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Afternoon, folks. Welcome to the Daily Politics. We are back from
Birmingham and not an emergency motion or a warm glass of cheap
white wine in sight! But it is not all good news. The economy is back
in intensive care and the Bank of England is preparing for emergency
action. Again! But what, if anything, will reassure the
markets? The Travellers of Dale Farm await tomorrow's High Court
decision. If it goes against them, they face eviction. The leader of
the council will join us. And, David Cameron is in America, urging
all and sundry to visit this country? So what slogan is he using
to sell Broken Britain to the Yanks? Will Cool Britannia ride
And with us for the duration, Toby Young, former writer for the Modern
Review and Vanity Fair. And now the co-founder of the West London Free
School, which has just opened in Welcome to the programme. So, first
up, Toby. You are the man who persuaded Vanity Fair to do that
big splash on Cool Britannia. Take a look at all these. This is the
new advertising campaign David Cameron is launching in New York.
The slogan - is GREAT - in capital letters - Britain - You're invited.
These are some of the posters. Not quite the broken Britain theme he's
What do you think? They looked OK. When we had the conversation at
Vanity Fair, we were sitting around the table, trying to persuade them
that Britain was back. They imagined that detecting where does
zeitgeist did, the forensic scientific process, divining rods
and putting up antennae, it is about whether you can say it
confidently enough. If you can do that make you can persuade
everybody it is back and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Does it
have the better bring about it, Cool Britannia? Great Britain has
been around for longer. Americans refer to us as Great Britain.
this a slightly different thing? Great Britain is being sold to the
Americans. Cool Britannia was a mark-making politics cool as well.
It was about Number 10 getting involved. -- about making. Tony
Blair hesitated about being photographed by Vanity Fair. It was
before he had been elected. It came up at the beginning of 1997, just
before the election. John Major could have claimed credit for
having created this phenomenon. He was the Prime Minister at the time.
Tony Blair was talking about, wouldn't we be crediting John Major
with it? In the end he was persuaded that Labour would be
profiting in this. I did not realise about John Major being the
true architect of Cool Britannia. There was a sense of optimism in
1997. The economy was on the rise. The economy was going well and
there was a lot of creativity going on in the British culture. That is
true. That certainly does not seem to be as pronounced now. I think
that, given the Olympics are coming up, and things are pretty grim in
America as well, I do not think that tourism will fall of next year.
There were the riots. They talked about Britain having a broken
society. It seems incongruous to say, it is great here. Parts of
society can be broken but overall it is a great country. What can we
expect any Prime Minister - a Labour, Liberal or conservative -
to do? Do not think the broken society bit is overplayed? I'm not
sure how widely that is played abroad. The Government of trying to
do something to restore confidence in Britain in the wake of the riots.
Can you remember where that phrase came from, Cool Britannia? I do not
know. It came from a band. They coined the phrase. I can assure you,
they were not cool. You had all their records, didn't you? I did.
I'm not singing any of them. The Business Secretary, Vince Cable,
gave a pretty gloomy assessment of our economic prospects at his party
conference. It is all grey skies ahead, he warned. There are no
sunny uplands in sight. In fact, he told us all to don our flak jackets
and tin hats. This, he said, is war. We now face a crisis that is the
economic equivalent of war and this is not a time for business as usual
or politics as usual. You never mistake him for a rate of sunshine.
The International Monetary Fund has been warning that the world economy
is entering a dangerous new phase. Well, last night, the Americans
launched Operation Twist - a $400 billion offensive, trying to
prevent the world's biggest economy sliding back into recession. The
Federal Reserve hopes the new campaign can prevent a dangerous
phase turning into a full-scale slump. In Europe, Greece is still
in retreat. Prime Minister George Papandreou is still trying to
negotiate another �96 billion to get the country through the next
month or two. Economic growth forecasts in the Eurozone have been
slashed. Down from 2% to 1.6%. But some think even that might turn out
to be optimistic. And here at home, growth forecasts are also on the
slide. Down from 1.5% to 1.1%. Down again for the third time in a year.
The IMF is normally pretty keen on cutting back deficits. But this
lack of growth has got it worried. Because if there is no growth,
there is not much in the way of tax receipts. And paying off the
deficit gets more difficult still. In a recent report, the IMF said
that if this goes on, David Cameron and Angela Merkel should consider
delaying some of their planned adjustment in Britain and Germany.
