21/06/2011 Daily Politics


21/06/2011

Andrew Neil and Anita Anand interview MP David Davis and George Galloway. Plus The Independent's Mary Ann Sieghart and MP Matthew Offord.


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Morning, folks. Welcome to the Daily Politics. He says it is not a

:00:26.:00:29.

U-turn on sentencing policy. Perhaps the Justice Secretary knows

:00:29.:00:35.

another way of turning a car around quickly. They were the worst of

:00:35.:00:39.

times, they were the worst of times. Is there any point in being middle

:00:39.:00:45.

class anymore? And could separating an MP from his dog be a breach of

:00:45.:00:55.
:00:55.:00:59.

All that in the next half hour. And with us for the duration George

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Galloway, former MP for Glasgow Kelvin and then Bethnal Green and

:01:02.:01:08.

the former leader of the Respect Party. The Arab Spring has yet to

:01:08.:01:12.

turn into Summer in some countries across the Middle East. Long-

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standing governments have fallen in Eqypt and Tunisia, there has been

:01:15.:01:17.

violence but no regime change in Bahrain and Yemen. In Libya,

:01:17.:01:22.

Gaddafi clings on. While in Damascus, the Syrian President

:01:22.:01:24.

remains defiant, blaming widespread violence and unrest on saboteurs

:01:24.:01:33.

armed with sophisticated weapons. More than 1,000 people have so far

:01:33.:01:39.

died and thousands more have fled to refugee camps in Turkey.

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Yesterday in a speech to the Syrian parliament, President Bashar al-

:01:42.:01:45.

Assad made some vague promises of reform - a National Dialogue to

:01:45.:01:53.

listen to the demands of legitimate protestors. But that has not

:01:53.:02:02.

impressed the opposition. It is a part of the world you know well. In

:02:02.:02:07.

2005, you praised Bashar al-Assad as the last Arab ruler. You

:02:07.:02:13.

describe him as a breath of fresh air. I do not think I was the only

:02:13.:02:19.

one. Up to a point. I was not alone in that. Everyone felt he was a

:02:19.:02:26.

breath of fresh air, British- educated, British wife. Tony Blair

:02:26.:02:35.

was all over him. He stayed at Buckingham Palace. He has had 10

:02:35.:02:40.

years to reform and he has not done it. He has probably left it too

:02:40.:02:44.

late. He has had three speeches to address the unrest in the country

:02:44.:02:49.

and he has failed. For those who want to see his downfall, I would

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say, be careful for what you wish. One characteristic of Syria is that

:02:56.:03:04.

it is a remarkably potentially explosive place with Arabs and

:03:04.:03:14.
:03:14.:03:17.

Kurds and Sunni and Shia. It has always puzzled me, particularly on

:03:17.:03:22.

the principle the apple never falls far from the tree that the British

:03:22.:03:26.

Foreign Office, and other commentators, yourself, or gave

:03:26.:03:31.

this guy the benefit of the Dove. My feelings were different from the

:03:31.:03:35.

Foreign Office in this respect. I support the Syrian stand on Arab

:03:35.:03:42.

national issues, on Palestine for example. It refuses to sign a

:03:42.:03:48.

surrender peace with Israel. It demands its land back. It continues

:03:48.:03:51.

to support the Palestinian resistance and the Lebanese for

:03:51.:03:59.

that matter. Even though he was a pressing his own people? That is a

:03:59.:04:03.

paradox. His own people had a lot fewer freedoms than Palestinians

:04:03.:04:10.

have in Israel. I do not think that is true. The Palestinians are under

:04:10.:04:15.

illegal military operation -- occupation. I think there should be

:04:15.:04:22.

up by national state. Do you think Israel has the right to exist?

:04:22.:04:28.

state has a right to exist. It is a political formation. Russia has the

:04:28.:04:34.

right to exist but not communist Russia. What am arguing for is by

:04:34.:04:39.

National state of Israel-Palestine, Palestine-Israel were all the Jews,

:04:39.:04:49.

Christians and Muslims live. It would not be a Jewish state.

