16/03/2012 Daily Politics


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Good afternoon and welcome to the Daily Politics. Another day,


another big speech from Ed Miliband on the economy. Other job to


promises from Labour's real job guarantees real? Harriet Harman


joins us from the party's big gathering in Coventry.


Has the relationship between the Conservative Party ever recovered


from scenes like this? One Tory MP believes it is time to kiss and


make up but are the unions up for The Tories have a new leader. David


Cameron is still in charge in Westminster but there is a new top


Tory in Brussels. He join us for his first interview since getting


the job. And plans to charge �15 decline Big


Ben have been shelved. -- to climb Big Ben. We speak to one MP that


thinks that charges should still be applied.


I am joined by Jackie Ashley and The Guardian's James Forsyth,


hopefully. He is stuck in traffic. Labour are gathered for an event


which is not their traditional spring conference. That has been


cancelled. This looks like an accelerated version. They get


together in Coventry. How is Ed Miliband doing? He is ahead in some


polls, behind in others, but since his performances in PMQs, he seems


to be sorting out his troubled leadership. Good use? Not so fast.


His critical friend blogger at Dan Hodges says that he is losing his


grip on the Shadow Cabinet. Let's see what he has to say. He has had


improved performances at PMQs. Why don't you get behind him? Well,


because I am his critical friend, as you save. Labour are doing


better in at the polls. There was common consensus that in the


recession, Labour would see double- digit poll leads and we are not


seeing that. His own poll ratings are stuck in the basement,


subterranean. He is stuck at minus 14 and the reality is you cannot be


Prime Minister from that position. As you have said, we have seen this


week the amazing spectacle of open revolt against the prospect of Ed


Miliband's staff coming in. What is this open revolt? For the people


out there, is it significant? very significant. We had a


situation where from the most junior to the most senior members


of staff on Monday people were standing up and being openly


critical. Who? Obviously I am not going to embarrass people buy it


naming them and I will not cost them their jobs. It has been


reported not just by me but by other newspapers as well. Obviously


there is always a reaction when changes are afoot. A isn't that


always the case? It is not the first time that Labour has had an


internal row over changes. No, and in any organisation, like the BBC


or the Conservative Party, people are resistant to change. People


will recall working under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. These are


people that are used to very centralised control. They are not


used to a laissez faire, let 1000 flowers bloom type environments.


They will object to control from the consent of but they also object


to a lack of control and lack of leadership. -- control from the


centre. In terms of Ed Miliband's standing, do you think he is being


unfair in the way that he is not supporting him and his slight


improvement? Yes, I would question whether he is a friend at all!


think we were being generous! slightly wonder what you and your


cohorts among the bloggers want. Do you want Ed Miliband to be forced


out? Do you think that David can come back? And if you are allegedly


Labour why are you so down on him? For some people, whatever Ed


Miliband does, it is wrong. There is this general derision and


sneering. It does not help. What I want is the Labour Party in


Government and I want a Labour Party Prime Minister and I don't


think anybody that I speak to in the party of the record, among the


general people in Westminster and outside, actually sees Ed Miliband


as the future Prime Minister. you do want him out? No. Who do you


want in? It is not for me to pick the leader of the Labour Party. It


is for me to analyse where the leader of the Labour Party is at


present. You are absolutely right, 12 months ago, early on, I was


critical of his leadership. I was told that I have to wait and he


worked introduce themselves to the electorate and people would love


him. -- he would introduce himself. But they do not. Labour is ahead in


the polls. The first, they are five points ahead. There was an


interview with Peter Hain, his closest supporter, in which he said


on the record that the Labour Party was not in a position to form a


majority Government in the next election. That they were fighting


for the largest single party. When was the last time we heard a senior


member of a political party three years before an election say they


cannot win it? What about the shadow members? Are they saying


that Ed Miliband cannot ever be Prime Minister? In terms of Ed


Miliband's authority within the Shadow Cabinet, to be honest that


was week from the beginning, given the tainted mandate that he got in


the leadership election. He won the leadership election! Get over it.


Well, he won the leadership election but not among his MPs are


or the constituents. He won and of the system that there is. I did not


say he did not win. I am saying it was a tainted mandate, which it was.


What do you think? Certainly some people will not accept that Ed


Miliband dared to stand against his brother and they will do anything


they can to make life difficult for him. Whether that will be good for


the Labour Party in the long run, that they claim to support and want


to see in Government, and the Lib Dem and conservative coalition, I


don't know. Maybe they will wake up and realise what is going on.


not just former supporters of David. Ed Miliband has not enjoyed the


support and has not imposed his authority on the Shadow Cabinet.


Thank you. Ed Miliband is focusing on youth


unemployment this morning. The Labour Party has unveiled a new


scheme to get work as young people into jobs. Here is how they say the


real jobs guarantee will work. After 12 months of unemployment, or


young people aged 18 to 24 will go on a six-month long paid job,


preferably in the private sector. This would apply it to 100,000


people currently. The Government would pay for -- for wages to the


company for 25 hours per week, �4,000 per job. The company would


cover the training and development of the young person for a minimum


of 10 hours per week, and the money for this would be provided out of


the backbone is tax allocation, �600 million currently. -- Bank


Bonas tax allocation. Under Labour job is guaranteed paying at least


the minimum wage for 16 months with real training. -- for six months.