That's IMF speak for easing back on the cuts. And we now know that the
Bank of England came close to ordering a second round of what is
called quantitative easing at their meeting last month. That's printing
money and spreading it around to you and me. The papers are calling
it Operation QE2. So, that's Vince Cable's war crisis. And it most
certainly won't be over by Christmas. With us now is the
Shadow Business minister, Labour's Chuka Umunna. And for the
Conservatives, Matt Hancock - a former Bank of England economist
and ex chief of staff to George Osborne. He is just a humble MP
these days. His career has obviously hit the buffers. Under
the last Labour but -- government, when the printing of money was
beginning, George Osborne said, printing money is the last resort
of desperate governments, when all other policies have failed. So,
you're desperate and all other policies have failed... Gordon
Brown certainly got us into a desperate state. At the root of
this is the debt crisis. We need to understand this is a debt crisis
before we can think about how to get out of it. We have the highest
amount of debt as a proportion of our income of any major government
in a country ever. We know that. Buy your own words, although George
Osborne said them, I suspect they are your words, you wrote them, the
fact we now seem to be heading for a second round of quantitative
easing is a sign that all your existing policies have failed and
that we are desperate. Well, we were in a desperate situation.
are in it again? Look at what is going on around the world! In the
euro area they have a debt crisis and a cordon Asian crisis of have
to get out of it. The Americans are in a very difficult position. What
we do have here is a clear plan to tackle the debt. We have always
been straightforward about the fact that the best way out of the debt
crisis is to face the debt - have a plan to do with them - and allow
monetary policy to act and keep the economy going on the right track.
It is up to the Bank of England. As the minutes yesterday showed they
have talking about whether they need to do quantitative easing.
Labour position is that spending has been cut by too much, too
quickly. Is that a rough summary? That is right. If you look at the
figures we got from the ONS last week, as a result of that, 111,000
jobs further weight in the public sector. Only 41,000 where created
in the private sector. Let me ask you this, if I have categorised the
position correctly. I had two further questions. By how much has
government spending been cut in the current year and how much would you
cut it? I cannot give you the exact figure for the current year.
cannot. I will give it to them. Government spending in this
financial year - 2011/2012 - has been cut in total by 0.7%. By how
much less would you cut it? As I said, I am not able to give you the
exact figure. That is not much anyway. You're looking at a
proportion of GDP. No, overall public spending. Are you really
saying that is too much, too quickly? There is still a big
difference between what we're proposing and they are proposing.
They are imposing �10 million more of taxes in the form of the VAT
rise. That will cost about �450 a year. You have got them to-ing �30
million more worth of cuts. Would you not do these cuts? -- �230
million. Public spending is only going down by 0.7% this year. It
seems you have not got much latitude to do less. It is not
being cut by much anyway. Would you cut it a tall and increase
spending? I cannot give you a specific figure. -- at all. We
would look to reduce the deficit - half the deficit - over the course
of the parliament instead of eliminating it. The big thing that
is affecting the economy at the moment is conflict. It is the
question of what people think will happen in the future. I do not
think there will be much confidence. The Spending Review was announced
in October of last year. We saw confidence nosedived -- nosedive.
We were talking about the international context. We have seen
our economies claimed more than any other country in the G7, apart from
Japan, which of course had the earthquake. We are seeing a
detrimental impact on the economy. In the last quarter, it was not
good but UK growth was the second- fastest in the GDP. You are talking
about decimal points. It was 0.2%. You do not get confidence by not
having a plan. He cannot tell you what the Labour Party plan is.
me hear from Toby Young. I will give you some decimal points. The
IMF did revise down its forecast by 0.1%. It also revised down the
spend forecast -- Spain will cost to 0.8% and the Italian broadcast
by 0.6%. -- forecast. There is no major Western economy in which you
can have great confidence, with the possible exception of Germany.
we just rise above this petty point-scoring? Any of us can do
that. There is a very serious crisis going on. It is very serious
in the eurozone. It is very serious in America. Far better is to have a
plan that involves all of the... Having a plan to get to deal with
government debts but also allowing the economy to be managed by the
Bank of England. That is a very clear plan this government has. In
this great crisis... Tell me one major economic indicator for this
The business investment has been doing better than others. It is on
it back. This morning, there was a survey of manufacturing
expectations, which was reasonably positive. Let's not say it...
working? You need a plan that will work. We have seen record borrowing
in August, and you have seen... should be in favour of that, so why
are you complaining? Matthew has been saying they have a plan and it
is working, and that is to reduce the deficit by a large amount. But
it isn't working. In the last year of the Labour government, borrowing
came in �20 billion lower than forecast, because the last Labour
government had a plan and it was working. The golden economic
heritage. We are going to have to leave it there. You got the last
word in! OK, I'll do it!
