09/03/2012 Daily Politics


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 09/03/2012. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Afternoon, folks. Welcome to the Daily Politics.


Some decent news from Greece at last. But there's plenty more pain


to come. Athens has reached agreement with most of their


private creditors, to write off billions of pounds of debt, which


triggers more bailout money from Europe and the IMF. But Greek debts


are still gigantic, and even more austerity looms.


Plans to speed up the adoption process for thousands of children


are to be announced by David Cameron, including making it easier


for white couples to adopt black children. We'll get the details


from the Children's Minister. More protests are expected in


Russia this weekend, against Vladimir Putin's election victory.


We'll get the thoughts of a former Foreign Secretary and a former


British Ambassador to Moscow. And, find out why the European


Commission has got into hot water All that in the next hour. And I


also bring you good news. According to the papers, it turns out spring


is here ten days early! The birds are singing, the trees are


blossoming, and the daffs are almost out. And I'm pleased to say,


that keeping me company in the studio this lunchtime, are two


spring chickens. James Delingpole, who tells us in the Telegraph today


that he still has the energy to do manly things, like swim freezing


Welsh rivers. And the former Observer political editor, Gaby


Hinsliff. We're not sure whether she's prepared to swim a Welsh


river or not. I have never been prepared to swim


a Welsh river, even when I was young. Let's start with the news


that the Greek government has announced it's reached a deal with


most of its creditors to accept steep losses, staving off an


official credit event default, and paving the way for the next round


of European and IMF bailout money. Speaking earlier today, the Greek


Finance Minister said this. TRANSLATION: We can't have an


investment friendly country and job creation without having a banking


mechanism which supports investment. All these things should happen for


us to have total success in private sector involvement. We should agree


this is the only way to put the country back on its feet and give


it a second historic and much- needed chance.


The man who hopes to be the next Greek Prime Minister. They have


done this deal. Debt in Greece now falls to 160% of GDP. They now have


to do spending cuts equivalent to 20% of GDP. Last year, the economy


declined by 7% of GDP. And 50% of young Greeks are now unemployed. So,


job done!? I would say this is a classic example of kicking the can


down the road. If we think of this financial crisis in World War II


terms, will probably end the phoney war stage. We have a long way to go


before this is resolved and it won't be resolved by delaying it.


We have to face up to reality. Greece will eventually lead the


eurozone. Absolutely no question. rough time scale? If I could do


that I would be making a lot of money on options. I thought you


did! Her I lost the last time... lot of the more hard headed


commentators are saying this is in itself an achievement to get all of


these private creditors to take a massive haircut, avoid an official


default. But look at the pain to come. It is better than a messy


collapse right now. The suggestion from Christine Lagarde that it is


spring-like. This is a British type of spring where it is snowing one


minute, sunny the next. It is quite remarkable, the pain that the


European elite is prepared to inflict on people, to keep the


project on the road. There is a massive political constitutional


question. All this pain being inflicted on Greece from outside,


on a country which doesn't have its own elected government. That has


been pushed back. For Greeks, the historical suspicion of Germans


anyway, this is painful. At the same time, if you look at the


opinion surveys and the Greeks have persuaded themselves that the euro


is somehow good for them. I can't see that lasting. I would say one


thing. Keep your eye on Portugal. That could be next in the frame. A


diplomatic row is brewing with Italy, over the tragic deaths of an


Italian and a Briton, after a failed attempt to rescue them in


Nigeria. Politicians in Rome have been demanding to know why their


government wasn't consulted on the military operation, and why they


were only informed once the action was taking place. We can speak now


to our political correspondent, Iain Watson.


He has been getting briefings. A general question, bring us up today


on what we now know about this operation?


Some of the details are not clear. I had a briefing for an hour with


the Prime Minister's spokesman. He said some of the details are yet to


emerge, he didn't want to give inaccurate information. What is


clear is that the two hostages were killed in an operation which went


on for some hours, as many as six or seven hours. That the British


Prime Minister David Cameron gave his authorisation but the Italian


Prime Minister was not asked for his authorisation at the same time.


