01/07/2011 Daily Politics


01/07/2011

Jo Coburn is joined by journalists Andrew Pierce and Kevin Maguire. Tony Benn, on film and in the studio, tells how he changed the law 50 years ago.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

Hello and welcome to The Daily Politics.

:00:23.:00:28.

What should we make of last night's by-election? Labour held on in

:00:28.:00:30.

Inverclyde. But the SNP surged, slashed their majority, and helped

:00:30.:00:33.

themselves to virtually the entire Liberal Democrat vote in the

:00:33.:00:39.

process. The quiet man is turning up the

:00:39.:00:42.

volume on migrant workers. Iain Duncan Smith says half the new jobs

:00:42.:00:45.

we create go to foreigners from outside the EU. So is it time to

:00:45.:00:48.

get a grip on immigration? And the most dangerous man in

:00:48.:00:51.

Britain turned national treasure - Tony Benn will be here to tell us

:00:51.:00:54.

why he changed a law that threatened to destroy his career 50

:00:54.:01:04.
:01:04.:01:04.

With me today are Andrew Pearce from the Mail and The Mirror's

:01:04.:01:09.

Kevin Maguire, welcome to the show. First up, Labour will be breathing

:01:09.:01:12.

a sigh of relief after the results came in for the Inverclyde by-

:01:12.:01:15.

election. It managed to retain the seat with 15,118 votes over the

:01:15.:01:23.

SNP's 9,280. The Conservatives came third with 2,784, and it was a bad

:01:23.:01:30.

night for the Liberal Democrats who only managed 627. At the last

:01:30.:01:38.

election they got just over 5,000 votes. UKIP came last with 288. So

:01:38.:01:42.

whilst Labour won their vote, its share of the vote was down two

:01:42.:01:46.

points. The SNP was up 15. The Tories, down two points and the

:01:47.:01:49.

Liberal Democrats were down 11 points, as around four in every

:01:49.:01:58.

five of their voters deserted them. Kevin Maguire, disastrous for the

:01:58.:02:01.

Liberal Democrats, and the pain goes on for them, doesn't it?

:02:02.:02:05.

Absolutely, they seem to take all the blame that everything the

:02:05.:02:12.

coalition does. That vote is considered to be wrong. They

:02:12.:02:14.

thought they were going to win the seat in Oldham, they fell behind.

:02:14.:02:20.

In Barnsley, they came six and lost the deposit. It is disastrous and

:02:20.:02:23.

they are getting all the blame, while the Conservatives seemed to

:02:23.:02:29.

sail on. It wasn't great for Labour, they sort of stood still, lost a

:02:29.:02:33.

bit, and the SNP picked up those Liberal Democrat votes. I think

:02:33.:02:37.

they will have been pretty relieved to have won with 5,000 to spare,

:02:37.:02:40.

the SNP would have liked to have won that, particularly because the

:02:41.:02:45.

Queen is opening the Scottish Parliament today. It is a disaster

:02:45.:02:49.

for the Lib Dems. They chased and experienced, light weight candidate

:02:49.:02:54.

-- they chose an experience -- and inexperienced, light weight

:02:54.:03:00.

In they are in real trouble north of the border and Charles Kennedy

:03:00.:03:07.

could even lose his seat. It is Labour and the SNP north of the

:03:07.:03:10.

border now. A lot of questions swirling around Ed Miliband, quite

:03:10.:03:16.

rightly, about his leadership, but he has successfully negotiated four

:03:16.:03:20.

tricky by-elections. They did not do very well in those Holyrood

:03:20.:03:24.

elections. No, which is what makes Inverclyde even better. They got

:03:24.:03:28.

hammered in Holyrood when the SNP got a majority on an electoral

:03:28.:03:31.

system which was designed to stop any party get the majority. The

:03:31.:03:35.

reason they got the majority was that all the Liberal Democrat vote

:03:35.:03:39.

seem to have left the Liberal Democrats and gone to the SNP.

:03:39.:03:42.

