro bailout from the EU


and the IMF. The Greek government, led by George Papandreou, promised


to implement tough austerity measures. Now, though, a new


bailout is needed to stop Greece defaulting on its debt - maybe a


further 120 billion euros. Most of the money would have to be put up


by other countries in the eurozone. But German Chancellor, Angela


Merkel, says that private investors should take some of the pain too,


perhaps by rolling over loans. And she may seek the participation of


countries outside the eurozone, including the UK. Boris Johnson


says that Greece should be allowed to default and leave the eurozone.


Agreeing a second bailout would be "chucking good money after bad".


George Osborne insists that Britain should not have to contribute to a


new rescue. But the Government fears that a Greek default could


spark off a new banking crisis. With financial markets unsettled by


the uncertainty, a decision will have to be taken soon one way or


the other. I'm joined now by our correspondent Steve Evans, who's in


Luxembourg where EU finance ministers have been meeting. Maybe


you can tell us firstly which way... What have they decided? They have


decided, given the money -- give them the money, but only if they do


the tough bit. They are not going to say you can have the money and


we will wait to see what happens with the austerity measures.


Basically, you can have the money, but you need to do it. There is a


game of bluff going on because the eurozone ministers' meeting in


Luxembourg know quite well that Greece defaulting would be a crisis


for all of them. Greece has strong cards to pay, the eurozone


ministers clearly have strong cards to pay in that they have the money.


There has a lot of bluff going on, and arm-twisting, with the IMF


saying you need to put up your bit of the money from the eurozone to


keep this thing afloat. The great unspoken argument is, would it be


better if Greece simply was cut loose from the eurozone? There is


the difficulty of that for the people here because that would


precipitate a banking crisis in Greece and that would probably


precipitate banking crisis in other countries, perhaps including


Britain. It is very much being shouted from the hilltops here,


Boris Johnson saying cut them loose, let's not give a penny to them. How


could Britain be pressured to do it and are they likely to do it?


pressure would be if there were a crisis, let's imagine them acquire


a Greek default, the Greek banking system collapsed, the Greek


government could not repay its debts, you then look at the banks


which have lent to Greece, they are primarily France, another to


Germany, number three Britain. All of those banks would be going to


their governments and saying, remember Lehman Brothers clumber --


Lehman Brothers? Are you going to let us for? What are you going to


do about it? That is the way the real politics would unfold in that


extreme situation. It is not certain to happen. Maybe the


austerity will go through, maybe the Greek economy will start to


sort itself out, maybe productivity will rise and maybe this drip-drip


approach of the bail-out will work. But the possibility, the scenario


at the darkest end of it, is a very serious one. If British people


think we are not in the eurozone so it doesn't affect us, the view here


would be they are wrong. Thank you for that.


With us now is Professor Costas Meghir, an economist from the


University College London, and Sajid Javid, the Bromsgrove MP and


a former director at Deutsche Bank. That -- it is the German banks who


have the second biggest exposure to Greek debt after the French banks.


They have already had 110 billion euros. And they need more, a lot


more. Yet the Greek financial situation is just as bad as when


they got there first bail-out. Why throw good money after bad? In my


opinion Greece will almost certainly do fault, it is the


question of time. It is a matter of months rather than years. The key


issue is because time is so important, if more time can be


purchased to help banks and other investors to prepare for this, it


will benefit everyone, including the UK economy. They are not going


slow in Europe to prepare for a default, they are going slow to try


to negotiate the right terms in the hope of avoiding a default. In my


opinion they went the vault -- avoid the default. The whole


European project was based on political dishonesty in the first


place and that has been continued by European leaders. Greece can't


recover unless it leaves the euro, but it is better that more time is


purchased so we avoid a Lehman Brothers scenario. Many observers


believe Greece doesn't suffer from a liquidity problem, it is not


short of cash and they need money just to tide it over until the


money comes in, it is effectively bust and no amount of bail-out can


rescue a bust economy. That is absolutely true. Greece is


basically insolvent because of deep structural problems. The Labour


markets and product markets and other aspects of the Greek economy


have been not only neglected, but going worse over the last 30 years.


What is happening now is that the Europeans have to think through the


whole euro project. The 12 billion that Greece needs now to remain


afloat will be forthcoming and I think there will be a vote of


confidence passing on Tuesday because nobody is ready for an


early summer apocalyptic scenario. But then they will have to think,


they need to realise Greece is insolvent and the need to decide


what to do. They Iraq two options. One is they decide, OK, the


eurozone project is very important, we will go to some kind of fiscal


union and we will forgive part of Greek debt against tough reforms


and the market. Germans telling you how to run your fiscal policy.


Exactly, or so the structure of the economy, like markets,


privatisations. They would do that for you as well? That will go down


a bomb in Athens! That is only one option. The other option is that


Greece leaves the euro, it makes the debt into Crapper, which is a


default. Your debt would still be in euros. -- drachma. If Greece


left the euro, it would do nominate its debt in drachmas and default. A


its current debt distilling euros. All Greek debt, 90% of group debt


is under Greek law. Effectively nobody can stop them from


dominating it in another currency. It will be a default, but it makes


no sense for Greece to before start of the euro without nominating...


