Jo Coburn talks to Shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell. And Tony Blair on why we should join the Euro. With the Guardian's Zoe Williams and the Telegraph's Peter Oborne.
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Hello, welcome to the Daily Politics on Friday. Ed Miliband
wants to ditch elections to the Shadow Cabinet. A rejection of
internal party democracy or a strong leader exerting authority?
A test for all the parties in the by-election next week, we have been
too Inverclyde to find out if Labour can hold off the SNP.
And chaos in Greece, some say the single currency itself is under
threat, but Tony Blair tells us he And joining me throughout the
programme, the Guardian's Zoe Williams and the Telegraph's Peter
Oborne. To discuss Ed Miliband's desire to the Shadow Cabinet, Jan
Royall and Jeremy Corbyn, welcome. Peter 01, is indeed doing the right
thing? It is an outdated way of electing people. He should just
choose his own team. It is against the constitution of the Labour
Party, and I think it is a disappointing affront to democracy,
in a funny way. It shows Ed Miliband is adopting the Brownite
methodology... Blair did not do it. He has gone further than black,
amazingly enough. Centralisation, hostile to democracy, controlling
power for the leadership. It is a really retrograde move. It is
presented by modernisers, but it is really old fashioned, it is the old
politics. The new politics is democracy, having to market took --
having democratic elections to the Shadow Cabinet. Fairly passionate,
rather surprising. I'm surprised you are so passion about it, I must
say. I would think that the impulse would be, because nobody pays that
much attention to the Shadow Cabinet elections unless there is a
huge amount of conflict, and then everything is mired in who hates
whom and blah blah blah. It really withdraws from the message. I think
that is probably what Ed Miliband is thinking. All the talk of
backbiting and who Ed Balls hates next... Isn't that the point?
Members of the Shadow Cabinet, or people would like to be members,
should not be spending their time trying to get support from fellow
MPs. They should be trying to push forward won a message from the
Labour Party. All of that would go if they start having elections.
have not noticed one person showing any interest. It is a non-issue.
What it is his contrary to the whole direction of travel in
Parliament. After the reforms of last year, parliament reduced
patronage, increased elections, increased accountability, backbench
committees, election of the Shadow Cabinet, and then Ed chooses who
will fill each portfolio. What is wrong with that? What is wrong with
that degree of accountability? will not argue that he should be
able to choose the team he wants, he should be able to choose the
people that will best put forward the message and with whom he gets
on. The bid devilment of the British parliamentary system is
patronage. The package in -- the patronage of party leaders and the
establishment as a whole. We are playing straight into that whole
agenda by ending elections for the PLP and saying the leader will
choose. That means any new MP, the first thing, be nice to the leader,
agree with the leader, support the leader, put your brain on hold.
Jeremy says that there is nobody politicking to get into the Shadow
Cabinet, because that is because there is no election this year.
Well, quite. La steer it dominated the PLP for months. -- last year.
Everyone was inward-looking, to see what they should be doing. What
about the point that it is anti- democratic? This is to do with
internal party organisation. It is not anti-democratic. I was there in
the 1980s, and I know the frustrations of a leader who cannot
have the people he needs in the shadow cabinet. When Tony Blair got
to Downing Street, there were many disappointed people because they
had been in the Shadow Cabinet but when not in the Cabinet. This is an
internal party organisational issue. Isn't it just moving with the
times? This is about party politics. The times are going in exactly the
other direction. In Parliament, not necessarily with the party. I am
not sure about that. The whole debate about resounding Labour is
about empowering conference and constituency parties. 60,000 people
joined Labour for a cause, not to be actors on a stage. Peter. It is
unfair to be personal, but Baroness Royall started life as a Labour
Party press person, an apparatchik. Never elected to anything in your
life. You are the political class in action, which is out to
disenfranchise. Let Baroness Royall answer that! I am here because I
think it is a jolly good... No-one has selected due to be here. I put
my hands up, I have stood for election, no one has elected me. I
am also seeking election to the House of Lords. Double standards.
Absolutely not, we are talking about an internal party structure,
not democracy for the wider public. You're not saying that you should
have been elected by the rest of the party, she should have been
elected by the public. I was elected by my peers, I should say.