Tories will be quietly pleased. They want Ed Miliband to have some

:03:42.:03:46.

victories now. The last thing the Tories want is the Labour Party to

:03:46.:03:50.

get rid of a leader who they think is very beatable. Looking at his

:03:50.:03:55.

personal poll ratings, you can see why. David Cameron won't be too

:03:55.:03:59.

displeased. Fair enough. Hundreds of thousands of teachers

:03:59.:04:01.

and civil servants went on strike yesterday. But although that was

:04:01.:04:04.

all about their pensions, many public sector workers are also

:04:04.:04:06.

worried about their jobs. The Government is spending less in

:04:06.:04:12.

order to pay down the deficit. And that could mean job losses in some

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areas. What ministers hope, of course, is that the private sector

:04:15.:04:18.

takes off as a result and overall more people are employed in British

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industry and small businesses. But that's not going to help much if

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most of those new jobs go to those coming from overseas. So, today,

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the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, is making a plea

:04:30.:04:36.

to British businesses. Currently, youth unemployment stands at 19%

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and Mr Duncan Smith claims that more than half the new jobs we

:04:39.:04:49.
:04:49.:05:05.

create are going to people coming In short, he wants British jobs for

:05:05.:05:08.

British Workers. A slogan we've heard somewhere before.

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This is our vision, Britain leading the global economy, by skills,

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creativity, enterprise, flexibility, investment in transport and

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infrastructure, a world leader in science, financial and business

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services, in energy and the environment, from nuclear to

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renewables. A world leader in the creative industries, and a world

:05:29.:05:33.

leader in modern manufacturing as well, drawing on the talents of all,

:05:33.:05:43.
:05:43.:05:45.

to create British jobs for British That was Gordon Brown, from a

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conference a few years ago. We are joined by Mark Serwotka and Justine

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Greening, welcome to both of you. Marks are Walker, urging British

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businesses to give youngsters here jobs before falling back on work

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from abroad, music to your ears? -- Mark Serwotka. Not necessarily. We

:06:07.:06:09.

have a million people unemployed and that is a real problem. We need

:06:10.:06:14.

to create jobs. This is about giving the job that existed British

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youngsters, surely you support that? I support creating jobs, not

:06:19.:06:23.

having a policy that could end up raising real racial tensions. I

:06:23.:06:27.

think when there are people who are unemployed, we have to be very

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careful that we don't get them to blame people who are immigrants,

:06:30.:06:36.

rather than ask the question, why aren't we creating more jobs?

:06:36.:06:39.

would it create racial tensions if Iain Duncan Smith is talking about

:06:39.:06:45.

people from outside the EU? Why wouldn't youngsters from Britain be

:06:45.:06:49.

given a chance ahead of them? not saying people shouldn't have a

:06:49.:06:54.

chance. I am saying, we need to create more jobs. Last year, I was

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seriously ill in hospital for six weeks. When I looked at the people

:06:59.:07:04.

who treated me, the porters, the cleaners, the Net is -- nesses,

:07:04.:07:08.

consultants, doctors, they came from all over the world -- the

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nurses. It made me think that our diversity is something we should be

:07:12.:07:15.

celebrating, not be close to whipping up potential racial

:07:15.:07:20.

tensions. To answer that point, will that policy whip up racial

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tensions? I think it is plain common sense. We have 5 million

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people who are either unemployed, or on some sort of incapacity

:07:28.:07:31.

benefit. The overwhelming majority of them want to have a chance of

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getting a job. Surely it makes sense that for them, and for public

:07:36.:07:40.

finances, and for the broader communities which they are part of,

:07:40.:07:44.

it makes sense to say we should be trying to make sure they have a

:07:44.:07:49.

fair shot at getting some of the jobs that are being created. What

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is wrong with plain common sense? You can't take that line in

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isolation from everything else that is being done. Merthyr Tydfil,

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where I went to school, 1700 people unemployed, 39 jobs advertised in

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the Jobcentre. The people they need job creation. If we create jobs,

:08:06.:08:10.

which is what I would like to see, decent, well-paid jobs, that is the

:08:10.:08:15.

type of future I want to see. In that sense, I want British used to

:08:15.:08:20.

get on the jobs ladder, but I wanted because of job creation. --

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British views. Isn't the problem for the government that they can't

:08:24.:08:28.

force businesses to do this? Beijing is an admission that they

:08:28.:08:38.
:08:38.:08:41.

can't do anything. -- the word, Do you agree there should be a

:08:41.:08:44.

tougher immigration policy? That is what we are putting in place right

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now. The other half of this is making sure that people coming

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through school have got the right skills that companies need. Too

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often in the past, they haven't. It is about schooling and education,

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but work placements and apprenticeships. That is why we

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have such a big focus on that. Talking about education youngsters

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in schools, -- educating youngsters. The day of action yesterday. It was

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a fantastic success. In terms of public support, which is finely

:09:15.:09:19.

balanced, how do you measure that? It was a success, even in the terms

:09:19.:09:23.

of rumbling the government. We saw a government in disarray. Francis

:09:23.:09:27.

