17/12/2012 Daily Politics


17/12/2012

Jo Coburn has the top political stories of the day. Her special guest is the historian Lord Hennessy.


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Good afternoon and welcome to the Daily Politics. President Obama

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tells America "we are failing to protect our children". But has he

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the power to introduce new guns laws following the terrible scenes

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in Connecticut? Nick Clegg has been setting out how the Liberal

:00:51.:00:54.

Democrats will act in the second half of this Parliament. But will

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it be enough to stop his party slipping even further behind in the

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polls? Is the Civil Service in danger of being politicised? We'll

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take a look at Government plans to shake up the mandarins. And 'tis

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the season to be jolly. But are Government cuts threatening our

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Christmas lights? All that in the hour, and with us

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for today is our special guest, the historian and cross bench peer,

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Peter Hennessy. But first, America. Last week's

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terrible mass killing at a primary school in Newtown, Connecticut has

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touched the entire country and indeed the world. The newspapers

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today are full of the pictures of the 20 children - most of them just

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six or seven years old - and their six teachers, who were gunned down

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by Adam Lanza. But this is a nation where many have deeply held beliefs

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in the value of owning guns, and the second amendment to the US

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constitution makes it very difficult to take them off the

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streets. President Obama gave his reaction. The can't tolerate this

:02:04.:02:14.
:02:14.:02:14.

any more. These tragedies must end. To end them, we must change. We

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will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that

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is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the

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world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But

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that can't be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better

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:02:48.:02:51.

than this. What can be done? Peter Hennessy is here and listening to

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all this from our studios in Salford is the former American Talk

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Show host, Charlie Wolf. What has he got in terms of power to

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introduce new gun laws? If it is one of the great paradoxes that the

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single most powerful person in the world can't prevail very often in

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their own country, and the National Rifle Association is one of the

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most effective groups in the world. The right to bear arms is

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instinctive within many American people and I remember when I

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visited the United States in 1968, just after Robert Kennedy had been

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assassinated. There were calls for gun law control to be tightened,

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but the Federal provisions of very inadequate. For someone who really

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loves the United States as I do, it is unbearable to see these

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tragedies - it is unbearable for anybody, but the constitutional

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enjoyment is such that it will make it very difficult even for this

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most persuasive of precedence on the back of this unspeakable

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tragedy to shift the moving parts in such a way that something better

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might emerge. Charlie, the numbers speak for themselves, something

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like 62 mass killings since the 1980s. However powerful the gun

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lobby is, surely new laws have to be brought in? I think that is a

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myth. It is a deep-rooted feeling and a constitutional item. I am not

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a gun owner but I do support the Second Amendment and I would not

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give up that liberty not very quickly at all. Why not? In our

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system of checks and balances, the power rests with the people. The

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founding fathers knew that self- defence and the right to bear arms

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was a natural more so this is as important to us as the First

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Amendment and free speech and the fifth amendment on not being able

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to self- incriminate, these are part and parcel of the power,

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natural powers that we are endowed with by our Creator. If, in

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situations like this, is there and acceptance that there will be more

:05:23.:05:33.
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killings of this nature because gums are in American homes? -- guns.

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Not necessarily, I have been reading a study that says this

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feeling that more weapons equals more crime, the evidence doesn't

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support that. Of the last nine or 12 incidents we have had, all but

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the one in Arizona were all in areas that have no gums available.

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Connecticut has the fourth strongest come laws in America.

:06:08.:06:18.
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Then why was the home of Adam Lanza, why did it have so many in it? It

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had a semi-automatic machine gun. semi-automatic is not a gun. There

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were comes in that house. legally have the right to keep

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those. It is agreed on all sides that you don't want to see the Adam

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Lanzas of this world having weapons. It is a two-track system. On the

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one hand you want to make sure the criminals, people there are not

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mentally stable, and getting them, but at the same time you want to

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make sure that responsible gun owners have their powers

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strengthened to make sure they can protect themselves against these

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people. How do you do that? It sounds to me like you need laws,

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even if it is to limit ownership so that they are not regularly in your

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average American house. I certainly think so, but the Federal provision

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is week which means you can't keep them out of state. It is a free

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flow of movement and the Federal come more is inadequate. We could

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hold our governments to account perfectly well in the United

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Kingdom without festooning ourselves with weapons. You have to

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understand our system and our history. We were under the caution

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of your government of King George the Third and we had to fight a

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revolution to become free. It is important that one of the reasons

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EC governments being held in power democratically is because people

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have the power. I don't want to see a modern day Nazi Germany so it

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does happen. It is possible even in modern history for these things to

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happen so it is important for the American people that we hold the

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power. It is a natural right of self-defence. Because one or two

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people have violated the law... is more than one or two. It is

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still a very small percentage. the basis, would you like more

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:08:52.:08:54.

people to have guns? It is part of a conversation that should be had.

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I don't think every school should be made into a fortress, but you

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talk about a balance and an assessment of risk. This place had

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security in place, a locked door policy but he shot his way in

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through a glass door. There needs to be a wider conversation about

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culture as well. Over half of the top 25 Gunning incidents have been

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in the last 20 years. Something has changed in our culture, and I think

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that has a lot to do with reality television, with the fact that

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these kids have no empathy any more. You can blow someone up on the X

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box and not think anything of it. Thorpe it is difficult to combat,

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if that is the deeply held belief of so many Americans to have this

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instinctive right. President Obama doesn't stand a chance if he wants

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to change that. He is running against feelings that have been

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powerful since the 18th century, but Charlie, we haven't threatened

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you since you beat us in the war of independence. Our country has been

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attacked physically with a scattering of bombs in the Second

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World War but we don't have the same mentality is you. Can you

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understand what you look like in your country? You are a patriot,

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which has a wonderful thing to be, but can you begin to understand how

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bizarre and ghastly these attitudes look to us in Europe? Small

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correction, you haven't threatened us since 1812, a small point. 200

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years ago, I think. Not that we have forgotten or anything. There

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is a cultural difference, and just as we have to respect your culture

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over here, you have to respect ours. Watching the coverage over here,

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sometimes I think the press are trying to imprint or project their

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culture on to America and we are not going to ban handguns, it is

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not possible. There is a better chance of changing the laws of

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gravity and it is better to look at the wider picture and say what can

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we do? It is far-fetched to say they are ghastly the laws. We are

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free and sovereign nation and that is what is important. A producer on

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BBC Radio Scotland asked if the World Cup pressure America into

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giving up their handguns. We are a sovereign nation and that is

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paramount to us. Today, Nick Clegg celebrates his

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fifth anniversary as leader of the Liberal Democrats. And today, half

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way through the expected lifetime of the coalition Government, he's

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been setting out how he expects his party to tackle the rest of the

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term. Mr Clegg wants to show that act two of the coalition with the

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Conservatives is going to be very different, and it certainly looks

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like it could be rich with dramatic tension. Act one was all about

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showing that the Lib Dems could get on with the serious business of

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governing in the national interest alongside David Cameron's Tories

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But Clegg is setting the scene for more disagreements with the

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Conservatives and even Government policy in the next stage of the so-

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called differentiation strategy Mr Clegg will make the point by

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claiming to have blocked "draconian welfare cuts", and he'll say he

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wants to means-test benefits for elderly wealthy people, something

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David Cameron has resisted. At the moment this play seems to be

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turning into a tragedy for the Lib Dems, with polls over the weekend

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putting them in fourth place behind UKIP. And with local elections due

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in the spring, Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes admitted

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yesterday that there is a "bit of chatter" about Mr Clegg's position.

