27/01/2012 Daily Politics


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Afternoon, folks. Welcome to the Daily Politics on Friday. �1


million bonus for the man running the Royal Bank of Scotland. But it


is only half what Stephen Hester got last year. Times must be tough.


Politicians are still queuing up to criticise the payout. One man that


used to stand up for the city is the mayor of London, Boris Johnson.


Is he still backing bankers? He will be talking to us from Davos,


the annual meeting that has become the snowy playground for plutocrats.


Alex Salmond has set the question he would like to ask on Scottish


independence. He has been accused of acting like the leader of North


Korea. Remember this? We look back at the poll tax riots, now more


than 20 years ago. They still shape the national debate over tax to


this very day. With me today, Daniel Finklestein of the Times and


Laurie Penny of the New Statesman. Welcome. There has been widespread


criticism of the bonus paid to the boss of the Royal Bank of Scotland.


He is called Stephen Hester. The bank has revealed he has been paid


nearly �1 million and it is all in shares, not in cash. It does top up


his �1 million plus salary. Politicians have been lining up to


criticise the payout, if you expect. -- as you would expect. This is


what the Labour leader has to say. It's a disgraceful display of


leadership by the Prime Minister. He has been promising action


against excessive bonuses and pay, and now he has nodded through this


�1 million bonus. He has been lecturing shareholders on how they


have to be more active in holding executives to that right account.


He owns, through the British government, 85% of the Royal Bank


of Scotland. He must explain, not least to the British people, why he


has allowed this to happen. Daniel Finklestein, it was clearly the


Government going to be getting a kicking when the bonus was


announced, whatever it was. It is less than last year, but more than


most people will earn in their lifetime. But does the Prime


Minister had the power to stop it? He probably does. I am against two


executives earning as much as they do. I don't think Stephen Hester


should be paid �1 million because I think it is a waste of money.


he is? Yes, �1 million and a �1 million bonus. I think you could


hire staff for less money than that. There is also the question of


whether he should accept it. There is a different question, if we want


the Government, any government, to start to manage the Royal Bank of


Scotland when they are a political entity. The Royal Bank of Scotland


is a commercial entity. I am nervous about that. Once the


Government begins to intervene in the commercial decisions, even


though in my view does commercial decisions are wrong, they have


priced it wrongly, I think what the Government does that it will be


difficult for them to stop. I think it is wrong, I think the whole


banking world needs to think if it is paying its staff more than it


needs to. But I think, in this occasion, I don't think that the


Government shark -- should start acting as an active shareholder.


Among these big banks, �1 million salary and a �1 million bonus is


peanuts! It's interesting that you say that governments should not


interfere in the working of commercial banks. Governments and


the rest of us, as part of the tax system, are required to shoulder


the risk that banks take. Stephen Hester is essentially a public


servant, given that we own 85% of Royal Bank of Scotland. The debate


has been that public servants and public sector workers are paid too


much. Should we not be encouraging him to take the average executive


salary? �28,000 he should take, the average. The Government should


definitely emphasise persuasion. But not control? The question is if


it should act, as it would now have to, to actually say to the bank,


you on not allowed to pay these wages. In other words, should it


become an active shareholder in the RBS? This is a different decision.


But the decision that Labour took when it nationalised the Bank was


not to be an active shareholder. It put 83% of the bank into the public


domain, public ownership. But it outsourced management. I am in


favour, generally, of what Vince Cable has announced. I'm not


against intervening in banks or regulating banks. I'm not even


against the Government setting a framework in which executive pay


will be set. What I am against is the idea of individual companies,


as a nationalised industry, the Government begin to try to run the


company. I think that would be an error. Mr Miliband, it is an open


goal for any opposition leader. We will hear from Boris Johnson in a


minute as well, from the Tory side. Really saying the same thing. I bet


if Labour had won the last election and were in power, that this would


happen and they would not intervene to stop the bonus? The interesting


part of the story is not that it is a Conservative or Labour decision,


it is that the banks still seem to be setting their own pay. What


Robert Peston reported today was that the Government did try to warn


the banks and say, look, this is too high. But the feeling was that


the entire top table of RBS would have walked out. I heard that as


well. The banks are basically holding us to ransom, as they have


for years. Given that we own the biggest chunk of the Bank and the


shares are already in the dirt, what would happen if the chairman


had walked out with the board? less worried about that. I really


am. Are you looking for another job? I could see you on the board.


