21/01/2013 Daily Politics


Jo Coburn with all the political news and views, including criticism of Downing Street's most senior civil servant over his handling of the 'plebgate' scandal.

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Westminster is as pretty as a picture under a blanket of snow


today, but it takes more than a couple of inches of the white stuff


to stop the Daily Politics from It is certainly warmer inside!


Coming up: From plebgate to plodgate, now Downing Street's most


senior civil servant gets it in the neck. Was the former Chief Whip


Andrew Mitchell the victim of rough justice?


The Prime Minister warned that North African militants represent


the next essential threat which could take years to of off -- and


existential threat. The same big speech on Europe


waiting to be delivered by the Prime Minister. After the long


build-up, will anyone be satisfied. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It


Snow. It looks pretty, but could the transport chaos be putting the


brakes on the UK economy? All that in the next hour, and with


us for the first half is Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the


gay rights organisation Stonewall. Welcome. Let's start with Obama's


public an operation for his second term as president, which will take


place later. Hundreds of thousands are expected for the event, which


will feature music from pop stars, Parade, black-tie balls and tight


security. He is expected to follow the recent edition of walking


through the crowds fired least some of the way back. -- for at least.


He was officially inaugurated in a small White House ceremony on


Sunday, as the US constitution requires the President be sworn in


by the 20th January. He bowed to preserve, protect and defend the


constitution of the United States. What are your hopes for his second


term? I hope one of the things he will do it is embed Obama care. If


you have a family in America, and I spent some time there, if you judge


politicians on what you might call the thatcher Attlee test of whether


they left something behind, making sure that 100 million people have


health care who did not otherwise is a pretty huge achievement. I


hope he will keep America and, consequently, the rest of us, out


of war with Iran. And if you wanted some more stuff about hope and


change, then possibly doing something at last about gun control,


which is something where there is a lot of support from ordinary


Americans. Let's look at gun- control. Do you think he will take


on the gun lobby which is so powerful in America? My instinct,


having seen the way he is setting out his stall, is that is what he


might be thinking about. Will he succeed? I think he will probably


get further than he might otherwise have -- otherwise have done. I was


in New Hampshire at the time of the Connecticut shooting three or four


weeks ago. People at home in America are starting to feel deeply


uncomfortable and they are reflecting, which is perfectly


reasonable, but the second announcement -- the Second


Amendment was designed to give people the right to have a single


ball rifle to protect them in the outback. It was not designed to


give unstable teenagers the right to carry an AK-47. Is it a battle


that you think he can make real progress on? You say attitudes may


have changed in the living rooms across America, but they always do


after an atrocity like this. Will it be enough to change any laws?


think if he seeks to do it incrementally, so at the very least


people start having to register in order to hold weapons like AK-47s,


he will make significant progress. I don't think he will abolish the


individual holding of weaponry altogether.


A now it is time for away daily quiz. We are staying with re-


inauguration. Which artist is performing? Is it Meatloaf, Beyonce,


Psy of Gangnam Style fame or Lady GaGa? At the end of the show we


will give you the correct answer. The Public Administration Committee


has said the most senior civil servant in Jennings Street, Sir


Jerry Hayward, failed to resolve key questions about the plebgate


affair -- in Downing Street. Mr Mitchell allegedly called officers


plebs in an altercation in December. He admits swearing but always says


he did not use the words attributed to him. Doubts have subsequently


been asked about -- past about the claims against him, including


claims to his deputy allegedly written by a policeman posing as a


member of the public. When the Prime Minister asked Jeremy Heywood


to investigate the e-mails, he concluded they did not prove


conclusive for reliable evidence against Mr Mitchell. At the Public


Administration Committee, a cross- party group of MPs, say that Sir


Jeremy should have pursued the matter further, saying he was


surprised -- they were surprised that he did not seek to verify the


authenticity of a document purported to be the police. --


police log. They also think he should have advised the PM to refer


the police account to the authorities. The report from the


Public Administration Committee comes 11 days after MPs heard


evidence from Sir Jeremy on the Mitchell affair. What I am


wondering here is what actually happened? He did not occur to


anyone that it would be possible they could be a massive fabrication


at the time. -- it did not occur to anyone. Nobody thought it could


happen. Is that part of what underpins the thinking? No, I think


we accepted there were unanswered questions, including the


possibility of a gigantic conspiracy, or small conspiracy. We


decided, on balance, to let matters rest as they were, to stick by


Andrew Mitchell, keep him in post and move on. With first is the


chairman of the Public Administration Committee, Bernard


Jenkin. What was the biggest mistake, Cameron's decision to ask


Sir Jeremy to investigate all the investigation itself? We were keen


to learn from this experience, asking the question are there


lessons to learn from how this investigation is conducted, should


it be done better and differently in the future? The committee I


chair, in the previous parliament it recommended that the Prime


Minister's adviser on ministerial interests should conduct these


matters. The Civil Service says it is not for the Cabinet Secretary to


enforce the code. Last summer we recommended he should be able to


instigate his own investigations, the adviser, and the obvious truth


is the Cabinet Secretary is not the right person to conduct this sort


of inquiry, he is under enormous pressure of time. He does not


necessarily have the skills. Inevitably, people will feel he is


conflicted. Therefore automatically these inquiry should be run by the


adviser and not the Cabinet Secretary. He was the wrong man for


the job, which you have said, but that was up to David Cameron who


appointed him? He obviously felt he was the right man for the job?


