09/01/2012 Daily Politics


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Happy New Year from the Daily Politics. Yes, we're back and we're


going for gold in what promises to be a year of Olympic political


coverage. And that's not all, is No, it's a new year and we've


already achieved our makeover. For 2012, on time and on budget, we've


Afternoon, folks. Welcome to the all-new singing and dancing Daily


Politics. The Cabinet's holding its first meeting of the year - but not


in Downing Street. They've sprinted down to the Olympic Park in east


London to mark 2012 as the Year of the Olympics, as if you didn't know.


Actually, they all went on the same train. We'll be looking at what the


year ahead holds for all the main parties and which leaders might hit


the buffers. The Cabinet have been discussing


proposals to hold a referendum on Scottish independence. Expect a war


of words between David Cameron and Alex Salmond.


Timely new year advice from MPs. They're urging us to give up the


booze two days a week. Hic! And Adam has been to the gym with


the mood box. This week's question - is austerity worth it? A table


don't have enough money to spend, and everyone is suffering a? What


about your teammates? There is a division.


Division in the badminton team. Adam gets the stories. More of that


later. All that coming up in the next half


hour. And look what I found in my Christmas stocking. A lovely new


set from Santa. He's a generous soul. All Jo got was a clementine


and some half-eaten chocolate euros. Times are tough.


It couldn't sell them for anything these days.


And with us for the whole programme today, a panel of bright young


things: Conservative MP Sam Gyimah, Labour's Emma Reynolds and Duncan


Hames of the Liberal Democrats. Welcome to the show.


Now first today, let's jump immediately on the new year detox


bandwagon because, not ones to miss a trick, that's exactly what a


group of MPs is doing today. The Science And Technology Committee


have decreed that drinkers should have two alcohol-free days a week


and they say that existing guidelines give the false


impression that daily indulgence is healthy. The chair of the committee


is Andrew Miller. I spoke to him earlier and began by asking him if


the daily guideline is wrong. There is clear, unambiguous


clinical evidence that says having a couple of days off a week,


drinking no alcohol, is better for your body. Give your body a chance


to recover. This is already the guidance in Scotland and all of the


clinical experts we spoke to suggested that is the right way


forward. But it doesn't mean you would then increase the amount due


drink on other days? Absolutely not, this is not a green light for


having a binge on one night of the week and having the other six days


off. What about the way it is measured? Everyone has heard of


units but they don't know what they are. Why not talk about glasses of


wine and pints of beer? That is a serious issue and we look very


carefully at it. A pint of beer 30 years ago, you could have used that


as a sort of useful guide. No longer can you do that, because


beer strengths vary so much, and a factor of three is quite often the


case. Similarly with wind, the size of a glass of wine varies


tremendously -- wine. These are complex issues. We want to try and


bring together the clinical experts being with the health side properly


and bring behavioural experts into the equation to try and find better


ways of communicating what is a very complicated message to the


public. That was Andrew Millar. Duncan


Hames, not very complicated to say don't drink alcohol for two days a


week. Do you think you could manage it? I don't think I could with our


schedule! When I first got to Parliament, when I got the House of


Lords, a friend told me of an event one lunchtime weather seemed to be


quite a lot of alcohol flowing and his warning was that Parliament is


like a Petri dish for alcoholism. That bodes well for the future of


the political system. You all seem extremely dry. There is a question


about information, does it matter what is put out there? Does it


change people's habits? I then there is a problem about talking


about units, because people don't intuitively understand what a unit


consists of. A would you like to see it as a glass of wine or a pint


of beer? The big it is done with a cabinet of an average rent for a


drink -- even. It would give people guidance. I do think that today's


without alcohol, or more, is good guidance -- two days. There are


long-term risks of drinking every day, even if you don't get drunk


every day. It seems there is a bit of catch-up by the Government, or


by MPs, if you like. Scotland already had this in place. Do you


think we need to do a bit more, as there seems to be a problem with


alcohol levels? There is a real problem with binge-drinking and I


think the Government's alcohol strategy is due out in February and


one thing they will be looking at in addition to the guidance from


this group of MPs is actually putting a floor price. 45p has been


the butt forward. Is that the only thing that could work, looking at


pricing? It is difficult to see. When you talk about binge-drinking,


defining it and controlling it is quite hard. The Government is doing


what it can do and what is happening in Scotland works, and if


it works, let's see if we get their belated.