I think it's possible to buy good stuff. You pay lots of money for


long words, like suasion. It's possible to get good staff for


quite a bit less. But you're not going to get it for her �28,000.


That is the average public sector pay. And would somebody run the


bank for that? People would be queuing up. But there would not


know how to run a bank! I'm not sure that it is so hard that it is


worth �1 million. It is more than I earn. I would do it. No it isn't!


How do you know? You told me! would be terrible at it. Are you


talking to me off her? To precisely the problem with the Government


becoming an active shareholder is that she would try to set these


salaries at �28,000, because it sounds fair. �28,000, actually,


�28,800. You can see it is causing a bit of a row in the Westminster


bubble. It will be talked about throughout the country. But Danny's


suasion will solve everything, when we find out what it is. The wealthy


and powerful have been gathering in the Swiss resort of Davos this week


for the World Economic Forum. That explains why we are not there.


There are more than a few British politicians present on or near the


slopes, helping to plan the future of Europe and even capitalism


itself. David Cameron has risked inflaming the Continent by saying


it is time for boldness, not caution. He dismissed plans for a


tax on financial transactions as simply madness. That comes as we


learn from the front runner to become the next President of France,


Francois Holland, that he is even keener on the tax than Nicolas


Sarkozy. Boris Johnson has rallied to the defence of the City of


London on many occasions. He warned that the tax is an example shorter


and political vindictiveness. Labour leader Ed Miliband has also


joined the debate from Davos. He is calling for action on the euro and


also a transaction tax, as long as it is a truly global one. Tell the


Americans that! It is that bonus to the boss, however, that was


described as the boss of a public owned bank, that is the talk among


the Brits. I spoke to Boris Johnson. Urine Davos to promote London as a


global business centre. Given that Westminster is intervening on biker


bonuses, that there is talk of a mansion tax and the Government


takes over 50% of your income if you make big money, how is that


going? I think people looking at London and seeing a city of


remarkable resilience, and I have been talking to lots of people,


incredible opportunities to invest. I have been talking to people that


want to literally put billions into the city. Don't forget, people say,


well, why are you sloping off to Davos? Isn't it a jolly? It is not


at all. This is a place where people with huge cheque books are


able to invest in projects that drive growth and jobs in London. It


is out of conversations here in Davos that we have �50 million for


bicycle hire schemes, �50 million for a new river crossing and cable


car. �10 million for an attraction in the Olympic Park, and so on. �30


million for eight seamen's Pavilion in the Royal Docks. These are


important investments could London, which help drive growth and jobs in


tough times. It is right that you are there, there is money to be had


for the city. What billions will you bring back this year? Which


prospects are looking good? There are lots of conversations going on.


To get back to royally a question about how people looking at London,


in relation to banker bashing and so on, I think there is a great


deal of enthusiasm. The world is fixated with the Olympics. The


heavy hitters are longing to come and see the city. We are trying to


explain to them some of the places, Croydon, Tottenham, Battersea, and


in east London where they can put their money and seek a long-term


return on investment. We are explaining some of the stuff we are


doing in putting in the transport infrastructure that will make those


investments pay off. You criticise government for taking long-term


damage for short-term political gain. I guess that is what has been


done over Stephen Hester's bonus, isn't it? Short-term political


popularity and long-term damage to London as a global financial


centre? Well, I am sure that is what has happened. You will have to


fill me in. -- I am not sure that is what has happened. I am sure I


will be filled in, it seems he has received a substantial bonus. If I


am correct, it is about �1 million. I believe that what is effectively


a state-owned concern should be run on public service lines. Everybody


knows that RBS was basically bailed out by the taxpayer in 2008.


Whatever the contract was between Stephen Hester and Gordon Brown,


Alastair Darling, I don't think people really understand why a


public concern has to try to mimic a freebooting private sector


venture, which it patently isn't. have heard you compared to Gosbank.


