01/07/2011 Daily Politics


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Hello and welcome to The Daily Politics.


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


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


themselves to virtually the entire Liberal Democrat vote in the


process. The quiet man is turning up the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


displeased. Fair enough. Hundreds of thousands of teachers


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


all about their pensions, many public sector workers are also


worried about their jobs. The Government is spending less in


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


creativity, enterprise, flexibility, investment in transport and


infrastructure, a world leader in science, financial and business


services, in energy and the environment, from nuclear to


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


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


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


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


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


businesses to give youngsters here jobs before falling back on work


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


celebrating, not be close to whipping up potential racial


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


but work placements and apprenticeships. That is why we


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the detail, which is why negotiations were unsuccessful.


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


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


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


austerity packages that target the vulnerable, those in welfare and


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


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


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


everybody says they want, they negotiated or discussed settlement.


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


recommendations to make sure that public sector pensions are


sustainable going forward. Those recommendations are what we are


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


changes in the Tory TANYA STEVENSON: Proved more important.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


difference. You have said that politics should be about policies


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


whether membership is made up of people appointed by the Prime


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


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


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


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


democracy, it is very straightforward. I have been


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


pensions. The Chinese premier was on a visit


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


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


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


Scottish students will continue to get free education in Scottish


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Monetary Affairs Committee. More powerful even than George Osborne -


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


economy with no guarantee that things will improve? There are


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


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


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


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


from being in the euro, partly because less competitive countries


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


interconnected to it because they are our largest trading partners.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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