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work for an Iranian TV outfit in London. Is it true when you

:04:56.:05:02.

interviewed the ruler of around you began by saying, I require police

:05:02.:05:06.

protection in London from the Iranian opposition because of my

:05:07.:05:11.

support for your election campaign. I mention this so you know where I

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am coming from. Her had not known I was on trial today. I thought you

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wanted my expertise on Syria. We could quote some things from Fox

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News. The short answer is, at no. I, like ABC, supported the fact that

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he won the election. I did not support his election in any way.

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said, because of my support for your election campaign. I could

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give you my 1000 if you show me a tiny bit of support for his

:05:51.:05:57.

election campaign. Did you say that? I said my support for the

:05:57.:06:03.

outcome of the election. I mention this because you will know where I

:06:03.:06:09.

am coming from. That is right. a big supporter of yours, I want

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you to know that, before I begin the interview. It is very

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conceivable on Fox News, you think because you support and are

:06:20.:06:24.

associated with the right wing drivel that nobody will cast that

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up. I knew the way you would reply to these questions would be playing

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the man rather than the ball. are playing the man, Andrew. You

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did not even have the grace... if I come on to your show, I would

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answer your questions. You did not tell me this was the sort of

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interview it would be. You should be ready for anything. I believed

:06:53.:06:57.

you when you said you wanted to talk about Bashar al-Assad, dogs in

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Parliament and sundry domestic matters. More fool me. We will

:07:02.:07:09.

leave it on that. It is now time for our quiz. The question for

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:07:19.:07:34.

At the end of the show, George will Now, these are austere times and

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nowhere is the financial pain being felt more than in the Daily

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So we're incredibly grateful to Her Majesty's Government for its

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consistent behaviour. And this morning they have again filled the

:07:53.:07:56.

air with the stench of burning rubber. Which allows us to recycle

:07:56.:07:59.

our favourite graphic. Theses U- turns may be costing the government

:07:59.:08:03.

a lot of money but they are saving pots of cash here. Here's Anita

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with the details. The Government published its Green Paper on prison

:08:07.:08:10.

sentencing in England and Wales in December last year. Justice

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Secretary Ken Clarke said the aim was to break the cycle of crime.

:08:15.:08:19.

But another goal was to save money by cutting the number of people who

:08:19.:08:22.

are locked up - Mr Clarke argued that for many criminals prison is

:08:22.:08:28.

costly and ineffectual. The biggest change would have seen sentences

:08:28.:08:36.

halved for defendants who plead guilty early. The proposal caused a

:08:37.:08:40.

row - made worse when Mr Clarke suggested that some rapes were less

:08:40.:08:45.

serious than others. The plans were backed by Nick Clegg but David

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Cameron was unhappy and a partial U-turn was mooted. The 50%

:08:50.:08:57.

reduction would be limited to minor offences. It now looks like the U-

:08:57.:09:03.

turn is complete. The plan has been scrapped altogether. There will

:09:03.:09:06.

also be new restrictions on early release. And tougher rules on knife

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crime. The changes will please critics who said the Government was

:09:12.:09:18.

turning soft on crime. But Ken Clarke will now have to find

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savings of something like �130 million elsewhere. Here's what the

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Prime Minister had to say a few minutes ago. There will be no

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change to the current position on early guilty pleas in any category

:09:32.:09:36.

of case. The money that would have been saved would be saved through

:09:36.:09:41.

greater efficiency in other parts of the ministry of justice Budgett.

:09:41.:09:46.

That was the Prime Minister. This is David Davis. Welcome back to the

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Daily Politics. If it looks like a U-turn, talks like a U-turn, I

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suggest you it is a U-turn. It is a U-turn that is a good U-turn. They

:09:59.:10:02.

put out a green paper, green peppers are supposed to be the

:10:02.:10:08.

basis of discussion. This one proposes 50% reductions for guilty

:10:08.:10:13.

pleas. It was a bad idea. People would have been on the streets more

:10:13.:10:17.

quickly. The other ones would have been piling criminals who would

:10:17.:10:22.

continue their lives of crime. The Prime Minister did the right thing.

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Didn't Ken Clarke have a point which was swept away by tabloid

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newspapers? For a lot of people, prison does not work. There are

:10:33.:10:36.

categories which I do not think have been mentioned this morning.

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Prisoners with psychiatric conditions who should be insecure

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wards rather than prisons. Hopefully that will happen. One or

:10:46.:10:51.

two other categories. The primary proposal that people would take

:10:51.:10:55.

more community sentences rather than prison sentences in the hope

:10:55.:11:00.

it would get a better rate of rehabilitation does not stand up.