But that was run by the Soviet state. The Royal Bank of Scotland


has not run by the British government, but by an independent


board. If you had stop this bonus, in shares, not in cash, been paid,


what would you have done if the chairman and the board had


resigned? If you look at the Charter Rob Gosbank, you will


probably find that it did have a so-called independent board.


know how the Soviet Union ran! pretty certain of that. If you look


at the reality, it is the taxpayer who bailed out RBS. I have a great


deal of sympathy with Stephen Hester. He is actually a very fine


guy. I'm sure he has worked incredibly hard to do what he had


to do at RBS. But I don't understand, personally, how we can


justify paying private sector style bonuses to what is, effectively, a


state bank. And that is where I am afraid I beg to differ with you.


am not taking an opinion, I am simply asking you questions. His


donors would not even give him bragging rights at Goldman Sachs. -


- his bonus. If you have the power, you would have stopped the bonus?


When you have effectively got a public sector concern, and we all


remember what happened with RBS, the taxpayer had to step in and


foot the bill. People associated with the beginning of the real


financial crunch that set in, it is 83% owned by the taxpayer. You say


that, you would have stopped the bonus? In those circumstances, what


I would have liked to have seen, you talk about an independent board,


but I would like to see an independent ethos, a sense of duty


on behalf of those running RBS to the wider public. Is this tone now


coming from you about being harsher on this bonus and the bankers? You


have been a great defender of them until now. I am a great defender


Rob then! I have always said that RBS is different. Is it the fact


that the Poles are narrowing and that Mr Livingstone is neck and


neck or a little ahead of you in the mayoral election? A bit of


I've always said RBS was different. I have never understood how you can


have a Gosbank style set-up attracting the kind of reward. I


will continue to stick up for bankers and the financial services


industry in London. What has happened to you lead in the mayoral


election? It is vital we support them, as for the mayoral election,


we will see what happens and fight for every vote. I understand that,


but if you said the opposite of that it wouldn't be worth running,


but why has Mr Livingstone narrowed the lead or taking it away?


Polls come and go and if you look over the last few years it has gone


up and down, I will campaign very hard. A great case to make to the


public about what we have done in London, crime has fallen by 10%, at


the murder rate has gone down by 25%, it is one of the things people


will catch and they like about London. When people talk about


investing in our city they see a very safe city, one of the safest


big cities in the world. Be see a place that is growing, pitting and


the Tramp -- transport infrastructure the city needs, --


putting it in at the transport infrastructure. People were worried


about the Jubilee line a year or so ago, that is going three mph faster,


we will go up to 30 trains per hour, come April this year. Those trains


will convey people to the Olympic Park in great comfort. That


investment is starting to pay off. I hope very much people will see


that and I will be fighting on that record.


We need to let you go to lobby more for London, get some more money


into the city. If you take that slope behind due later in the day,


try not to break a leg. Thank you.


Last seen hobbling into the hospital. I asked him a question he


didn't answer so I will ask you the same one, Daniel Finkelstein, why


has his lead evaporated? The base problem for them -- for


the Conservatives and Labour are doing much better in London. I was


always surprised by the polls, whether you were really asking


people questions he wanted the answer, he will have a real problem.


Ken Livingstone is a poor choice of candidate for London. If they had


chosen someone else, Labour could be assured of winning, but I do


then they can be so Boris has got a very good chance, it will be quite


close. The answer is the polls are beginning to focus a bit as the


election comes closer. Maybe the remarkable thing is not


he has gone from being favourites, but that Labour isn't 15 points


ahead? It is Boris, I still cannot believe


he is mayor of London. He has been there for four years. Every time I


see his face ago, oh, you are the mayor. You're proposing running the


Royal Bank of Scotland five minutes ago. It will be fine because what


ever they do to -- because whatever I do to mess it up, the taxpayer


will bail me out. Boris's great advantage is he is entirely


unencumbered by political beliefs, he will say anything, do anything,


to get the public vote. Why, given this is a left of centre


city, there you have got a Conservative-led government


presiding, and iconic left-wing figure, Mr Livingstone, why he --


why is he not ahead in the polls? Partly because what Mr Johnson was


an mentioning, when he was saying the Jubilee Line is going through


mph faster, Boris, Tottenham was on fire, cordon was on fire. Why is


Labour not ahead? People are frightened of civil unrest.