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Let's have a listen to what Nick Clegg had to say this morning.

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is at times like these that Britain needs a party rooted in the centre

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ground, which anchors the country there. The Liberal Democrats are

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that party. We are not centre ground Tories, the centre ground is

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our home. Whilst all the parties Disa at the centre ground under

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pressure, the Liberal Democrats have done the reverse. Under

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pressure, we have moved towards the centre. Our political correspondent,

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Chris Mason, was listening to the whole speech. What struck you about

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the speed? Nick Clegg painting in loud shades of yellow, trying to

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distinguish himself from the Conservatives and Labour, to say

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there is distinct political territory that the Liberal

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Democrats occupy. We have also heard the sound buy eight we were

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:14:04.:14:10.

here again and again. -- the sound bite. In terms of coalition, I got

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a sense this was clear acceptance that a vote for the Liberal

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Democrats is a vote for coalition. Yes, central to his pitch, he

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didn't say this in as many words but it is ultimately obvious, that

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the Liberal Democrats have to prove that coalition governments can work.

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Much of the first couple of years of this government has been about

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doing that, but at the same time they have to prove it can work

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without leaving their party in a state where it is time the unlikely

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they might be part of another government any time soon and

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getting that balancing act right is rather tricky. We saw Nick Clegg

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using the case-study of welfare reform which matters so much to so

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many people because of the extent to which the welfare state matters

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in people's pockets every week, to say there is a difference between

:15:01.:15:05.

us and the Conservatives, and us and Labour. He spoke about the

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fantasy world that he felt some of those on the Left occupied. You

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could almost say his strategy was trying to fumble for a third way,

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but I guess that term has been used With us now is the former Lib Dem

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chief executive, Lord Rennard. Coalition, a vote for the Liberal

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Democrats in 2015 will be a vote for a coalition government. I think

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Nick Clegg was saying that coalition has been difficult for

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the Liberal Democrats, but he is spelling out that an overall

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majority for Labour or the Conservatives would be a disaster.

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He was saying you cannot trust Labour on the economy, the Liberal

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Democrats are working for a strong economy. You could not trust the

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Conservative Party to protect the vulnerable, they do not support a

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fairer society. So vote for the Liberal Democrats to stop the other

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parties implementing what they want to do, all the more mad elements?

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Certainly, the Liberal Democrats would stop the mad and immense...

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What sort of manifesto commitment is that?! I think there are a lot

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of people who want to stop the madness of the Conservatives and

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the Labour Party, but there are positive things that people want to

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see. They believe the way to a stronger economy is through a

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fairer tax system, and the Liberal Democrats have been responsible for

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making sure that by next April, people on middle and lower incomes

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will be paying �600 per year less tax, and that will be a big boost

:16:41.:16:46.

to our economy and a fairer society. In terms of differentiation, what

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will we see over the next two years in terms of a different strategy

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compared to the Conservatives? Lib Dems have first to show that

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coalition government can be stable and can be strong and can take

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tough decisions. Some will say that could not be the case, but what we

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will see from the Liberal Democrats is continuing to push for economic

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rejuvenation. Which has not happened, you admit, up until now,

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so the whole raison d'etre of collision, working in the national

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interest, they say they're going to miss all their targets, so that has

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not worked. There has not been enough of it, but the pressure for

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growth is coming from the Lib Dem side. At the same time, we want to

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protect the vulnerable. People who cannot work should be protected. We

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want to make sure it pays to work, a principal Labour did not have in

:17:36.:17:41.

office. Your impressions of the speech, this idea of more

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differentiation, and yet the backdrop for 2015 is that you will

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get coalition government if U-boat for the Liberal Democrats. Not the

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most inspiring message. It is not Mr Gladstone on stilts, is it?

:17:56.:18:00.

Classic Liberal Democrat territory, which is we are the herbivores of

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British politics, not red or blue. My dear friend Chris is the

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incarnation of herbivorous values, and that is why everyone is fond of

:18:09.:18:14.

him. It is fascinating for me, because essentially you have a

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herbivorous party in with a carnivorous party. They did it in

:18:18.:18:21.

the national interest, and I was in favour of the coalition, given the

:18:21.:18:28.

parliamentary arithmetic of 2010. But it must be a terrible emotional

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strain, and I understand the need to differentiate. But the pathway

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to 2015, ideas have been floated that the differentiation will take

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the form of the coalition breaking up short of that, and I would be

:18:43.:18:46.

interested if Chris could guide us through the possibilities, a

:18:46.:18:51.

confident and supply deal? With the Conservatives in the minority for

:18:51.:18:55.

the last year? Or would it be an attempt to activate that remarkable

:18:55.:19:00.

mechanism that you have got to go through in the Commons with 66% of

:19:00.:19:07.

all MPs voting for the end of the government? That really intrigues

:19:07.:19:11.

me as well. Beyond Nick Clegg's herbivorous speech, the usual

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importance Of being Earnest, which he does extremely well, there is

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the wider constitutional question, and we have never had to face that

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before, because it is new. It is new in the UK, of course, but not

:19:25.:19:31.

unusual to most of Western Europe. Will the coalition for...? It is a

:19:31.:19:35.

five-year agreement, and we have a deal to fit in with that. In most

:19:35.:19:39.

European countries, countries which by and large have done rather

:19:39.:19:43.

better than as since the end of World War II, have had PR,

:19:43.:19:48.

coalitions, and it is understood... Better than as in what sense?

:19:48.:19:52.

Economic growth, delivery of healthcare systems, education. They

:19:52.:19:57.

have done better than us, and they have done better when it is more

:19:57.:20:00.

widely understood that parties work together where they agree and also

:20:00.:20:04.

have differences, as Nick Clegg explained this morning. We often

:20:04.:20:07.

hear the Liberal Democrat say that a slump in support is the price of

:20:08.:20:13.

being in government, when is it a price not worth paying? I think in

:20:13.:20:16.