Parliament could set the standard by closing the bars in the Commons


for two days a week. All 27 of them.


Then we would maybe take them seriously.


So it's our first day back and it's also the Cabinet's first get-


together of the year. And the Prime Minister has taken them all on an


outing - to the Olympic Park, no less. They're there to mark 200


days till the start of the Games. There they are, meeting in a big


hall. David Cameron has said the Olympics will provide a "lasting


legacy" for east London. Six venues have had their futures secured, two


- the main stadium and the media centre - will be sorted in the next


few months, before the Games begin. But what does this Olympic year


have in store for the party leaders? Jo's been having a look.


It's going to be a marathon year for all three party leaders, but


have they all got the stamina to see it through?


David Cameron's first major hurdle is the economy. The eurozone is


still on shaky ground and forecasts for the UK economy remain bleak.


He'll be hoping the markets will continue to back his austerity


measures. The Prime Minister also needs to


keep his rebellious backbenchers in order. After last year's hurdle -


when they defied him over Europe - he needs to find ways to keep them


happy. The Deputy Prime Minister Nick


Clegg also has some Olympic challenges. He's got to flex his


muscles and prove he's got the stamina to continue with the


coalition. He has a heavy load, with dismal


poll ratings, and needs to show the party faithful that the Lib Dems


have a strong voice and are getting their policies implemented in the


coalition. And Ed Miliband. Well, after a weak


start to the year, he'll be wanting to throw off those doubting his


leadership credentials. He also needs to demonstrate that


the Labour party have a clear message and policies.


Let's just see how a bright Our panel of writing things are. Ed


Miliband has been leader of your party for 16 months, the coalition


is divided, the austerity package gets worse and worse and yet 66% of


voters think he is doing a bad job. Why? It is important to remember


the context of where we are. We had our second worst election defeat


since World War One. We only got 20% of the vote in 20th May 10. In


those 18 months, we have recovered by 11 points. -- May 2010.Nip


tuck, sometimes you while behind, sometimes you are a point ahead.


Mostly, we are ahead. There have been occasions where we are


slightly behind. The one two point ahead in yesterday Boz back Paul.


And each one has... Were hoping to do the same been made. Why are 66%


of voters, at a time with it is not going the coalition's way and


living standards are being squeezed and the austerity package for many


people isn't working, 66% think your guy is doing a bad job.