would they vote... An interesting point. That is not the reason why


If I can offer another idea, it is because Labour don't know which way


is up at the moment. They cannot find their ideology. Can I point


out to 2 euros that this here, this is not a real cigarette. -- Canon


point out to our viewers. It is a fake cigarette. An electric


cigarette, the future. I am on one person mission. I am not sponsored.


Labour actually, a nationally, is doing quite well. Five point behind.


Doing quite well in London. I'm sure it is not to do with people


being concerned about civil unrest, the question is why it is Ken


Livingstone not doing better, he is a board as a candidate. Labour


don't have any ideas at the moment. We do not still say despite the


narrowing of the polls which is significant, he knew of that,


wouldn't you feel Boris is favourite to win? I am not sure


about that. Labour will have us -- have to pull some policies out of


summer, and natural alternative, if they want people to say it is worth


us voted for a Labour government. thick, yes, narrowly. Labour has


got strength in London and you cannot ignore that. Ken's great


disadvantage is that he believes in something. You are saying he should


be doing better. We will move on. The coalition says they want to


give you the power of total recall over your MPs. It is the ability to


force a by-election. Why has this come about? You may remember back


in the misty days of 2009 When talk in the Westminster bubble was not


of the euro crisis, capitalism, but the finer things in life, that


houses, second homes, mansions. And then there was the false accounting,


the MPs exposed in the scandal ended up being charged by the


police and sent to prison. Even after they had been caught they


were allowed to continue as MPs claiming their salaries until they


were voted out at the 2020 general election. -- 2010. The Jonathan


Aitken brandished his simple sword of truth, I remember it well. Neil


Hamilton in boiled in the cash-for- questions affair involving Brown


envelopes. In their constituents they had to wait for their


constituents to get rid of them so a draft Bill giving people the


power to recall MPs has been put before Parliament. Some MPs believe


it just doesn't go far enough, including Zac Goldsmith, the


Conservative MP for Richmond to joins us now. Why it doesn't go far


enough? It is not recall. Recall is a really powerful mechanism, it has


a potential to revolutionise politics, electrify politics and


make MPs more responsible. But true recall means allowing constituents


of either councillors or MPs or anyone in elected office to


petition to have their representative recalled if they


lose confidence in them. You hit a threshold... The trigger .. Every


governor has faced an attempt in California. There are lots of


attempt. Plenty of other places along -- beyond California. Your


objection is MPs themselves, or the Commons chamber, as a seminal role


in this proposed recall procedure. Under the current proposals instead


of handing power back to people which is what we call is about, it


is about handing power to a small committee of MPs who alone will


decide whether an MP qualifies. What MPs think is wrong doing is


not likely to be the same as constituents. So just to clarify,


as currently proposed, the recall mechanism could not be triggered by


the voters, a nest this committee of MPs -- unless this committee of


MPs start it. It is quite sinister, it was designed to prevent MPs


being recalled. It creates a lot of room for abuse. If you are a


maverick or unpopular MP, but very popular locally, there is a


possibility the committee will throw you to the walls. You don't


have a referendum, should Zac Goldsmith be recalled? If I win,


end of story. Under this scheme there is no middle step. 10% of


people signing a petition, calling for recall, which they would if a


parliamentary committee said they qualified, you go straight to a by-


election way you are not fighting on the issues of recall, you are


fighting in a national context. If you are a party trailing in the


polls, you are out. If there are bigger issues, tuition fees,


bankers bonuses, that is what you will be contesting. You will never


have an opportunity to say I have been stitched up by my colleagues


and not recalled so they give us huge power to the powers that be.


It is empowers the voters. This is the opposite of recall.