2015, I hope we will have the leadership debates, Nick Clegg will

:20:16.:20:20.

be able to say, a lot of things have happened in this country

:20:20.:20:26.

because we were in government, tax cuts... But at what level of

:20:26.:20:30.

support, below 10% fairly consistently, UKIP challenging you

:20:30.:20:34.

for third place, in various polls, when does that become a price not

:20:34.:20:40.

worth paying for the party and the grassroots members? I did a paper

:20:40.:20:43.

for Paddy Ashdown in 1988, considering the possibility of

:20:43.:20:47.

coalition, and I said the Lib Dems might well go down to 10% in mid-

:20:48.:20:51.

term as a result of coalition. If you look at by-elections, the

:20:51.:20:56.

elections last month in November, across Great Britain, the Liberal

:20:56.:20:59.

Democrats gained a seat. Labour lost two, the Conservatives last

:20:59.:21:06.

eight. In the most recent by- elections, the Liberal Democrat

:21:06.:21:09.

polling has been dire, I mean it has been. If the Parling position

:21:09.:21:14.

is where it is now after the 2013 local elections, cannot Nick Clegg

:21:14.:21:19.

stay? If you look at the results in the Lib Dem seats, we have done

:21:19.:21:23.

very well fighting the Conservatives. I do not think the

:21:23.:21:27.

party... So you think Simon Hughes is wrong, chattering about

:21:27.:21:32.

leadership. There is no chattering about a change of leader. Then

:21:32.:21:36.

maybe people think, after Nick Clegg, after past 10 years, they

:21:36.:21:41.

might become leader, but there is no chattering. Why is Simon Hughes

:21:41.:21:45.

so wrong? He is the deputy leader. The talks to a lot of people, and I

:21:45.:21:49.

think he has been listening to people saying, we are a great party,

:21:49.:21:53.

we will hopefully be successful at the next election, and there will

:21:53.:21:57.

be a leader after Nick Clegg. Everyone knows there will be a

:21:57.:22:02.

leader after Nick Clegg. So Simon Hughes is wrong. What you say about

:22:02.:22:04.

the chattering reported, Simon Hughes saying people are talking

:22:04.:22:09.

about leadership, as a result of these very poor election results?

:22:09.:22:12.

Well, a lot of people talk about leadership or the time, because

:22:12.:22:16.

that is what gets activists out of bed in the morning, the muttering,

:22:16.:22:20.

the drizzle of complaint about life being so war. You can hardly blame

:22:20.:22:25.

them. All three leaders have them rolling detractors, that is what

:22:25.:22:28.

political parties are about, a displacement activity for the

:22:28.:22:32.

disturbed. You should not be surprised that this is in the

:22:32.:22:37.

background. It is not happening at all, and I know from my experience

:22:37.:22:41.

as chief executive, when there is chattering, and there was with

:22:41.:22:46.

previous leaders... It gets beyond chattering, though, it becomes a

:22:46.:22:49.

roar before leaders go. It has in the past, but there's nothing

:22:49.:22:54.

significance now. Nick Clegg was saying that the Lib Dems have

:22:54.:22:59.

curbed the most draconian welfare cuts from the Tories. For example,

:22:59.:23:03.

the idea that child benefit may be restricted to families with two

:23:03.:23:08.

children. I think that is a pretty anti-family policy for the

:23:08.:23:11.

Conservative Party. Also to protect young people leaving home, seeking

:23:11.:23:16.

a job, so to suggest that you should not be able to claim housing

:23:16.:23:20.

benefit and a 25, I think that would be wrong, so supporting

:23:20.:23:24.

families and supporting young people. The Liberal Democrat have

:23:24.:23:27.

supported every significant government welfare reform. It is an

:23:27.:23:31.

exaggeration to say there is a huge difference between what Nick Clegg

:23:31.:23:37.

thinks and what David Cameron thing somewhere fair, the universal

:23:37.:23:39.

credit, Disability living Allowance, cap one House of benefits, Nick

:23:39.:23:43.

Clegg is supporting one of those things, it is just a difference of

:23:43.:23:48.

language. It is a difference of policy. A of those, that list,

:23:48.:23:52.

which policy is different from the Liberal Democrats? You have listed

:23:52.:23:56.

those things where we have agreed with the principles of things like

:23:56.:24:00.

a cap on housing benefit and on welfare benefits. I think that is

:24:00.:24:03.

fair and good for the country, and most people recognise that it

:24:03.:24:08.

should pay to work rather than be on benefits. But at the same time

:24:08.:24:10.

the Liberal Democrats are saying, and the Conservatives may not, if

:24:10.:24:15.

you cannot work, you should not be penalised. You should be looked

:24:15.:24:18.

after in work and encouraged us well and support it. We are going

:24:18.:24:23.

to come back to this a little later. For now, thank you very much.

:24:23.:24:27.

Who runs government? That question pitching the politicians against

:24:27.:24:30.

the officials of the civil service has been serious debate and the

:24:30.:24:34.

birth of magical satire from Yes Minister to The Thick Of It for

:24:34.:24:37.

years. Today there is a lack of humour about, with signs that the

:24:37.:24:41.

top officials in this government are getting increasingly frustrated

:24:41.:24:44.

with the Jan and how the future relationship between the two should

:24:44.:24:49.

change. -- the two. Giles has been wandering about in Whitehall.

:24:49.:24:52.

Civil servants and politicians often accuse each other of pulling

:24:52.:24:56.

in different directions, pointed out practical problems and policy

:24:56.:25:00.

to Sir Humphrey is part of the job, but to a politician it is just

:25:00.:25:05.

their way of saying no, Minister. In the season of goodwill to all

:25:05.:25:09.

men, a distinct air of ill-will has borne into Whitehall. In Whitehall

:25:09.:25:13.

and particularly here at the Cabinet Office, they boil battle of

:25:13.:25:16.

chess is going on between the government and the Civil Service.

:25:16.:25:19.

They are not talking about the little guys at the bottom, although

:25:19.:25:23.

many have already been removed from the system. We are not even talking

:25:23.:25:27.

about middle managers, although some have gone as well. No, we are

:25:28.:25:32.

talking about the people at the top, and the most controversial thing is

:25:33.:25:36.

that ministers want a say in who gets to the permanent secretaries,

:25:36.:25:43.

and that, for the Civil Service, is a real problem. Since the election,

:25:43.:25:48.