Maude had to be withdrawn from the field, Danny Alexander introduced

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as a late substitute. He changed the script, started reinterpreting

:09:32.:09:36.

Lord Hutton's report. It exposes that the government have no eye for

:09:36.:09:46.
:09:46.:09:46.

the detail, which is why negotiations were unsuccessful.

:09:46.:09:49.

is finely balanced, are you sure that you are going to maintain

:09:49.:09:54.

public support for strike action? think we will because I think the

:09:54.:09:58.

public see this as a thin end of the wedge. They see it as a part of

:09:58.:10:03.

austerity packages that target the vulnerable, those in welfare and

:10:03.:10:07.

public sector workers, and they feel it is unfair. It is difficult

:10:07.:10:09.

for David Cameron and the government to judge the mood of the

:10:09.:10:13.

country. Where is the government prepared to negotiate? That is what

:10:13.:10:20.

everybody says they want, they negotiated or discussed settlement.

:10:20.:10:25.

-- a negotiated or discussed. Hutton came up with a set of

:10:25.:10:29.

recommendations to make sure that public sector pensions are

:10:29.:10:31.

sustainable going forward. Those recommendations are what we are

:10:31.:10:36.

discussing with the unions? Where will you negotiate? On the increase

:10:36.:10:41.

in the age they have to work? On the contributions? Or the tactical

:10:41.:10:46.

scheme they will have when they retire? Which are negotiable?

:10:46.:10:51.

talks are ongoing, they are covering a whole range of this --

:10:51.:10:55.

different aspects of how we can make sure we still have public

:10:55.:10:59.

sector pensions among the best in the world. Also for the taxpayer,

:10:59.:11:03.

that they are sustainable as well. One of the most important points

:11:03.:11:07.

that Lord Hutton made was that you could not make a 50 year bet that

:11:07.:11:11.

the schemes we have in place would be sustainable if then. For the

:11:11.:11:15.

people working in the public sector, they deserve to know that the

:11:15.:11:19.

pension scheme they will get when they retire is one they can rely on.

:11:19.:11:24.

That is what we are trying to sort out. It is plain common sense.

:11:24.:11:28.

this going to be resolved? Not in the short term, because the

:11:28.:11:32.

government won't budge. They won't say if they are going to compromise.

:11:32.:11:39.

The other unions have demands. The lower rate of inflation, CPI

:11:39.:11:43.

against RPI and so on. David Cameron said the public pensions

:11:43.:11:49.

work broken. That is not the case. The Hutton report confirms that.

:11:49.:11:53.

There is a battle for public opinion, he thought it was a home

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win. The rally was like a revolt of Middle England. There were rebuked

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-- lots of young women who you would not expect to be on strike,

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demonstrating. I think the fairness argument will seek out into the

:12:05.:12:09.

wider population. I think it was about 20% of civil servants who

:12:09.:12:16.

went on strike. It was not a triumph. I think Downing Street...

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They are hugely relieved because they do not think public opinion is

:12:20.:12:24.

on the side of the trade unions. have covered industrial disputes

:12:24.:12:29.

for 25 years and the employer always claims to be relieved.

:12:29.:12:34.

didn't have that sort of feeling of a standstill. Newspapers and some

:12:34.:12:38.

broadcasters, whooping it up as if the world was going to end... That

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wasn't the case. It was Dave Prentis from Unison talking about a

:12:42.:12:47.

general strike. It was a 24 hour strike, designed to draw the

:12:47.:12:51.

public's attention to the issue, and in that it was spectacularly

:12:51.:12:54.

successful. The one thing it might achieve is that the ministers we

:12:54.:12:58.

are talking to might bother to read the report, because they had not

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before. Is that the sum total of the success? Is it going to yield

:13:03.:13:09.

results? They are two issues. One is the sub-standard issue about

:13:09.:13:19.
:13:19.:13:23.