There is a habit in Downing Street that somehow with something get


referred to the adviser, then it is really ramping up and the minister


has to be suspended. I understand all that. In the heat of the moment


it is very easy to say things should have been done differently


in retrospect, but this investigation failed to uncover the


truth. There must be a better way of handling these investigations.


You think Sir Alex Allan would have uncovered the truth? I don't know,


but he is appointed for the purpose of conducting these investigations


and it is far more likely he would give it his full-time, independent


judgment likely he would get and that he would have commanded the


public confidence necessary for such an investigation. Sir Jeremy


Hay, the most senior civil servant in the country, does not inspire


that confidence? His remit covers so many other things. Let's look at


the weekend he has had. As well as dealing with the response to this


report he has been dealing with the Algerian hostage crisis. The


hangover of the non-EU speech which has to be handled later. All these


things and many others are crowding on his time and putting him under


enormous pressure. How is he meant to conduct a dispassionate


investigation into the Andrew Mitchell fire at the same time? It


is asking too much. Why has this Government repeatedly failed to act


on your recommendation, and the previous government, too, to let


Sir Alex Allan Duke -- do his job? We are still waiting for a


government response to a recommendation we made 10 months


ago, usually the deadline is two months. Prime ministers


understandably do not want to lose control of things that have a


bearing on how the Government is perceived. But the lesson of this


is how much better it would have been for the Prime Minister and


Cabinet Secretary if they handed his old that as a matter of course,


that the adviser handled the investigation. Do you think it was


not a good enough investigation by Sir Jeremy Heywood? It looks


incomplete, but two things strike me about the issue. One is that I


don't think plebgate played as badly in the country as people


thought it did, because it was people you would expect trying to


exploit it. And if people have prejudices about what MPs think


about the voters they will have them anyway. I don't think that was


assisted by the Christchurch MP referring to wait is in the House


of Commons last week as servants. - - referring to waiters. I suspect


that Bernard Jenkin will agree, and I have only picked this up socially


from Conservative MPs, another thing really interesting is while


there might be MPs who was Liberal Democrat and say they think the


police might have made things up or framed people, there are


Conservative MPs who are genuinely aghast at the very possibility that


a police officer might have invented a claim about a government


minister or, indeed, might have fabricated a complaint. Are you


aghast? We have been very careful not to go that lot -- not to go


there. It is not in our remit. bit like Sir Jeremy Heywood!


might say that. The Home Affairs Select Committee is looking at this


matter. But there is a criminal investigation in progress. And I


think commenting too much on that might endanger a future trial.


Absolutely. But I think it, subject to all the qualifications, it being


a matter in progress, if this were found to be the case, I think the


tectonic plates will shift slightly between the police and many


Conservative backbenchers, who would have been instinctively quite


supportive of them hitherto. remain instinctively supportive of


the police. Their rotten apples in every barrel. Dealing with the


diplomatic Protection Group, we are acutely aware that these people


would throw themselves in front of a bullet for us, for you, for


whoever happens to be standing there. Not for me. They would. I


think talking to the police around the Palace who look after us, I


have not discussed this with any of them, but I think a lot of them are


aghast at what might or might not have happened. Thank you, Bernard.


It has been more than four decades since the government of the day


decriminalised homosexual acts in private between two men, and the


gay rights movement has come up -- come a long way, with several


ceremonies parts of everyday life. But it is not so long ago that


newspapers thrived an outing gay MPs, and those kinds of stories


about public figures still make the headlines. Has the taboo been


lifted on being gay in public life? A public display of private life,


the annual Gay pride march is a time where gay or lesbian people


celebrate their sexuality. But what if you live a public life? How


accepting has society come's become when it comes to politicians?


