Political magazine with Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn. The latest on events in Libya, and Liam Fox is still under fire. Plus, crime in Croydon, and social networking in the House.
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Afternoon folks. Welcome to the Daily Politics. The moment of
victory in Libya looks imminent. The new government there's on the
brink of saying the country is clear Gaddafy's forces. Meanwhile,
here at home, the Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, is still under fire. Can
you continue if the job? continuing to do what is needed,
focusing on defence issues. Thank you very much. We'll have the
latest. We'll also take a look at what's happened to crime in Croydon
after the summer riots. Have all the arrests made an impact on how
safe it is to walk the streets? And it's that time again - the
Westminster Dog of the Year. We'll find out which pooch is top dog.
There's no dog in the studio this year. I'm told that Foxy Knoxy's
agent has been holding out for double money. All that in the next
half hour. Joining us throughout the programme, the former MP for
Tatton, war correspondent and now poet, Martin Bell. Good to be here.
Published last week. But first, the Foreign Secretary, William Hague,
is expected to make a statement in the Commons within the next few
minutes. It's on the latest situation in Libya and there is
speculation that he'll say that it is almost clear of resistance to
the new government. Meanwhile, Liam Fox is still being staked out by
half of Fleet Street here at home. Within the last few moments MPs had
this to say about the Defence Secretary in the House of Commons.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister promised to look -- to publish a
list of meetings with the Defence Secretary and Adam Werritty. When
will this list be published? Following the BBC's revelations of
secretive wealthy donors running a shadow operation at the heart of
one of Whitehall's most sensitive government departments, what are
the implications for accountibility and probity? On her first question,
I'm sure the Prime Minister will honour the undertaking he gave
yesterday on the list of visits to ministers. That is as soon as the
information has been dealt with. On the earth -- other issue, the
Cabinet Secretary is dealing with all issues and will complete his
inquiry as soon as he can. George Young there. We are
expecting the Foreign Secretary to make a statement probably including
some in terms of declaring victory or at least Libya free. Is it
difficult to determine that moment of victory, if you like, in these
sorts of circumstances? Yes, I think in a long-running war, which
doesn't necessarily involve regular forces, and a lot of rumours, but
these ones are holding out. I think the moment of victory has just
about arrived. As forceful humanitarian interventions go, I
think this one has worked. Would you say you were a fan generally of
a policy of liberal intervention? The Government will say it has been
hugely successful and they did the right thing? Is it legal and
proportion nailt and supported and doable? -- proportionate and
supported and doable? This one has. It has not been America-led and the
boots on the ground are those of the Lybians. That is the difference,
looking back to Bosnia, boots on the ground become key or not as it
was in Libya? That depends how they are used. We had 34,000 UN troops
on the ground at the time of the Srebrenica massacre. Each case is
different. Finally we got it right and good for those. Very different
from Iraq? Totally and Afghanistan. I don't see how we could have stood
back and see that happen to beng. He said he would go from --
Benghazi. He said he would go from house to house and grab people out
and kill them. He would have done, since he has previous. We are
always criticising politicians, but when they get it right, give them
the cid. Liam Fox - I -- credit. Liam Fox, we have a rough idea. The
picture is clear now that there were clearly a group of Tories,
quite wealthy, very wealthy in some cases and they were bank rolling a
Shadow office in the shape of Mr Werritty. Because Liam Fox didn't
quite trust the Cameroons or the Civil Service and they were very
pro-Israel and they were Thatcherite in tradition and that
seems to be what happened. Is that a sacking offence? I think his
position is untenable. I think we can wait a few more days and if it
turns out that Mr Werritty got any monetary advantage from his
friendship with Dr Fox. The people I'm concerned for are those out
deployed in far-flung places. This has to be distracting for the
Defence Secretary. His judgment has to be called into question. I think
we have a few more days. I'm in favour of not hounding people, but
it will become clear in a very short time. I will be surprised if
in a week's time he's still in his post. I thought at the weekend he
might well survive. As the week's gone on and this drip, drip and we
have now found out what has happened and Mr Werritty's position
becomes more obvious, it does seem that the ministerial rules have
been bent, if not broken? Yes. As previous explanations come to be
shot full of holes and people say things when turn out to be not
entirely true. It's the old case of the cover-up doing the damage.
shall see. It will be another weekend of news stories, no doubt.
We all remember the riots. The pictures scarred the towns and
cities are still in our memories. These pictures are from Croydon.