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Part of the reason he was doing it would save money. He has to save

:11:05.:11:10.

over 100 million from his part of the Budget. Where does the money

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come from? I hunch is, you have got about 11,000 foreign prisoners in

:11:16.:11:22.

UK prisons. It is an extraordinary number. I suspect, I know they are

:11:22.:11:29.

trying very hard, to come to arrangements. Judges will have

:11:29.:11:35.

something to say about that? They may. There is nothing -- wrong

:11:35.:11:40.

about sending people back to their own countries, the French back to

:11:40.:11:47.

France for instance. Two prisoners come to -- from places where Louis

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would argue human rights were in danger? If that were the case, you

:11:53.:11:57.

could send 11,000 back. They would be lucky if they get 5000. That is

:11:57.:12:02.

a lot of money. It would cover most of the issue. The Prime Minister

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said this morning before we came on air that he had covered some other

:12:08.:12:13.

sentences by life sentences. He said life is popular - people know

:12:13.:12:17.

what is meant by a life-sentence. I put it to you that people do not

:12:17.:12:20.

know what is meant by a lad sentences. I do not know what a

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life sentences. In many cases, I do not know. It is a term of art is

:12:27.:12:32.

what it is. The other issue which is important as well, which was up

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for grabs in a green paper, was the idea of an indeterminate sentence.

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You keep people in for a length of time to be sure they are safe. That

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has also gone. That is the nearest thing we have now to the old-

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fashioned idea of a life sentence. You are not lead had until you are

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safe. Is there not a case, as happened under the last government

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and has happened and have this one, will try to get penal policy on the

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treats -- cheap? We do not see what is going on inside prisons. We put

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people away. We have still got Victorian slums, or the modern

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equivalent, in pretty bad conditions which become colleges of

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crime. The sensible policy would be to build bigger and better prisons

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where people were treated with dignity, serve their punishments

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but also be given the help to get back on to the straight and narrow

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when they got out. You are right in one respect. The previous

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government tried to do things on the cheap. For example they

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multiplied by 20 the number of people who had suspended sentences.

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31,000 of them are still on the streets. Quite a lot of that is

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cosmetic justice and not real justice. You are right but we need

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to do more in prison. The point about the Green Paper was the idea

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of making prisoners work. A typical prisoner is in his twenties. He

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does not read, write, he does not have the skills to hold down the

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job. He is probably on crack Cockayne. He steals from his mother

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to feed his habit. All of those things have been let happen. None

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of this is happening because of overcrowding. Whereas you can't

:14:30.:14:40.
:14:40.:14:40.

What you describe does should be as expensive, but not as expenses by

:14:40.:14:43.

as having the biggest prison population and the highest

:14:43.:14:47.

reoffending rate in western Europe, which cost society more, both in

:14:47.:14:51.

the re- imprisonment of the people but also in the crimes and

:14:51.:14:56.

devastation left behind. I am four fixed-term penalties, I am not any

:14:56.:15:02.

kind of liberal. They should be strong penalties, but you should be

:15:02.:15:07.

able to work a discount downwards from good behaviour and application

:15:07.:15:11.

to education. The more you train and educate yourself, the better

:15:11.:15:15.

you behave, the sentence would slowly go. You are right, the cost

:15:15.:15:20.

of being out of prison for a professional criminal is 10 times

:15:20.:15:23.

to society the cost of being in prison. But one of the problems

:15:23.:15:27.

with the discount system is everybody gets it. George was

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saying you have to work for the discount. David would not know this

:15:33.:15:36.

but the others on the front bench of the Tories would, it is more

:15:36.:15:40.

expensive to keep a man in prison for a year then to send a boy to

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Eton. Do you send your boys to Eton?! A point well made.

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Aren't you worried that your government is getting a reputation

:15:55.:16:00.

for you turns? You are now facing this confrontation with the public

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sector unions, something nobody in this Government has ever had to

:16:03.:16:12.

place. Of course there is an issue. I think if the Prime Minister

:16:12.:16:15.

thinks he has got it wrong first time he should change his mind. But

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there is an issue about vested interests, who approve most

:16:20.:16:24.

progressive policies, they would suddenly feel more muscular as a

:16:24.:16:28.

result of these changes and some of the people defending government

:16:28.:16:34.

policy might feel less inclined to do so. I did what the Prime

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Minister hanging on desperately to a policy when he thinks it is wrong

:16:37.:16:41.