Does yesterday's strike make it closer? I think it is -- the answer

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is no. The way we are going to get through it is by sitting down and

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talking. Many unions yesterday were not on strike. Only about 10% of

:13:32.:13:36.

civil servants went on strike. The overwhelming which majority put the

:13:36.:13:42.

public first. The figure of 10% is a joke. We will now show the public

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that ministers have to engage on the detail and we shouldn't be

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forced to work longer, pay more and get less. More meetings on that,

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from today. Thank you. This week's change-maker is well known to

:13:56.:13:59.

anyone who's followed politics over the years. Tony Benn's Peerages Act

:13:59.:14:02.

of 1963 is probably not his biggest legacy but, without it, this

:14:02.:14:05.

"persistent commoner", as he likes to call himself, might never have

:14:05.:14:15.
:14:15.:14:20.

got his career off the ground. This is the central lobby of

:14:20.:14:24.

Parliament, and the man we're featuring today is a famous, long-

:14:24.:14:30.

standing parliamentarian. He went from the Commons to the Lords, then

:14:30.:14:34.

back to the Commons, before he retired. He did not change the law

:14:34.:14:41.

himself, but the law was changed because of the things he did.

:14:41.:14:44.

There were public opinion shifts, and then the guys in parliament

:14:44.:14:50.

realised they had to concede. Benn's father was an MP, and in

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1941, for political reasons, he accepted a hereditary peerage. This

:14:55.:15:00.

Act would not have affected his second son's political carrier

:15:00.:15:04.

until his first son was tragically killed in the war. From then on, he

:15:04.:15:09.

knew that one day a problem would arise, since a peer would not sit

:15:09.:15:13.

in the Commons. For over a decade, he fought tirelessly to renounce

:15:13.:15:19.

his title, but events overtook him. My dad was taken ill in Parliament

:15:19.:15:23.

and I went with him to the hospital. He died and I was with him when he

:15:23.:15:31.

died. And I knew at that moment that a situation would develop. So,

:15:31.:15:36.

I rang up the Speaker, and the Speaker said, you can't come any

:15:36.:15:41.

more. I said, I'm a member of parliament. He said, sorry, you're

:15:41.:15:46.

disqualified. Losing passes and access to the Commons, Tony Benn

:15:46.:15:56.

took the unusual step of fighting anyway, and won. We had a very hard

:15:56.:16:00.

fight. The Conservatives was saying, there is no point in voting for him,

:16:00.:16:07.

he will be disqualified. I wrote to Winston Churchill and asked for his

:16:07.:16:12.

support, I said, now you're free, can you support me? He sent me a

:16:12.:16:17.

letter of support. I must be the only Labour candidate who has had

:16:17.:16:23.

that. But winning wasn't enough, as the newly elected MP discovered.

:16:23.:16:27.

When I went to the door of the House, as a new member, the

:16:27.:16:31.

doorkeeper said, you can't come in, and I said, have you had

:16:32.:16:38.

instruction to use force to keep me out? And he said yes. I was not

:16:38.:16:42.

interested in a fight, so I turned away. And the man I had beaten took

:16:42.:16:48.

my seat. Footing the years, his opponent held the seat as Tony Benn

:16:48.:16:51.

fought in the courts at his own expense to change the law. But

:16:51.:16:53.

changes in the Tory TANYA STEVENSON: Proved more important.

:16:54.:16:59.

The Government changed the law at the time because they wanted Alec

:16:59.:17:02.

Douglas-Home to become Prime Minister, and he was a peer. But

:17:02.:17:06.

the real argument was, did my constituency have the right to

:17:06.:17:10.

choose who they wanted to represent them? That choice was finally

:17:10.:17:16.

recognise, the new law allowing him to renounce the peerage and fight a

:17:16.:17:20.

by-election - again - and win - again. They will not lock the door

:17:20.:17:26.

this time. It was a significant change, but the 1963 peerages Act

:17:26.:17:30.

has affected few actual people. But for Tony Benn, it has an actual

:17:30.:17:35.

value. If I went to the dentist and he started drilling my teeth, and

:17:35.:17:40.

he said, I am not a dentist, but my father was a very good dentist, I

:17:40.:17:44.

think on the whole I would go to a different man to do my teeth.