The EU and the IMF are saying we will probably give you this but we


want see evidence that things will change. I read this morning that


this privatisation programme that is supposed to raise so much money


has not even got off the ground. Nothing has been sold. And that in


an economy dominated by the public sector, so far not a single civil


servant has lost their job. Yes. is not happening. You're absolutely


right and that is exactly the problem. You're asking what should


happen. I think what should happen is that we need to start a very


deep programme of reforms. You are talking about privatisations, but


only a public finance issue, at the same time you need to change the


structure of the economy, you need to increase competition and change


the legal structure. Griggs paying tax would be interesting. Then


there is another misconception. That the constitution does not


allow firing civil servants, it does. There should be a big reform?


Yes. Does the British government have a policy? I think it does. We


have to act in our best interests. What is the policy? It is in our


best interests that there is no immediate collapse of Greeks and


other peripheral countries in the euro countries. We trade over half


our exports with the eurozone. Almost 500% of GDP, which leads to


greater exposure to the eurozone. We are in favour of a second juror


K bailout should be managed by the eurozone countries. I would not


like to see us participate in a second bailout. I did not as


whether we should participate. Regardless of whether we


participate or not, is the British government in favour of a second


the EU bailout? I cannot speak for the British government, but what is


interesting is that there was a meeting of European ministers


yesterday, and I gather the Chancellor did not attend. I think


if he had, they would have expected him to bring his cheque from. That


speaks for itself. If we step back from this, the euro was always a


bankruptcy machine. The causes may be different in the different


countries, but the trigger point is exactly the same, and that is the


euro. Fundamentally, the countries in their need to move to fiscal


union all we need to get rid of it. The Chancellor had an important


event to attend, his 40th birthday! Have before tax money to be used to


bail out Greece? -- happy for your tax money. I like people, schools


and countries to be held to account. I will take that as a no! Thank you


for coming back. His story is going to run all through the summer,


particularly because the Government's majority in Greece is


about five seats. This morning, Michael Gove gave a


speech at a think tank just around the corner. Katharine was there. He


was crowing about the success of his free schools policy with about


20 to open in September. We have been following one, a primary


Academy in Berkshire, and Max Cotton has been to meet the new


teachers who have been appointed since we were last there.


This is Langley Hall, and we have been watching it transformed from


the grain of an idea into a real school opening its doors after the


summer holidays. Like other free schools, this one will be funded


out of general taxation, but they are controlled and run by private


companies or individuals. Since we were last here, the teaching staff


have been hired, and while the building work at the school goes on


in preparation for the arrival of Langley Hall's first pupils, we


have gone to the local pub. In primary school tradition, we


started with a bit of show and tell. Priya has been teaching for 12


years and will be concentrating on the youngest pupils at Langley Hall.


Brendan has been teaching for 11 years, and his expertise is in


special needs. Elaine has been a teacher for more than 30 years, and


her subject is music. I want to ask you all, what has attracted you to


this school? Many things. The main thing is the ethos of the school


matches my home. The Health is preparing children for life. --


ethos. We will be doing that through looking at life skills,


which is very much in tune with the early years curriculum. It is new,


exciting we are experiencing it from the start, and we have got a


great team of people who are determined to make it work. Have


you been able to pay for it to light out of the curriculum? Is


that a good thing? Yes. It is choosing the things that are right


for the children we are going to be teaching. When I first started


teaching 32 years ago, it was a more free form of education. I saw


the national curriculum cumin and teachers being channelled down a


specific path. There are aspects of the natural curriculum which we are


going to take, and we want to take them on because they are right, but


certain parts we can now tailor to what we want to do and what is


right for the children. Is it elitist? It is not selective. The


admissions criteria are in line with admissions criteria for other


local authority schools. You have got people leaving independent


private schools to come to this school, haven't you? Only 25%, the


rest are coming from state schools, so it is a great mixture. And that


is not elitism, it is parents choosing to send their children to


the school. They are not being selected as such. They have to be


alive at the same admissions criteria as anyone else applying. -


- in line. And you're all being paid much more money, is that


right? Hardly! We are being paid in line with standard pay scales.


it is the same Quetta mark you are not in it for the money? No.


are all idealists customer TS. As many as 20 free schools will be


opening in September. The take-up next it could be over 200.


Our guest is planning to set up a free school in south London, and in


the Middlesbrough studio is the Labour education spokesman, Ian


Wright. You are setting up any borough of Lambeth, I think. That


is right. If the local education authority, which I assume controls


most of the schools in that area, is it helping or hindering? Well,


at the moment we are in discussions with the local authority, and I'm


hoping that they will be held for. What you need from them? Well, the


building that we would like is an old school building, and it belongs


to the council. It would be for the council to negotiate with the


Department for Education and when the time comes. So they could


refuse to let you have the building. You have another one? No. We would


be in trouble. How much money when you get from the government to run


the school? Well, schools are funded on a pay-per-view basis. --


Our intention is to build up the number of pupils every year.


main advantage that these schools have is that they are independent


of the local authority, so people think. But the school that you got


into so much trouble in after a speech was independent of the local


authority as well, wasn't it? It was an academy. You are right to


say that they will be run in the same way that academies are run.