Real work, it real jobs, real prospects for our young people.


Let me tell you, let me tell you, if I was the Prime Minister, I


would be putting all my energy behind mobilising every single


business in my country behind this programme. I would mobilise every


single voluntary sector organisation behind this programme.


I would never stand by. A Labour Government would get our young


people working again. Ed Miliband. Joining me from Coventry is the


deputy Labour leader, Harriet Harman. Thank you for coming on the


programme. We have been hearing about the real jobs guarantee. You


are guaranteeing any young person that has been jobless for a year


and paid job. It is the job creation scheme? Absolutely. I


think everybody recognises that there is a real problem with the


number of young people that are unemployed and cannot get work.


They realise it, their parents and grandparents realise that it is the


problem and business realises it is a problem. It seems the only people


that do not realise that it is the problem is the Government. We are


saying that really something should be done about this. Many businesses


have full order books but they cannot actually comply and fulfil


those orders because the banks are not lending. Actually, therefore,


they cannot take people on. It would help business to take people


on and provide vital opportunities for young people. It is too


dispiriting. You finish call, you go out to make your way in the


world and you are told sorry. -- you finish school. But are they


real jobs? Is it just a ruse to occupy people for six months? What


happens at the end of that period? They are real jobs. As I said, many


businesses have full order books but cannot comply with the orders


because the banks are not lending. Therefore there is work that people


could be doing if employers could afford to employed them. This is


helping business and young people. This will help business generate


more profits for the Revenue. What the Government is doing with their


economic strategy is shrinking the economy back. And we want action by


Government, not only to help people but not support the economy through


this difficult time. -- but to support the economy. How many jobs


will be in the private sector? think most would be. Who has signed


up to it? Well, we would get business to sign up to it and we


would invite them to sign up to it. If you say to business that their


side of the bargain is to provide decent training, but we will play a


proper wage, the national minimum wage, for this person, then that is


a good opportunity for business. They would not have to be forced


into it. I think many would come forward. I think many businesses


have a sense of responsibility about this. They don't like the


idea that there is a whole generation of young people that


will be dispirited and demoralised and will lose their confidence.


They will never be able to find their way in the world. OK...


don't think business will be reluctant to come forward. But if


they are... Harriet, if you do not manage to fill the jobs, and I am


sure some businesses will come forward, then in effect the state


will be playing for the jobs? The state will be employing them.


will be playing? The people, out of the tax, and so there is


responsibility that we want to see from those at the top. The bankers


bonus tax would finance this. The bankers could well afford it. It


should not just be business as usual. Their responsibility would


be to pay the tax on the bank as bonuses and that would finance it.


It would not come out of any other public services. The bankers bonus


tax will rage how much money? -- rose how much money? I know that we


have worked out that figure but I will have to get back to you. It


would finance all those that have been unemployed the 12 months. It


has been costed and it can be raised. What is the cost of the


real jobs guarantee scheme? I have not got that figure to hand but I


can absolutely assure you that Ed Balls, as our Shadow Chancellor,


has sorted it, along with Ed Miliband. That is not an issue.