Can I just asked Jan Royall a question? Do you agree with Harriet
Harman that one of the top job should be occupied by a woman?
Why is Harriet Harman agreeing to getting rid of an scrapping the
quota of women in the Shadow Cabinet? I do not know what
discussions have gone on between add and Harriet Harman. I have to
say, I have not discussed this with Ed, but it is right and proper that
he should have, in his shadow cabinet, whomsoever he wants to
have, but it is important that at the top you have a man and a woman.
Jeremy? I agree with a quota for places for women, I agree with
elections to the Shadow Cabinet, and I think that the patronage of
the leader undermines the PLP and democracy. We are all elected as
Labour MPs. You think it is strange that Harriet Harman, who has been
such a proponent of women's rights and representation, has not
subjected to get here are getting rid of the quota? If she might have
done, but she might have been overruled. I hope she objected,
because when there was a consultation that went around
saying, what did you think about the quota for women? I replied that
I supported it, as I suspect a lot of other MPs did. There are no
elections to the Shadow Cabinet this year, and I think Ed has
panicked and thought, I have to get his pass the conference now. Labour
MPs heard about this last night, and there will be a vote on Monday
night. I think it is really important. This is a good time to
do it. We are talking about resounding Labour, there is a
national policy forum on Saturday, then it would go to the NEC asked
to conference. How many party members have asked for an end to
elections to the Shadow Cabinet? I suspect very few. Everyone is
saying that Ed Miliband should show more leadership, but he cannot if
he is taken up with battles within Cabinet. Is he? You lead by taking
a party with you, you lead from the front and on policy. But the party
is so rebellious, I do not see all these MPs thinking for themselves.
I beg your pardon! There is no need to be personal! It does not make
that much difference. You did not see the shadow cabinet diverting
from the party line under Tony Blair. The former MP for Cannock
produced reforms in parliament which are very good. They have made
MPs much more involved, there is more accountability, the election
of the Speaker, very good, and we support that, we applauded, it is
democratising Parliament. What are we doing with the PLP? It is not
very sensible at all. We are talking about Ed Miliband having a
Shadow Cabinet that he wants, so that they can take forward...
would get that anyway. He needs to take forward the policies that he
once so that we can win elections. He would get the Shadow Cabinet he
wants anyway, because the word goes around that the leader wants who he
wants. Is that do you voted for, Jeremy? It wasn't, and it never
will be. I have been in the PR before long time, and I have seen
the way that leaders and opposition have managed to get the Shadow
Cabinet they want. So what is the problem? If they are going to
dictate who they want... It is the safety bath of democracy. Thank you
very much. Labour's problems are not just
confined to who is in the Shadow Cabinet and how they get there. The
party's traditional base, the working class, is shrinking.
Deborah Mattinson, who did a lot of bowling for Gordon Brown, has been
looking at how this affects politics and political strategy. I
will be talking to her in a moment, but first what has the research
found out? The vast majority, nearly three-quarters, say they are
middle-class. Less than one and four claim to be working class.
Absolutely no one said that they were upper-class. While the
majority of the working class were still vote Labour, most of them
feel all politicians do not understand them and they are far
less likely to vote than the middle classes. The work will classes --
the working classes see Tony Blair as having moved the Labour Party
away from the working class, while Margaret Thatcher is seen as a hero
for selling them their hat council houses but a villain for closing
down traditional industries. The working class are also desperate to
be distinguished from the lower class, the spongers and antisocial
yobs who politicians regularly referred to when talking about
responsibility. Deborah Mattinson is here now. From Manchester, we
are joined by conservative MP Graham Evans, who was proud of his
working-class roots. Deborah Mattinson, how important his class
in politics today? I think it still matters a lot. What we are finding,
particularly with the working-class self- identifiers in our sample,
was that they feel stuck. They feel that they cannot go anywhere, that
they are getting a very rough deal. They cannot go anywhere
politically? There is no social mobility. They feel they cannot go
anywhere, and they feel that they are clinging on to what they have
with their fingernails, and they are desperately trying to stop
themselves from dropping down into this 4th class that they identify,
the lower class, the underclass, the chap class. They feel that
there is a real risk that they could topple over the edge at any
point. How does that affect them politically? How do they vote?