think that will begin to change. In April, some of the most unfair cuts


that the Government are bringing in are going to hit home. There is


going to be a cut to working tax credits, a cut to child tax credit


as well and working families across the country with children are going


to be hit four times harder than families without children. What


happens if all of that was to happen, and the Reynolds, and he


still remained with a 66% disapproval rate -- and a


Reynolds.? I don't want to speculate on hypotheticals. I think


that will begin to change because people are starting to say that the


cuts that this government are bringing you are hitting the


poorest hardest. You are been very loyal this morning and I understand


you have the new Tom Baldwin briefing document and these are all


the points in it, and that is your job, but Alan Johnson doesn't agree


with you. Alistair Darling doesn't agree. Morris Glassman, the great


guru, doesn't agree with you. Nobody in Wolverhampton has heard


of him. He is not important? What about Mr Johnson and Alistair


Darling it? In the last week, there has been a lot of Westminster


tittle-tattle and what is more important is what is happening to


families up-and-down the country and life is about to get much


harder for them. So Labour knees like to get harder before you can


make things better? -- need life. Since then a year, both of the


other party leaders, Nick Clegg and David Cameron, have taken on the


policy agenda that Ed Miliband are set out in September. He talked


about creating responsible capitalism, responsibility at the


top and bottom of society. This is the kind of language that the


premise that Deputy Prime Minister are adopting. Ed Miliband has set


out the stall, so he is ahead of the game. Vitalija Baliutaviciene,


the Prime Minister is at war with Brussels -- Sam Jonah. He is at war


with his coalition partners, and he will be at war with the


backbenchers over the 50p tax, and if he doesn't go further over


Europe. Is it sensible to be fighting on all fronts? He is


batting for Britain. In terms of Brussels, it was right for the


Prime Minister to exercise the veto, to show the signal that Britain is


open for business and we will protect the city. On Scotland, the


SNP fought an election campaign for a referendum and I think it is


their right if they want a referendum to have one, in the same


way that the UK government should set out its stall, given it is a


matter that affects the UK. can't the Scottish government,


which unlike your party actually has a lot of votes in Scotland,


indeed a majority, why can't it determine whether referendum should


be? What has it got to do with you? Because Scottish independence is a


matter that affects all of the UK, so the Westminster Parliament


should decide in terms of the timing and in terms of what the


question is. When were you last in Scotland? I was actually in


Scotland for Duncan's wedding, who is married to a Scottish MP. That


was last year. So you haven't been there since last May. What is the


aim of the Lib Dems in 2012? continue making a difference in


government, starting with taking the poorest paid out of tax, which


is what we have managed to do for a million people so far. You expect


that process to continue be the next budget? I certainly do.