We have been told, I quote, from Downing Street, there have been


close contacts with the Italians over nine months. It was always the


case that a rescue operation was an option, but the Italians were


conducted after the operation got under way, because it was a fast


moving situation and they were responding to advice from what was


happening on the ground. That is the official explanation from


Downing Street. But the Italian government is saying this was


inexplicable, and they want to get further clarification. What was


interesting, in this long briefing, some a bit no clearer than we were


last night. Apparently, no formal complaint has been lodged with the


British Government by the Italians over how this was handled, no


complaint was made to David Cameron when he spoke to Mario Monti last


night. And Britain has offered simply an explanation, not an


apology. So will there be a diplomatic row between Rome and


London? Have we established from both Rome and London that the


British and Nigerians went ahead, without informing the Italians? Is


that now agreed on bedsides? That is agreed on their sides. It is


clearly the case, what Downing Street has emphasised, this was a


Nigerian led operation. But David Cameron was asked for his


authorisation. The Italians were asked on a government to government


basis after the operation got under way. The reason for that appears to


be, as we are being told off the record, perhaps the hostages were


felt to be in grave and imminent danger, and the events were fast


moving. Then, we get into really questions of politics and diplomacy.


If a rescue operation was always a possibility, did the Italians at


any stage attempt to veto it? I am told they didn't. Could they have


vetoed it when it went under way? I was told that might not have been


possible had they tried. In fact, they didn't do so and again I have


been told, if this was the other way around, if the British had been


told after the operation got under way, rest assured British


politicians would be kicking up a fuss. There is an understanding in


diplomatic terms. You described it, I know the Nigerians were involved.


You described it as a Nigerian led operation. Does that mean that the


Nigerians were first in? Or, where British special forces the


spearhead? We do not know that. On five separate occasions, we asked


the prime ministers spokesman, he repeated the phrase, this was a


Nigerian led operation, but did not give any details whether British


forces arrived first. From what I have been picking up, it seems that,


for some time, there was some information where the hostages were


being held, and fears they may be in imminent danger if the cat has


knew the whereabouts had been exposed -- -- the captors.


Thanks for joining us on that. A lot still unknown here.


Barack Obama. You have to be lucky in these things, taking these


difficult decisions. Barack Obama got it right. David Cameron was


unlucky and it turned out wrong. And that is part of leadership. We


saw it with the deaths of the six soldiers in Afghanistan, one of the


worst things about being a Prime Minster when you take decisions


which leads to the death of your citizens. You don't launch a


scrambled rescue mission unless you take a chance.


Parents of the victims, that seems to be their attitude in their agony


as well. The promise to was giving some


interviews in an entirely unrelated matter yesterday afternoon. I am


told by the people there, that this had got to him, he was devastated


by the failure. I do not think he could have done much else. There


are two main terrorist types in Nigeria. One of them is the type


that kidnaps boiled eggs it is, for ransom, let them free. This is


different. These are Islamist terrorists with a track record,


they killed 40 people in a church on Christmas Day, 20 more people in


a bomb. They have a record of killing people. David Cameron could


have done no other. Not a good week for Britain given the events in


Afghanistan. Later today, David Cameron will promise to tackle what


he calls the "absurd barriers to mixed-race adoption", when he


announces proposals to speed up the process. Under the plans, local


authorities will be required to reduce delays, and not slow the


process down by trying to find the perfect match. However, Matt


Dunkley, the head of the Association of Directors of


Children's Services, said that it's a difficult balancing act.


Adoption is always complex because it has to revolve around the needs


of the child. Finding a permanent home, changing the child's identity.


You have to be very sure that the parents you are matching with the


child are right for that child. Sometimes, you have to balance


various factors to decide whether the quickest option is the best or


whether you should wait longer for a family that would be a better


match. It is not straightforward and each child's needs are


individual. It is a complicated process. We can now speak to the


Children's Minster, Tim Loughton, who's in Brighton.


Thank you for joining us. Just summarise for our viewers what the


major changes are going to be? We have been working on adoption


for the past 18 months and next week we will publish a


comprehensive adoption action plan. What David Cameron will detailed


this afternoon is three particular things. Largely around the issue of


delay. The first is delayed is a very important factor when the


place children for adoption and the longer you delay, the more damage


it can do to those children and the less likely that option is to


succeed. In too many cases, social workers seem to be waiting for that


perfect match, would it be an ethnic, cultural or racial match,


and those children are staying in care. That is damaging. We need to


improve the law to say the most important thing for finding a


placement foray child for whom adoption is the right course, is to


find a safe, loving, stable family. If we can find a perfect ethnic


match, that is perfect but it should not be used as an excuse.


What do you say to some of the professionals in this part of the


public service, that the reason for delay is often because these are


sensitive issues, they are complicated issues as well. And


I agree with that. They are very complicated dishes. Matt Dunkley


has been working closely with us on this. The most important


consideration must be the best interests for the child. We think


we cannot compromise the quality of the placements for a larger number


of children who we think would benefit from adoption by speeding


up the system. It is taking far too long and it is far too bureaucratic.