It is often said that politicians need thick skins, not least when
accused of things they wish they hadn't done in their youth. 15
years ago, some things, particularly admitting taking drugs,
might have wrecked a promising career. Is that still true today,
or does it matter less these days? Dear, oh dear, oh dear. The things
people get up to. And how gleefully it is reported, and how we shake
our heads. Or do we? You see, with these now infamous allegations
about Chancellor George Osborne, the dominatrix call girl and
cocaine, allegations he has always strongly denied, we haven't
actually had legions of calls for his resignation, or to hang his
head in shame. In fact, all we have had his some rather bad political
teasing. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has lashed himself to the
mast. Non for the first time, perhaps.
heard that George Osborne is keen to get on the show as well. He
wants to do a line dance. When you have stitched up your sides, ask
yourself this. Have we, as an electorate, accepted the President
of Jacqui Smith in 2007, the first serving Home Secretary to admit she
smoked cannabis as a student. 40 years earlier, the position David
Cameron took when asked about drugs. I didn't spend the early years of
my life thinking, I better not do anything because one day I might be
a politician, because I didn't know I might be a politician. I haven't
answered the question because I think it is all in the past and I
don't think you have to answer it. Louise Mensch dealt with
allegations she took drugs with a humorously frank response.
Basically admitting it. It is the cover-up that will kill a
politician, not the crime. The public want to see be honest, it is
better to be honest and cover it up and admit it three years later. It
was a long time ago, I said it was the idiotic behaviour of youth, but
there are awful lot of people, politicians, broadcasters, probably
judges, who have had the same peccadilloes in their youth and
have grown out of it, and I genuinely believe the public does
Top I don't think it is less on morality. In fact it is rather more
on variety. People want to know where a key -- on morality. People
want to know why politician stands on global warming, capital
punishment, but they are not so bothered about those ordinary
private life things. If the defence of youth is one we now accept,
where is the cut-off? I can't say where youth ends, but it is like
the famous definition of pornography by the Supreme Court
justice, I know it when I see it. At some point, you are regarded you
should have done your growing up, I can't say when that is. The key
cut-off point is when you enter public life and stand for office,
and your legislating on things like drugs legislation. You can do it in
your youth but not when you are a politician. Amidst this story, you
might have expected me to make some bad puns along the lines of
government whips all things not to be sniffed at. But I am not going
to do that. I draw the line somewhere.
Is Louise Mensch right? Does the public not care about indiscretions
and bad behaviour before we get into politics? I don't think they
care as much as they did and if they do, I don't think they should.
I thought this might come up, I did a bit of doodling. -- Google in.
Political Lord Roseberry used to take cocaine, when it was legal,
before speaking in the House of Commons. Kennedy, of course, was on
such a massive cocktail of drugs that during the Cuban missile
crisis, he rattled whenever he got up. What is a point of morality?
we rule people out of high office on the grounds of a slightly
chequered past, we would be restricting the pool of politicians
to a very narrow group, and some of the best people are people who have
dallied with trucks in the past. Not wanting to be a cynic, but --
drugs in the past. Going back to this idea of being tough on drug-
taking, youngsters who have committed crimes, it might strike
people as a bit strange, David Cameron, Louise Mensch, saying this
was my misspent youth, you can't chastise me now. When we are
resting people for doing that same thing -- arresting people. It is
hypocritical and that is why I'm in favour of decriminalising or less
all drugs. You don't think it ruins the political message in that
sense? I don't think so. I don't think George Osborne is identified
with a particularly draconian, say no to drugs policy. I don't think
it is particularly relevant. Once in politics? Then I think you are
under obligation to give it up and leave it behind you. I hope they
are listening. And live a chaste and perfect life,
like us. Tomorrow, the High Court will
decide whether or not to allow the bailiffs back into Dale Farm in
Basildon. The site is owned and occupied by a community of
travellers. They bought it from a car scrapyard dealer in 1996. But
the local council says that part of the site, which is in the green
belt, has been developed without the necessary planning permissions.
This has all been going on for more than a decade. On Monday, the court,
at the last minute, granted the residence and order which prevented
their lives from beginning to clear the site. A whole load of other
protesters who joined in, they claim to be there in solidarity.