17 R 19 permanent secretary is have gone or moved, and plans for

:25:48.:25:50.

ministerial says so in who comes next have been rejected by the head

:25:50.:25:55.

of the Civil Service Commission, Sir David Normington, a former

:25:55.:25:59.

permanent secretary. The problem that the Sir Humphreys and those

:25:59.:26:03.

who want to defend that culture have is that the current system

:26:03.:26:06.

does not work. Public administration and those who

:26:06.:26:09.

preside over it ought to be publicly accountable. At the moment,

:26:09.:26:14.

they are not, they are a world unto themselves, it is the Civil Service

:26:14.:26:18.

Commission appointing people from the Civil Service, answering to the

:26:18.:26:22.

Civil Service. It is a closed shop and needs to be opened up. We are

:26:22.:26:27.

not dealing with something that is run for and by the Civil Service.

:26:27.:26:31.

We have a system. Why are people cautious? They are asking why it is

:26:32.:26:37.

necessary to change and what are the risks. Those seen to be the

:26:37.:26:40.

politicisation of an impartial system and a weakening of their

:26:40.:26:45.

perceived role speaking truth to power. They are not meant to be

:26:45.:26:49.

there as Yes, Minister, saying yes all the time. They are meant to

:26:49.:26:53.

have a challenge. There is a risk that people will see their careers

:26:53.:26:56.

being dominated by political process, they will team up with

:26:56.:27:00.

buddies with whom they have an affinity. How can it be right,

:27:00.:27:04.

Conservative or Labour, or a government elected by the people to

:27:04.:27:07.

find that it needs the permission of the permanent officials to make

:27:07.:27:13.

it happen? We need a system that allows reformers to commend, for

:27:13.:27:16.

ministers to select senior civil servants who want to make change

:27:16.:27:20.

happen. But the service Cisse merry-go-

:27:20.:27:23.

round of minister and official bodies together and dropped into

:27:23.:27:28.

departments they do not really know as the creation of in permanent

:27:28.:27:32.

secretaries. For experienced hands, that is a bad mix. The fundamental

:27:32.:27:35.

problem at the moment is not that he did it does not have enough

:27:35.:27:39.

volatility, it has far too much movement of both ministers and

:27:39.:27:43.

officials. This tension in government has switched back and

:27:43.:27:48.

forth for years, but right now some suggest that tension has developed

:27:48.:27:53.

the potential to snap. That was Giles reporting, and we

:27:53.:28:00.

are joined by Lord Reid, who held any number of cabinet portfolios

:28:00.:28:04.

under the last government. Why does this matter? One of the great

:28:04.:28:07.

virtues of the British tradition of government which comes from the

:28:07.:28:12.

Victorian era is that we believe in Crown Service, that up against

:28:12.:28:14.

elected ministers we have people recruited and promoted on the basis

:28:14.:28:19.

of merit. What they know, rather than what they believe. This is the

:28:19.:28:23.

governing marriage which has such does -- which has served us very

:28:23.:28:29.

well. As that very good film showed, those who get the equivalent of

:28:29.:28:32.

tenure by being Crown servants, their first duty is to speak truth

:28:32.:28:35.

and to power, tell ministers what they need to know rather than what

:28:35.:28:40.

they wish to hear. They do not want little echo chambers, ministers are

:28:40.:28:44.

all good ministers do not, they do not want people who will tell them

:28:44.:28:51.

about the beauty of their political thought. Only weak ministers need

:28:51.:28:55.

what Edmund Dell, a very tough labour minister, called the comfort

:28:55.:28:58.

blanket of politicised people around them to tell them how

:28:58.:29:01.

marvellous they are, only the deeply insecure would want anything

:29:01.:29:05.

other than the Crown said as we have got, and we are in danger of

:29:05.:29:09.

losing that. I am presuming you are not a deeply insecure minister, but

:29:09.:29:13.

you said the Home Office was not fit for purpose, the implication

:29:13.:29:16.

being that the Civil Service had not done their job falls but I was

:29:16.:29:21.

entirely in accord with my top civil servants. The words are used,

:29:21.:29:27.

and you quoted part of them, about the deficiency in systems and so on

:29:27.:29:30.

were provided for me by the top civil servant in the Home Office at

:29:30.:29:35.

the time. I asked him to be honest enough to give me an appraisal of

:29:35.:29:39.

the condition of the Home Office when he went in, and he did so, and

:29:39.:29:44.

that was actually reading what he had written to me. So Peter is

:29:44.:29:48.

absolutely right, I mean I had nine ministerial positions, eight of

:29:48.:29:54.

them at the Cabinet, some very tough permanent secretary is,

:29:54.:29:57.

including David Norman's son, including Richard, who has just

:29:57.:30:02.

been speaking. And on occasion, of course they would tell me things I

:30:02.:30:06.

did not like, but only weak ministers blame their civil

:30:06.:30:10.

servants, and there is a difference in roles. The ministers are there

:30:10.:30:15.

to lead. Civil servants are there to manage, they are there to speak

:30:15.:30:21.

truth and to power, there to absorb the technicalities of it, and if

:30:21.:30:31.
:30:31.:30:34.

you cannot take people with you, do Would you have liked to say in the

:30:34.:30:42.

appointment? No, never. You never thought it would be useful to have

:30:42.:30:49.

a say during Tony Blair's time? if you want special advisers,

:30:49.:30:55.

people who are politicised, let them be known to be special

:30:55.:31:01.

advisers, let them be on short-term contracts, and when you go let them

:31:01.:31:06.

go as world. In the government which I served, it was contrary to

:31:06.:31:14.

what is implied by the Conservative spokesman, there was cued reform of

:31:14.:31:18.

the House of Lords, the Scottish parliament, it brought in a minimum

:31:18.:31:22.

wage, reformed the whole of the public services, and it did that

:31:23.:31:27.

with the permanent Civil Service, and it did it because ministers

:31:27.:31:32.

lead. Civil servants are there to manage the direction in which you

:31:32.:31:39.

move and tell you the downstream consequences. Are you saying they

:31:39.:31:45.

are never a brake on reform? Never a block? No, the government agenda

:31:45.:31:52.

should be put forward by ministers, that is what leadership is about.

:31:52.:31:56.

The Civil Service are there to give a degree of stability, to be

:31:56.:32:02.

neutral and impartial. I was deeply worried at the beginning of this

:32:02.:32:10.

government when suddenly it was announced they were getting round,

:32:10.:32:14.

or it was announced there would be early retirement for the Chief of

:32:14.:32:19.

Defence Staff. I have dealt with people who are Chief of Defence

:32:19.:32:23.

Staff, and that is the next step once you start crossing that red

:32:23.:32:32.

line. Charlie Guthrie, Mike Jackson, you know, these people were not

:32:32.:32:36.

horny-handed Socialists by any means. I suspect they may not even

:32:36.:32:43.

sure my political opinions but they were more oil and impartial. Maybe

:32:43.:32:47.

it does come down to the quality of the top level of the Civil Service.