We are deterring too many prospective adopters, who could all


her children homes. In the care system, there are


disproportionately black kids in particular, three times less likely


than white kids to get adopted. When they are adopted, it takes


twice as long to get them adopted. That is not fair, and it is not


acceptable. We have to go reds of some of this political correctness.


-- get rid of it. Is it your view that adoption services go out of


their way to avoid placing a black kid with a white family? I think


there is a bit of a hangover of that culture, going back many years.


The vast majority of Social Workers, working in the Children's Services


department have the best interests of children at heart and are doing


a good job. But we see huge differentials between different


local authorities and adoption agencies in how good they are at


adopting children and how long it takes. The key point of what we're


trying to achieve is trying to speed up the system in terms of


finding appropriate families and identifying children when adoption


is the best option, and getting the system to work better in the


interests of the child. The children should not be left in


limbo because the system is cumbersome. Stick with us and we


will get some reaction from our guests. What is your take on this?


I do not think anyone wants to see children in care longer than they


have to be. It is ridiculous that it can take two and a half years


from start to finish. You have to be careful not to throw the baby


out of -- out with the bath water, to coin an appropriate phrase. That


period of delay is not always about safeguarding the child, sometimes


it is about knowing that the parents are to coping with what


they have to copy -- cope with, perhaps taking a six year-old who


might be very damaged back home with them. They have extensive mean


sometimes. Finding families that cope with that is important. We do


not want to end up in a place where the adoptions break down more


regularly because there speedier. think the Minister was being very


diplomatic. -- they are speedier. This is a rare case of


Conservative-led coalition having the courage of its convictions and


taking on one of the great shibboleths of the left-liberal


establishment, which is this ludicrous notion that it is better


to leave a black child without a loving family because of this


theory, this bankrupt theory that somehow skin colour is more


important than finding a fat -- finding a happy home. Are you being


diplomatic, look Minister? I am always diplomatic, Andrew, but I am


not concerned with political ideology. I am concerned with


getting a better deal for children in care, and I think many more of


them could benefit from the stability and love that comes with


a decent adoptive placement. have 65,000 children in care at the


moment. If your reforms go through, will we see that number fall


substantially? I do not know. The numbers of children coming into


care has been going up. We must remember that the great majority of


those children are there temporarily and will return to


their families. The number of children that I would like to see


adopted, it is more than the 3050 who got adopted last year, and that


number was down on the year before. I will not set any targets because


this is all about getting the best deal for each individual child. The


each have different circumstances. We believe that we can get better


quality placements, more people coming in and offering a home to a


child. That is a big ass, particularly with kids from


difficult backgrounds, kids who are not getting picked up at the moment.


We can do it quicker. Two months is 1% of a child's's childhood. All


the evidence says that the sooner you can get a child adopted a, the


more likely they are to have a successful adoption and a happy


childhood. Thank you for joining us. Now, in under a couple of months,


voters in 10 towns and cities across England would get to vote on


whether they want a directly elected mayor. According to polling


produced by two regions, many of them do not know a thing about it.


In Birmingham, 59% of those polled said they did not know there was a


referendum. Even though it was the first time many of them had heard


of it, more than half thought that Birmingham should have a directly


elected mayor. Although you might take this with a pinch of salt


given the usual low turnout in local elections, 74% said that they


planned to vote. Our West Midlands political reporter joins us now


from Westminster where she is visiting. It is good to see when


London. What is the mood like in Birmingham? -- see you in London.


When you go out on the streets and ask people whether they want an


elected mayor, they look at you with confusion. In my experience,


they do not seem to know that this is happening. And then, when you


explain it, they say they like the idea of having a porous in


Birmingham. But the figures of the poll certainly suggest that that


may be the case, not just anecdotally but wider afield. Six


out of 10 people in Birmingham do not know this is happening. 54% are


saying that they would vote for an elected mayor, but 23% say no and


23 say that they do not care. sounds like if you know you're for


it, and by definition if you do not know, you will not float, it looks


like this could go through and Birmingham. -- you will not vote.


The feeling you would get from the findings of this poll, and in terms


of the campaigns we have seen, the Yes campaign has been very vocal.