much more acceptable than five years ago. David Cameron's


government has a lot of work and it is a good atmosphere to be a gay


politician. And before that Tony Blair's government and attitude


towards gay ministers. It is still not easy, I think they still face


more difficulties than heterosexual politicians, because their


sexuality is deemed by some not to be the so-called norm. They're just


over 20 are openly gay MPs. The first openly lesbian MP says that


moves towards make a rights legislation over the past decade


has been the result of changes in society. The last Labour government


legislated for equal rights in so many areas for LGBT people. It has


reflected a change which was already going on in people's


attitudes and it has reinforced those attitudes. The gay rights


activist teak -- activist Peter Tatchell complained of a senior


camp bed mattress near campaign against him when he stood in an


election in 1983. Their accusations of homophobia after the term a


straight choice was used. The world may have moved on since then, but a


study by the gay rights group Stonewall last year said that three


in five people think there is public prejudice against gay,


lesbian and bisexual people in Britain today. Just under two-


thirds of those aged 18 to 29 SEP- there was homophobic bullying in


their school and more than three- quarters of people felt that the


media relied heavily on cliched stereotypes of gay, lesbian and


bisexual people. In 2010, former cabinet minister David Laws was


forced to reveal his sexuality during a row about his expenses


leading to his resignation. But the author of a book about gay


politicians and the press said that the media is changing. People like


David Laws and Alan Duncan, while their sexuality is the subject of


press coverage, it is more the issues behind it which are bigger,


so expenses or being the first openly gay Tory MP. Those are


bigger issues. Their sexuality is still an issue. Does geography


affect perceptions? More than 20 years since she was first elected,


Angela Eagle says not. When I came out in 1998 I think that I was


probably the first woman, and I was also one of the first that was not


a London member. It did not make any difference, you know? My


constituents, thank goodness, judge me for who I was and the job I was


doing rather than my sexual orientation. So attitudes are


changing, but is that change Ben Summerskill of Stonewall is


here, and we are joined by Ian Stewart. You would agree it is


easier, is it not to be gay in public life these days? Oh, yes, if


you look at when I first became interested and active in politics


in the late 1980s, it was unquestionable for me to think


about being open about who I was at that time, so we have made enormous


progress in the last couple of decades. And as we saw in the


interview, even in the last five years, there has been a step change.


Why do you think that has been, particularly in the last five


years? What has driven that step change? Well, I think there has


been a sea-change in society, too. It is not just about


representatives in public life, you think it has gone deeper than that?


I think so, and the more people see people in all walks of life being


open about their sexuality, and it not being an issue, you know, we


are seeing more sports stars coming out, and they are not regarded for


their sexuality, and there are still problems, areas where there


is not enough progress, but the more we see role-models in all


walks of life, the more, I think, society will change. Do think the


public has a right to know their representatives' sexuality, or is


it none of their business? someone wants to keep their private


life entirely private, I think that is their matter. If they were


starting to talk about family values, while keeping their


sexuality secret, I think that is then an issue. But ultimately, I


think it is up to each individual to decide for themselves. Do you


agree with that, or do you think that public officials have a right


to be open about their sexuality? think people have a right to be


open about their sexuality. They also have a right not to be, and I


think the point about what people say in public and a dissonance with


what they might be doing in private, so people talk about family values


but keep a mistress, that is a matter of public interest. But the


important thing, too, is that across the piece in representation,


the quality of politics is improved just occasionally when someone is


able to stand up in relation to a particular piece of legislation and


say, as someone gay, as someone black, as a woman, this is my lived


experience of these issues. It improves the quality of politics,


and that is why it is important. mean, traditionally, one might have


been able to argue that Labour was a more natural home for gay voters.


The thing that has changed now? what I hope is that gay issues are


not party political. -- do you think. The Conservative Party,


David Cameron has apologised for Section 28, and I think he was


right to, not a proud period of my party's history. But what I want


the debate to be now is how we tackle the remaining homophobia in


schools and elsewhere, and that should not be, whether left-wing or


right-wing, we should be looking at the evidence and coming up with


sensible ideas. Actually, it is not pointing out that the Conservatives


have more openly game of parliamentarians now that all the


other parties but together. -- openly gay parliamentarians. There


is no openly gay Liberal Democrat peer, only two MPs. So you would


encourage people to come out. Absolutely, and on the whole,


politicians who have done that say they feel more comfortable, but it


is a sign of how the Conservative Party is changing that they are


selecting these MPs right across Britain, not just in metropolitan


areas. Let's talk about metropolitan areas, because Ian


Stuart said that you felt society had changed, it was not just a


public face against homophobia. What about attitudes outside of


London? His there a geographical divide? I think it can be


overestimated. One of the moments of the month of me, if I am


permitted such a thing and this programme, was the Any Questions


audience on Friday in Barnstaple being asked whether they supported


equal marriage, and four out of five of them responded Yes. You


know, that is in the heart are the middle Britain, and we are seeing


MPs has selected by the Conservative Party, winnable seats,


not just in Brighton, Bournemouth or the inner-city areas, but in


Milton Keynes, in Pudsey. Glasgow? Yes, well last year the


election of Ruth Davidson as election of the Scottish


Conservatives, the first openly lesbian lead of any political party


in the country, and I know from growing up in central Scotland in


the 1980s, you know, that is a phenomenal change that has taken


place in a relatively short period of time. What about in schools? You


mentioned homophobia that might exist in the school playground. How


big a problem is that? We said that Stonewall carried out last year


found that 55% of secondary school pupils who identify as lesbian or


gay are routinely bullied at school, and research into the experience of


Teachers confirms that incidents of bullying, so it is still quite a


serious issue. So, again, not wanting to be -- to labour the


point on geography, is this across the country? Oh, yes, interestingly,


that research is always sliced by region, and we did not see huge


discrepancies between London and some parts of the country.