:32:47.:32:54.

Is it time to look at wider pool of talent? It is quite a restrictive

:32:54.:33:04.
:33:04.:33:24.

process for career civil servants In the civil service reform the UN,

:33:24.:33:29.

the idea of greater ministerial say, in the same bit of it is the same

:33:29.:33:33.

requirement and this will be a temptation for them, that when they

:33:33.:33:38.

feel they have a gap in expertise and knowledge, they can bring in

:33:38.:33:43.

people on short-term basis. The danger at is that that will be used

:33:43.:33:52.

as camouflage for bringing in The problem is a bit wider. The

:33:52.:33:57.

special advisers are the way to do it, the politicised bid. I have

:33:57.:34:00.

always been a great believer in then knowing things, rather than

:34:00.:34:04.

believing things. What can pay a 23-year-old with a political

:34:04.:34:08.

science degree teach my friend? Getting in people who really know

:34:08.:34:13.

the subject is a good idea. What depresses me, Jo, the governing

:34:13.:34:17.

marriage, there is the permanent Civil Service, the transient

:34:17.:34:22.

politicians and now at the special advisers. The relationships between

:34:22.:34:24.

the three parts have never been as poor as they are at the moment. It

:34:25.:34:29.

is very scratchy, and two and a half years into government there is

:34:29.:34:33.

a tendency to scapegoat. You blame the press office first, but these

:34:33.:34:38.

are tossers who cannot do it! Then you blame the career civil servants

:34:38.:34:43.

if you are an inadequate minister. It is almost choreographed, almost

:34:43.:34:47.

exactly to the day we have this civil service reform white paper.

:34:47.:34:51.

Two years into the coalition, blaming the staff. I can understand

:34:51.:34:55.

it must be frustrating, because it is a tiring business being minister,

:34:55.:34:59.

and in the Treasury just after the war Hugh Dalton, the Chancellor,

:34:59.:35:06.

had a great outburst. He caught the Treasury men... You need congenital

:35:06.:35:11.

snack pandas! It is not that simple, we have been here before, had good

:35:11.:35:15.

ministers know how to deal with that. The governing marriage needs

:35:15.:35:25.
:35:25.:35:30.

serious marriage counselling. They What about the news the Queen will

:35:30.:35:36.

be an on server in Cabinet? Up they may get some useful contributions

:35:36.:35:41.

for a change if she is involved. There was advice given by Gerald

:35:41.:35:46.

Kaufman 30 years ago, and it was very succinct about the

:35:46.:35:52.

relationship between ministers and civil servants. Civil servants

:35:52.:35:56.

dislike two things about ministers - one is a minister who doesn't

:35:56.:36:00.

know what he wants to do. The second is a minister who knows what

:36:00.:36:06.

he wants to do, but will not listen to potential criticism and

:36:06.:36:10.

explanation of the downstream consequences. If you get a minister

:36:10.:36:15.

who knows what he wants to do, can assimilate information, can analyse

:36:15.:36:19.

it with the degree of intellectual rigour, and communicated in a way

:36:19.:36:28.

that carries people with him, that his leadership. It sounds like the

:36:28.:36:36.

Sir Humphrey model is completely wrong then. Thank you.

:36:36.:36:39.

Now, stop drinking the mulled wine and pay attention. If you hadn't

:36:39.:36:41.

realised, there's still almost an entire week of parliamentary

:36:41.:36:44.

business left. Here's what to expect in the week ahead. The Prime

:36:44.:36:47.

Minister begins his week by updating the House of Commons on

:36:47.:36:53.

one of his favourite subjects - Europe. Last week a summit kicked a

:36:53.:36:56.

decision on closer fiscal and economic integration into the 2013

:36:56.:36:59.

long grass. But finance ministers did manage to agree on the creation

:36:59.:37:01.

of a banking union within the eurozone. Tomorrow, the Queen will

:37:01.:37:07.

attend Cabinet as an observer. This is believed to be the first time

:37:07.:37:10.

this has happened since Queen Victoria's reign. And, in case you

:37:10.:37:13.

wondered, it is expected that she'll sit beside the Prime

:37:13.:37:18.

Minister. On Wednesday the Prime Minister and Ed Miliband come face

:37:18.:37:21.

to face for the last time this year, though don't expect there to be

:37:21.:37:25.

mince pies and brandy. It's also the day that Nick Pollard inquiry

:37:25.:37:27.

into Newsnight's aborted investigation into child sex abuse

:37:27.:37:31.

by Jimmy Savile is expected to be published. On Thursday, MPs pack up

:37:31.:37:36.

as the House rises. And on Friday, if the Mayans are right, it's the

:37:36.:37:39.

end of the world. Joining us from College Green outside Parliament is

:37:39.:37:49.
:37:49.:37:54.

Kevin Maguire from the Mirror and Emily Ashton from the Sun. Kevin

:37:54.:37:58.

Maguire, one gay marriage, the backbench rebellion is clear but it

:37:58.:38:02.

will still pass the Commons, I would hazard a guess. What lasting

:38:02.:38:09.

damage, if any, will this do to David Cameron? Am sure it will pass

:38:09.:38:15.

the Commons because a sizable minority, not just a slim majority,

:38:15.:38:25.

will back this. I think it will cause some lasting damage because

:38:25.:38:29.

of the depth of the ill-feeling on his own side. It is getting people

:38:29.:38:34.

out of bed now, his right wing, and we saw him signing this letter with

:38:34.:38:38.

the House of Lords and some Labour MPs and it will keep on coming. It

:38:38.:38:43.

is the last bit of that caring, compassionate cream Wash he had

:38:43.:38:49.

during the election. He has shot the huskies, and it is only gay

:38:49.:38:53.

marriage he has got left so he can't back off and neither will his

:38:54.:38:59.

opponents so he will have to crush them at some point. On that basis,

:38:59.:39:04.

is this David Cameron being brave, doing the right thing as he puts it,

:39:04.:39:09.

modernising the party even if sections don't like it? It is a

:39:09.:39:15.

personal call for David Cameron. If he wasn't bothered it would not be

:39:15.:39:19.

worth the hassle but he obviously feels very strongly about it. It is

:39:19.:39:24.

a noble aim to push it through, and he will do even if it chokes up

:39:24.:39:29.

Parliament for months on end. As soon as it gets into the Lords, the

:39:29.:39:32.

Conservative Peers will not like it one little bit and they are saying

:39:32.:39:42.
:39:42.:39:43.

there was no mandate for this. In no manifesto, it was in no

:39:43.:39:47.

manifesto so they can't force it through. A has there been chatter

:39:47.:39:52.

about Nick Clegg's leadership? There has been for some time. I

:39:52.:39:56.

don't want to say there will be a challenge, but the Liberal

:39:56.:40:01.