costs are important. I thought I was just explaining to you how it


would work. Oh, yes, the costs are important. People have to be


reassured that it will raise enough money. At that the money will cover


the real jobs guarantee, however much it will cost. I know that it


will, I just have not got the figure at my fingertips and I


apologise. There is no mystery about it. The other issue is that


the bankers bonus tax will be committed to paying for other


things, like... No, it has not been committed to other things. Ed Balls


said it would pay for 25,000 affordable homes. That will also


provide apprenticeships for young people. Are you going to be over


committing this money that you think you can raise from bankers


bonuses tax which is not certain in terms of how much you will raise


and you already committing it to the real jobs guarantee, 25,000


affordable homes and what else? are being very careful. I am sorry


that I have not got the detailed numbers for you. But they are at


hand, just out of reach here. It is a carefully costed programme. The


alternative, which is what the Government is doing, is saying that


as far as bankers and their bonuses are concerned, it is business as


usual and the Government will protest but do nothing. Meanwhile


we see young people feeling as though they are being thrown on a


scrappy before they have begun. there will be sanctions, would


there? Yes, I think they will have to take it. They cannot say they do


not want to do a job. They would have to take the job or else there


would be sanctioned, yes. But I think the truth is that young


The costs of the scheme are important in terms of making


spending commitments, and you do not want to be accused of saying we


are addicted to state intervention and state paying for jobs real or


not. They're going to run into trouble. It's a bit unfair this are


far away from the election to expect specific costings. Harriet


Harman is not a Treasury spokesman, so you were maybe being a little


unkind there. Am I being unfair? It's a slightly novel strategy when


you are a party trying to re- establish fiscal credibility to


make a major announcement like this and go wanted to anybody want not


have the figures. It's particularly damaging because the Tory attack


this morning is they spent his bankers' bonus tax several times


over. They treated as an unlimited pot of money. Labour have their own


costings. The two parties disagree on the numbers. The costings to


cover those two schemes. What is interesting is the sanctions. It's


a sign of how far the welfare debate has moved, that the Labour


Party are now saying, if you won't take this job at the minimum wage,


you will use your benefits. they are being paid. That is the


difference. And like the work experience programme. Tesco taking


all of these people for nothing. But you say psychologically the


Labour party... I think Liam Byrne sees this as a shift towards a


tougher position on welfare. They are deeply concerned about being


continually out plant by the Tories on this issue. This perception that


the Labour Party were for people on benefits was extremely damaging to


them. That polling shows they cannot win without being seen to be


much tougher on shirkers. Lots of Labour supporters feel very


strongly about that. They are working very hard, they are seeing


their standard of living going down. They believe they are paying for


these malingerers. There is an element of hype in that, but it is


a real issue. Labour is right to move on to this territory. Will the


scheme work? Despite the fact Harriet Harman is saying she is


going to get private employers coming in to take these people on.


Youth issue - that unemployment is a real issue. Undoubtedly. There is


the fear of particularly women, the next generation, are going to have


it worse than we have it. That is a real danger. Anything that talks


about what Ed Miliband calls the promise of Britain, ensuring that


the next generation does as well or better than we have, his


potential... Where are these private employers who were


desperately in need of these workers? We will have to wait and


see who actually signs up to it. Stay with us. Nice to have you on


the programme, well done for making it. 50p off not 50p, that is the


question. We will finally find out next Wednesday when George Osborne


announces his budget. But it seems the decision has already been taken


one way or the other, or will be by the end of today. Our political


correspondent joins us with more. Is it all going to be signed off,


they had the meeting at the very top and they will decide on all


those decisions today? What we know is today is the deadline for the


Office of budget responsibility's scorecard. Something as important


as a tax rate is going to have to be sorted out by the end of today.


The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have both been off on


that trip to the United States. They are due to have a phone call


with the other members of the quad, with Danny Alexander and with Nick


Clegg, to try and finalise this. But it's a very difficult issue.


The Chancellor is under pressure from both sides. In his own party


many are saying it is acting as a disincentive and they should scrap


it. The Lib Dems are making it clear that if you are going to


scrap this, then they are looking for other taxes on the wealthiest.


It is a very difficult issue, but it looks as though they are going


to have to reach some sort of conclusion by the end of today.


We've had this being played out in public anyway. Everyone putting in


their Penny's worth as to what's going to happen. That will continue


over the weekend, now it's been nailed down today. That's right.


The Prime Minister's spokeswoman today was saying this was a normal


part of coalition politics, when you've got two different parties,


you have different views on specific issues. Yes, the Liberal


Democrats have been very open in saying, well, if you are going to


scrap a tax on the highest earners then that has got to be replaced by


some sort of other attacks on wealthy, if not a mansion tax,


which was there before option, then this idea of making sure that the


wealthiest pay a fair share of their earnings. Some sort of


clampdown on tax avoidance. I'm sure we will be seen that in get


any case. But there's a wider political difficulty here for the


government. George Osborne and the Prime Minister keeps saying we are


all in this together. There are many people out there on low


incomes and those on middle incomes who are about to lose things like


their child benefit, he may not take too kindly to be Chancellor


who stands up and says, Well, I'm going to cut taxes for people


earning over �150,000. It's a difficult issue but it's got to be


sorted out today. Should he scrap the 50p top rate of tax? I think


you should. It is clearly acting as a disincentive. It is also


encouraging people to get to - not get into incredibly difficult


situations. It's a great boom industry for accountants. The Ken


Livingstone style companies of one person, all that kind of thing.


Which is legitimate was Dot yes, perfectly legal and proper. But it


causes problems for the Exchequer. The most interesting thing is


George Osborne, last week at the Lib Dem Conference, the Lib Dems


were saying in private that George Osborne, Nick Clegg and Danny


Alexander have come up with multiple ways of scrapping the 50p


rate, but the obstacle is the Prime Minister, who is very queasy about


the politics of it. That is presumably because you think


strategically and politically it's the wrong thing to do. He has two


worries. The first is that it underlines the Tory party's


reputation as being the party of the rich. The second is that if you


do this, it will be the only thing that people notice in the Budget.


You can do lots of other stuff for Business and growth but people will


only notice the 50p rate decision because it does obsess the media


and is so politically symbolic. Would a 45p top rate of tax being


reasonable substitute, if that is one of the options being talked


about? They think more people would perhaps pay that. Accountants and


economists can argue forever about the figures. Some people would say


it doesn't take into account the people that leave the country


because of these punitive I tax rates. Who knows about the actual


rate. It might well be the compromise Osborne comes up with.