They are holding debates left, right and centre. There is one in


Birmingham later this evening. All of these debates are going on, and


the no campaign, they have an interesting name, they're called


"Vote No to power." They think the idea is been shot down people's


throats. The Yes campaign is being pushed ahead. -- shoved down. They


have more influence in terms of people being interested in this


subject. When you ask people about it, they tell you that, yeah, be


like the idea of leaders have been more power. The real question is


whether they will have the powers that Boris has, because we do not


know what powers an elected mayor in Birmingham would have. I think


you better go and ask that question. In Yorkshire, voters will be asked


if they want a mayor in Bradford, Doncaster, Leeds, Sheffield and


Wakefield. According to the poll, 62%, even higher than Birmingham,


had no Whitey about the vote on May 3rd. Again, there was a fair bit of


support for the principle of directly-elected mayors. -- had no


idea. As in Birmingham, a big proportion said they intended to


vote. Seven de 1%, more than a general election. It appears that


turnout -- it beats the turnout for the AV referendum and the last


local elections. James Vincent is in Leeds. As in Birmingham, if you


know about it, you seem to be in favour of it. It is strange. When


you don't speak to people in Yorkshire, they think may has have


chains around their neck and open up garden festivals. It has been


interesting to explain what an elected mayor actually has to


people. To say that 60% of people did not know about the referendum,


actually 90% of people here say they have been given little or no


information about the referendum whatsoever. There is an admission


from the Government to explain exactly what they mean, and why


they want cities to go for them. The problem they have in places


like Sheffield, the politicians do not want it. Both sides, Labour and


Lib Dem councillors agree that they do not want an elected mayor. It is


one of the very few things they agree about. Thank you for that.


Very interesting. I felt as if I was back on Nationwide again. Let's


go back to London for some context with Tony Travers, visiting


Professor at the London School of Economics and the man we turn to on


matters to do with local government. Do you get the feeling that the


time has come for this idea? might be. The polling is


fascinating. We have not had this level of detail before. It suggests


that even though there is a relatively low level of knowledge


about whether the vote will take place, that it will take place, on


balance people seem to be pretty strongly in favour, not only in


another West Yorkshire cities. is interesting, what James is


saying in Yorkshire, not many people know and those that do know


rather like the idea. But the political establishment, left right


and centre, does not want it. You're going to get a fight in a


low turnout between the political establishment united in saying no


and those who do want it are not going to vote in huge numbers.


Possibly. There is no doubt that many politicians and cities are not


enthusiastic about Mears because they think it will take power away


from them and concentrated in one pair of hands. Of course, Tony


Blair and David Cameron are a supporter. Michael Heseltine is a


supporter. There is much national political support, from of a


presidential politicians, for the idea of this role. The idea that as


people go to vote, remembering that they will be voting in local


elections anyway, they will then be faced with this question and


whatever they think, they will have to make the choice. The polls


suggest that on balance, they will vote yes. The supporters claim that


if you believe in devolution, to the major English cities, towns and


districts, the only sure way of getting things done is to have an


elected mayor, to have someone around to that power can coalesce.


It is easy to forget what a centralised country Englanders. It


is one of the most centralised countries in the world. Scotland,


Wales, Northern Ireland have devolved power... People in


Scotland think it is very centralised in Edinburgh! That is


also true. That being the case, what for England? We have seen in


London, and there are mayors in other places, like Middlesbrough


and Hartlepool, that have been very successful, if we had more Meyers


in big cities, in many ways they could be more powerful in the City


than the Mayor of London. True, it is not entirely clear what their


powers are, but in a city like Birmingham or Leeds, and remember


Liverpool has already decided to go for it, these people will have all


the powers that London boroughs have, and some of the mayoral


powers. It is going to be a powerful role and some MPs are


thinking of leaving Westminster to stand in mayoral elections. That is


a sign that they must think they will have power, more power than an


MP. Is it true that if you get elected mayors, and they are


regarded as a success, it is inevitable that more power will


flow to them? It is certainly what has happened in London. Another


city that now has won his Leicester. We have Leicester, Liverpool,


Salford, I think when we have a separate big-city mayors, they will


be a powerful base for demanding more powers, the new is that


England will get to devolution. Where are you on this? I am in


sympathy with the good people of Yorkshire, whose eyelids droop at


the very mention of the word. I can see why people would not be


necessarily grabbed by the idea because it is hard to know what


you're choosing. You do not know the candidates, are they going to


be washed up local politicians who have decided that the Westminster


career are -- is not going anywhere or will they be transformative


personalities? I think they have the capacity to serve as an -- a


pressure valve, because the cry about Scottish independence will


end up with a cry in England, where his England's voice? I think there


is another reason why it is catching the imagination. One of


the developments taking place in this country at the moment is


London, Greater London and the south-east becoming more and more


divorced from the rest of the country. It seems to me that one of


the few ways you might rebalance that is to put real powerhouses


into Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle. And there is a sense


that the Government does not understand anything beyond London.