Democrats know they are struggling. Some polls show them in fourth

:40:01.:40:06.

place. We will be going to the general election in just over two

:40:06.:40:09.

years and they are struggling to give themselves a clear definition.

:40:09.:40:15.

Nick Clegg gave his speech today, wanting to claim some victories but

:40:15.:40:18.

at the same time he wants to say we are different to the Conservative

:40:18.:40:23.

Party. It is a difficult path for him to tread and he should have

:40:23.:40:29.

started down saying we will have a business relationship rather than a

:40:29.:40:33.

lovey-dovey relationship. I think he has left it too late. Do you

:40:33.:40:40.

think so, or is there time to make this differentiation work for him

:40:40.:40:45.

in the next few years? I think there is time. You can see him

:40:45.:40:50.

thinking I really need to sort this out, and differentiate what the Lib

:40:50.:40:58.

Dems stand for and what the Tories stand for. He reined back the cuts,

:40:58.:41:04.

and he has also done it on the drugs - backing a royal commission

:41:04.:41:08.

on drugs which David Cameron doesn't want and that is part of a

:41:08.:41:18.

grand strategy to differentiate the party for the -- from the Tories.

:41:18.:41:23.

It is an interesting strategy, as I was talking about earlier, to say

:41:23.:41:28.

we will soften the madder elements of the Labour Party and

:41:28.:41:33.

Conservative Party, but they don't want to alienate Labour completely

:41:33.:41:37.

at this point if they have to end up in government with them. Labour

:41:37.:41:43.

has always felt two weighs about the Lib Dems, we saw in 2010 a

:41:43.:41:47.

large part of the Labour Party didn't want to scramble a deal with

:41:47.:41:55.

them. They dislike the Liberal Democrats, very tribal. Then you

:41:56.:42:02.

get those Lib Dem friendly MPs like Lord Adonis, who says are not sure

:42:02.:42:10.

I would favour a coalition with the Lib Dems, I would favour a minority

:42:10.:42:16.

Labour government. Nick Clegg is in a very difficult position, and as

:42:16.:42:26.
:42:26.:42:26.

austerity continues to buy eight, he might say a royal commission on

:42:26.:42:30.

drugs but that may not pass muster with the population with the

:42:30.:42:37.

decline of living standards. What can pass muster with the

:42:37.:42:43.

population? They have to show they are on the side of the working

:42:43.:42:47.

classes, and really want to put money back in people's pockets.

:42:47.:42:52.

With this benefit rise, the 1% rise in April, it is interesting they

:42:52.:42:57.

have suddenly started to back the Tories on that. It is an

:42:57.:43:05.

interesting manoeuvre they have achieved. Given most of those cuts

:43:05.:43:10.

will be on people in work, they could fall into their own benefits

:43:10.:43:16.

trap. Nearly the end of the parliamentary year, PMQs

:43:16.:43:25.

performances. Ed Miliband has got a lot better. The best bit of PMQs is

:43:25.:43:30.

watching David Cameron, who does not like to be challenged, and Ed

:43:30.:43:35.

Balls just really knows how to wind him up with his hand signals, flat

:43:35.:43:40.

lining economy, and insults from a seated position. That has been the

:43:40.:43:48.

best bit. The score from you, Emily? Last week's PMQs was so

:43:48.:43:52.

raucous on welfare, I'm not sure it will be that raucous on the end of

:43:52.:43:58.

term this week, I may be wrong, but Ed Miliband has shown he can

:43:58.:44:02.

perform most weeks now, although David Cameron has done well in

:44:02.:44:08.

recent weeks. Thank you. We had a lovely backdrop behind you.

:44:08.:44:11.

With me now is our Monday panel of MPs. The Conservative, George

:44:11.:44:13.

Hollingbery who is also Parliamentary Private Secretary to

:44:13.:44:16.

Theresa May, the Labour MP for East Lothian Fiona O'Donnell, and the

:44:16.:44:26.

veteran Lib Dem Sir Malcolm Bruce. Is it beneficial for Nick Clegg to

:44:26.:44:31.

be making a speech criticising siren voices amongst Conservative

:44:31.:44:36.

about draconian cuts? With is an internal issue, they have got to

:44:36.:44:42.

create some differentiation. Different tuition works two ways,

:44:42.:44:47.

doesn't it? We are clear where we want to go, but it is only right

:44:47.:44:50.

for me to a knowledge that the Liberal Democrats have had to take

:44:50.:44:53.

some difficult decisions and they have been brave about things like

:44:53.:44:59.

tuition fees, but to point out there are differences that this

:44:59.:45:04.

stage is entirely to be expected. What about the claims they are

:45:04.:45:08.

moderating the cruel aspect of the Conservative Party - is that how

:45:08.:45:13.

you see yourself? There are large numbers of Conservative MPs who

:45:13.:45:16.

understand the next general election will be won on the centre

:45:16.:45:21.

ground. The says you are not the centre ground. I think he is wrong.

:45:21.:45:24.

A large number of my colleagues will talk to me about the issues

:45:24.:45:33.

that matter to people across the country, and to characterise us as

:45:33.:45:42.

the stranger to the right is Do you accept that the Lib Dems are

:45:42.:45:47.

moderating Conservative policy on welfare reform? That is what Nick

:45:47.:45:51.

Clegg was claiming today. I expect he is making a case. I would like

:45:51.:45:57.

to hear how he mitigated tuition fees. What we have had �12,000 per

:45:57.:46:02.

year for tuition fees? He talked about and enabling society, and

:46:02.:46:07.

education is key to that. What did he do on that issue? I hope we will

:46:07.:46:12.

hear what they have been doing, and on VAT as well. He apologised,

:46:13.:46:17.

didn't he? The thing that went some way in terms of explaining what

:46:17.:46:22.

happened with tuition fees? -- do you think? It may explain it, but

:46:22.:46:28.

it does not excuse it. In terms of benefits, the cap of 1% is

:46:28.:46:33.

completely wiping out the benefits of raising the tax threshold,

:46:33.:46:38.

giving with one hand and taking away with the other. On that point,

:46:38.:46:41.

you say the Liberal Democrat have perhaps moderated conservative

:46:41.:46:47.

excesses on welfare reform, so why are you signing up to that cap?

:46:47.:46:50.

think the Conservatives would not have had any increase at all.

:46:50.:46:54.

that true? The Lib Dems are making sure that the poorest and most

:46:54.:46:59.

vulnerable are protected to some degree. But they are not. Many

:46:59.:47:03.