But in a way, that's a despise nobody because it's still giving


the message that the Tories are the party of the rich. It doesn't


please the Lib Dems and it has not cut it even up to satisfy the Tory


right wingers. He almost can't win on this one. How much of a boost to


do you think it will give to David Cameron and George Osborne in terms


of Conservative backbench support if he does cut it? It will be


massive. The point about the Tory party in coalition is it becomes


fractious. Much of the goodwill that David Cameron created with the


veto has begun to ebb away. His backbenchers are getting a bit more


difficult and a bit more tricky. To do this would be a real sign that


this is a government prepared to take the tough but economic the


necessary decisions that are on the politically popular. It would send


a big symbol out there that this is still a tax-cutting party. As Jack


Lee said, the costs would also be high. -- Jackie. Is it still worth


it in terms of getting that red meat to his own backbenchers and


sacrificing whatever message he is hoping to dispel? There is an


element whereby the Conservatives see that they've been losing out


recently to the Lib Dems. Talk to almost any Conservative backbencher


and Babel said the Lib Dems are winning on this, that and the other.


He has to do something to steady the ship. What about things on


child benefit? That's another big issue. I don't see much movement on


that. Do you not think... I think they will raise the threshold. So


you won't lose it if you earn �44,000. They will raise it higher


than that. To 60,000, 80,000? still have anomalies that the


double or single earner. I think they will raise it up by a bit more


than we expect. What about the money that was supposed to be


raised by his 50p top rate of tax? There's been a debate as to how


much in terms of precise figures they were going to get. There's a


report from Revenue and Customs saying how much the tax will raise.


It will show that it raises less than it was projected to raise. It


was projected to raise a few billion? It will show its rate in


the low billions. That will be the justification. The argument will be


that the measures we are putting in place, which will be dressed up as


some of these measures that Lib Dems have talked about as part of


their tight contracts, will ensure that the rich pay more than their


current debate a. The attempt will be to say that the anti-avoidance


measures they are taking, but things they are clamping down a


will raise more than the 50p rate does. It will be interesting to see


how far they go along with the Match Attax are not, or whether


it's just the tycoon tax. doesn't sound as though that is


going to happen. We will find out on Wednesday. We will be either


pleasantly surprised to disappointed. There's been a


leadership election this week. I hope you didn't miss it. If you did,


I can help. Conservative MEPs have elected Richard Ashworth their new


leader, after his predecessor, Martin Callanan, was appointed


leader of the broader parliamentary group. British Conservative MEPs


used to sit in the main centre- right bloc and the European


Parliament. But since 2009, they've taken a more eurosceptic stance.


Along with allies in a new group called the European Conservatives


and reformists. Richard Ashworth has won the leadership after a


nail-biting election. The 26 Tory MEPs were split 13-13, between Mr


Ashworth and Syed Kamall. Ashworth has a hard act to follow. His


predecessor, Martin Callanan, it was a known as an outspoken critic


of much of the European project. But it's been suggested Mr Ashworth


will take a more moderate line. Mr Martin Callanan opposed the bail-


out of Greece and criticised the British government on going soft on


EU institutions. He also said the UK should withdraw from the


European Court of Human Rights, unless there are major changes.


Richard Ashworth is with us now. You won the contest but it wasn't a


resounding result, was it? We've always got a range of


interests and a range of views in the party will stop this is all


part of the democratic process. I am delighted to have one. It's been


an open fight. Let's get it back to business and more of the same.


sounds like it might be quite difficult because it was quite a


tight contest. Would you agree that the group is pretty well split?


We have a range of opinions, that's right and proper and healthy. But


the one thing that Martin Callanan, my predecessor, particularly it


took as a united group of people, working together to achieve a


common goal. I don't think we are split. I think my job is to keep


the whole group focused on the project which we have a head, and


there's an awful lot to be achieved. I'm looking forward to getting down


to business with them. One of the issues, people will remember the


departure from the mainstream right of centre bloc, the EPP, because it


was too federalist. Tory MPs joined the European Conservatives and


reformists group. Are you minded to look at this issue again, talk to


David Cameron about it? I'm not. Rather than being so simple as


saying it is too federalist, which it is incidentally. We believe in


reform of the European Union. We think there are massive global


challenges with which we confront - - with which we are confronted. The


world order is changing with the emergence of Far Eastern economies,


which will challenge us in terms of competitiveness. Challenging in


terms of energy secured, challenging in terms of food


security. These are the issues the European Union should be focusing


its fire on. Not the distractions we have now. Do you feel you are in


the right position and group to do that? That is what David Cameron


set the group up to do. That's the consistent message that both the


British Conservative Start It All Over Again are you supportive of


that as well? When David Cameron walked out of negotiations before


Christmas over the fiscal contract, critics said it was because Tories


went in the meetings in the main centre-right bloc with President


Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, that these things went ironed out


beforehand. Do you have some sympathy with that? No. Absolutely


don't. By having our own distinct group now, we have our own voice.