are expecting a George Osborne to take another big chunk... To raise


this darting point of income tax again in the March budget -- the


starting point. We have many just begun. The coalition agreement


commits us to reaching �10,000 by the end of this Parliament as the


personal allowance. That will do an enormous amount of good for people


on low income. What else? people premium. That is set to


double this year. I have already visited schools in my constituency


and seen the difference that is making, to schools that are taking


children from some of the most disadvantaged households. That is


important... That has been done, as I understand it? In it is being


implemented. It needs to grow over the course of this Parliament. I


would like to see us make progress on Lords reform, bring some of this


austerity to the boardroom, which we have been talking about. I would


take issue with air about this being Ed Miliband's agenda. Vince


Cable has been talking about this for some time, his department


issued a consultation and he will be responding on behalf of the


Government. It is Vince Cable for the Liberal Democrats that is


making the running. Are you going to get an employee on remuneration


committees? It is clear that stake holder activism, which is what the


Government is suggesting, isn't going to be enough to close the gap


between those who are very, very highly paid and those who are paid


low incomes. It is funny you don't think it is enough. For 13 years,


Gordon Brown thought it was enough, and we will achieve more than


Labour did on this issue have been 13 years of government. Why is the


gum -- isn't the Government going Ed Miliband was talking about tax


and predator companies and producer companies, and that was his


solution to the stake holder activism issue and what we are


talking about is aligning the interest of shareholders with the


interests of managers. That is a more effective way of dealing with


the problem. His Ed Miliband relaunching himself tomorrow with


his big interview on the Today programme? We are back to business


and back in Parliament. Easy relaunch in? Not necessarily. -- es


That is what politicians normally do, go on programmes, why would


that be different in this year? thing the Cabinet has been


discussing his proposals to give the Scottish government the legal


power to hold a binding referendum on Scottish independence. I am


joined by Nicola Sturgeon from the SNP. We have just been talking


about it, and it is clear from you and Alex Salmond that you want to


hold the referendum in the second half of the parliamentary term,


which is what she will do. But the issue we have been discussing, why


shouldn't the Westminster parliament also have a say in the


question of Scottish independence? The break-up of the UK is not just


an issue for Scotland? You could have said the same thing when the


Scottish parliament was set up because that change that nature of


the relationship between Scotland and the UK, but there was no


question that the people who decided whether we had a parliament


was the Scottish people. The same is true of independence. That


should be decided by the Scottish people and I suspect most people


across the UK would think that is a perfectly reasonable position and


that is they right position. don't think anyone is denying the


Scottish people should have their say, but it does take too, if you


like, to separate. Are you saying that MPs and people here should be


deprived of that here? I am sure we will continue to have a close,


constructive relationship with the other parts of the UK when Scotland


is an independent country. Independence will mean a new,


modern relationship of equals between the countries of the


islands, but whether Scotland becomes independent is a matter for


the Scottish people. And when the referendum takes place is a matter


for the Scottish government. We stood for an election last May and


were elected with a majority, and we have an overwhelming mandate for


the notion that the referendum should be in the second half of


this term. So no idea of negotiation with David Cameron or


the government at all? That has been ruled out? The Scottish


government discuss as a whole range of matters constructively and the


UK is right for us to want to do that, but when we have a referendum


to determine the future it is determined correctly that it should


be by the Scottish people. Far more importantly than that, the people


of Scotland voted for this. This is a question of fairly basic


democratic principle. The timing of the referendum is for the Scottish


government and the outcome is for the Scottish people. Nicola


Sturgeon, thank you. Well, Sam, that was pretty clear. It will be


ignored, and they will have the referendum will be had whatever the


government says. We are going to have difficult discussions over the


next few months. And we are going to get legal advice and state the


position quite clearly so we have to be clear and decisive and legal.


The UK government's position at the moment is that to achieve all three,


Westminster has to decide on the timing and wording of the


referendum, and I think that is right. When you say legal advice,


what is clear is constitutionally it is not binding unless


Westminster has a final say or the government hands the powers over?


But there is nothing to stop the Scottish government having a


referendum and whatever the outcome is, it would be politically


difficult for David Cameron to say that that is not binding or they do


not support the outcome of the election, referendum, Surrey.


will be difficult for Alex Salmond to want a referendum and then say


that having a referendum sooner rather than later is something that


he does not want. I think that would be difficult for him


politically as well. Except he stated clearly would be in the


second half, for whatever reason. Do you support that idea? Should


the government give those legally binding powers over to Scotland


with conditions attached or not? think it is important a referendum


is fair and the question is there. We had a net referendum last year


and we were on the losing side and we accepted the result. The


question was said by eat the electoral commission. People need


to have confidence in the democratic practices that on going,


so they resurrect them -- a referendum being judged by those


taking part in the mandate is important for public confidence.


The that should there be this interference from the British


government -- but should there be? They should be an independent


organisation playing a role in the organisation of the referendum.


Other than that you have a situation where one side of the


argument is pulling the strings and Alex would not accept that if it


was Westminster and I think the Scottish people deserve to know


that their referendum which makes a big difference to their future were


it is the position of Ed Miliband? The referendum should take place as


soon as possible and that the economic uncertainty that the delay


is causing is not good for Scotland and the rest of the UK. So so


Labour totally supports the position of Ed Miliband West --? So


what you say is that it is Labour's loss of support in Scotland that


has given the SNP such a boost in confidence but they feel like


controlling it. If they feel so confident, why not have it the she?


During the campaign they want to be later because it was pure


opportunities and -- opportunism. They want to have time to convince


people because the polling at the moment shows they would not win it


if it took place. They do show that although there has been a slight


improvement in favour. But we have For many of us it looks like being


the same will story when it comes to it the economy this year. The


crisis in the macro Eurozone is rumbling on, and Mr Merkel and --


Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy will be meeting every 10 days.


Government cuts are biting as the standard of living goes down and we


feel poorer at the end of the day. His austerity worth it? We sent


Adam Fleming to find out. One of the grimmest things about new year


is coming back to work, but we are brightening things of the commuters


on this windy morning with a Daily Politics mood box. We are asking


about the austerity drive. Is it worth it or not worth it? We are in


no better state than we were. July to vote in the poll? -- would


you like to vote? Not much goodwill around here. A lot of money is


wasted on completely idiotic nonsense. They put up very odd


posters where I live telling people that lesbians ought to be able to


adopt people's children. What a waste of money. It doesn't sound


very expensive. But they could cut it, it would be a start. We can't


live beyond our means as we have been doing. After all that, voters


seem pretty divided. But what about that other new year tradition,


working off the turkey at the gym? Let's find out what people think at


the YMCA. A I think it is worth it, but there are things they don't


need to be pushed as much. I think one of these is too big. I don't


think it will go in a hole. Would you like to come and vote in our


survey? No thanks. One do you say I think it is impacting on the


spending and it will choke off the economy so people don't have enough


money to spend and everyone else suffers. What about your team mate?