Conservative MPs are not like George, very many of them take a

:47:03.:47:08.

much more hardline, right-wing, uncaring stance, and I think the

:47:08.:47:13.

country would be poorer if those Conservatives prevailed. Monstrous

:47:13.:47:15.

characterisation of the Conservative Party. Even some of

:47:15.:47:20.

those MPs who are more of the right are extremely caring people,

:47:20.:47:23.

dealing with trafficking and all sorts of different issues that

:47:23.:47:26.

really matter. Is it that just because they have a particular

:47:26.:47:30.

political point of view and the economy and how it will work better,

:47:30.:47:34.

the fact that it is fair that people on benefit should have the

:47:34.:47:39.

same sort of crisis in income as people live and work, it is

:47:39.:47:47.

monstrous. It is the right thing to be doing at this time. Do you agree

:47:47.:47:49.

with the characterisation of people sitting with their blinds down

:47:49.:47:56.

while others go out to work? When you stigmatise people like that,

:47:56.:47:59.

particularly disabled people, sometimes some of the language is

:47:59.:48:05.

very unfortunate and makes people feel much worse, people who support

:48:05.:48:08.

voluntary organisations feel less inclined to give, and sometimes

:48:08.:48:12.

disabled people... You have signed up to it. We want to protect

:48:12.:48:17.

disabled people who cannot work. That is not happening. Why is it

:48:17.:48:21.

not? It is not happening for a start because a mother or father

:48:21.:48:26.

staying at home as a carer to look after a disabled adult, son or

:48:26.:48:29.

daughter, is going to be worse off because of what the Government is

:48:29.:48:34.

doing, and the Lib Dems are signing up to that. You cannot make

:48:34.:48:38.

everybody better off. You said people with disabilities, you're

:48:38.:48:41.

not protecting them. I am distinguishing between people who

:48:41.:48:46.

cannot work and people who need support to get into work. Some

:48:46.:48:49.

disabled people need support and want to work. Sometimes it is

:48:49.:48:54.

people simply looking for a job, like the under 25s, who might not

:48:54.:48:57.

be eligible for housing benefit if the Conservatives had their way. If

:48:57.:49:02.

they move home looking for a job, they should be encouraged.

:49:03.:49:06.

parent of a profoundly disabled young man or woman cannot go out

:49:06.:49:10.

and look for work because they are full-time carers. The other thing

:49:10.:49:14.

is they are contributing a huge amount to society and saving your

:49:14.:49:18.

government money by staying at home and looking after them. Many people

:49:18.:49:22.

would feel Labour has not had the courage to deal with the huge

:49:22.:49:26.

welfare bill, right from the outset. It is all very well talking about

:49:26.:49:30.

some of the details, but just the broad principle that Labour is not

:49:30.:49:34.

signed up to wholeheartedly in terms of universal credit and a cap

:49:34.:49:40.

on welfare. No, I don't agree. We were clear in the manifesto for the

:49:40.:49:43.

last election that people who can work, choosing not to go to work

:49:43.:49:48.

will not happen, but you have to create the jobs. And you need a

:49:48.:49:52.

scheme that works, whereas the Government's work programme is

:49:52.:49:56.

letting down the unemployed. marriage, do you agree with those

:49:56.:50:00.

who are accusing the Prime Minister of acting without a mandate on gay

:50:00.:50:05.

marriage? First of all, we had the contract for qualities in which

:50:05.:50:09.

this particular promise was made, the examination of the issue of gay

:50:09.:50:12.

marriage, and it has been looked at, and the Prime Minister is convinced

:50:12.:50:16.

that this is something he has to deliver. Do you agree with it?

:50:16.:50:22.

matter of principle, absolutely I do. Gay people should be allowed to

:50:22.:50:27.

call themselves married. What you save your colleagues to say that

:50:27.:50:30.

there is no mandate, this is not an issue that is important, and we

:50:30.:50:34.

should not be pushing it through? do not think you can say that

:50:35.:50:41.

equalities issues are not important. What you say Jon Collins? I cannot

:50:41.:50:45.

speak for all of my colleagues. There is a balancing of rights. Yes,

:50:45.:50:48.

it is important to create the qualities, but at the same time we

:50:48.:50:51.

have to understand that people on both sides of the argument are

:50:51.:50:55.

passionate about it, and I have written to my constituents who have

:50:55.:50:58.

corresponded with me, saying I want to be convinced that is not

:50:58.:51:02.

something that can be overturned in court, particularly courts which we

:51:02.:51:06.

do not control. I think the quadruple lock went a long way

:51:06.:51:11.

towards that, but I will wait to hear the arguments on both sides.

:51:11.:51:15.

Was the Government right to make it illegal for gay couples to marry in

:51:15.:51:17.

the Church of England or Church of Wales without consulting either

:51:17.:51:21.

church? I think it was strange that the judges were not consulted. I

:51:21.:51:25.

take the view that if you are against gay marriage, you should

:51:25.:51:30.

not marry somebody of the same sex! It is about religious freedom. I

:51:30.:51:35.

personally think that any church that wants to be able to marry

:51:35.:51:38.

people of the same-sex of different sexes should be able to do so.

:51:38.:51:43.

it was wrong of the Government, which surprised a lot of people, to

:51:43.:51:47.

bring in this illegality element, so the Church of England will not

:51:47.:51:52.

be able to marry gay couples. did surprise me, and the Lib Dems

:51:52.:51:55.

take a simple view that the government should not be able to

:51:55.:51:59.

determine who adults are able to love or marry. That should be a

:51:59.:52:03.

matter of personal conscience and choice. I think it should before a

:52:03.:52:06.

judge to decide if it wants to marry people of the same sex will

:52:06.:52:09.

only people of different sexes. I think that should be a matter of

:52:09.:52:14.

religious freedom. Ed Miliband urged David Cameron to fast-track

:52:14.:52:18.

legislation. If he is so committed, why isn't he within Labour MPs?

:52:18.:52:21.

Because it is a matter of conscience, and we're all going to

:52:21.:52:26.

agree on this, on both sides of the argument people have sincerely held

:52:26.:52:30.

convictions, and I think, you know, it would not be appropriate to whip

:52:30.:52:35.