-- I don't want the Prime Minister hanging on.

:16:41.:16:45.

Home-ownership, foreign holidays, sending the kids to university or,

:16:46.:16:51.

indeed, to Eton. But as we feel the pinch, are these middle-class

:16:51.:16:55.

aspirations moving out of the reach of those on middling incomes? We

:16:55.:17:05.
:17:05.:17:08.

will debate that in a moment, but Here is a question - how do you

:17:08.:17:14.

know you have become middle class? You wake up and smell the coffee.

:17:14.:17:17.

According to the pollsters, you know you're middle-class when you

:17:17.:17:21.

enjoy nothing more than a nice cafetiere of freshly brewed filter

:17:21.:17:26.

coffee. But what with rising taxes and falling house prices, cuts in

:17:26.:17:31.

benefits, tuition fees, dodgy pensions, is there actually any

:17:31.:17:36.

point being middle-class any more? Recent research suggests more than

:17:36.:17:39.

70% of the electorate think they are middle-class. Right now, they

:17:39.:17:44.

are under pressure. I think being middle-class has got a whole lot

:17:44.:17:49.

harder over the last couple of years. Our survey shows that 46% of

:17:49.:17:52.

people who self to find his middle- class say that it gets harder and

:17:53.:17:58.

harder these days to make ends meet -- who define themselves as middle-

:17:58.:18:04.

class. But two groups which are hardest hit are the bargain hunters

:18:04.:18:07.

and the squeezed once. Those people really feel their family finances

:18:07.:18:11.

are on the edge and they could tip over to the wrong side at any point,

:18:11.:18:16.

they are very emotional about it, they are not whingeing, they really,

:18:16.:18:21.

really feel things are difficult. It is a bit dreary being middle-

:18:21.:18:25.

class right now, but last time I looked, it was not much fare being

:18:25.:18:30.

anybody else, really. Why should we care? I think to be middle class is

:18:30.:18:38.

the finest day you can being. If you value reading, family,

:18:38.:18:42.

stability, keeping the law and paying your tax, all those

:18:42.:18:47.

unglamorous things that make society work, you have the rich

:18:47.:18:52.

with their fancy lawyers and the poor who do not pay so much tax. If

:18:52.:18:54.

you are concerned about what goes into the Treasury, you'd better

:18:54.:18:59.

look after the middle class. If you are feeling the pinch, help is at

:18:59.:19:05.

hand. Actually, I think the middle classes are in a very, very strong

:19:05.:19:08.

position to be domestic servant to the rich, because they could be

:19:08.:19:14.

tutors, my son, for instance, in his gap year, is cleaning up as a

:19:14.:19:18.

tennis coach to the brick nations and all his friends are tutors. You

:19:18.:19:23.

can still make a living, you'll be pleased to hear. That is a relief.

:19:23.:19:27.

It is easy to poke fun at the concept of being middle-class, but

:19:27.:19:31.

it is something most voters either are or aspire to be. Politicians,

:19:32.:19:37.

ignore them at -- at your peril. Mary Ann Sieghart from the

:19:37.:19:40.

Independent joins us and George is still with us. Do you cried tears

:19:40.:19:45.

for the middle classes? Jimmy Durante he said I have been rich, I

:19:45.:19:49.

have been poor, being rich is better. Being middle-class is

:19:49.:19:53.

definitely better than being amongst the working class or, worse,

:19:53.:19:57.

a month those who have fallen out of the class system and are long-

:19:57.:20:01.

term unemployed and desperately poor. I don't quite tears. If I

:20:01.:20:06.

pretended to, you would see through it -- I don't cry tears. If you

:20:06.:20:10.

take the middle classes out of welfare of -- support, they will

:20:10.:20:13.

find things uncomfortable, but people on lower incomes will find

:20:13.:20:19.

poverty. A George is right, it is always worse if you are poor.

:20:19.:20:23.