are more likely to say they vote Labour, but the truth is that a lot
of them will not vote at all. Half of the worst of of the working
class simply will not vote. It is something we have seen in turnouts
in safe Labour seats, turnout slipping away. They feel that all
politicians are all the same, that they are all looking after their
own careers, nobody understands people like them. But crucially,
Carlos do not vote atoll. Graham Evans, as far as you are concerned,
you feel there is an assumption from voters that Labour is the
party of the working class? Yes, to a certain extent. When I was
campaigning in a working-class area in general elections, I was
surprised that most people had not actually met a politician on their
doorstep. They were really quite surprised not just to see a
politician on their doorstep but a Conservative politician. What did
that mean? Does it mean they would ever be likely to vote
Conservative? As the only Conservative on the Mersey estuary,
I think there may be something in that. I believe that a lot of
people who did not ordinarily vote Conservative or did not vote
Conservative at all, they met me on the doorstep, they gave me the
benefit of the doubt and gave me a chance in Parliament. All parties
are guilty of not going out onto the streets and on to the doorstep
and campaigning at that level. of the problems, though, for Labour
in particular, from the research that Deborah Mattinson has got, is
this dramatic reversal of the middle-class support for Labour
going to the Conservatives. Sure, and I think there is a problem with
the Labour Party's support in particular, in which, with Tony
Blair's thing of everybody being middle class, they managed to
criminalise poverty, because the only people who were not what the
ASBO classes. I think a lot of people kind of sort New Labour as
having such a strong identification with the middle classes that they
had no real time for anything. Their only policies were designed
to draw people into the middle class, rather than make things
better for people in the working class. I do not think that is quite
true. In a way, that is a distinction that working-class
identifiers are very keen to make themselves. Working class is about
work. Asked people and focus groups to bring in a symbol of their class,
and middle-class people brought along lifestyle things. Working-
class people bought the tools of their trade, work boots, gloves.
There is a real class that feels neglected. I certainly do not think
that the country things like that, but that is an new line
representative for a long time. Listening to your report about the
end of social mobility and people stuck in effectively a ghetto, this
was after 10 years of the Labour government. It is so shaming, what
Blair was like, that he turned his back quite deliberately or naked
electrical reasons on the working class. Isn't that what you have to
do politically? Appeal to the biggest class? He won three
elections. It was a decision made by a Labour Prime Minister to turn
his back on the working class. As a result, you are seeing this
fascinating thing is that they will not vote. The danger is they will
turn away from conventional politics and go to the BNP. I did
ask about that, and there's not much evidence of it. I had a lot of
photographs of politicians to show them, and I gave up. They barely
recognise David Cameron, let alone anyone else, and I'm not joking.
The point that Graham Evans made was that they had not seen a
politician at all. Worryingly for the Conservatives, it is a lack of
presence electorally in a lot of the northern towns and cities. Can
that be dealt with? You mentioned Manchester and Liverpool, but we
have Trafford council, which is an outstanding Conservative council,
but Labour have an irrelevance across the country. There won no
councillors in the south-east, the south-west and East Anglia. We
always talk about the city centres, but Labour have an irrelevance in
Do you think the Conservatives, is it worth them bothering trying to
make deep inroads into the other towns and cities in the North? Yes.