Labour MPs on this issue. Right... Just one other thing, briefly,

:52:35.:52:41.

before we go, we sport about the polling, and on UKIP, Eric Pickles

:52:41.:52:44.

suggested UKIP should be taken seriously and the Conservatives can

:52:45.:52:49.

win back support by engaging with it, but the Transport Secretary

:52:49.:52:52.

told the Sunday Politics he would only start worrying when UKIP

:52:52.:52:56.

started winning by-elections. Conservative politician who does

:52:56.:52:59.

not take the threat of UKIP seriously is being foolish. Any

:52:59.:53:03.

number of seats with small majorities, we have to engage with

:53:03.:53:06.

the arguments, and I have been clear for a long time that it is

:53:06.:53:10.

not a matter of pandering to their views, but explaining to people

:53:10.:53:13.

where the weight of the argument sits on the key things that face

:53:13.:53:16.

the country, the economy, welfare, education, and all those issues

:53:16.:53:20.

which actually bother people every day. The government has been doing

:53:20.:53:23.

fantastic work in all those areas, and it is up to us to make that

:53:23.:53:28.

argument and it tell people that if they want to see a country in 10 or

:53:28.:53:33.

20 years' time they can be proud of, then a UKIP vote is not one to make.

:53:33.:53:37.

Are you looking forward to next week? The festive atmosphere on the

:53:37.:53:40.

high street with carol singers and Christmas lights? Would it spoil it

:53:40.:53:43.

for you if the limited Father Christmas was brought to you by

:53:44.:53:48.

Coca-Cola, McDonald's or Toys R Us? Austerity cuts are making councils

:53:48.:53:51.

think long and hard about giving their lights over to advertising.

:53:51.:53:54.

This week Eric Pickles will tell local authorities how much money

:53:55.:53:58.

they can expect, and he will not be mistaken for Santa Claus. Two years

:53:58.:54:03.

ago they were looking at cuts of 12%, and further savings are likely.

:54:03.:54:06.

For the Sunday Politics and the North East, Mark Denten has been

:54:06.:54:15.

Christmas lights in Newcastle, sparkly, pretty, a cost to the

:54:15.:54:21.

council here of �140,000 per year. But with �90 million worth of

:54:21.:54:24.

savings divined, the council is looking to cut the cost of

:54:24.:54:28.

Christmas. It will continue to pay for the light until 2013, but after

:54:28.:54:32.

that it will be up to commercial sponsors, and that means if you are

:54:32.:54:38.

a company, your name could be of there. The council says both brazen

:54:38.:54:41.

monument and the Tyne Bridge could carry temporary sponsorship to pay

:54:41.:54:47.

for the sparkly, twinkly things. -- Ray's Monument. We cannot turn away

:54:47.:54:51.

any support financially that will help our city. If you have got a

:54:51.:54:54.

business proposition to help keep the lights switched on, we want to

:54:54.:54:58.

hear from me now. In the past, we might have considered naming

:54:58.:55:02.

companies to be a bit gaudy, but to keep the lights switched on, it

:55:02.:55:07.

will have to be a little bit gaudy. Private companies already provide

:55:07.:55:10.

�50,000 every year towards the Christmas lights in the city. But

:55:10.:55:14.

what people want to see sponsors on local landmarks? I think it would

:55:14.:55:20.

be a shame, a real shame. I can see the position they're in. I suppose

:55:20.:55:26.

it would be all right. If it is not too big, if it does not fill up the

:55:26.:55:31.

whole Monument of the Tyne Bridge. It depends who is sponsoring its.

:55:31.:55:34.

It is not just Newcastle looking closely at the cost of Christmas

:55:34.:55:38.

lights. On South Tyneside, the budget has been held at �200,000

:55:38.:55:44.

this year. In Redcar and Cleveland, the budget has fallen to �50,000

:55:44.:55:50.

from �90,000. Carlisle's Christmas decorations now cost �37,900 this

:55:50.:55:56.

year, compared to over �51,000 last year. Sparkly, pretty and for our

:55:57.:56:06.

cash-strapped councils, increasingly unaffordable.

:56:06.:56:11.

Are you prepared for gaudy to keep the lights on? Oh, definitely. I am

:56:11.:56:14.

not going to spoil the Christmas party, it is all part of the

:56:14.:56:17.

experience of shopping in the dark of the winter months, I am all for

:56:17.:56:23.

it. So you would be happy for company names up in lights? I was

:56:23.:56:27.

in Oxford Street the other night, and Marmite are sponsoring that,

:56:27.:56:32.

love it or hate it. Is that what it says? Absolutely. A price worth

:56:32.:56:37.

paying? By love Christmas lights, my nephews and my mother-in-law

:56:37.:56:41.

love the Christmas lights. Piccadilly Circus is very well lit

:56:41.:56:45.

up with sponsored advertising, so I see no problems with having

:56:45.:56:48.

suitable sponsorship to keep the lights going. But what is suitable

:56:48.:56:52.

sponsorship? We do not want to go down the line of Greek football

:56:52.:56:56.

teams which now have a brothel and an undertaker sponsoring them, I

:56:56.:57:00.

would not like to say that on Christmas lights. That would give

:57:00.:57:05.

it a certain shyness a choir! Where you draw the line in who can have

:57:05.:57:08.

sponsorship questionnaire presumably it is a matter for local

:57:08.:57:12.

councils. If local businesses want to make contributions, well,

:57:12.:57:17.

fantastic. They are quite expensive, looking at the prices. They are

:57:17.:57:21.

more expensive than I thought they were. With local authorities in

:57:21.:57:24.

great difficulty, it is a sensible thing for them to decide themselves

:57:24.:57:29.

which local sponsors could do it. Often you see on roundabouts, you

:57:29.:57:33.

see very nice garden decoration sponsored by suitable companies.

:57:33.:57:37.

Why not for the Christmas lights? What about your new year's

:57:37.:57:41.

political resolution? I know it is a bit early, but I bet you have

:57:41.:57:45.

thought about it. I have indeed, and for me it will be about

:57:45.:57:47.

standing up for the most of vulnerable people in my

:57:47.:57:50.

constituency who will be affected by welfare reform, starting with

:57:50.:57:56.

East Lothian. Sticking to the line very firmly! To do the job for my

:57:56.:58:01.

boss at the moment, to make sure I get as much of that right as I can!

:58:01.:58:05.

Who is your boss? In this case and talking about the Home Secretary.

:58:05.:58:10.

The best thing we can deliver is a thriving economy. And finally, last

:58:10.:58:16.

but not least... Well, to try to get fitter than I have been! If I

:58:16.:58:21.

can, to hold my head up high and feel proud of what the Liberal

:58:21.:58:24.

Democrats are doing in difficult circumstances, which I think we can

:58:24.:58:26.

show positive achievements as well as the negative things we have

:58:26.:58:30.

prevented. It sounds like you have all practised this, I thought it

:58:30.:58:36.

was going to be a surprise question! I have not going to -- I

:58:36.:58:39.

have not got a new year's resolution yet, but I have got time

:58:39.:58:44.

to think about it. The One O'Clock News is starting over on BBC One

:58:44.:58:47.

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