05/12/2011 Daily Politics


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Afternoon folks, welcome to The Daily Politics. As Gary McKinnon


fights attempts to send him to the United States to face computer


hacking charges, MPs debate a change in the law - is it too easy


Another week, another crunch meeting for the eurozone. President


Sarkozy and Angela Merkel are meeting in Paris - but what's the


The kids are hooked to their games consoles - the grown-ups to their


smart phones. But could our obsession with these digital toys


be messing with our brains? We have now been in government for 500 days.


Although, to be fair, it did take 499 of those for Gordon Brown to


accept that he was no longer Prime Minister. The art of political


speechwriting, and making sure they deliver them right. I'll be talking


to one of David Cameron's former wordsmiths. And with us for the


duration, the Prime Minister's former speechwriter Danny Kruger,


who now runs a charity that works with prisoners, ex-offenders and


young people at risk of crime. First this morning, MPs will debate


a motion this afternoon which attempts to make it more difficult


to extradite British citizens who are wanted for crimes committed


abroad. The debate is inspired by the case of Gary McKinnon, who is


alleged to have hacked Pentagon and NASA computer systems, and could


face a prison sentence of up to 60 years if convicted. MPs claim this


case highlights an intrinsic unfairness in the extradition


treaty that's led to 25 British citizens being sent to the US but


only five American citizens extradited to Britain. So, is it


unfair? The figures suggest that there seems to be something unfair


about the flowers of suspects. But this debate today, I understand, is


also about a European aspect, which is parallel but unrelated. There is


an assumption that simply because the European countries have their


own rules, that they have a justice system which is as fair as ours.


While I do not think the American system is corrupt or wrong, there


seems to be something about the principle of any country being able


to decide who was extradited and when. What we have is caught some


ministers here being powerless to decide who should go abroad, and I


think there's something wrong about that. There's justification for


debating it. The Gary McKinnon case has been very emotive, it has been


picked up by Fleet Street, he has his champions on this but it could


be dangerous to change the law on the basis of one case. There's


always human beings involved in these cases, and there's no reason


why they should not talk about it. I think there is something wrong


about this case. It is really an Now, Italy's new Welfare Minister


showed governments all over Europe how to use empathy to sell


difficult austerity policies. She burst in to tears yesterday when


announcing an increase in the retirement age to 66 - part of a 30


billion euro package aimed at shoring up Italy's finances.


Meanwhile the quest to resolve the wider eurozone crisis rolls on.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel


are meeting in Paris now to thrash out an agreement ahead of a crunch


European Council meeting later on this week. We hope to speak to our


Paris correspondent shortly, but let me try and explain what's going


on first. Just before we came on air, I spoke to our Europe


correspondent, Christian Fraser. It's the sheer complexity of


decision-making in the eurozone and the wider EU - with 27 member


countries, some of which even have their own elected government - that


makes this crisis so difficult to resolve. It's not just the French


and the Germans who have one eye on their own domestic political


concerns - here in Britain, the debate is also hotting up over any


potential treaty change.The American Ambassador here, Louis


Susman, has told MPs that the current arrangements are working


well for both countries. So should David Cameron be playing a straight


hand and aiming to help his fellow players fix the euro, while


stopping the new euro union gaining too many powers? Or should he


gamble that this is an opportunity to raise the stakes and demand the


repatriation of powers from Europe that his party promised at the last


election and many of his MPs would like to see? And if there is a new


treaty on the cards, will David Cameron be forced to play his trump


card, and call a referendum, potentially threatening to wreck


the whole rubber? We can go over to Paris now, I spoke earlier to our


Paris correspondent, and I asked him what was separating the French


and German leaders. The German Chancellor obviously wants legally-


binding limits on all eurozone countries, with automatic penalties


for governments which break the budget rules. And she would like to


take the decisions away from member countries, she would like the


institutions of Europe to decide when those penalties are imposed.


So perhaps there would be a move to get the European Court of Justice


involved, there could be a stability commissioner, who would


have an oversight of national spending plans and tax-and-spend


policies in these countries. The French agree that there has to be a


change in the system, because self- regulation obviously has failed.


But they are nervous about transferring more power to Brussels.


They would like to see power resting with the countries, perhaps


in the shape of qualified majority voting. They would also like to see


countries adopt decisions made within the round of the eurozone


within their constitution, the so- called golden rule which President


Sarkozy has talk about. Let's suppose that they do come to some


kind of agreement, some kind of compromise, before the European


Union summit later in the week - is there any evidence to indicate that


the other members of the eurozone will be happy to have what is in


essence their tax-and-spend policy controlled by an external body?