If you were a member of the EPP, the large centre-right Conservative


group, it would be their appointed speaker who spoke, not us. No, we


have our own voice and platform right now. We are articulating that


message. You are part of this new group and a happy to be part of it.


It has a sister organisation of Conservatives and reformists


throughout Europe called the alliance of European Conservatives


and reformists. You are not in that, are you? Personally or the group?


First illegal stop no. Why not? Because I have a split loyalty.


First and foremost, I'm a member of the budget committee of the


European Union. I have a very strict view of life, there are


three redline issues. One, the size of the European budget must be


frozen. Any increase will be below the inflation level. It's a real-


terms reduction in the European Union budget. Two, an absolute


freeze on the UK net contribution. Three, the UK rebate is a red line


issue. If I'm going to be particularly robust on that, I have


to be a little bit hard on ourselves, when we look at the


expenditure... But you can do that as an individual signed up to that


group. You can, but the point that I'm making is if I want to go into


the budget committee and say I want a reduction in the level of


European expenditure, that means as, as well as everybody else in Europe.


The parliamentary groups expenditure has been going up and


up. I've got a point to make. The members of the European Parliament,


look, economies and efficiency start with you. Set an example for


everybody else. Most of your colleagues are signed up to it


individually. I don't quite understand why it precludes you in


that way. The Conservative Party is signed up to it. The chairman has


spoken to it. Now your leader, isn't there an expectation that you


No doubt, but not before I have spoken to the party chairman about


being consistent in our message. We want a reduction in European


expenditure, and that means us as well as everybody else. Are you


less euro-sceptic than the rest of the grid? I don't like being


pigeon-holed at all. I take a hard- nosed view on the economy and


agriculture because those are my jobs. Please don't pigeonhole me.


Are you less euro-sceptic than York predecessor? I doubt it. You say


you're your own man. Are you with people calling for withdrawal from


the European Court of Human Rights? Let's be clear that the European


Court of Human Rights is nothing to do with the EU. They are entirely


different. The European Court of Human Rights came in 1948 and they


did an honourable job. There are for th member nations. Actually it


is not fit for purpose now. -- 48 member nations. The treatment of


minorities was an acceptable when it was created but today made his


murder link in national law, the national conferences, overriding


our own courts and that is not acceptable. -- today it is


Madeleine in national law. Has he got a difficult job? I don't envy


him. There is not a split between pro-Europeans and anti-Europeans.


It is about how euro-sceptic you are. This debate was split between


13-13. I think if your opponent had won he would have been happy to be


pigeon-holed as a euro-sceptic. There is this divide in the Tory


party over that. It will be interesting to watch over next


couple of years. There is a big prize at stake. What will the Tory


manifesto in 2015 say about the European Union? The coalition but


certain -- puts certain limitations on what we can say about the


European Union. I think there will be a big fight. That is not very


generous towards David Cameron. We have moved on. But have you? The


split shows something quite different. The message we are


putting in council and in the European Parliament is that Europe


has got to be relevant to the future. You have got to start


addressing the really big issues that affect the people of Europe.


There are 23 million people out of work in Europe today and stagnant


economies. Let's focus on that and stop banging on about the


distractions that we have. Start reducing red tape, encourage small


businesses to flourish. That is what we should be doing and that is


our message. That is why I think it is wrong to pigeonhole us as euro-


sceptics. The trouble is, as James has said, you say you are your own


man, but the Tory party at Westminster, which is what voters


here are interested in, is very split. It is more euro-sceptic.


is a question of how euro-sceptic you are. The us. They are not


interested in reforming the institution. They are interested in


these basic questions of being in or out. Are you sad to see Roger


from the UK Independence Party go? Roger is a man of certain dues and


if he feels that his political home is with the UK Independence Party,


then I wish him well. I never have a party with people's political


views, but I do have a problem with their behaviour. That is my opinion


from now on. I do not discriminate against people but have an extreme-


right or left wing view, that is right and proper and healthy. But


at the end of the day we can only have one leadership and one


discipline. Do you accept that if Roger had not gone to the UK


Independence Party then you would not have won the election? I cannot


possibly speculate on that. But it is probably true, with the figures


being so tight. I really could not command. OK, thank you very much.