I'm living proof that if Conservatives campaign in the
cities, and traditional working class areas, he will elect a
Conservative MP. When ip was growing up on a council estate, the
clue is in the name - working class. We all worked. I don't remember any
families out of work. I don't remember any benefits. What we have
now with the working classs is they live next door to people on
benefits. When people get up, goo the right things, alarm clock
Britain, they will find when they are off to work they will see the
curtains drawn of their next door neighbours. That wasn't around when
I was growing up in the 1970s. terms of welfare reforms, is it
wrong to lump the working class together, whereas this is a
distinction between people who work and people they see as benefits
cheats and scroungers? There are, a lot of people in our sample were
not working themselves. We had young, teenage mums in our sample,
people who were on sick leave, and so on. I asked them what was the
difference between you and scroungers and they said it was
because they wanted to work. It is about reaching out to people who
feel they want to work but aren't getting a leg up. Deborah Mattinson
and Graham Evans, thank you. Ed Miliband is facing his MPs next
week about ditching the shadow cabinet elections. Labour in a
majority of 14,000 in Inverclyde but in the Scottish elections last
month the SNP slashed that back to 5 00 votes in the nearest
constituency. Now there is an election following the death of the
MP, David Cairns. The history of this seat is dominated by
shipbuilding, and voting for Labour. Labour held on to this constituency
at last year's general election, winning 56 % of the vote, giving
them a majority of more than 14,000. But since then, Scottish politics
has changed considerably, with the SNP winning a historic majority at
the Scottish Parliament a couple of months ago. This campaign is being
scrutinised for whether the SNP can build on their recent bounce,
whether Labour can still hit the sweet spot in its heard land, and
whether the coalition parties aft Westminster can stay relevant north
of the border, and, trivia fans, it is the birthplace of James Watt,
father of the Industrial Revolution, and soon to be the face on the new
�50. Do you know who is on the back of it? It looks like James Watt.
Congratulations, a local boy done good. It is my grand-dad?. Looks
like him. Famous local resident from the past. Steam enjoin gins?
Oh, jaims -- James Watt. Steam engine? Damn it! I knew I should
have paid attention in science lessons. Do you recognise that
person? It is Adam Smith. Or is it James Watt. If you had �50 to spend
on each constituent what would you spend it on? Getting jobs. They are
telling me it is jobs and employment they are looking for.
think the most important thing for people round here is the issue of
jobs. I would spend it on collectively on regeneration rating
and reindustrialising Inverclyde. Probably give them a discount on
the council tax, particularly for pensioners, that's something that's
hitting them quite hard. The �50 I would spnd on trying to create jobs.
And I would encourage small and medium-sized enterprises. So, with
little to divide the candidates on the issues, who is the smart, fake
money on? Labour. Did you reckon? Yes. It probably will be Labour but
I would like to see the SNP getting in We are due a wee change. I don't
think Labour has done much. The Tories have not done much, so why
not give the SNP a chance. Would bet �50 on them winning? If you
gave us 50 quid! The Scottish nationalists do have support here.
If they can turn this from a safe Labour seat to a marginal, or win
it, the landscape of Scottish Perhaps the most important issue of
the day, even the year, is whether the economic crisis in Greece could
pull down the European economy and even endanger the euro itself.
David Cameron is in Brussels today meeting the Greek Prime Minister.
Many Euro-sceptics who were always opposed to the single currency are
saying, "I told you so." But former Prime Minister Tony Blair still
thinks Britain should join in future when the economic conditions
are right. This is him talking to Jon Sopel in an interview tobacco
broadcast in full on Sunday's Politics Show. I was always
absolutely in favour of doing it politically and still am, by the
way. I've always said since it is an economic union the economics
have got to be right. Now, I don't actually take the view that some
take that Britain joining if euro in the past or now would be a
disaster. However, I always said, unless you can make a compelling
case for it economically you'll never win a referendum on it. And
the case for Britain joining isn't compelling. It may become that at a
certain point. You can see the full interview with Tony Blair on Sunday
at 11 o'clock. Peter Oborne, Tony Blair is still sticking to his guns
on the euro. A few weeks back, that reminds me of the man a few weeks
ago who predict the end of the world. And that is Tony Blair. He
still won't learn. It is impossible to pin down, these pro-euros.
as you might. Hasn't he got Gordon Brown to thank for that? He kept
them out of the euro. I know this is the fashionable thing to say,
but if you can present me from a quote from Mr Brown to say the euro
is other than a good thing, I would be interested to see it. There is
nothing on the record from Mr Brown saying the euro would be... He kept
himself off the record during that entire period. You may be better
informed what goes on behind the scenes, but I have this view...
think he is being sarcastic. Do you find it surprising that Tony Blair
is still saying that if the economic conditions were right we
should join the euro? For the economic conditions to be right the
eurozone would have to restabilise, and we would need to know there
would never be a bust again. This is pie in the sky stuff. He can say
what he likes and he knows the economic conditions would not be
right. You said recently you feel David Cameron is the most pro-
European Tory leader since Ted Heath? Yes. Where is your evidence
for that If you can provide me with any evidence that as Prime Minister
he's done a single think that could be construed azure o sceptic...