I understand it, the smaller eurozone countries prefer the idea


of Europe controlling that element of their budget, or having


oversight, rather than Germany and France. Over the course of the last


few months, they have been dictated to by Paris and Berlin. Politically,


it looks better if it comes from Brussels. But obviously all


governments have concerns about transferring powers to the centre,


away from nationally elected governments. The problem I think


also for the Germans is that unilaterally, they cannot be seen


to be imposing austerity rules on the rest, so they do need the


French alongside, although it is the Germans which are dictating the


terms. Nonetheless, politically, it suits them to have the French


alongside them, urging the others on. In that sense, President


Sarkozy does have bargaining power. We're hearing that there will be I


think an agreement between the two, probably to add something to the


treaty, in the shape of a protocol, rather than root-and-branch reform


of the Lisbon Treaty. With me now are the Conservative MPs Nadhim


Zahawi and Bernard Jenkin. Let's assume, Bernard Jenkin, that the


French and the Germans agree to some kind of fiscal union in order


to attempt to keep the union together - what should the British


response be to that? This represents a very fundamental


change in our relationship with our European partners. It started at


Maastricht, this is the conclusion. The Prime Minister says we should


have had a referendum at Maastricht. Well, this is Maastricht plus. If


we did not have a referendum then, we need one now. The question on


the ballot paper is, do we support these terms of membership? Because


we need to renegotiate our terms of membership. We have been asked to


believe two completely incomprehensible things, firstly,


that this does not represent any change in our terms of membership,


and secondly, that when all of this is done and dusted, in two or three


years' time, that's the time when we will go and renegotiate, when


they have settled everything already. Those two propositions are


ludicrous. But if the fiscal union applies only to members of the


eurozone, of which we are not a part, why does it change our


relationship with the wider European Union? We would not be


bound by these fiscal laws. This is the the credit crunch point. This


is about real power. At the moment, the institutions of the European


Union are meant to serve all 27 member states. If, effectively,


there is an economic state at the heart of the European Union, of 17


members or maybe fewer, that is going to be their main


preoccupation. They're already attacking the City of London, they


already want a financial transactions tax, they already


burdening our competitiveness with more and more regulation, they do


not care about our interests. Are we seriously being asked to believe


that we're going to have more influence in this new arrangement?


Of course we are not, we're going to have far less influence, which


is why ministers are talking about the threat to the single market. If


now is not the time to renegotiate our membership, when will be a


better time Question Time so, the theory is that come the time when


it turns into a fiscal union, rather than just a monetary union,


that is the time for Britain to reassess fundamentally its


relationship with Europe? Bernard Jenkin is right to be passionate


about this, but timing is everything. The point teammates,


that there is going to be a paradigm shift in structures within


Europe, everybody agrees about that. That will happen. But we need to


see the detail of it. I think the timing, push and the crux of it, we


are uniquely positioned, in Britain, I believe, more so than France, to


put our arm around Germany and help them make the decisions they need


to make to allow them to save the eurozone. Because their demons are


the Weimar Republic of 1920, we are uniquely placed to help them.


we are not close enough, our arm cannot reach that far. We are an


economic powerhouse. Remember, we buy more from Europe... Did you


hear the Autumn Statement last week?! We're having tough times,


but we are still economically powerful. My point is that timing


is everything. It is not the right time... You have just heard it,


we're going to put our arms around Germany, and in a couple of years'


time, Germany is going to agree to all of the things they have never


agreed to for the last 20 years. This is ludicrous. This is the end


game in Europe. This is the final act of desperation in the European


integration project. One assumes that they are going to save the


euro, but I very much doubt that myself. Unless we're going to


negotiate and put our demands on the table now, when will we do it?


If David Cameron was simply to say, look, this is so fundamental, this


change in our relationship with the European Union, even though there


is nothing which directly legally applies to us, this is so obviously


the European Union changing the nature of itself, that we're going


to have a referendum on this, and unless we can get the renegotiated


terms which suit our national interests, we will be saying no.


is unlikely, if the eurozone becomes a fiscal union, which means


increasingly it will have a common tax policies, common budget deficit


policies, Konnie regulations, all of which will be quite centralised,


perhaps even quite onerous, it is unlikely they are going to agree to


a kind of Hong Kong type Britain, deregulated, lower budget deficit,


less government spending, floating off into the North Sea - they're


not going to let that happen. not just Britain, you have got nine


other countries, with Britain. some of them want to join the euro.