:17:44.:17:49.

anyone ever suggest in your career that you should move to the Lords?

:17:49.:17:54.

When I left Parliament in 2001, a hint was dropped, was there

:17:54.:17:58.

anything I would like? I think they might have been happy to make me

:17:58.:18:04.

appear, but I would not be seen dead in the place. -- to make me a

:18:04.:18:09.

peer. Looking and listening to that film, it was pretty brutal, the way

:18:09.:18:13.

they barred you from the House of Commons, I had no idea that that is

:18:13.:18:19.

how they dealt with it. Well, I was not the first person who complained.

:18:19.:18:23.

Quentin Hogg inherited a peerage in 1950 and tried to keep it and stay

:18:23.:18:27.

in the Commons and they turned him down. So it was not a brand new

:18:27.:18:30.

issue, but I decided the the Government thing to do was to fight

:18:30.:18:35.

it. I studied peerage history, and I realised that over the years,

:18:35.:18:38.

governments could do what they like. In the Middle Ages there was one

:18:38.:18:42.

man who killed his father because he wanted his title, so they kept

:18:42.:18:47.

him out, and there are a lot of other examples. I put it to them on

:18:47.:18:52.

a personal level and they turned me down, and then I had another by-

:18:52.:18:56.

election. Were you surprised about the way the Houses of Parliament

:18:56.:19:02.

behaved, bearing in mind, this was not the will of Tony Benn.

:19:02.:19:07.

stuffy old British establishment. Of course it was because it was

:19:07.:19:11.

Tony Benn II, it was a little bit personal. And you got the backing

:19:11.:19:16.

of the opposition, not just Winston Churchill, but also of the Tory

:19:16.:19:20.

party? Well, one or two Conservatives supported me, but

:19:20.:19:23.

most didn't. There were some people in the Labour Party who wondered

:19:24.:19:28.

whether it wasn't a diversion. So you were looking for support from

:19:28.:19:31.

various sources, but it was mainly my constituents that made the

:19:31.:19:35.

difference. You have said that politics should be about policies

:19:35.:19:42.

and not personalities. And yet you are most treasured now for your

:19:42.:19:47.

personality, not necessarily for the issues. In that case, it was

:19:47.:19:50.

the constituency that won. They voted for me when I was

:19:50.:19:52.

disqualified, they have the right to choose what they wanted to

:19:52.:19:57.

represent them, that was the real issue. The fact that I was thrown

:19:57.:20:00.

out and unemployed was a minor question. You know what the media

:20:00.:20:05.

are like. I have no idea what you're talking about! But don't you

:20:05.:20:09.

think that Tony Blair and his treasured as a personality now, not

:20:09.:20:15.

just for the issues he has campaigned about? -- Tony Benn.

:20:15.:20:20.

including my son, who used to vilify you 30 years ago, but

:20:20.:20:23.

yesterday we went on the rally, and you were cheered the moment you

:20:23.:20:27.

appeared. But it is a fascinating battle you fought, because there

:20:27.:20:31.

are so many people now lobbying party political leaders to try to

:20:31.:20:35.

get into the House of Lords, demanding peerages - you gave it up.

:20:36.:20:39.

But it is unfinished business in many ways. You go to the House of

:20:39.:20:43.

Lords, it is the upper chamber, the Commons is the lower chamber. It is

:20:43.:20:47.

very opulent and gilded, it is the MPs who have to go to the House of

:20:47.:20:54.

Lords for the Queen's Speech. almost 50 years later, we have

:20:54.:20:59.

still got 94 hereditary peers, which is astonishing. Are you

:20:59.:21:04.

amazed that we are still looking at the issue of House of Lords reform?

:21:04.:21:08.

When I started this you could not get into the Lord's unless you were

:21:08.:21:12.

a hereditary peer. Now, you can't get in and anyone can get out. So

:21:12.:21:17.

it did bring about a bit of a change. But the Lords is still

:21:17.:21:21.

treated as the Upper House, though how anyone can except a Parliament

:21:21.:21:25.

whether membership is made up of people appointed by the Prime

:21:25.:21:29.

Minister and not elected at all cost an incredible to me.