Are you in favour of the principle of recall, and you agree with the


criticisms in the way we planned to do it? Both. You're either have


recall or you don't. If you have it you have to do is seriously. There


is of course the problem of troublesome vexatious recall, and


you have to have mechanisms for attempting to prevent people.


don't think the committee should be the arbiter? No. The problem is the


whole idea of recall came about precisely because what Members of


Parliament thought was reasonable behaviour were exposed to the


electorate was not reasonable behaviour. -- when exposed. You can


drop the whole idea if you don't think it is a good. -- any good.


What is your position? I'm on the same page as Daniel. I hate to


agree with Tories are anything. It is absolutely .. It might not be a


real cigarette but it is not doing you any good. Her I have just


swallowed something. I am yet to meet anyone who agrees, this is the


worst piece of legislation I have seen in any context. MPs are


unsettled by this, they were hoping it would prevent any kind of recall


but they concede a sinister aspect of this and it will be very heavily,


if it is a pose and approved, we will get a moment through.


Still a possibility. I think we will win the campaign but it


requires popular pressure. There is an MP's club as you will have found


out. They kind of close ranks. seem to invent the Rome morality,


this is what this is about. -- their own morality. What seems like


wandering to the public might not seem like wrongdoing to MPs. Why is


that? A good question but I cannot lit you answer, we have to move on.


We will keep an eye on this. Very interesting idea.


Thank you for being with us, Zac Goldsmith.


If you liked it you called it the community charge, if you hated it,


it was the poll tax. It was meant to be a simple and fair way for


everyone who used them to pay for local services. Instead, it


triggered some of the worst riots in decades. For critics, it defined


Margaret Thatcher. They mark the beginning of the end -- it marked


the beginning of the end. Was it a Much 31st, 1990, Trafalgar Square


is turned into a battle zone. All- over, a new way to get people to


pay for local services. -- it was all over a new way. 400 arrests,


180 people and 20 police forces injured. The worst riots to hit


London in a century. What caused the mayhem? A little something


called the community charge. You might know it better as the poll


tax. Those riots happened more than 20 years ago, adults caused by what


is seen as a flagship policy of the Thatcher era. The idea was then,


every adult paid a flat rate for council services with some


reductions for the less well-off. John Gummer had been local


government minister and had a ringside seat.


It was that everybody should pay something, so that there was some


balance between demand for services, and the fact you had to pay for


them. Where did it all go wrong? would only work if you had a know


enough starting point. We all recognise that. -- a low enough.


The Treasury for not having it. If they didn't like the idea, they


didn't want it, and he did everything to make it clear that


they were not going to make the changes which were necessary, and


above all, doing it in Scotland first, which was a mistake, not a


purposeful one, but mistake, was a gigantic error. One of the first


things John Major did when he became prone minister in 1990 was


announced the community charge would be replaced by in levy based


We know it was unpopular and that even its supporters think it was


badly executed. But was it really a bad idea? It does have its admirers


in the taxation community. Community job was a wheeze --


community tax was a reasonable idea, everybody paid something into


public services. The problem was that it wasn't sold very well.


People didn't understand. It was not seen as being fair. As an idea,


it had quite a bit going for it. The debate about how we pay for


council services is still hugely controversial. Labour ignored a


review of government finances in 2007. This government has said that


no re-evaluation will happen until after the next election. So, is a


poll tax idea whose time could come again? I think the poll tax has


rather put politicians off local government finances. In a simple


way, council tax values have not been operated 20 years or more. If


we are to reform local government taxation, what is paid for local


services, inevitably this idea of everybody paying something cannot


be called the poll tax or community charge, but it needs looking at


again. With a few tweaks it could work better than last time.


first lesson for David Cameron is very simple. You've got enough


troubles on your plate at the moment not to do anything about


local government finance. I would not touch it. At some point and the


future, we will be forced to do so. Then, I think, one has to be very


much more... Imaginative. I suspect that the only real way of doing


local government finance is through direct taxation. In the end, a


local sales tax is probably what you have to do.