Well, not all of them. A lot of them are legally bound to join the


euro. Yes, but they have opted to be outside the euro. So, at the


moment, there is an argument, essentially, for saving the


eurozone countries first, and at the same time, as I said earlier,


using that opportunity to negotiate a settlement which is advantageous


to you, versus the eurozone countries. It sounds to me, Bernard


Jenkin, from the Department of Honesty, do you not really think


that if the eurozone goes ahead and becomes a fully fledged fiscal


union, you basically think Britain should leave the EU. We do not want


to leave the EU, for one simple reason. We are in something called


customs union, and a lot of business depends upon that free


movement of goods and services. But you do not have to beat in a


federation, or monetary union, to enjoy the benefits of that. We are


looking at a completely different template of membership, but


personally I would not advocate walking out of the customs union.


But interestingly, Turkey is not a member of the European Union, and


they have a customs union agreement with the European Union. That is


the kind of new relationship I am talking about. We would not be a


member of the EU, we would be And what would that do took Nissan


and other companies which invest here? We cannot give up our self


government permanently which this is amounting to. Danny? Understand


the Prime Minister has a responsibility as a Euro leader to


save our biggest trading bloc from implosion and his mission this week


is to try and renegotiate the eurozone and I think we should save


the euro zone. The priority should be to save the eurozone because of


that blows up the recession we are heading for turns into a


depression? I don't think this is incompatible with saving the


eurozone. The more flexibility we can give eurozone countries, the


better for them. We can give them more flexibility if they give us


the flexibility that we need as well. It is called quid pro quo.


But his Latin! Who is closest to the Prime Minister on this issue?


don't think we know the Prime Minister's mind. I don't know


whether the Prime Minister believes we can save the euro. I think the


Prime Minister knows the priority is to make sure that he acts. Is


the closest to you or Bernard Jenkin? I think he is close to both


of us. I would not like to see you fall out.


Unaccustomed as I am, to public speaking, who wrote that? My guest


of the day is not because he used to write the speeches for the Prime


Minister. Now I come to think of it, I could blame the oratorical


failings of this programme on the producers who write the scripts,


rather than the chap who delivers them because obviously the delivery


and timing is pretty close to perfection. Danny, perhaps you


could give our producers a few words of advice on this. Here is


somebody who writes his own scripts, Giles Dilnot on the art of


political speech-writing. Sadly, there are not many who can


do it but they do not do it alone. In the world of the political


speech, the writers are also King's. You need a script editor, you need


somebody who makes editor Errol -- editorial decisions, otherwise you


have a script written by a committee which is not a good idea.


A lot of Gordon Brown's speeches are like that. They are patchworks


of a bit from this person, a bit from that person and even worse, a


bit for this person and that person and you end up with no coherent


argument. You do need one central writer but usually you will take


the ketone from the person themselves. It will be about who


has the strength, the judgment, the weight, the ideas for Britain's


future in an uncertain world and we do. This party does. If you don't


know what a central argument is, you do not have a good speech.


Berate his speech for William Hague. Somehow, we managed to leave the


key bit of his speech. He was congratulated by the Guardian so


Leaving Las -- Even your mistakes can even work. High oratory has its


place. A pastiche of Martin Luther King will not work on housing


benefit so you have to write for the occasion. You have to write for


the setting. You do not get to write I will fight them on the


beaches very often. If the script is too heavy, what about a bit of


at lib? The classic example was Tony Blair at the CBI. It is also


why we cannot afford... That is probably the Chancellor on the


phone there! By then he was so clear on speaking and what he


wanted to say that actually we were no longer worried. And if you have


got it, flaunt it. The image of Gordon Brown greeting his


predecessor as an EU President was a Just William in 2008. The choking


sensation as the words Mr President are forced out and then once in the


Cabinet Room, the melodrama of when will you hand over to me all over


again? When you work for William Hague, I think George Osborne said


it was like taking free-kicks for Beckham and he is so good at him


himself. Trying to be funny and failing is the worst thing you can


do. We have been in government for 500 days although to be fair, it


did take 499 of those for Gordon Brown to accept he was not Prime


Minister. If you are not good at it and not funny, just don't do it.