The argument about mansion tax is all about London and the south-east.


Benefit capping is about London. If you live in Leicester or Birmingham,


you might not think anything about it. More direct democracy has to be


a good thing in principle. If you look at the Scottish Parliament and


Welsh Assembly, you wonder. But London has been a pretty obvious


success. Is it Doncaster that has a very good mayor? I think Doncaster


there has been a problem. But in fairness, it is because there was a


political problem inside local politics that the mayor could not


solve. But Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Watford, these have all


We have 14 elected mayors, I am told. But in Stoke-on-Trent, they


have got rid of theirs! The mare was seen as a way of sorting out


the political problems and it didn't work out, local politics was


so difficult even a mayor could not solve it. He am I right in saying,


do you agree with the point I made, it seems that London is becoming


more and more divorced from the rest of the country? There is no


question. If you look at the economic growth figures in London


and the south east, the area has pulled away from the rest of the UK.


The City, anything to do with it is dominant. I absolutely agree, a


mare in Birmingham, Bristol, might create a counterbalance and their


boys might be heard in the way that the London mayor has been


successfully heard, for example, in bidding for transport resources. In


that sense it would create a counterbalance. It would give the


media a focal point on who speaks for each city. It would also create


competition for London, which is no bad thing. I do think that the


mayor of a big city like Birmingham or Leeds or Bristol would become a


national political figure, much better than any MPs, or many MPs,


dare I say. The Tomorrow, tens of thousands of


people are expected to gather in Moscow, to protest against Vladimir


Putin's victory in the presidential elections. International observers


have alleged widespread vote rigging, although Mr Putin has


claimed that, if violations had taken place, they had been too


insignificant to influence the final results. In a moment, we'll


get the thoughts of the former Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd, and


former British Ambassador Tony Brenton. But first, we can go live


to Moscow, to speak to our correspondent Daniel Sandford.


Harvey's protests going to be significant? Are they a threat to


the new President? I think that is the big question. We don't know the


answer but we will get an idea tomorrow. If they go on


consistently getting 100,000 people or more out on the streets of


Moscow, it will keep up the pressure on President p 10 when he


becomes President in May, and it will make sure, to my degree, he


gives some of the democratic reform these people are seeking. But


democracy in Russia it is a completely strange affair. This is


a place which looks like a democracy but it really isn't. The


TV channels are not giving balanced coverage. All opposition figures


are squashed down. This is not a small matter of making sure that


voting is more fair, this is a very big affair to try to reform, and it


will take a long time for the protesters to achieve any results.


One of the problems for you, you are closer to London in Moscow than


to Vladivostok. And it is hard to know how hard -- of how widespread


this is. Is it a Moscow phenomenon? It is essentially a Moscow


phenomenon. There is a reasonable movement in St Petersburg. We have


travelled across the country, and what we find is when you get two


cities, you find small pockets of people who are following the


protest movement on line, trying to get organised in their own cities.


But it is much harder, and more dangerous further away from Moscow.


People in Moscow feel less threatened by the authorities. If


you are neurone, you are much more at risk from the local authority.


We look forward to seeing your reports over the weekend. Douglas


Hurd and Tony Brenton are with me now.


Douglas Hurd, welcome to the programme, good to see you. Should


the British attitude be, We know the dodgy things about the election


but whatever happens, Vladimir Putin will be President. We must


get on and deal with him. Of course we have to get on and deal with him,


there is no doubt about that. But, the tone of voice has to reflect


the fact we have a row with Russia, not just about human rights in


general but eight particular episode. Therefore, we cannot be


absolutely extreme in our response. Do you detect any change in Russian


foreign policy? We have had some difficulties with them over Syria


where they have blocked any progress in the United Nations


Security Council. There are difficulties over Iran. They are


hard line in confronting what we perceive to be Western interests.


That is unlikely to change. It is very unlikely to change, that would


involve him saying he had got something wrong in the recent past.


They will be slow to acknowledge any fault. Ambassador, do we have


any idea, he has never left the scene. He was President. His mate,


some would say his puppet, became President one he was Prime Minister.