They are exactly the same, really. The difference is that a free


school is set up by people in the community, and what academy status


for free school status in says Gould is the freedom to be ever to


make decisions. Just like that teacher was saying, certain parts


of the curriculum are useful for their population of children, and


some parts are not. It seems silly that people from the local


authority who do not know about teaching should come and tell


teachers how to teach, or tell the governors have to govern. Let me go


to Ian Wright. We have not got much time, I am afraid, but we will come


back to the subject. I'm interested, for our viewers and for myself, his


Labour for or against establishing these free schools? Good morning.


Labour is against the establishment of free schools as national policy,


I hope that is fairly clear. It is fairly clear, and your boss, Andy


Burnham, when asked on another BBC shows said, yes, I am against them


as well, but he then said that he rather liked the look of a free


school being started up by a Labour supporter, Peter Hyman. I think


Andy, to be fair to him, is very pragmatic. He recognises that when


we get back into power in 2015, the educational landscape will be very


different. He also appreciates that many parents and people setting of


free schools have the best interests of pupils and children at


heart. He has to be pragmatic, quite rightly, because we cannot


support that kind of blanket statement. But as a national policy,


Labour is opposed to free schools. So why has the support of Peter


Hyman setting up a pre-school? is right in thinking that,


depending on local circumstances, what is available and turns of a


specific area, different approaches are needed. -- in terms of. So you


may be for or against them depending on local circumstances.


think I have been clear in saying that as a national policy we are


against it. If it is national policy to be against them, why are


you in favour of one set up by a Labour adviser? You are posing one


set up by a Tory sympathiser, Toby Young. Why you in favour of Peter


Hyman's? We are opposed to it as a national policy. Far too much time


and attention has been devoted by Michael Gove and Department for


Education officials on the matter, and we should have a policy for all


children, to stretch all children to have the ambition for every


single child going through the process, not just for a narrow


elite. If and when you get back into power, will you abolish free


schools? No, and I think that is where Andy is being pragmatic.


Let's look at local circumstances and see how these schools are doing.


Thank you for joining us from Middlesbrough, thank you very much.


Now, you may agree or disagree with what he stood for, but there was no


doubting that Brian Haw made his mark on Westminster through 10


years of protest in Parliament Square. His death was announced at


the weekend. Adam has been having a look back at his life.


Anyone who came to Westminster, whether they were working or


visiting as a tourist, saw this, the protests started by Brian Haw.


He first pitched up in 2001. He was angry about sanctions being imposed


on Iraq, but his protests grew in the wake of the war on terror, the


war in Afghanistan and the war against Saddam Hussein. In his ten-


year vigil, he around three different prime ministers, often


with a megaphone, until it was taken away from him. The local MP


said that Brian Haw enjoyed being a pain in the neck. He will be


pleased to know that his anarchic spirit lives on amongst his


supporters. I have said to the skies that, out of respect I will


not put anything... But some of them were willing to speak to us.


have come to erect a blue plaque for Brian Haw to commemorate the


sterling work that he did for the peace movement in Parliament Square


through the years, through wind, rain and snow. There were numerous


attempts to remove them, including a law which bans demonstrations at


Westminster, but he often found that as a peaceful protest of the


law was on his side. Last year, a new group of activists this to up,


leading to serious divisions among the parliaments were protesters. --


pitched up. The big question is what happens now that Brian Haw has


passed away? The local council and many MPs, while up holding the


right to protest, would be glad if this was no longer a permanent


feature on their doorstep. Jenny Jones from the Green Party is


with us, very much a Brian Haw supporter. What was he like? You


knew him, didn't you? He was clearly very brave, very committed,


and I think millions of people in Britain will think he was right in


trying to bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. He was


political Marmite, wasn't he? Some people objective to the spectacle


that he created in Parliament Square. There was a running joke


that he ought to have a designer in on his placards and then he might


be more acceptable to the establishment. He is one of those


great British eccentrics, and we should remember him like that, an


incredibly brave man. Although it did not make much difference in the


end, did it? How much to these protests make a difference? It is


difficult to say, because they colour the whole political


landscape in a certain way, so it is difficult to know. But he was


somebody who put his life on the line. You could say he was another


casualty of war, because living outside for 10 years cannot be good


for your health. Should the protesters now move away? I do not


think so. I think they have a right to be there and make their point.


When the climate can was there, it was amazing how many tourists


thought it was part of the two has seen in London. But Westminster


council now has a real duty and should probably put paid blue


plaque there for Brian Haw. heard that argument, fixture, I saw,


where do you stand? I am all for the blue plaque. I am not sure I am


all the protesters. On the other hand, there is the right to protest.


It is a difficult one, I think I might sit on the fence, but I am


all for the blue plaque. Some may say 90 need a lifetime of


achievement for that 10 years of protest may not qualify. That is it


for today. Thank you to our guests, especially Katharine for being


guest of the day. We are back at 11:30am tomorrow, the early start


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