If the post-war history of the relationship between Conservatives


and the unions was strained, it was in the 1980s that it broke out into


open warfare. The miners' strike of 1984 continues to resonate 30 years


later. Is it time for the Tories and trade unions to move on? We


will talk to the Tory MP that thinks it is time. First we


# Nobody told me there would be days like these.


# Nobody told me there would be days like these.


The miners' strike in 1984 lasted one year. It was a watershed in


British politics. For Margaret Thatcher, it was unfinished


business from a decade earlier. It was every bit an idealistic


political struggle between left and right, as it was about management


first is the workers. This is Coventry, and this was once the


jewel in British Coal's crown. It is still operational today, just. A


Labour MP in the 1980s recalls all too well that it was not only the


miners that were beaten. One of the legacies of the miners' defeat was


that you could not challenge the Government. The poll tax battle


he's to that of because the ordinary people showed that you


could challenge the Government. They had to accept that Margaret


Thatcher was right about many things, but would that have


happened if she had lost the miners' strike? The victory of the


Tories over the miners left the impression that nobody else could


challenge the Public enemy, the leadership of the pro-market


policies. That affected the Labour Party and it was one of the reasons


why I left the Labour Party in the 1990s because of the changes that


took place. That was absolutely the pay-off for Margaret Thatcher. It


also meant there was a generation in some parts of Britain that has


never been able to vote Conservative since. That is a


problem for today's Tories. First because of energy policy. The


strike and subsequent privatisation of the coal industry all but


destroyed deep mining in Britain. It was this failure of an overall


energy strategy that left the miners' and the pits marooned. And


yet we have these fast coal reserves and we are only seeing now,


with the possibility of developing the gas and the oil from shale, a


new opportunity opening up. Just think how well Britain would be


placed to develop something like shale and shale gas with clean coal


if only we had kept all of our knowledge about deep mining in


Britain. # Nobody told me there would be


days like these. Today politics is more centrist,


more consensual. Should David Cameron be reaching out to our


seven million-strong trade unions, rather than letting them remember


how much are a Conservative Government used to hurt back in the


day? Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP


from Harlow, and Karen Jennings, the assistant general secretary of


Unison, join us. Welcome to the programme. Robert, Margaret


Thatcher was committed to breaking up the unions. She wanted to break


the power and the backbone of the unions. Did you support that?


have to make the distinction. She was there to stop union extremism


but actually what she did, there were 270 branches of trade


unionists around the country when she was leader. It was one of the


first organisations that she ever joined, Conservative trade unions.


But ideologically it was not just dealing with the trade unions. It


went broader than that, didn't it? The print unions in Wapping, it was


about reducing power of trade unions generally. My grip that are


always said we should use legislation to assist trade


unionism. -- Margaret Thatcher always said. She was also trying to


deal with extremism in the 1980s. Are you saying that she was


misunderstood? You have to look at everything that she did and not


just part of it. Why did she picked this fight with the miners? Was it


just about extremism? Most people would accept that Arthur Scargill


was fairly hard line and the unions had a significant amount of power


at that time. What I am arguing in my paper is that we need a new


relationship with the trade unions and we need to distinguish between


the members on the ground and the union militants. What do you say to


that distinction in terms of Margaret Thatcher's dealings with


the miners and Arthur Scargill? Well, I was a nurse at that time


and it was very difficult. The draconian legislation that came in


on the back of Margaret Thatcher and John Major was hostile,


actually hostile to trade unions. I don't share the same vision of


Margaret Thatcher's relationship with the trade unions. Has it have


irreparably damaged relations with unions, that memory of it? Even


though it was a long time ago and one could arguably say it needed to


be done in terms of dealing with militants. Has it irreparably


damage relationships with the Government? Between the Tories and


the unions, I mean. A think there is a lack of trust between the two.


I suggest that is what you are trying to repair now, with the


direction of travel of the writings that you have done. The Tories are


back in Government. As a trade union we need to be talking to the


Tories about what we can do for our members and how we can progress


some of the social inequalities but still exist. You do want to build


bridges. Robert, you would like to build those bridges because you


have to, they are in Government. Yes, we have to work with this


administration, with whoever is in Government. Even when the Labour


party was in Government, we had our differences, but of course we


believe that Labour holds the same values and printable us that we do,


where is the Tory party, I think, has different values. -- values and


principles. How to combat that image? You could argue that


communities that suffered in the 1980s are not going to forgive and


forget and that issue of trust is very important. 39% of your union


members voted Conservative according to opinion polls. It


shows that one-third of trade union members voted Conservative. My


argument is that unions are community-minded and they get


involved in the Big Society, but they also capitalist institutions


and conservative in many ways because they get lots of


Conservative support. Is it one of the problems that the rhetoric that


we hear from the Conservatives leadership is union-bashing? --


isn't one of the problems? That rhetoric is still there. I think


there is a feeling on both sides that they are opposite side of the


political divide, them and us. That is probably a problem for both


sides. I am not suggesting we return to beer and sandwiches at


Number 10. We do need to talk. You are underestimating what Margaret


Thatcher did. She fundamentally changed the unions, they are much


less powerful and union membership has gone down. She really destroyed


the powerful unions and I think there is a different relationship


to be built but it needs to be different in tone. Do not have to


choose sides? When it comes to it, there have been strikes over


pensions. If more action is taken by unions, you have to decide if


you support the Government or the unions. Of course but we need to


make a big distinction between union militants and the vast


majority of millions of moderate trade union members, as many of


them at work in all kinds of organisations... We forget that the


numbers are there. Exactly. Your trade union advertises tax refunds.