He is back in the top seat. What are his strategic goals over the


next six years? He is a Russian Padgett -- pitch yet, he wants to


rebuild Russia and prosperity, pride, stability. And that, I am


sure, remains the centre of what he wants to do. He is running out of


people. One of Russia's problems is the population is going down.


Western media, including the BBC, we give greater emphasis to these


demonstrations on the streets of Moscow. We're not used to


demonstrations in Russia. They clearly have some significance. Are


we giving them too much significance? Are they


overwhelmingly a cosmopolitan protest? Undoubtedly something


profound in Russia has changed. You have the urban, young middle class


on the streets saying, we want the same civic rights as in the west.


We don't want corruption. That is a profound change. Some people have


said, Vladimir Putin has only two years left. Even after the flawed


elections, he retains the support of perhaps more than half the


Russian people, and he knows it. he did win. Even though big parts


of the elections were dodgy? undoubtedly one, and because he has


brought prosperity and straight to Russia, he still remains Russia's


most popular politician. He faces an awkward choice. He can carry on


with corruption, top-down authoritarianism. But he has an


alienated middle-class, which brought down governments in Korea,


in Chile, and most recently in Egypt. He has looked at what has


happened to President Mubarak, and didn't want that to happen to him.


He will be looking at accommodating some of the demands. And there are


signs of him identifying ways. The Parliament, opening up the


electoral system. There has been a move by Dmitry Medvedev, to look


again at the sentence on the oligarch in prison. That may not


mean anything, but if it does, it is a sign he is beginning to look


for some accommodation with his new social movement as a way of moving


Russia a bit more in the direction we want to see it. The other way he


could take is the Syrian way, lock them down, lock them up. Ex KGB,


the best and bright Russians joined the KGB. He certainly could pursue


the Syrian route. I don't think he wants to be casinos the costs he


brings to the country which he loves. He can't be confident it


would work. There have been security men among the


demonstrators, famously back in August 1991. That failed is because


the Army would not go into the White House. There is a limit to


the extent to which he can rely on his security forces. The cover


story of the Economist, one of our more serious public issues, said


this was the beginning of the end of Vladimir Putin. Everything is


the beginning of the end of something. That is life. There


speaks a man from experience! he has got a long way to run.


there for six years. The Russians will get fed up with him after a


time. That is the nature of it. They're quite expert at endurance,


the Russians. I doubt if anyone will remove him by force. I think


people will go on ensuring. It is a presidential system. Personality


matters. He is the biggest personality in Russia today. How


does an alternative personality emerge? That is the problem. The


problem of authoritarian rulers is the exit problem, protecting


yourself from the people you have alienated one you have been ruling.


How you break up a successor who does not become a threat. Vladimir


Putin I think genuinely intended to go away, in 2008. But decided he


hadn't solved the problem enough. So you think this wasn't a


cynical... Let us be clear. In 2007, there were clear signs he had had


enough, he didn't like meeting ambassadors, he wanted to enjoyed -


- enjoy being a former President. But his whole system virtually fell


apart and it became clear he had to stay as the linchpin, so he


installed Dmitri Medvedev as a stop gap. Now he is back with the same


problem of passing things on in such a manner that he can be


confident. Another way of dealing with it, he could set himself to


root out corruption. Is that a feasible thing in Russia? It is


very hard, corruption goes very high in the Russian system. It is


part of the way Russia works. But one hopes there will be moves in


that direction. Dmitry Medvedev did a bit in that direction.


Liberal Democrats are heading to Gateshead today, for their party's


spring conference. This time last year, delegates voted against the


government's health bill, a vote which they say was responsible for


the much-heralded pause in the process. Lib Dem conference


delegates aren't known for giving their leaders an easy ride. Last


year, they voted that the party's MPs should resist the health bill's


"damaging and unjustified market- based approach". Despite many


changes, this year, some delegates want to vote on a new motion that


calls for the "deeply flawed" bill to be withdrawn altogether. Members


also want the party to confirm its backing for a mansion tax, with no


sign that they're prepared to compromise with their coalition


partners. And it's not just their own party leader that delegates


have in their sights. A motion on Europe says that David Cameron


"imperilled British influence in Europe, and thereby in the wider


world" when he wielded the veto in December. Earlier today, former Lib


Dem MP Evan Harris told us why he now thought the health bill should


be dropped, despite the amendments that have been agreed.