Similarly, there are also schools, faith schools in rural areas, that


are taking huge steps to tackle homophobic bullying at school, and


fashionable comprehensives in metropolitan areas that are not.


Thank you very much. How much do you know about the


texts and internet messages of your children? You feel you have a right


to check what they are sending and receiving on their mobiles or


through social networking? According to David Cameron's new


adviser on childhood, Claire Perry, parents should insist on seeing


their kids' computer and phone exchanges. And she believes society


has been complicit in allowing youngsters in appropriate contact


with strangers. Well, the government is preparing to respond


to a report, and she joins us from College Green. Thank you for


standing out in the snow, I hope you're not freezing! No, all right.


I have not been preparing a report, since I was appointed in his role,


I have been responding to a lot of work that the government has been


doing around the report that Reg Bailey prepared, and we will hear


more about that next week. One of the things that was quite clear in


all of the discussions we have been having on this issue for the last,


I suppose, two years, really, is that parents have this feeling of


powerlessness in their kids' lives. When we were growing up, if someone


was phoning our houses or sending letters to the home, parents would


feel they had a responsibility to intervene, that somehow we have


ceded that responsibility and feel very nervous about getting involved


in their online lives. I have got three children, this is not an easy


thing to do, but I think it is right that parents should feel they


have got a responsibility to get involved. We are usually paying for


these mobile phone contracts and devices, we have a responsibility


to monitor what is going on. Just before we continue, what about the


issue of privacy? If you are a young gay person, you do not want


your parents to know at that stage perhaps, do not want to have a


little bit of privacy? There are often weighs four people in those


circumstances to make contact with appropriate support systems, but I


am old enough, I am in the departure lounge of life now!


Hardly! I remember when you were put in detention for putting a note


on a paper aeroplane that you sent across the classroom, let alone


telephoning people from your desk. And I think it is perfectly proper,


while children are still vulnerable, to be thinking quite hard about how


they are contacting other people. What are you suggesting, Claire


Perry, happens here? How are you going to know and encourage more


parental supervision on this issue? I think if we go back to the


recommendations of the Bailey Review, one of which was about


having more family friendly access to the internet, and that is


something that we have campaigned on, and indeed we are working on a


process now to implement that with the big internet service providers.


But I think it is almost educating parents, and thank you for covering


this, because there has been a huge amount of interest in this, to say


that actually you have got a responsibility, we cannot leave


this up his cause of the government. We have all got to get involved,


there is a partnership here, and you should feel he while on the


front foot in your conversations with your children. You remember


your horror when your mother threatened to read your diary? Of


course, children should have privacy in Shard, but we have


exposed them to a lot of third- party dangers. -- Chris Eakin


childhood. Let's get back a bit of pair of Boris Bond's ability, we


can all work together. -- a bit of parental responsibility.


wanting to be too cynical, you could argue that is just common


sense. You need to have government work done on something that most


parents will agree with? I agree, and this is simply an expression, I


think, of what is underpinning a lot of the work, which is we need a


return to common sense, but with the focus of Number Ten and the


Government and the Industry and parents getting involved, we would


get to a place where Britain is the safest place to grow up as a child


in an online world, and that is a good thing. Yes, we do not want to


discourage people from becoming technically savvy, but I think that


would be pretty hard, my kids are already way ahead of me. In terms


of what the Government can do, a crackdown on raunchy music videos,


children's access to lads' mags, what are you suggesting? These were


front and centre in the Bailey report, and excellent progress has


been made, but there is still things to be done. We were chatting


people -- chatting about people not -- we were chatting about people


watching fairly explicit music videos on MTV, and many others


would like to see a proper age rating system, so that parents can


choose what their kids are actually watching. The technology gets


clever if you can embed those ratings in an online video, and


family-friendly builders can pick them up and scream that material.


All the technological solutions are there, we are finally focusing on


this, and I think parents have a right of responsibility. You can


always turn the internet off. People say, Mike kids are on the


internet or might, you can switch it off. -- Mike kids. On that issue,


the government is limited on what it can do here. Is it a question of


holding back the tide? Raunchy music videos are everywhere, on the


television, advertising on billboards, how are you going to


stop your children being exposed to it? Acting sometimes it can be a


question of taking an interest,. -- I think. We should not forget that


mobile phones and social media can be used as a network for bullying.


Schools have done a lot of work on that. Some of it is about


discussing with young people and educating them. The other thing


that is sometimes overlooked in his conversation which causes me very


great anxiety is, at the same time as thinking about his use of


sexualisation as sex, very little seems to be said about the violence


that appears on so much readily accessible media, and probably


young people are every bit as impressionable in that area as they


are around sex, and we possibly need to do some better thinking


about how that can be synthesised to make sure that it is reaching


people of an appropriate age. Princess Diana, famously, took her


children to a film for which they were under-age, and it was regarded


as a little bit of a food. Well, that raises the question of whether


we are thinking hard enough about these things in the first place.


Thank you for being a guest of the Not everything stops when it snows.