This morning, as guidelines have been published for people involved
in rioting, Gavin Barwell, a Croydon MP, claims to have seen
evidence that crime has now gone down dramatically in the area. We
have going to speak to him in one moment, but first here is Jo on how
the courts delts withlet aftermath. Following the -- dealt with the
aftermath. Following the riots, 1 ,715 had appeared in court and 73%
had a previous caution or conviction. This chimed with Ken
Clarke, when he said that a hardcore of criminal classes were
involved. The courts got tough. 43% of offenders tried at a
Magistrates' Court received an immediate custodial sentence,
compared to 12% for similar offences in England and Wales in
2010. The average custodial sentence was 5.1 months, compared
to 2.5 the year before. At Crown Court the average sentence was 18.5
months, compared with 11.3 months in 2010. Now, new proposals have
been set out by the Sentencing Council for England and Wales. They
are designed to take into account the harm inflicted on the victim.
Under the new guidelines, those who are guilty of domestic burglaries,
who normally get up to 26 weeks in jail, could see a sentence of up to
two years, if the crime took place during a riot. Gavin Barwell is now
with us. Welcome to the programme. This is a first for you? It is.
Let's get straight to the fact in this. What figures have you seen
and what do they tell us? I've seen some figures from my borough
commander in Croydon, which show if you look at the four-week period
after the riots and the period including the riots, there has been
a significant reduction in property crime. You would expect that. There
has been a reduction of 20% in violent crime. That shows very
clearly it seems to me that putting the offenders away has worked in
terms of reducing crime in the short term. I understand that. I'm
puzzled by the period comparison if it tells us very much. You are
saying the first period includes the riots? It does. Wouldn't a
better comparison be, say, the four weeks after the riots, with four
weeks in June or in April? Sure. I hope when we get the investigation
complete we'll see all of that data. On the property crime you are
making a perfectly fair point, because it's an unfair comparison,
but there were very few offences of violent crime on 8th August, that
people have been prosecuted for. It shows a significant reduction.
conclusion do you draw from this? I they we are offered on crime and
punishment a false choice, with some saying we need to put people
away for longer and others say prison doesn't work, we need to
improve rehabilitation and I think there is merit in both. Prison does
work in the short term. It gets them off the streets and make
Croydon a safer place, but as Ken Clarke argues in the longer term,
it doesn't change people's behaviour patterns, so when they
come out they are very likely to reoffend. What I'll argue this
afternoon in the House is we are being offered a false choice.
Obviously, it is axiomatic, if you put the guys away there will be
less crime on the streets. Couldn't there be a play that after a riot
and you see this in the United States also, people are exhausted,
even the criminals are exhausted, and they need a rest? Sure. Also,
there are lots of police around and there is lots of publicity and you
lie low. By the way, I've nicked all this stuff and I have to fence
it, so I'm busy doing that. Surely there must be an element of post-
riot exhaustion? There is an effect that we saw more policing after the
riots than on the day itself. What we'll need to see is data for the
next few months while people are serving sentences to see if the
effect is prolonged. My constituents want to see the
maintenance of the visible policing. Why are we dependent on you coming
to us with this information, which I understand is unofficial and it
was leaked to you. Why - if this was a programme in New York we
would be able to through their computer system tell you that crime
precinct by precinct in the past 24 hours officially. Why don't we have
that here? We are beginning to get it. The Government has started the
crime mapping process, but there is a time lag. Historically, there has
been far too little information that has allowed people to make the
mapgz. There is the time lag -- mappings. There is the time lag
that won't help that. We'll get the internal recrew across London and
that will give myself and people like yourselves a lot more data.
I say, I can see the point that crime's going down because a lot of
the rioters with previous convictions have been put away and
the streets a bit safer for a while. Even if you put them away for
longer than you normally do, they will get out and they won't have
been in prison long enough for rehabilitation to matter, so
doesn't crime spike up again? agree with what Ken Clarke says.
The initial story - You don't agree with him on not putting people away,
do you? We are seeing that the guidelines are going to be a bit
tougher, but permly I would like to see us go further still. I think
also one of the things that very clear from the evidence is far from
being spontaneous, in Croydon there was a significant organisation and
gang culture was at the core of what happened in our town, so I'm
very much looking forward to the stailt from Iain Duncan Smith and
the Home Secretary about -- statement from Iain Duncan Smith
and the Home Secretary about that. One final question to you for the
moment, we know from international experience and we know now from coy
done, that if you put a lot of police on the streets crime tends
to fall. And your government is cutting police numbers. That can't
be right, can it? In London this year we have seen a slight increase,
but there is a danger going forward. Boris, as I tried to establish at
the Tory conference, Boris Johnson and the Home Secretary can't be
right. If he says he has 1,000 more police officers and he needs it to
keep it down, so if you take 16,000 away in the rest of the country and
that won't effect crime, one or the other is wrong? The Prime
Minister's response was that we would see far more officers on the
streets. Clearly, numbers is an issue. And you are cutting the
numbers? My view is the police can't be expempt from savings and
there are ways of saving without cutting numbers, but I've made it
clear to the Prime Minister in the House that I would not favour
anything that is actually going to reduce the front-line policing in
my town. My constituents don't want to see that. Let me bring in Martin
Bell in. What is your take? I used to be the BBC's riots correspondent.