While some changes have been made, it is quite clear that the majority


in fact of the calls in the Liberal Democrat motion exactly a year ago


have not been delivered, and on that basis, the government have not


listened to the Lib Dems and the Lib Dems should recognise that this


Bill will therefore be bad for the health service, does not represent


Liberal Democrats's approval to go beyond the coalition agreement,


which was always what was agreed by the Liberal Democrats. And is also


politically extremely bad news for the Lib Dems and indeed for that


matter for the Conservatives. The best thing to do would be for a


line to be drawn under this matter by the Bill now longer proceeding.


I think there are huge numbers of people in the Liberal Democrats to


recognise this Bill is bad for the health service, it hasn't got a


Liberal Democrat party approval, and is politically very damaging.


The question will be whether they will be persuaded by the leadership


that the least damaging thing is to keep with this flawed Bill. I'd


think it will be a close debate and I hope the Liberal Democrat


representatives will look at the detail of what Liberal Democrats


have said before, the detail of what the healthcare professionals


say, since this is a friendless Bill, and look at the prospects


politically for us being tied to a policy that is not in the coalition


Listening to that with some mirth on his face, joining us from


Newcastle is the Liberal Democrat local government minister, Andrew


Stunnell, beautifully framed by the bridges of Newcastle. Let me come


straight to the point. If the conference votes to ditch the Bill


altogether, what happens? First of all, I'm told that it is Gateshead,


Newcastle, I have to be very careful to say the right words. I


have to say, I listened to Evan a very carefully and I seldom agreed


with him as a Member of Parliament and they do not agree with them now.


The Bill is fundamentally different to what it used to be. It is now


the Bill that I believe should be passed. We will see how the debate


goes and I am sure it will be lively. But I know that some very


important figures in the party, including Shirley Williams, will


say that this is the right Bill to pass and I hope very much that is


what representatives to come from across the country decide to


support. Let it take it as read that it is a different Bill and


that Shirley Williams has got many of the changes, and that even she


thinks it is time to proceed as amended, let us take that as a


given for the sake of this question. If the party conference decides


that they do not want the Bill and they fought against it, they vote


for ditching it, what happens? guess there will be a good deal of


talking but of course, the fact of the matter is that it is for MPs


and Lords in Parliament to decide what legislation goes through.


Clearly, last year there were some very serious concerns expressed and


there was a pause, which was agreed across the coalition. In much


better Bill is emerging now. -- a much better. I believe that is what


we will see at the end of the process. Nobody disputes that there


is a need to reform the NHS, to get people to the front line, to get


public health back to local councils and to get more decisions


taken by clinicians about health and how it is delivered, rather


than managers at the back. That is what this Bill is setting out to do.


Despite the Lib Dem tradition of listening carefully to their


activists, and the activists have been the power of policy, it is the


reality we were in government, particularly in coalition, I would


suggest, that in the end a spring conference of your party cannot


determined exactly what your health policy should be, you have to go


ahead with his Bill. What happened last year demonstrates that you


were not entirely right, but absolutely it is the case that MPs


and members of the House of Lords are not poppets. We are there to


exercise our judgment and I think you will find that that is what we


will do. But let's speak... If push comes to shove, you are ready to


defy the conference? You were prepared to defy the conference?