Not this programme, and we have a busy week in politics. President


Obama begins his second term officially this afternoon with his


public re-inauguration. The Prime Minister will make a statement in


the House of Commons this afternoon on the hostage crisis in Algeria.


On Wednesday we will get his long awaited speech on Europe. On Friday


the GDP figures are out which could show that the economy is back in


negative territory. Joining me now from snowy College


Green are Helen Lewis, the deputy editor of the New Statesman, and


Kieran Lewis of the -- and Kiran Stacey of the Financial Times.


Three British hostages still unaccounted for, it seems the


number of foreigners killed will almost certainly go up? Overnight


we thought around 23 hostages or people in total may have been


killed, the number is now looking much, much high as they go through


the gas plant and see how heavy the damage was both to the hostages and


hostage-takers. What about the rhetoric coming out of Number Ten?


We have heard from David Cameron and William Hague. I mean the


rhetoric in terms of how Britain should respond. William Hague has


pointed to Somalia as an example of what might happen in Whalley and


has said that Britain is not omnipotent, which is something we


need to reminding of occasionally - - he has pointed to Somalia as an


example of what might have been in mania. -- Mali. We have heard about


the next essential threat, there must be a global response? -- and


existential threat? The Prime Minister has come -- compared the


situation to that in Afghanistan and says it could take decades to


sort out. What we will be doing there for decades is really unclear.


Talking to defence officials yesterday they were talking about


organising conferences and helping regimes, dealing with their own


people. Organising conferences for the next 10 years will not clear


Al-Qaeda out. The next question is whether we will have troops


involved, as they have been in Afghanistan and large parts of the


at least, in North Africa for the next 10 years. -- Afghanistan and


large parts of the Middle East. long awaited speech is scheduled


for Wednesday this week. Do you think it will be an anti-climax


after all this time? It has to be, it has been months and months and


months that we have been waiting for it. With it being heavily


trailed in advance, I don't see what Cameron can save which will be


exciting red meat to the Euro- sceptic wing of his party. But he


is promising a referendum. It is too late, we have already been told


that, he needs to offer something else! It has all been taken into


account now, the backbenchers will want to see something else entirely.


I have been told there will be some other kind of red meat, something


else for Euro-sceptic backbenchers, but I struggle to see what it is.


Any ideas? Anything short of rolling tanks into Brussels will be


slightly anti-climactic. There is a simple lesson in terms of marching


people to the top of the hill and massaging expectations. Helen, how


likely do you think the latest GDP figures will show the economy has


shrunk? Very likely. People are saying 0.3%, that does not


technically put us in a triple dip but it puts us close to one, which


is devastating for a government which has pinned its reputation on


economic recovery, it will overshadow politics for the next


couple of weeks. Kiran Stacey, in terms of the talk about a triple


dip recession, it is dangerous territory for George Osborne?


But he has become a real tough love chance and everything bounces off


him.... Tough love Chancellor. He still seems to be OK. Labour are


struggling to get a lead on the crucial test of economic competence.


People generally believe that the Government is doing the right thing,


even if it is not quite working it will work eventually and, besides,


those Labour lot, we don't really trust them on the economy. So I


think he has quite a lot of credit with voters and will do even if we


are going to triple dip. Do you agree? Absolutely not. I think a


lot of the changes this year will be felt in people's pockets, the


austerity. We have had a squeeze a living standards for years and the


worst pain has not happened yet. When it does, we will see whether


he really is Teflon or not. When the UK loses its triple A credit


rating, which almost certainly happen, George Osborne has made a


huge deal out of the credit rating so that will be a massive blow to


his credibility. Thank you both out in the snow. Get


back inside. The Conservative MP and chairman of


the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Richard Ottaway, a Labour


MP and the former Lib Dem leader Ming Campbell joined me for the


rest of the programme. Let's talk about Algeria and Mali. The Prime


Minister yesterday warned that Islamic terrorism in the north and


west of Africa was an ongoing threat which would take years to


will become. This is a stark reminder once again off the threat


we face from terrorism the world over. We have had successes in


recent years in reducing the threat from some parts of the world, but


the threat has grown, particularly in North Africa. This is a global


threat which will require a global response. It will require a


response which is about years, even decades, rather than months, and it


requires a response that his patient and painstaking and tough


but also intelligent, but above all has an absolutely iron resolve.


Richard Ottaway, has he ramped up the rhetoric too much talking about


a global threat needing a global response and that North African


militants are existential threat, presumably to the West. I don't


think so. If you look at the report of the 9/11 Commission after the


Twin Towers attacks 12 years ago, they forecast that a growing


population across the Middle East and North Africa would lead to


social turbulence. I think what we have seen in the last few weeks,


the social turbulence has arrived. Hundreds of millions of kids are


out of work without proper jobs, no ambition or aspiration, and they


are seduced by the jihadist militants. Actually if there is a


challenge here now, it is one of they'd rather than military. The


focus has to go on to how to redress the social turbulence we


are seeing in the region. David Cameron made a loose comparison in


the response, like the response he made in Afghanistan, up that there


should be so military involvement. Do you think he will rule that out?