:21:29.:21:35.

coalition is reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600. And yet since

:21:35.:21:41.

the election he has created nearly 120 new peers. Why did you not stay

:21:41.:21:47.

in the Lords? I never went near the place. Why was that? I believe in

:21:47.:21:50.

democracy, it is very straightforward. I have been

:21:50.:21:54.

elected for Bristol several times. I was very proud to be a member of

:21:54.:21:58.

Parliament. But you could have helped your party in the House of

:21:58.:22:02.

Lords? And I just did not believe in it. I believe in democracy and I

:22:02.:22:07.

believe in elected parliaments, I know that is a controversial view.

:22:07.:22:11.

Tony Benn, thank you very much. Our weekly reminder now of what else

:22:11.:22:18.

has been happening in the world of politics over the last seven days.

:22:18.:22:22.

Here's The Week In 60 Seconds. The Greek government survived

:22:22.:22:26.

another make-or-break vote in the Athens parliament. Violence in the

:22:26.:22:30.

streets did not stop Greek MPs backing a new austerity package.

:22:30.:22:34.

Protests, too, in England and Wales, as strikes closed thousands of

:22:34.:22:38.

schools. Public sector workers are up in arms about changes to their

:22:38.:22:42.

pensions. The Chinese premier was on a visit

:22:42.:22:47.

to the UK. David Cameron announced �1.4 billion in trade deals, but

:22:47.:22:51.

the Chinese leader said the British should stop finger-pointing over

:22:51.:22:56.

human rights. What he thought of the sword waving was not recorded.

:22:56.:22:59.

Scottish students will continue to get free education in Scottish

:22:59.:23:04.

universities. For students from elsewhere in the UK, fees will rise

:23:04.:23:10.

to �9,000 -- to up to �9,000. And Ken Clarke announced that it is OK

:23:10.:23:14.

to hit a burglar with a burglar. If you were a grand mother, you can go

:23:14.:23:18.

even further. If an old lady picks up a kitchen knife and sticks it in

:23:18.:23:21.

the 18-year-old burglar, she has not committed a criminal offence,

:23:21.:23:30.

and we will make that clear. We saw Greece and the chaos there -

:23:30.:23:35.

we're joined now by Sharon Bowles, who was named recently as one of

:23:35.:23:38.

the most powerful people in the world in the field of financial

:23:38.:23:41.

regulation, because she chairs the European Parliament's Economic and

:23:41.:23:44.

Monetary Affairs Committee. More powerful even than George Osborne -

:23:44.:23:48.

surely not! On the subject of Greece, to a lot of people from the

:23:48.:23:53.

outside, it seems unsustainable for Greece to remain as part of the

:23:53.:24:00.

eurozone... I think the problems of any exit of

:24:00.:24:04.

Greece from the eurozone, or any other attempt at breaking up the

:24:04.:24:09.

eurozone, would cause ramifications that would be bad for everybody.

:24:09.:24:14.

Why would it not just cut the losses, and Greece could bail-out

:24:14.:24:18.

and devalue their currency and that would be that? Technically they

:24:18.:24:20.

would be in default or more of their loans, which would be very

:24:20.:24:24.

expensive for them. And of course it would be very expensive for many

:24:24.:24:28.

of Europe's banks. Especially for those which are exposed to Greek

:24:28.:24:32.

banks. And it would impact the UK severely. Although we may not have

:24:32.:24:38.

a lot of Greek sovereign debt, we are exposed through our banks to

:24:38.:24:42.

other banks which are exposed. So it could be a Lehman Brothers

:24:42.:24:48.

scenario all over again. How do you justify it to Europeans, not least

:24:48.:24:51.

the Germans, that they should continue drip-feeding the Greek

:24:51.:24:55.

economy with no guarantee that things will improve? There are

:24:55.:24:58.

several branches to this. First of all it has got to be understood

:24:58.:25:02.

that Germany gains 100 billion euros a year from being in the euro,

:25:02.:25:06.

which is pegged at a much more competitive level than it would

:25:06.:25:10.

have been if it was the Deutschmark. So, they are benefited handsomely

:25:10.:25:13.

from being in the euro, partly because less competitive countries

:25:13.:25:20.

like Spain and Portugal are in it. What about us? We are

:25:20.:25:24.

interconnected to it because they are our largest trading partners.

:25:24.:25:27.