do not think we will be defined a conference. Let us wait and see how


the debate comes, let us see how it pans out on Sunday. It will be


lively but I believe that the very common sense approach that we are


taking will be the one which will prevail. You have another motion


before you, produced by a member of the Federal Council, which is that


Britain should sign up to the fiscal union pact that has been


pushed by Germany and France. How will that go down? It will be


interesting to see. Of course, that is not going to be binding one way


or another on the government of the country, but I think that shows


that this was a business partnership, the coalition is a


business partnership. The Conservatives agreed that we would


not go backwards as far as our European relations were concerned


and we agreed that we would not call for her word -- go forward,


and that is precisely where the agreement takes us. We will have to


go sideways because we are about to lose the line. Andrew Stunnell,


thank you for joining us. I got the impression, listening to


the Minister, that they do not want the boat to go against them,


obviously, but even if it does, they will tough it out. I think


they think that the mood among activists is not necessarily to


kill it stone dead but for a few more concessions, to take more out


of the other half. They are probably right. There was a poll


done by a Lib Dem grassroots website that found opposition not


as high as thought. Most of them wanted more concessions. A wonder


how much this is motivated by wider considerations. Clearly, for the


kind of people who go to a spring confidence -- spring conference,


you have to be pretty dedicated. They're pretty much root and branch


Lib Dems. To make a song and dance about this is a metaphor for making


a song and dance about a coalition with the Conservatives in which


they are not happy. I think they have done pretty well for


themselves. Tim Farron is boasting about the fact that three-quarters


of their manifesto is now government policy. I think they


would be entitled to stage a triumphal entry into Gateshead do


with Nick Clegg in purple and members of the Tory party being


tried in chains behind them, to be ritually strangled in celebration


of the Lib Dem triumph. I could see a leading that sort of thing. While


we have been talking about that, we have some news. Eric Joyce, the


Labour MP who got into a bit of a fractious -- fracas in a bar in the


Commons, he has pled guilty this morning in court and has been


sentenced to community service, 12 months. He may not enter any bar


premises for three months or licensed restaurants or off-


licences. He has been fined �3,000, compensation of �350 each of his --


to each of his four victims. He may not leave the UK until 9th


September of this year, and the judge has imposed a curfew from


Friday to Sunday, covering the weekend, indoors from 8pm until for


a am, for four months until July 9th. -- 4am. No wild lights for


Eric Joyce. -- wild night. Time for a week in 60 seconds.


Vince Cable gave us an insight into budget negotiations when he said he


would be prepared to let be 50p top rate of tax be abolished if a


mansion tax was introduced instead. Would you get your way? We will


wait and see. MPs from all sidelined up to give the Queen a


humble Address as she began her Jubilee celebrations. The father of


the House led the celebrations by revealing how the Queen maintained


her stamina. By not eating salads, shellfish and watermelon while


travelling. The EU got itself into another mess. Not over its finances


but because of a Lews Castle kill Bill style video made by a young


people. After accusations of racism, the video was withdrawn. And the


spoof Twitter account although David Cameron's strategy adviser


signed off. He told us he had left the wigwam. -- left the wigwam of


trust. We are already missing that wigwam of trust, and the jacuzzi of


justice. I think we should look again at that EU video. Roll the


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 41 seconds


It's the way they tell them. Let's get some expert opinion on this.


What on earth possessed them to do that? And madness, I think. The


question I was asked is, is a racist. I think the answer is, it


is not racist but it is gibberish. It is terrible. Did not occur, I


can see you could make too much of the racism aspect, but did it not


occur to them that having a vulnerable white woman surrounded


by a fierce looking black and brown and might not be seen as just


slightly racist? Yes, it is remarkable that it did not. I


cannot believe it. Someone should have said, maybe we should not do


this. You would have thought voices of reason would prevail but the


problem is it is a classic tada ad, which means that for the first few


seconds you do not know what it is about. What is it about? I think it


is saying that the Europe -- European Union is capable of


dealing with its enemies. But that comes back to the point that it


depicts our enemies has been fierce looking black and brown man. Which


is ridiculous. A whole thing is misconceived. -- Brown man. They


spent a few bob on this, I would suggest. Our money. Our money. It


is hard to believe that anyone could justify that, because the


audience who would respond to this in any way must be tiny. Foreign


Minister has perhaps? Who will see it, it is not running on TV.


whole thing is pointless. Other than that anybody would even dream


of doing this, the most surprising thing for me is that the European


Commission, or whatever part of it did this, which is the most


politically or deny it -- politically-correct organisation in


the world, did not see this. Do you remember the no pressure video


where the school children exploded at the touch of a button to raise


awareness of climate change? This is an epic fail in the same way,


people so blinded by their ideological cause that they cannot


see how crass their product is. knew we would get at Eurosceptics


then on that! It is an open goal for them. I am not going to sit


here and defend that advert, it is ridiculous and I do not think


anyone should. It is a classic example of the EU in action. As a


reporter, I always thought it was never less pro-European than when


you were in Brussels. He Tony Blair felt like this! This is not


anything you can stand up and defend. -- Tony Blair felt like


that. There is the idea that we are stronger when we Act in concert and


when we Act alone, and presumably when we Act in matters other than


when people run at us with swords, that is a defensible concept. In a


networked world, in a tiny country like ours, we are no longer be


ranking military power and our economy is flatlining, what do we


have to say for ourselves? That is not a bad arguments to make. Why


now? Now is not a brilliant time to sell people on the idea of Europe.


Someone had a budget to spend. they spent it. You should bid for


the next contract. I think so. could do better than that! Think


you very much. That is it for today. Thank you to her guests, for being


with us for the duration. -- our guests. The One o'clock News is


about to start on BBC One and I will be back on Sunday with the


Sunday politics as usual. This time, it is that the earlier time of


11:00am on Sunday morning. BBC One. I will have the welfare secretary,


Download Subtitles