Imagine, I am agreeing with you! But that is not to say middle-class

:20:23.:20:28.

people are not feeling very, very stretched at the moment. The median

:20:28.:20:34.

income in this country is �20,800 a year, it is not huge. When you see

:20:34.:20:37.

newspaper editors inveighing against attacks on the middle

:20:37.:20:41.

classes, they are talking about top-rate taxpayers, only the top

:20:41.:20:48.

10% of income distribution. feel the squeezed middle exists?

:20:48.:20:53.

The squeezed middle exists. It is roughly either side of the median

:20:53.:20:57.

income. Those people are very squeezed. They are losing tax

:20:57.:21:01.

credits, prices are going up, wages are not going up as fast as

:21:01.:21:08.

inflation, they are seeing real wage cuts, life is very difficult.

:21:08.:21:11.

The party the EU were once very much associated with, what do you

:21:11.:21:15.

make of their appeal, do they understand it in the way that Mary-

:21:15.:21:19.

Ann does? We need a definition of middle-class that we can agree with.

:21:19.:21:23.

I don't think they are the people on �20,000 a year, that might be

:21:23.:21:29.

Mary Ann's definition, it is not mine. That is middle-income. You're

:21:29.:21:33.

talking heads, some of them known very well to me, a long-time friend

:21:33.:21:39.

of mine, one of them, they are not living on �20,000 a year, or even

:21:39.:21:44.

five or seven times that. We need to be careful about what we mean by

:21:44.:21:47.

middle-class. But there is no doubt that mortgages are at an historic

:21:47.:21:52.

low and have been for an historic length of time, so the more you are

:21:52.:21:58.

into the mortgage market the better, relatively, you are doing. The

:21:58.:22:02.

people looking for a council house, for example, have never found it

:22:02.:22:09.

harder to get one. Your long-term friends, you don't

:22:09.:22:13.

think, know where the middle class is. But those people making policy

:22:13.:22:19.

for a party, banking and electoral future on this, do they understand?

:22:19.:22:22.

Does the Miliband camp understand the squeezed middle? They are

:22:22.:22:25.

having to appeal to the whole country, having to attend to the

:22:25.:22:30.

loss of support among us to... And this is what Blue Labour is all

:22:30.:22:35.

about, the loss of support amongst working-class people. Would I be

:22:35.:22:41.

right in saying maybe it is expedient to fudge it a little bit?

:22:41.:22:43.

National parties competing for power in the nation, you have to

:22:43.:22:48.

have something for everybody. Because nobody admits to being

:22:48.:22:52.

upper-class any more, the definition of middle-class... Very,

:22:52.:23:00.

very few people at the very top... You know, these people earning

:23:01.:23:04.

�100,000, say, they are certainly at the very upper end of the income

:23:04.:23:08.

distribution, but because nobody admits to being upper-class, the

:23:08.:23:13.

definition of middle class has gone far too far up the income stream.

:23:13.:23:21.

You would say middle class is... From the median rate to...? Below

:23:22.:23:29.

the top rate of tax. Basic rate tax payers. It is not about money. I

:23:29.:23:33.

learned a very, very much more than that, but I am still working class.

:23:33.:23:41.

So is Andrew. How are you working class? You are winking. How are you

:23:41.:23:49.

working class? It is difficult to define but easy to recognise. I

:23:49.:23:52.

feel socially inferior to Mary Ann Sieghart, for example. You a much

:23:52.:23:56.

more than I do. It is not about learning. I know she looks down her

:23:56.:24:02.

nose at me, even though I am very much more than her. It is much more

:24:02.:24:07.

complex than money, class. If John crust -- Prescott can be middle

:24:07.:24:10.

class, I don't see why George can't be. He was definitely wrong about

:24:11.:24:15.

that. I would love to revisit this, fascinating. Then queue for being

:24:15.:24:19.

with us. Now...

:24:19.:24:25.

By did you write that? I did not! Are cats middle-class or working-

:24:25.:24:30.

class? What a segue! A very bad one!

:24:30.:24:37.

I know you know a thing or two about feline behaviour, George. It

:24:37.:24:41.

seems Larry the Downing Street cat has been working very hard. The

:24:41.:24:45.

Prime Minister revealed in a radio interview yesterday that he is a

:24:45.:24:49.

smashing mouser. Busy eradicating the rodent infestation in Number

:24:50.:24:57.

Ten. He is a good mouser. I think he has

:24:57.:25:04.

got three. He has caught three mice, verifiable.