Back in the French Foreign Minister to go to the IMF and turn, where
she will allow the IMF to be the vehicle for the eurozone countries.
He kept us out of the Greek bail- out. There'll be support for that
Backing a French leader of the IMF is not pro-euro. It is not wanting
somebody from a developing European nation not to do something sudden
than you weren't expecting. There is a debate between the old
countries - Europe - and India, China, Brazil, South Africa,
Nigeria. It is fascinating that Britain has backed France, who've
traditionally owned that job. What's your other evidence?
first thing he did in office when he signed us up to Alistair
Darling's final act, to squander �12 billion of taxpayers money in
sending good money after bad. that Ireland? No, the stability
fund in May last year. There's a whole load of other examples. The
failure of the European arrest warrant. He has turned into a
classic Prime Minister in office. Do you think so? No, this is
ridiculous. He couldn't have come in and immediately vetoed the
stabilisation fund. He could have done. It is British involvement in
it. If something had gone wrong Europe would have rightly turned
round and said, you've got obligations here. You can't just
wave your new theories around in the middle of a financial crisis.
Time for a look back at some of the stories that have caught our eyes
over the last few days. U-turn? What U-turn? Justice
Secretary Ken Clarke denied he backed down despite dropping plans
forerly ier sentences for guilty pleas. The military warned that
action in Libya was putting the armed services under pressure.
One massive U-turn the Government did admit, if only for ten minutes,
was William Hague's decision to water down cuts to the World
Service. Victory for backbenchers as Mark
Pritchard won the day to ban wild circus animals. I'm not going to be
kowtowed by the whips or the Prime Minister of my country. But there
was no reprieve for the wild animals of Number Ten. David
Cameron has confirmed that Larry the Downing Street cat has made his
first kill. He's a good mouser. He's caught three mice, verifiable.
Careerly, the Larry is not for turning.
Larry doing the job he was employed to do. Mark Pritchard made a
passionate plea in the House of Commons. He wasn't going to be
pressurised or kowtowed. Downing Street doesn't recognise their
description of their conversation. He said Downing Street always talks
to MPs, which is good to know! They are always putting pressure on MPs
to do what they want? It does. The Pritchard thing is emblematic of
what happens now. There is an insurgent parliamentary party.
There are mutterings about the whips' office and the chief whip in
particular. There's a storm brewing and Pritchard is a manifestation of
that. But the storm brewing is coming from a very different
quarter on very different issues. It is interesting that it came out.
I think there is some curious game going on here which we won't see
for ages, where he's been sent out as a stunt really, a gegsary stunt,
so the true rebellion -- a diversionary stunt, so the true
rebel yont isn't seen. -- rebellion. They are trying to present a
narrative of what the relationship is between Cameron and his MPs, and
the backbenchers and how he reads them the riot Act but they stick
with their consciences. It is a beautiful Jilly Cooper mar tiv.
This is a conspiracy -- narrative. This is a conspiracy from the
Guardian. Is this a habit, the U- turn. In their hurry to get as much
policy done as possible, is the coalition Government sigh it is
wise, considered Government and Ministers that make decisions and
they can backtrack on them? defence of listening, if he didn't
he would be accused of being dogmatic. I don't see this yet as
being a huge political problem, although I do think there are real
arguments inside Downing Street about the pace of public service
reform. Nobody from Downing Street needs to prove that they can U-turn.
They U-turn like dancing bears! If I can stick with the circus analogy.
In their defence, not on anything really important. On the economy,
on cuts, on welfare reform, and on education. These are the three big
narrative stories. That's all for this week. It was a great debate in
the chamber yesterday about banning wild animals in circuss. We'll be
Ed Miliband wants to ditch elections to the Shadow Cabinet. We'll ask if that is a disappointing rejection of internal party democracy or a strong leader exerting his authority? We talk to Shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell.
A test for all the parties in next week's by-election. We've been to Inverclyde to find out if Labour can hold off the SNP.
And there's been chaos in Greece: some say the single currency itself is under threat. But Tony Blair tells us he'd still like to join the Euro.
And joining Jo throughout the programme are the Guardian's Zoe Williams and the Telegraph's Peter Oborne.