I would be surprised if we saw blips on the ground. I think you'll


see support and aid like we have in Mali, providing logistics support,


I think that is what he will be saying this afternoon. Ming


Campbell, what do you want to hear from David Campbell? More about


tough but intelligent. When you are assessing the rhetoric, you have to


listen to the whole of it. The Prime Minister has been in back-to-


back meetings of COBRA for the last four days, it is inevitable that


you will have a sense of relief, you might begin stronger and more


dramatic terms. I think a lot will depend on the intelligence and


foreign policy analysis. This is an area where the United Kingdom has


not been particularly prominent for quite a long time, and in that


respect we will have to work in close co-operation with the French,


because they know this part of the world rather better than we do. I


also hope that he will talk about operating, along with our lives. --


along with allies. Have we been slow off the mark in dealing with


the North African jihadist threat? We are still out of Afghanistan and


will not be out of there until 2014, although there are suggestions, and


Obama might talk about it today, that the Americans would come out


earlier. We might then come out earlier two. We have a very


substantial cuts to the defence budget, we are going from 98,000


members of the army to 82,000. When people are talking about pits on


the ground, it might not be choice, it might be a necessity -- bids on


the ground. Gisela Stuart, bearing in mind the terms that David


Cameron used, should we be providing a more robust response?


Number 10 have reiterated there will be no combat role for British


forces in Mali, but does the British Government need to be


upping its game? It needs to say something this afternoon about the


security of these workers working in oil and gas installations. But


he needs to show a sense of how this happened. The first


international arrest warrant for Osama Bin Laden was requested in


the mid- 90s by Gaddafi. There has been an awareness in North Africa


of a fundamental threat, which I think the West has ignored, to some


extent. Secondly, how does he think the NATO Lycett allies will work


together? It is the intelligent approach I am looking for, rather


than tough language, which could be applied to any conflict. Richard,


there is a difference between criminal gangs of Islamic militants


and jihadi is, Mokhtar Belmokhtar was one of those. And also over-


reacting and saying it is a global threat from Al-Qaeda. Should it be


left more internally to some of the North African countries to deal


with because there is a risk of escalating the conflict? A around


the world, Al-Qaeda is being driven out of its traditional heartlands


of Pakistan and Afghanistan and moving into Somalia, Algeria, Mali,


Nigeria. It needs an international response. The effort lies primarily


in intelligence, reassessment of the strategic role that the West


will play. They have been driven out of Pakistan and Afghanistan in


part because of drone attacks. That is why they have gone. Does it not


need to be matched in the same way in these other parts of north and


west Africa? They have been driven out but not destroyed. They moved


to other countries where governments is weak in the hope of


exploiting it. If you go through the Middle East, starting with


Egypt, where the outcome of the most recent election as a matter of


some dispute, going to Syria, where we don't know what the outcome is


likely to be at all, in the Middle East there are lots of


opportunities forced Dutch opera for instability and potential


instability. If you just drive them from one country to another you are


not dealing with the problem and you might be adding to the very


instability in these countries. you think this is just a group of


roaming criminals? They are criminals... It is money, drug


running? It is cigarettes. Mokhtar Belmokhtar was making money out of


illegal cigarettes. They are very important thing is not to call this


a war. If you call it a war, you are using their language and


adopting or endorsing their moral justification. Name mentioned Syria,


but we have to be careful who we work with. -- Ming Campbell


mentioned Syria. Some of the Syrian opposition needs to take a closer


look... The Prime Minister himself, clearly being the left, one way or


another, out of what was going on and what the Algerian government


was doing, do you think David Cameron's language, and William


Hague's, changed, in the way they were talking about the Algerians?


For they were clearly frustrated at being excluded but I don't think it


made much difference to the end result, they just wanted


information, which is understandable. I think their


response has been and continues to be pretty mature. I don't read


anything into this. Let's turn to the Prime Minister's


big speech on Europe. We have turned to it so awful lot of times!


We have learned this morning we will get to hear what David Cameron


has to say on Wednesday, we hope! A UKIP MP joins us now. We have a


vexed tracks from the speech, are you satisfied? -- we have extracts


from the speech. I am looking forward to a firm commitment from


David Cameron that he believes the British role remains within the


European Union as a leading player. That will be the important part.