:25:04.:25:08.

Larry is not very keen on men. He was a rescue cat and I have a

:25:08.:25:12.

feeling he had some bad... He loves all the women but he is a bit

:25:12.:25:21.

nervous of the men at Number Ten. Familiar enough, he liked Obama.

:25:21.:25:24.

Obama stroked him and he was all right with him. But he is doing

:25:24.:25:33.

well. -- funnily enough, he liked Obama.

:25:33.:25:37.

Concentrate! That was Larry the Downing Street

:25:37.:25:42.

cat. For reasons of impartiality we could not have done an item about a

:25:42.:25:46.

cat without mentioning dogs. The Conservative MP Matthew Offord is a

:25:46.:25:53.

dog man, such a dog man Matti wants to take his dog Max to work. The

:25:53.:25:56.

parliamentary authorities will not let him. He intends to use human

:25:56.:26:01.

rights legislation. Just as well we have not got a depression, a war in

:26:01.:26:07.

Libya, that we can get to these important issues! Matthew joins us

:26:07.:26:12.

now on his lonesome. Why just Parliament? If you really took this

:26:12.:26:15.

seriously, wouldn't you want legislation that allowed people to

:26:15.:26:20.

take dog to work wherever they were? You are over-egging the

:26:20.:26:25.

pudding a little bit. Never on this show! The whole issue arose because,

:26:25.:26:30.

in jest, I said to somebody who kept quoting health and safety,

:26:30.:26:36.

under Article 8 I had a right to a family life, including my dog.

:26:36.:26:39.

are you doing this because you would think you out to discredit

:26:39.:26:44.

human rights legislation? Human rights legislation has discredited

:26:44.:26:48.

itself. One thing which has emerged over the last couple of days is

:26:48.:26:52.

that there are thousands of people using the Human Rights Act and

:26:52.:26:55.

Article 8 to ensure they are not removed from this country. What is

:26:55.:27:00.

more important to you, getting your dog into Parliament or discrediting

:27:00.:27:03.

human rights legislation? Addressing the human rights

:27:03.:27:12.

legislation... Discrediting, I said. Addressing and removing it. As a

:27:12.:27:16.

former BBC employee, I know that you need a pet to get an issue one.

:27:16.:27:20.

The dog is being used, you don't care if he gets into Parliament or

:27:20.:27:25.

not. He could be kept at home, endlessly, unloved, because you are

:27:25.:27:28.

trying to prove their point rather than trying to getting into

:27:28.:27:33.

Parliament? As a serious politician, it is about the Human Rights Act.

:27:33.:27:37.

The number of people using Article 8 to prevent themselves from being

:27:37.:27:42.

deported, many after they have committed serious crimes. Have you

:27:42.:27:48.

favour of human rights legislation. He might be, but it does not apply

:27:48.:27:54.

to him. But the import of point is article 8 and the �12 million we

:27:54.:27:57.

are spending on people using Legal Aid to defend themselves on article

:27:57.:28:03.

8 in this country. You are lonely without your dog? An MP is never

:28:03.:28:11.

lonely. Have ours! He is called Patch, look after him. To the MP

:28:11.:28:18.

for Barking?! A quick thought, George? Working dogs only. The best

:28:18.:28:22.

dog story I ever saw, the week before we broke up for the 97

:28:22.:28:27.

election, David Blunkett's dog leads him into the chamber and led

:28:27.:28:31.

him to the government side, uncannily aware that in just a few

:28:31.:28:35.

weeks' time Labour would be the Government. True story. Not a

:28:35.:28:39.

shaggy-dog story. He is so nervous about being seen a photograph with

:28:39.:28:44.

our dog that he has put it behind the sofa.

:28:44.:28:46.

We will get the dog back, we are We will get the dog back, we are

:28:46.:28:56.
:28:56.:28:56.

He says it's not a u-turn, but we'll look at what Justice Secretary Ken Clarke makes of the change in sentencing policy. And we talk to Conservative MP David Davis.

They were the worst of times, they were the worst of times - is there any point in being middle class anymore? We have a film on that one and talk to Mary Ann Sieghart from The Independent.

And could separating an MP from his dog be a breach of human rights? We talk to the Conservative MP Matthew Offord.

With us for the whole programme is the George Galloway, the ex-MP and former leader of the Respect Party.


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