There is always the danger it could turn nasty. With me, the leader of
Basildon Council, Tony Ball, and Yvonne MacNamara, who speaks for
the Irish Travellers Movement in Britain. Welcome. If you look at
this from the outside, part of the site got planning permission, has
been developed, and isn't going to be touched. The other part didn't,
and you have to get out. What is wrong with that? There is a lot
wrong with it. Firstly, morally, it legally, it economically, this is
very wrong. Two weeks ago, I sat in a caravan, trying to explain to an
11-year-old, Eileen O'Brien, who has written the letter to David
Cameron, why she can no longer live in Dale Farm in a caravan... Isn't
that the fault of her parents for being in an area which doesn't have
planning permission? No. I delete what is happening here, is there is
a national shortage of travellers' Every local authority in this
country has a statutory requirement to identify need. When they
identified the needs of the local Gypsy Traveller community, which
Basildon have done, they tend to leave that report sitting on the
shelf gathering dust, they don't implement it. Basildon Council
themselves have identified there is a need for 62, that is minimum...
There is a need for a lot of things, it doesn't justify breaking the law.
A lot of people don't have homes in this country and meet them, but
they don't break the law. Nobody is advocating that people should break
the law. But when people are absolutely desperate, local
authorities are not providing the homes. Let me... Let me bring in a
local authority here. This has been going on for 10 years. You are now
going to have to move families who have been there for a long while.
Given the length of it, and given that part of the site is legal and
has planning permission, why don't you draw a line under it and say,
the whole side will now be covered. -- the whole site. We have learned
lessons, it won't happen again, but the whole site will be subject to
planning, they will be allowed to stay there and we will enforce
rigorously, every other part of the law. To a certain extent you have
answered your own question, where do you draw the line? I am saying
you do it here. Why? The site was developed illegally in 2001. We all
know we need to get planning permission before we develop. That
cannot be seen to be rewarded, and it is a question of equality for
everybody. What will stop someone making a similar case, if they
wanted their grandmother to move in with them, and building a home in
their garden? There has to be consistency. I agree there is a
national shortage, but that can't be a reason for them taking the law
into your own hands. Why don't you provide the sites for the people?
Basildon is the largest provider in his Essex. I want to ask you this.
What I think a lot of people don't understand. If this is a travelling
community, why are they fighting so hard to stay put? This shows a huge
gap in information. The ethnic identity is the tablet community,
yes. Under the -- traveller community. Under the race Relations
Act they are protected. I am committed to your question. Why do
they want accommodation? I am coming to it. Allow me to answer
the question. They have a right to allow for self-determination but we
have conflicting pieces of legislation, that if the travellers
travel the highways and byways of this country, there are no longer a
transient sites provided. Local authorities are not providing the
transient sites for them. Are they no longer travellers? Are they
going to become permanent They are travellers. They are
continuously being harassed and moved on. There is no place else
for them to go. I am missing something, if they want a permanent
place to go, it would seem they are no longer travellers question of
you are a Scottish man? OK. Because you have come to live here in
London, it doesn't automatically mean you are now an Englishman. You
are still a Scottish month. Traveller is the ethnic identity of
Are you still determined, despite the dangers of violence and the
fact that families and old people will be moved, to get them out. I
come back to my original point. Would it not be better to say, we
have all learnt lessons from this prolonged case, we're not going to
have a fight over it, we are going to draw the line here and move on?
Many things that are forgotten are the actual reasons. Is this an
appropriate place to have 52 pots, plus over 30... You gave them half
of it, and it was a car dealership. -- 52 plots. A scrapyard. A very
small part of it had a licence to be a scrap dealership.
significant part. That was illegally and large and we enforced
against that. I understand that the travellers might have bought... But
with rights becomes as -- come responsibilities. A brief talk from
youth, Toby Young. Presumably you would like to have lots of
transient sides that you can travel to and from two, rather than one
permanent site, and your argument is we need this, because we're not
allowed to go anywhere else. Absolutely not allowed. If there is
If there is a national shortage, people need somewhere to live
during the winter as well. The children need to go to school.
afraid we have run out of time but I thank you both for being with us.
Just time to give you the answer to yesterday's guess the year
competition. It was 1982. You recognised the Falklands War, Tony
Blair fighting and losing the Beckinsale by-election. You get to
pick the winner. Just read out the name. Bill Horrocks from Aberdeen.
Well done. We will send the mug to you. That is it for today. That's
all for today. Thanks to all our guests, especially to the Toad-
meister - as he's called on Twitter - Toby Young. I am back tonight for
the first This Week in ages, where I will be joined by Michael
Portillo, Jacqui Smith and Charles Kennedy. Leading fiddle-meister
Nigel Kennedy will speaking up for travellers and American comedian
Reginald D Hunter will be casting an eye over national stereotypes.