There are something like 3 million union members with private health


insurance. 1 million trade union members went on strike. Actually


most trade union members of very moderate people. Yes, but this is


also a problem for Tories in the North. If they are going to build


relationships with trade-union in the North, then that what rebuild


issues with Conservative politics in the North. Yes, the miners'


strike is still one of the major barriers to a Tory break through in


the North. There is comfort is very interesting. But on public sector


pensions, it will polarise relationships between the Tory


party and the unions, I think. The Tory party will so that not many


people voted to strike, and they will raise the threshold. -- will


say that. There have always been Tories that recognise the value of


trade unions. We talk about hawks and doves within the Tory party.


Clearly we need to have a relationship and we need to


negotiate on pay terms and conditions. In many ways we want to


have partnerships. But that requires trust, confidence and


respect. And all the while you have got Tories saying that taxpayers


waste money on trade unions. We need a healthy relationship that


respect of that trade unions have a role to play for their members,


including those that fit for the Tory party and Labour, because that


is what we are there to do. -- a At the end of the debate, the House


of Commons Commission decided to shelve the plan. Democracy in


action - At last! The MP behind the motion opposing the new charges was


Robert Helpmann. We will ask him Those who support the charges of


you that Big Ben is not part of our democracy, simply an adornment, a


luxury. I would say that this is patently not true. Big Ben is not


only the most recognisable British icon in the world, but also the


most recognisably parliamentary icon. We should not for a second


interfere with the rights of our constituents to come and see how


the democratic process works. That should be an absolute red line. I


know both sides of the House would not allow that to ever be


compromised. But I say to the house again, if we are to be taken


seriously, if we are to show to the public that we mean what we say


about the need for fiscal responsibility, sometimes that has


to begin at home. I visited the school recently in my constituency


and it was year three and you four. A teacher asked the pupils to


prepare questions for me and to draw pictures about what they


thought my job as an MP was. Almost every single picture contained Big


Ben. Almost all the pupils thought I worked in Big Ben. I believe that


this charge will carry on to schoolchildren. It is a curiosity.


It is something of interest to do. It is a delight and a pleasure. But


it is not at the heart of how we scrutinise the government or how we


serve our constituents. The country needs to make savings. A charge of


�15 on 9000 people a year who want to see a clockwork machine seems to


me not unreasonable. I have listened very carefully to this


debate. I have talked to those commissioners present. We have


agreed that were the Honourable Gentleman to accept the amendment I


have proposed, the commission would ensure there was no charge for the


clock tower during the course of As well as Robert Halfon, we are


joined by one of the MPs featured their. Thomas Docherty joins us


from Edinburgh. You must be very happy with the outcome. The yes, I


thought this action was completely wrong. Today, I met 15 kids from


the Prince's Trust and took them to the clock tower. They would have


had to pay �15 a head if I'd taken them there. But unaffordable at �15.


Would it have been affordable at a slightly lower level? I thought the


principle was wrong. I do not think people should be charged for going


round the House of Commons. We pay forehead already through our taxes.


You obviously disappointed. We are in a democracy, we saw that


yesterday. We have to move forward. What I thought was quite


astonishing about the debate was that some members, not Robert but


some of his colleagues, seemed to me quite introducing this charge on


less than 1% of those who visit the House of Commons, with some have


put in a shroud over Big Ben. The hard reality is we have to make


multi- million pounds savings. We didn't hear coherent alternatives


through some of the Roberts colleagues yesterday about how we


would do that. We will get to the coherent or incoherent alternatives,


whichever way you want to put it. But people have equated it with


saying this is the cradle of democracy so it should be free to


go into all parts of the building. Do you not see any link or logic in


that? I see a link. I don't think it's a compelling argument. As


Jacob Rees-Mogg said, he was not a natural bedfellow of myself on


these issues, this is not part of our democratic process. It is a


timepiece. A very famous timepiece that is part of the building. We


were talking about less than 1% of visitors. They visit the clock


tower. You worry family are at -- a family in four in your constituent


you would have to pay �60. Let's be clear on this one. If you went


across the road to Westminster Abbey, you pay �28 for an adult and


about �15 for a child. If you go to Buckingham Palace, where we


definitely pay for that, you have to pay for those things. The other


thing that is frustrating is the only people who get to sponsor the


towers of the MPs. This was quite bluntly a perk for some of our


colleagues. Not Robert, but some of his colleagues saw this as a perk.


In the Times we are living in, cuts have to be made. That seems like


quite a sensible one to make. You are still allowed to going to the


Houses of Parliament for free. Why not charge their than instead


bringing it in somewhere else? think it was an easy target to hit


the British public. I identified that �469,000 worth of savings


could be made. The Commons food bill, they could start by shutting


the dining rooms which aren't used on certain days. The Commons Spence


�65,000 a year on press cuttings. It could reduce that. We could


slightly cut the budget on overseas trips. If you added up, there's


loads of money that can be saved in other areas. But to hit the British


public and try to discourage people from seeing our ancient Icon...


many people go up? I don't know the full total but I've had 60 from my


own constituency and 15 in today. People love it. We pay forehead


already through our taxes. Although people do pay to see lots of other


icons. We'd just be putting it on a level playing field with all sorts


of other icons. This is different. It's our democracy and Parliament.