I have been from Chicago to Belfast. You didn't wear a helmet?
certainly didn't. We had no body armour. The most serious riots
never go on for four days because people get completely exhausted.
Has Croydon recovered from the sense of shock? No, I think the
damage to the reputation as a town and also the knowledge that living
in the town there are people who are behaving like this in the
community is going to take a long I think of Croydon as an affluent
suburb. It is a very mixed community. There is some damage but
there is also a positive side to this story. There were huge numbers
of people look came out to help to clear up at the store. And they are
going to rebuild it? Yes. If you look at the way that Manchester
recovered from the IRA attack, these things can be turned into a
positive. That is the job - to turn it around.
Croydon was Nicholas Sarkozy's favourite town. He compared it with
Paris. That was before the riots! Thank you for coming on.
MPs will always tell you about ha- ha the work - the 14-hour days, the
pressure to get re-elected - and that is all before they even think
about climbing the greasy pole to the top. -- MPs will always tell
you about how hard they work. According to a recent report, we
should be encouraged in our MPs to be lazier. -- encouraging our MPs.
Don't be fooled by appearances, life at Westminster can be jolly
tough sometimes, especially if you're an MP. There is all that
"here, here close good business to get the hang of, then they expect
you to turn up to vote at all ours of the day and night. There is a
school of thought that says that the best way to get to the top in
politics is to do less. Peter Taylor reckons that the future
belongs to the lazy. Malaysia's air negative term. I think it is a
positive thing. There is an approach to doing things in the
most efficient way. It is a combination of intelligence and
laziness. And you can achieve so much more by going that way.
good in theory, but has anyone actually got to the top and stayed
there without trying too hard? classic example is Ronald Reagan,
who was unbelievably lazy. People would go to visit him and he would
talk also -- for several Lars and give them a tour of the White House.
-- for several hours. How do you do it? If you want to be this standard,
good and conscientious MP, you do all your local staff, supporting
the surgeries and so forth. If you want to become Prime Minister, you
want to fork is higher. It is about networking and socialising and been
involved in the big, important stuff. Are some of the new members
of Labour's sham -- Shadow Cabinet real-life examples? People have
leapt into the Shadow Cabinet, having been newcomers a year ago or
18 months ago. It is probably a good idea because it will allow
them to learn their briefs and be ready for office if Labour ever
gets back in our lifetime. Finally, do not be embarrassed by your
lethargy, embrace Europe in a laziness. -- you're in our laziness.
I think it is the right approach. Next time you see a politician or
reporter taking the weight off their feet, remember they are not
being lazy, they are just being efficient. Honest!
Wake up, Andrew! It is like the Daily Politics and
ideas room. Were you Ali c m p or
unproductively busy? I did not sufficiently understand the
procedures of the House of Commons so I made a very slow start but I
think I got there in the end. I discovered that too many people
were discovered -- expecting me to be a super councillor. A you were
in a unique position. It is true that people who are successful and
efficient with their time get more done and do not get overstretched
in the same way as other people. The classic clip from that was
Thatcher and Reagan. I was the correspondent in Washington during
that political romance. He worked very short hours. For the first six
years he she came over every year - - for the first six years she came
over every year. Firstly, she told him up what she thought and then
have told him what he thought. -- and then told him. I interviewed
him in the Oval Office ones. I forget what it was, some important
issue, and he said, Andrew, you are quite right - it is so serious it
is giving me sleepless afternoons. How could you be that relaxed, even
if you did surround yourself with very good people? Surely, as head
of state, you have to do a certain amount of legwork. He concentrated
on the ceremonious things. He was the best communicator until the
President incumbent. He loved been commander-in-chief, and he let
other people to the functioning part. Until about 1986 it went well.
I had to persuade people that this was not as stupid person but a
formidable operator. One of the examples here was that Gordon Brown
used to have the reputation, and he used to say, I will strive harder,
work harder. In the end, he did not achieve things. Even when he went
on holiday in Suffolk he said, I have got to get on with the job.
The whole idea was to get away with it -- away from it.