an in-out referendum crucial to satisfy your colleagues? I think he


quite clearly wants to give it his best shot at achieving a new


relationship with the rest of Europe and, let's face it, the rest


of Europe needs a new -- a new relationship with itself at the


moment. And he will probably put back to the British people in a


referendum. Will it satisfy some of your colleagues? Some of my


colleagues would never be satisfied unless we were outside of the


European Union. But I think it will satisfy the broad middle ground of


the Conservative Party and Britain as a whole. David Cameron will move


into your territory, taking away the reason for disaffected Tories


to vote for you? The only referendum that would make any


sense would be an in-out referendum very soon. He cannot renegotiate


our relationship with the EU. If you are going to change that you


need a new treaty with unanimous consent of the 27 member states, 28


when Croatia joins. I think the whole thing as a Conservative Party


con trick to try to get voters back onside before the 2014 Euro-


elections and the general election in 2015. If he wants to renegotiate


he can do that now and it would put him in a strong position if he


renegotiated now and brought that before the general election, but he


can't do that because it is not on offer. Richard Ottaway, it is a


conservative con-trick? Rubbish. This is a very serious policy and


UKIP obviously have their own agenda. We are not in a position to


have a referendum anyway because there is not a majority in


parliament that wants to have a referendum. A sensible, measured


approach is the right way forward. There would be if the Liberal


Democrats came on board. In 2010 make promised an earn-out


referendum in their manifesto. Where has that on? If if further


powers were to be transported to Brussels, and that is in the


Conservative -- the coalition agreement. If further powers were


transported to Brussels, there would be a referendum. In 2010 the


Liberal Democrat said we will have a fundamental... I think you did!


certainly did not campaign and it. The Liberal Democrats therefore


remain committed to end in out referendum the next time a British


government signs up to a fundamental change... The fact you


are committed to end in out referendum, not just a referendum.


Why has that changed? We have the coalition agreement. It is the


measure of an agreement between the two parties. It is not a con trick,


it is an effort to square a circle, to set us by Angela Merkel adopt


the same time Gisela Stuart. The fact of the matter is... This is


all my fault?! I am just pointing out how difficult it is. If you go


into Europe and say we know there is a crisis in the eurozone, we


know you need stability but we are not going to help unless you do a,


b and c, you are likely to get a favourable response. If we say, we


know there is a crisis, the stability of the eurozone is in our


financial and economic interest, we will help. But, by the way, here


are some other things we would like to consider. A you think there is a


good chance of repatriating powers? Should then be a referendum now?


what is the question? The European Union will fundamentally change,


those within the eurozone will have deeper integration, and that means


those countries outside, including the UK, needs to look at how they


relate to it. That is what can and ought to address, whereas he


created... It will be interesting to see how he does, because he is


giving a speech for internal party political reasons, not because he


has got something useful to say, and unless you tell us what the out


would mean, it really is a con, and he ought to address... How is it a


con? She is saying that the outbid of the referendum is a con to the


British people. The only thing that makes sense, is do you want to be


part of the United States of Europe? That is where it is heading,


it is almost there anyway. Do you want to reassert just status as an


independent nation? There is no other choice on offer. You were


talking about further powers being taken by the EU, and it is very


difficult from my position in the parliament, where I see this


legislation coming through, to see what powers they could still take.


There's very little now that the House of Commons has power over.


According to a German study in 2006, about 84% of our new laws come from


the European Union, covering every aspect of national life. OK, let me


put that to Gisela Stuart, that is the only choice. No, it is not. We


will always have to have a relationship with our neighbours.


But you could come out of the European Union had just be like


Norway? But we are not Norway, we are the sixth largest... It is


crazy, that is not the choice, but there is a fundamental question for


those countries within the geography of Europe who will not


join the single currency and how they will relate to each other and


how they will relate to the core of Europe, and that is the work that


camera needs to do. Let me explode the myth about Norway. It sits at


side of the room when decisions are being taken, but in order to trade


with... They still have access to the markets. It has to sign up to


all the protocols, and edition, often forgotten, it has to


contribute money to the European Union which, if scaled up, would be


equivalent to �3.5 billion for the UK. So this notion that somehow


Norway is a paradigm that we should aim for makes no sense whatsoever.


It gives you obligations, but it does not give you openings. Gerard


Butler, you are going to say something. We are much bigger and


more powerful than Norway. Norway and Switzerland are not in the EU,


they both have higher per-capita incomes than Britain. Switzerland


did a study in 2006 on its possible relationship with the EU, and they


worked out it would cost them six times more to actually be a member


of the European Union than stay outside. Both of those countries to


trade with the EU. Britain is a much bigger economy than they are.


We could still trade with the EU and the rest of the world, but what


is important is that Britain is a global trading nation, and we do


not want to restrict ourselves just to the European Union. What should


Ed Miliband be saying now? Something! At the moment there is a


lot of prevarication from Labour in terms of what they would offer.


and a half years away from a general election... No, it is no


good, no... It is for the Government to propose. This beaches


of David Cameron's choosing, and if he does not have something useful


to say, he should not have talked it up. This is the same Labour


Party that joined with the Euro- sceptics on the backbenches of the


Conservative Party in order to defeat the Government's proposal


about the budget of the European Union. If we are cutting everything


including welfare, we cut this as well. This is an opportunity to say


that and then say we are committed Europeans. We never have


opportunism in politics, of course! Thank you very much.