People should have a right to go round it until -- free of charge.


Would you like to see the debate reopened? I think we need to have a


much bigger debate. Robert is right to say we need to look at how we


spend money. I am delighted Robert will no longer be eating in the


House of Commons. I am delighted he is making that of a today. More


seriously, we have a proposal going into the commission in less than a


fortnight. It says if we can take �2 million of print savings by


giving MPs iPads and senior staff, that would be fantastic. That is


the kind of thing we need to be going forward. It is time to catch


up with what has been happening in MP Eric Joyce was given a 12 month


community sentence, fined �3,000 and banned from going into a pub


for three months, after pleading guilty to four charges of assault.


David Cameron left the cares of domestic politics at home, by


jetting off to America. He enjoyed lavish hospitality and a trip on


Air Force One to a basketball match. Not to mention a hot dog and a can


of Coke. With the leader away, it was up to Nick Clegg and Harriet


Harman to take the reins at Prime Minister's Questions. Veteran


Labour MP Dennis Skinner was under no mood to give the PM stand in an


easy ride. I will give him a chance to separate him from the ranks of


Tories behind him. Come on! Miliband and Ed Balls set out more


details of Labour's economic policy. They say the coalition has actually


cut taxes for high earners. And the 140 id macro Archbishop of


Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, announced he would stand down to


As we've seen, David Cameron's visit to the US has been one of the


dominant stories of the week. But how does it play politically for Mr


Cameron, and will it do anything for Barack Obama's chance for re-


election? Has it done anything, has it been well covered in the States?


Our people thinking, hey, Iraq - Matt Barrett a bomber has been


cavorting with politicians and it will help him? It has been going


well. In terms of the significance of this, it's really focused on the


state to state relationship between the US and UK. That is what that is


it is all about and that's what the focus needs to be in a situation


like this. Do voters pay any attention in the States to this


sort of thing? People who are going to vote will pay attention to this


and any number of things. The state of Ohio, where the leaders visited


on Tuesday, my home town in fact. They went to watch basketball my


home town. I told my friends to make sure they mowed the lawn so!


David Cameron doesn't understand basketball. There were big signs of


saying, welcome, Prime Minister Cameron. He made a big fuss of


David Cameron. Even we were surprised by how lavish it all was.


What was the intention, apart from just being very hospitable?


intention is to solidify and re emphasised the special relationship


between the two countries. It's a relationship that is very old and


works very well, a common culture, common heritage. I think it was a


classic stitch-up. Barack Obama gets to inoculate himself against


the charge that republicans are going to throw Wetton, that he some


sort of left-wing radical. How can I be a left-wing radical Wenham


such good friends with an English Conservative, centre-right Prime


Minister. David Cameron gets to emphasise the stature gap of Ed


Miliband. Can you imagine him there? Always difficult for a


leader of the opposition in those circumstances. David Cameron get to


portray himself as someone who is above party. I am on the world


stage, I might be a Tory but I've got a good democrat friend here.


They both did it to do over their opponents and it worked brilliantly.


It's slightly more than that for Cameron. He is embarrassed by a lot


of the Tea Party wing of the Republicans. He didn't meet any of


them. Yes, he made a clear statement. Republicans, know.


think it David Cameron decided he was going to meet even the


Republican Speaker of the house, I don't think he would have got the


full on treatment that he did from the White House. He is pretty well


endorse, Barack Obama. You get the feeling David Cameron is banking on


the fact is going to get the second term. Let's roll the clock back in


terms of the comment about meeting the Speaker of the house. The US


political system, it's not the role of the House of Representatives or


the Senate to engage in international diplomacy. And our


constitution, that's the role of the President of the United States.


Giving some lavish entertainment to one of our most important allies in


the world is his job. That's what he does for a living and I think he


did it well. Although you wonder behind the scenes of the serious


talks on Afghanistan and Iran. Some jokes are saying, I've lavished all


this a new and we are pulling out of Afghanistan in the next six


months, you'd better do the same. I'm sure there are any number of


closed-door talks that we won't be pretty to, but everything we saw


was very positive. Rowan Williams stepping down, will David Cameron


be pleased? I think you'll be delighted. Replacement? Maybe the


Archbishop of York. I think the Archbishop of York. The were you


surprised? No, I've been for some time... It was said a few weeks ago


that Rowan Williams was about to go. A terms of picking an ally, is it a


dangerous position anyway? archbishop has to be his own man.


The politics of this will play out. The gay marriage thing is going to


be interesting. Whoever is the successor, it will put them in the


spotlight on that issue. They are going to press ahead with that?


think they are going to. They are completely relaxed about the


opposition of the Church. They will try and keep the debate respect for,


but I think they view this as a classic part of modernisation.


will be following every step of the way in this campaign. That is all


for today. The news is starting on BBC One now. Thank you to all of my


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