At some stage, he was getting up so early that he met himself going to
bed. It is the worst thing to do. What you really need is a good
night's sleep, think about it a bit and then get on with it. You cannot
drive yourself into the ground. David Cameron is seen now as a
slightly more relaxed type. He does not do quite the number of hours.
Does it matter? You guys are in the loop. Has he got it right now?
I think, on a day-to-day basis, it seems more manageable. There will
be those who will argue that he has not been hungry enough and does not
work hard enough. If you end up in the House of
Commons it is quite hard work. you had no support system. You need
a party. I had the best Parliamentary Secretary ever.
For the uninitiated, to letter -- Twitter is a way of texting your
thoughts to the world, or at least those who follow you. Some MPs have
got fed up with others staring at their mobile phones the whole time
during debates, so they have put down a motion to ban a habit. It is
due to be debated any time now. I caught up with Luciana Berger, who
likes to tweet, and James Gray, who wants her to stop. I started by
asking James Gray if all mobile devices should be banned. They
should be used for the business in hand. You can use them for urgent
messages coming in or going out. I was recently chairing a committee
upstairs about pensions and benefits reform. Two-thirds of
people and the committee were staring at a device of some sort.
That just means they are not concentrating on the debate in
question. From outside, it looks terrible, looking at all these
people in the chamber fiddling with electronic devices. Let us use them
for a minimal amount of time, maybe the odd tweak here and there, maybe
instead of using paper, but do not let us have a chamber full of
people staring at screens. You have a point there. It is distracting if
people are staring at the screen. Surely they cannot be concentrating
on the debate. The main motion we are discussing today specifically
says that we should only use hand- held devices with decorum. That is
the main point back. I am concerned about the amendment being proposed
which says that you can only send and receive urgent messages. That
will prevent MPs from Tooting. That is what I am going to talk about in
the debate. What does it mean, all with decorum? People can still sit
there and use electronic devices and it will not be, in their view,
with decorum. It is also going to deal with what is and is not an
urgent message. As MPs, we take responsibility for what we do or do
not do in the chamber. I except that me and my colleagues will do
that and, therefore, debate -- the debate today is about what that
should be. There is a bit of self- regulation there, James. You cannot
ask people what they are doing. If the chairman knows that you should
only be using these devices for work that is going on in the
chamber and he sees someone doing something that is not pertinent, he
can intervene and say, the rules of the House are that you should not
be doing that. If we do not get my amendment through today we will
find that the chamber of a House of Commons and the committees will be
full of people doing things with their devices. It will look
terrible from the point of view of people outside looking in. We get
complaints at the moment that no- one is in the chamber. Look to the
future and the complaint will be, all right, they are in the chamber
but they are not paying attention to the debate. I would like to see
minimal use of them just for the purposes of concentrating on the
debate in hand. Why do you think that meeting has taken off in the
world it -- in the way it has? live in the 21st century ad
tweeting is just one way of better engaging and communicating with our
constituency to whom we are accountable. The response is that I
have had, and I have asked the question of whether we should
continue to tweet, -- the responses that I have had our that people
find it engaging. The death lobby in particular finds it useful.
Who do you follow most of all? follow and lots of people. Mostly
it is organisations and people in and around my constituency. And you,
James? I am never sure who is looking and who is listening to
what one says on Twitter. I am not a dinosaur, I look at it. I think
there is plenty of room for Twitter and all of these other things. The
question is about how much of it should be done during a technical
debate in the House of Commons. We should be listening to detailed
arguments, coming up with alternative views, and not fiddling
about with electronic devices. Let us pick up on that point might.
The issue is whether you should be tweeting from the chamber. What is
your view? If you ever go to war with the British Army, you will
find commanders telling people to minimise and concentrate on the
business in hand. It is very depressing in the House divide
people not paying any attention at all. They did not have Twitter in
those days. What is the point of having a debate if people do not
listen to it? Except that Luciana's point is that they are did --
tweeting about the debate itself. But how do you not?
Before we go we have to announce the winner of the yesterday's Guess
the Year competition. It was Susan Emmett from All Saints near Brigg.
Thank you to all other guests. I will be back later but it -- way to
The moment of victory in Libya looks imminent, with the new government there on the brink of saying that country is clear of Gaddafi's forces.
In the UK, Defence Secretary Liam Fox is still under fire.
There's a look at what's happened to crime in Croydon after the summer riots. Gavin Barwell, Conservative MP for Croydon Central, shares his view.
It's that time of year again - the Westminster dog of the year. Which pooch will be top dog?
Martin Bell, former MP for Tatton, war correspondent and now poet, will be present throughout the programme.
Plus, should social networking be allowed in the House? MPs James Grey - who thinks Twitter should be banned in the chamber - and Luciana Berger give their opinions.