For easing weather and snow across many parts of the UK, have you


noticed? It has brought transport to a standstill in some parts of


the country. Nearly 5,000 schools have been closed and passengers are


facing delays to journeys by road, Heathrow has cancelled more than 10


design sign of its schedule, 187 fights, while flights at Leeds,


Manchester and East Midlands have been suspended. -- more than 10% of


its schedule. Jo main roads in North Yorkshire have been closed


because of snow. -- two. Up to eight inches of snow is forecast to


fall in some areas. West Yorkshire has been at the centre of today's


snow for, and Ed Thomas is in Bradford. Ed, how did you get to


where you are? With a lot of difficulty, but I did get here,


that is the good thing! It has just started to slow down, the snow here,


but this is the picture in West Yorkshire now, Bradford today. When


people walk up on the street this morning, they saw all this no, and


then they decided to go back to bed again. A lot of these cars have not


moved today. This one behind he is a taxi, and this has had an impact


on people's lives. -- behind me. This is how much snow as fallen in


Bradford, not scientific, but it would give you some idea. I am told


it is up to five inches. Four streets like this, it has meant a


lot of people have had to stay indoors. Because of that, a lot of


schools have closed in Yorkshire, over 750 have had to shut their


doors to children, which has had an impact on people's lives because it


stops parents from going to work. We can just about walk on the


streets here, but take a look at the main A-roads. They are passable,


they have been gritted by the local council, as have many across the


North of England, and they are passable with care. This road takes


you into Bradford from the M60 to in that direction, so it is looking


OK on the main roads. -- the M62. The back roads are passable with


care. Problems also at Manchester Airport, Leeds-Bradford, Robin Hood


airport, delays and cancellations. On the trains, the East Coast


mainline has delays of half an hour, as on the West Coast Main Line. We


have had delays and that as well. It all goes to show that the snow


is not the heaviest it has been in the North of England, but it is


having any impact on people's lives. It is dying down here now, but more


is expected later in the north-east of England and Scotland. Check your


local weather forecast to see how it will affect you. Ed, thank you


for telling us in! Keep warm and the safe. It seems that the roads


have fared better this year, because for a few years we have had


this kind of snow, but is this more efficient gritting, cars have been


able to pass, the trains have not been too bad, but the transport


network, is enough being done to make sure that it functions? I grew


up in southern Bavaria, where this would not even...! What I would say


is, yes, they are getting better, any driver should ring the nearest


driving school and get themselves lessons in driving in these kind of


conditions. The thing which strikes me, even when the roads have been


gritted, drivers are not used to it, they start using... It is not the


snow tyres, it is winter tyres, which are more effective if the


temperature falls below seven degrees, one-fifth of the year.


Your garage will store it for you of a winter, just to learn to drive.


Ming Campbell, Heathrow, is it acceptable that an international


airport flight Heathrow can cancel 190 flights, as it has done today,


and hundreds over the weekend? took me 10 hours from the centre of


Edinburgh to my flat in Pimlico yesterday, because I went to


Edinburgh airport for a flight which continued to be described on


the internet as leaving at 5 o'clock. I got there, I was still


there at seven, when they said it was cancelled, and then through the


good grace of the people I know, because I am a regular traveller, I


was put on to another flight. Contacts! Eventually, we got to


Gatwick, not even Heathrow, at just after 12 o'clock. And the point is,


we know that this is going to happen at some stage. Why on earth


are we ready? It is like one of the slow-moving car crashes, you can


see what is going happen four days ahead, but nothing is done to avert


it. Isn't the problem specifically at Heathrow? Gatwick fared better.


Because his eyes at 97% capacity, I heard the woman from BAA saying we


have a plane landing every 45 seconds, there is no room to


manoeuvre, to space them out. Don't we need to do something about


expansion? The debate about expansion, of course, is enormously


controversial, Boris putting his all in... The Liberal Democrats


ruling it out. At Heathrow. Shouldn't that be the international


airport? I think we have to look at other opportunities. Of course, if


you have other opportunities in respect of airports, you have got


to have the fast links to the centre of London, which are


complementary to that. What about the impact this is having on the


economy? Well, it is bound to have an impact on the economy, and what


is more... The government cannot afford that at this stage. If it is


any consolation, I was in Moscow a few weeks ago, when they get snow


all the time, and there was just as much chaos, notably shut, airports


closed. Is that a justification? but the point is, stuff happens, Jo,


we just get on with it. But we ought to be looking ahead, and


there is a serious issue about capacity. We have had this sort of


snow every year for the last few years, George Osborne blamed it for


the lack of growth, and no doubt we will have a shrinking of the


economy and it is going to happen again. Can we allow the weather to


have that much of an impact? As we say, it happens, and we have to


learn to live with it. You know, we are struggling with the economy, it


is bumping along, as you were saying earlier, possibly going into


a corrugated bottom. On a corrugated bottom, we will finish


there! The answer to our quiz, he was performing at President Obama's


ceremony? Who knows the answer? Beyonce! Well done, Richard Ottaway.


Jo Coburn with all the political news and views, including criticism of Downing Street's most senior civil servant over his handling of the 'plebgate' scandal and the latest on David Cameron's EU speech.

Stonewall's Ben Summerskill discusses being gay in public life.

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