You are a big supporter of direct action, protests, Occupy Wall


Street, the City of London. This was a protest, it seems to me, that


actually had an impact. It actually forced the Government not only to


change its policy, but it led to the change of leader. Aviary


powerful leader. Has any other protest in recent times have that


impact? The thing about protests is that they change the mindset of a


culture. They changed political realism. I think when we are


talking about the poll tax, you have to talk about them as riots as


well as protests. They are a different kind of political direct


action. People do not plan for them. Rather than an orderly protest, it


shows the hubris of the Government at the time. It relates very much


to the hubris of the Government at the moment. There is only so far


you can... Sure, but we have had riots recently, in London and Major


cities. Some people would describe the student protests over


university fees as riots, or parts of them led to riots. I'm trying to


think where, in modern British Times, going back 30 years, it


seemed to be the one protest that was violent, in parts, which


actually forced the Government to change its mind. The real thing


that changed the Government's mind was that, underneath it, you were


talking about degree distributions, sometimes inside families, of very


large sums of money. To do that without proper transitional


arrangements, it was extremely unpopular. Not just unpopular with


people that might go and drawing riots, but also one popular with


the sort of middle England Tory vote. That is the reason why


Margaret Thatcher lost. Do you believe it was the beginning of the


end for Margaret Thatcher? At the review, that and the split on


Europe. It had so that he was. -- absolutely, that and the split on


Europe. It absolutely was. It could not have wood the General Election


with her, so they thought the best thing was to get rid of her. If you


think of a modern version of this, that has had the same policy


impact? I'm sure the current government can think of a lot of


versions of the poll tax riots. was asking if you could give me one


example. I cannot think of one. think because we haven't had one


yet, that is the point. The lesson of the poll tax riots is about


political hubris. What you saw in the video, it was interesting when


that man said that the problem with the poll tax was that it was not


sold well enough. It was fine, they were not selling it well enough.


That is the massive mistake you make with modern politics. It


doesn't matter what you say, it is how you sell it. The British public


can only be pushed so far. We seem like a nice little England people


that like royal weddings and cups of tea, and then... It I know them


too well, we are going to move on from that. Suasion, hubris, you


don't get this sort of thing on the other programme.


The debate over Scotland's future has been dominated by Alex Salmond.


His job, if he is to win our referendum on independence, is to


become Mr Scotland in the public mind, a 21st century William


Wallace. Of course, William Wallace himself was home, drawn and


quartered at a show trial at Westminster. Yesterday, their


Lordships seemed bent on its Of course, he is cunning, a ball,


he is a gambler. But he is not infallible. I know that already you


will have seen that he is unable to answer some of the really searching


questions about the reality of independence. One other aspect of


the consultation paper is that he wants to rig the franchise and give


the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds. My researchers tell me that there are


only nine countries in the world that give the franchise to 16 and


17-year-olds. Two of which are North Korea and Cuba, both of whom


also half metres with a high opinion of themselves. -- have


leaders with a high opinion of themselves. We are dealing with an


extremely clever, extremely devious, extremely easy going, so it appears,


until things are at a difficult stage and then he will put the sue


him. Can I rephrase that Andy positive and say that he is


successfully manipulative. That is a compliment, but he is. I have


said repeatedly that members of Her Majesty's government, at their


peril, underestimate him. He is not known as smart-alec for nothing.


cannot sit here and here my good friend Alex Salmond been bad-


mouthed, in the way that he has already been in this debate. It is


for the noble Lords to decide for themselves whether the noises made


in this chamber and heard in Scotland will help or hinder the


Joining me now from Dundee is Stewart Hosie of the Scottish


nationalists. If Alex Salmond was to fall under a bus, would the


steam go out of the independence movement? No. This cause has been


around for a long time. The leader of the SNP is doing a fantastic job.


But the scheme would not go out. Your party is a bit of a one-man


band, isn't it? It clearly isn't. Indeed, my recollection, when David


Cameron blundered into the debate a few weeks ago, we put any number of


politicians before cameras, including your own. Alex Salmond


did not have to say anything for some days. There were enough able


and competent politicians to take on the nonsense coming out of


Westminster. Would you not agree that the sensible way to proceed,


whatever the exact nature of the question, is to solve what is an


extra central issue, if Scotland remains part of the union or not.