We do not benefit to the same extent as the Germans, in that

:25:27.:25:32.

sense? Know, because we are not in the euro, but we are linked to it.

:25:32.:25:35.

And we are linked to the economies in the euro. So the demise of the

:25:36.:25:40.

euro in any shape or form would be harmful for the UK. There you go,

:25:40.:25:49.

it would be very harmful for us, Andrew Pierce... It is harmful now,

:25:49.:25:52.

because we are under writing Greek debt. The European Union budget is

:25:52.:25:55.

increasing and we have massively increased our support to the IMF to

:25:55.:25:59.

help pay for the bail-outs. It is ironic because we did not join the

:26:00.:26:05.

euro, thank God, something at least we can thank Gordon Brown for.

:26:05.:26:10.

Because it is a basket case. If the euro is a basket case, would you

:26:10.:26:13.

support one of the plans which has been put forward, Kevin Maguire,

:26:14.:26:18.

for example, the French plan to try to keep Greece afloat until it can

:26:19.:26:22.

pay back some of its debts, or would you think it should be cut

:26:22.:26:27.

off? No, I think that is a better way forward. Christine Lagarde, the

:26:27.:26:31.

French woman running the IMF, George Osborne backed her, and she

:26:31.:26:36.

backs that policy, to keep Greece in. Before we write of the euro,

:26:36.:26:40.

and it is suffering terrible strains and stresses, people who go

:26:40.:26:44.

on holiday in France and Spain and Portugal, there are finding their

:26:44.:26:48.

pound is buying a lot less than it did a few years ago, because the

:26:48.:26:54.

euro has not collapsed. Are you seriously saying we should join the

:26:54.:26:59.

Eurocamp? I did not say that, but you're writing it off. If I had a

:26:59.:27:02.

pound for every time I heard a right winger saying, it is

:27:02.:27:09.

collapsing, it is gone. They're right, it is collapsing. Would you

:27:09.:27:13.

like to see Britain joining the euro? I think it is off the agenda

:27:13.:27:17.

for some time now because there are going to be fundamental reforms

:27:17.:27:20.

which draw the economies closer together. It is a kind of closeness

:27:20.:27:24.

which I think the UK would be less than comfortable with. That is one

:27:24.:27:28.

of the main reasons we did not join in the first place. But you would

:27:28.:27:32.

support the idea of Britain joining? In the long term, if they

:27:32.:27:36.

can get the euro fixed as it should have been in the first place, many

:27:36.:27:40.

things which the UK said would need to be done, then in the long term,

:27:40.:27:44.

I would see that the UK could join, but it is not a current political

:27:44.:27:47.

debate. What do you support in terms of dealing with the Greek

:27:47.:27:52.

situation? I think the European side of the bail-out has to be made

:27:52.:27:56.

more sustainable and affordable, not just the Greece, but for

:27:56.:28:01.

Portugal and Ireland. The rate of interest which are being charged...

:28:01.:28:05.

So that the countries which are making loans - Don't forget, these

:28:05.:28:08.

are loans - countries are making a nice little tidy profit out of it,

:28:08.:28:13.

and that should not be the case. But it is all based on the idea of

:28:13.:28:19.

repayment, which seems to be in the never-never land. Again, I think

:28:19.:28:22.

they should extend the terms of the loans in the interest of

:28:22.:28:25.

sustainability. The interest which is paid as an insurance, if you

:28:25.:28:30.

like, that could be treated like returnable collateral. We have only

:28:30.:28:33.

recently paid off America for all of the loans from the Second World

:28:33.:28:37.

War, so it is quite common in international finance to take out

:28:37.:28:42.

loans which you repay many decades later. Thank you very much. That's

:28:42.:28:46.

What should we make of last night's by-election? Labour held on in Inverclyde, but the SNP surged and helped themselves to virtually the entire Liberal Democrat vote in the process.

Half the new jobs we create go to foreigners coming from outside the EU, says Iain Duncan Smith. So is it time to get a grip on immigration?

We'll talk to Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, and Justine Greening, Economic Secretary to the Treasury.

And we have the most dangerous man in Britain - turned national treasure - Tony Benn with a film and in the studio to tell us how he changed the law 50 years ago.

With Jo Coburn are Andrew Pierce from the Mail and the Mirror's Kevin Maguire.


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