There you go, how to do it and how not to do it. Isn't it frustrating


writing speeches, didn't -- don't you think you could do it better


yourself? There is a bit of that. I left that job because ultimately,


it is a terribly literary form unless you are writing the


Gettysburg Address. The have three minutes to deliver, one simple


point and it was an opportunity for hire oratory. Mostly you are


talking about pretty mundane everyday things. The opportunities


for literature are not great. going to say, Mr Blair, when we


covered his party speeches, he in the end got rid of the verb. His


speeches became almost a series of one-word sentences. I think it is


actually OK if you are speaking, if you are delivering a speech.


Because it comes better -- comes across better? Good communicators


are good communicators. Blair could do it and Cameron can do it. One


difficulty are always had was in the British political tradition, we


do not do great oratory and except perhaps in times of the Second


World War. You're writing boring stuff most of the time and you


write great long speeches which are 20 minutes long, they bore


everybody in the hall and they are ultimately only read by 20 or 30


political journalists who are looking for the one or two lines


which can be used in the headline. The main lines in the headline have


been written by the press office and pre-release so what is the


point of the 30 minutes? So you are glad you're not doing it any more!


I can understand that. OK, where was I? Sorry, am I


presenting a TV programme. I was reading some tweets. Is our


constant exposure to computers having an impact on the human


brain? I wouldn't have thought so. It is not expecting my brain. I


think it might have. This evening, neuroscientist Susan Greenfield


will use a debate in the House of Lords to ask the government to look


into whether our brains are being changed by using things like this


and playing games like this. think I am mad, but soon, you shall


see that every move, every strike, was meant to bring us to this.


If he is back on the grid, then so are we.


Attacks were triggered across Europe. Reports of the death toll


are at 100. That was a clip from Modern Warfare


3. It is the latest in a series called Call of Duty. I don't think


anybody will mistake it for Andy Pandy. It sold 55 million copies


around the world. I don't know if that should cheer you up or make


you very, very depressed. It is the kind of video game which is often


blamed for violent behaviour. It is one of the concerns that Susan


Greenfield who joins me now has along with Tom Chivers. He writes


about science for the Daily Telegraph. What impact do videos


and games like that have on children's brains? That is a very


big question. There is a lot of work going on about it. Let's look


at a so called Metro analysis. This was 130 papers which encompasses


130 subjects using 100 or so tests and the broad conclusion was there


is an increase in aggression, an increase in recklessness, high


levels of arousal and a decrease in social behaviour. However, this


paper has been critique as biased. That is the nature of scientific


evidence. Do you think it is right? As a neuroscientist, it is a given,


the brain adapts to the environment. The human brain is exquisitely


involved, more than any other species to adapt where it is placed.


It follows that if the environment chefs with only hearing and vision


being accessed, the brain will be changed. -- if the environment


shifts. Let's unpack the different issues that comes from that. What


do you say about that? I think you are right, no one disputes the


brain changes to its environment. But that has always been the case


and just because our environments involve lots of screens and


computer games, that is accepted it will change our brains but there is


a lot of evidence and studies into these things and as far as I am


aware, there is no solid evidence either way. They have been some


pieces which suggest. I would suspect that most parents would


think instinctively, if my child has got a constant diet of this


sort of thing, it must affect them in some way. Let's just think of


two separate things. One is the anecdotal evidence and I am yet to


make -- meet apparent he says it is great that they Kidd spent so much


time on the computer. Secondly there are the statistics. In a


recent study in the United States, between a child's 13th and 17th


birthday, over half were spending 30 plus hours a week not giving


someone a hug or looking summoning the ire or walking along the beach,


not feeling the sun on your face -- not looking someone in the eye.


That is not true. It is not true that 30 hours in front of a screen


does not mean you are talking to a friend. You are not talking to a


person, you're talking to a screen. You do not look them in the eye of.


You do not do that when you talk on a phone. Their art some -- there is


some evidence that people who have active lives on social media have


active real lives as well. That would surprise me. Also, you look


at other papers like a report from the United -- the University of


Michigan. We can look at different papers. A whole point being that it


is never the case in science way you have the conclusive paper. What


you have to do is rate and evaluate and think and discuss and be


specific in what you are asking. What I want to do this evening is


ask the government for a co- ordinated initiative. Ordinary


human beings who are not scientists, who are parents, teachers,


employers, there is aiming for them to understand what is happening so


they can question and challenge what is happening and we can go


forwards. Our work with ex offenders and youths at risk and


they spend a lot of time playing Call of Duty. They accept it is not


good for their brains like they accept that smoking and cannabis is


not good but they still do it. will come back to this. Thank you


for joining us. That is it for today. Special


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