If it votes not to be part, that remains for the terms of severance


to be negotiated. If it votes to stay a part, you can go back to


what the nature of that union should be. Would that not be a


mature wake to proceed? It would be our way of proceeding, but better


if we are having a referendum to decide Scotland's constitutional


future, to ask the question which has been framed. To ask, at the


same time, for those that want to go part of the journey with us, do


you want more powers only? It is a perfectly mature and sensible


approach. But your party policy is to ask only one question. That is


right. Why are you arguing for two? We recognise a body of opinion that


wants to go further than we are at the moment, but not to independence.


It is right to test that democratically. This is sheer


opportunity. You are afraid that he would lose a Yes-no. So you want to


put in so that you get 70% of the cake instead of not at all? I am


absolutely confident that we will win the ADS case. -- the yes case.


It is a democratic principle, that Test bat against public opinion as


well. The huge issue is if you will break up the United Kingdom,


Scotland becomes a separate state with its own seat in the UN,


although not in NATO. Let's resolve that one way or another. If the


answer is no, we still want to remain part of the United Kingdom,


then you can build on existing devolution. It sounds, to me,


entirely logical and reasonable. The independence question will be


settled. There will be an independence question. You're


asking why we are doing two, let me ask the question a different way.


The Liberals claim to believe in federalism in 1914. Why are they


afraid to give federalism to the people in 2014? Let's test these


opinions against public opinion and see who wins. I am confident that


public opinion will win, but the people will decide, not the House


of Lords. If you had somebody in there yesterday, you could have


stopped your man getting a kicking. Daniel Finklestein, you have your


ear at the Westminster regime, it is it a red line for Westminster


that there should only be one question on the ballot paper?


doubt it will turn out to be a red line. They wanted to be a red line,


but I am not sure that it will be. You don't actually need to be,


because I don't know what devo-max is. What are they asking the


question about, what proposal of a putting forward that people will


have a chance to vote for? Until that is much clearer and the


consequences for English voters are clearer, I think it would be wrong


to say that it is definitely a red line. They want to avoid Alex


Salmond having to do that. I think they are not going to have as much


trouble as they think, he hasn't been able to explain it in a way


that means it doesn't have vast consequences for England. A final


question, if the Scots did vote for you to go and negotiate the terms


of independence and then you did, the Scot said, well, we do not like


these terms, they are not very good. We should probably stick with the


UK. You would not have a second referendum, would you?


referendum would be very clear air, if you want Scotland to be an


independent country. If people vote for that, Scotland will be an


independent country. That is democracy and I am happy to stick


to the will of the Scottish people. We have to stick to our time. It is


good to see the Dundee road bridge behind you. I liked the rail bridge


as well. It is so old that there is Time to look back at the big


stories of the last seven days. Here is the week in 60 seconds.


Crash, bank, wallop. Growth figures came in at -0.2 %, building fears


of a recession. Tue, it is your fault! No, it is your fault!


policies are failing the country. The party opposite has only one


answer, to deal with a debt crisis by borrowing more and adding to


death! The cat might fit, but the Lords refused to wear it.


Government plans to limit welfare payments at �26,000 displeased


peers, who voted to have child benefit excluded. Ministers say


they will be back. Nick Clegg is speeding up plans to increase the


tax threshold. I want the coalition to go further and faster in


delivering the full �10,000. the Prime Minister got very little


satisfaction as Mick Jagger pulled out of an event in Davos. He had no


sympathy for the PR devil's he said were using him as a political


football. It might be rock and roll, but he didn't like it and he was


out quicker than jumping Jack Flash. Still, it is all over now.


Are things going to get better for Ed Miliband? I am not sure about


that. I couldn't care less what the Labour Party does until it stops


supporting welfare reform in the Commons and comes up with an


alternative to cuts. With what we have just seen, welfare cuts, 0.2%


shrinkage, I think Scotland is looking nice at this time of year.


I will be watching that devolution result. The thing is, poor people


and people on low incomes overwhelm any support welfare reform. They do,


a so the Labour Party would not be representative of the people that


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