I think it is worth it. It has got to be done. We have to save the


money and the debt has to be paid back. Well, the number who think it


is not worth it is definitely going up. So there is just enough time


for our last new year tradition, hitting the sales. Targeting the


middle man, who is already getting taxed and working hard, they are


the one they are squeezing. private sector pays to everything


in this country. There is far too much public sector. We need to see


the beginning of a new movement where people are talking about


things and challenging the way things are done. You can keep one


as a present. Thank you. After all that, the people think austerity is


not worth the largest in the lead. But through the whole process


And off he goes into the sunset. Sam, 2011 was the era of austerity,


is 2012 as well? Austerity and growth. We have to stick to the


plan. We have announced austerity measures in everything from the


financial markets is telling us we have to stick to it. So this will


be our second year? Are we heading for a third? For the Chancellor


said before the Autumn Statement that we would be going beyond 2015


in terms of eliminating the structural deficit and that is how


long it will take to clear up the mess we inherited. But, it is not


just about clearing up the mess, it is about ensuring we have economic


growth. The economy is not going to grow by much this year though, is


it? Maybe 1%. It is not forecast by the offer to budget responsibility


to grow by that much. -- office of budget responsibility. He wanted to


grow to mop of the increase in the labour force at least. So at that


level of growth, unemployment will rise. It is a tough time. I looked


at what was happening in the Eurozone and the markets have gone


down today because everyone is looking to what's Angela Merkel and


Nicolas Sarkozy will come up with. We have had this problem for long


time and we are giving up 40 % of back exports, and it is going to be


a challenging time to stimulate growth while we have the global


economic slowdown. We have now heard from a Conservative MP that


we are heading for three years of austerity. We have had one, we have


started a second, and another three are looming. Yet, on the economy,


Labour is not trusted to run it. Even George Osborne has a 16 point


lead over Labour interest on financial matters. What has gone


wrong? Let me take issue with something sound just said. The


government like to blame us for the first 18 months and now they are


trying to blame the Eurozone. Growth has been flat lining for the


last year. It is not to do with the Eurozone. It is to do with the fact


that the government has been cutting too deep and too fast and


that without growth our borrowing will go well. If that was true, why


do all of the surveys showed that the Conservatives and the coalition


are more trusted than Labour to run the economy? We had a very bad


election result. We do have to regain economic credibility. That


is something that the whole Shadow Cabinet and Shadow frontbench


recognise. As I said before, I think that is something that will


start to change during the year. Aren't you getting worried that


your whole gamble in joining a coalition was there would be a


couple of years of pain and then it was off to the sunny uplands. It


doesn't look like you're going to get many sunny are plans this side


of the election. Maybe not, but I don't think it was a gamble. It was


about trying to clear up the economic mess the country was in.


We have seen that compounded by European sovereign debt crisis, but


our country can now borrow more cheaply than any other in Europe


because of the measures this government has taken to make sure


that our public finances are brought back under control. It will


be a difficult time ahead for we are taking the long-term decisions.


I was very pleased to see the end of last year that we were winning


the argument on the importance of capital investment in the


infrastructure and making sure... The coalition or the Lib Dems?


colleagues. The argument was won. I am glad that the coalition was


united behind the position of the Autumn Statement, because we need


to do that and work on youth unemployment. We are going to leave


it there. Plenty more to come though. Thanks to all our guests.


Joe will be back flying solo tomorrow at 12:00pm tomorrow.


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