05/02/2013 Daily Politics


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Afternoon. Welcome to the Daily Politics. Today it is all about the


bells - wedding and division. Yes, it is the big day in the Commons,


but will Dave's proposals for gay marriage lead to a divorce with his


party? We will have the latest before tonight's vote.


Farewell Chris Huhne. But will a coalition war break out over your


seat? We will be looking ahead to the Eastleigh by-election.


We'll meet one of the most powerful men in British politics. Recognise


him? No? Then you had better stay tuned.


And talking of powerful men. Who would have thought the bones of


Richard III would cook up a political storm?


All that in the next hour. With us for the duration is the Guardian


columnist, Polly Toynbee. Welcome. Now, first today, let's talk about


something that has been dubbed the bedroom tax, which isn't a tax at


all. People in council homes with a spare room have been told they will


have their housing benefit reduced unless they move to a smaller home.


Yesterday, the Labour MP Kerry McCarthy raised the issue in the


House of Commons. She was worried about what would happen to people


who couldn't afford to stay in their homes but the Lib Dem


Minister Don Foster said that Labour had supported a similar idea.


The department's assessment says that more hundred -- more than


660,000 claimants would be affected by these changes and it is


ridiculous to assume they can find the money from their own pockets.


They will be forced to lose their home. What assessment has been made


of the availability of smaller accommodation? Want to be pushed


into more expensive private accommodation? -- won't they be


pushed? There are a very large number of properties that are


currently under occupied and that will help enormously in a policy


that is identical, are identical, to the one that was adopted by the


label government in respect of housing benefit being paid in the


private rented sector! We are taking the advice of the Labour


Party who said a year ago, housing benefit is to hire and we need


tough minded reform. -- housing benefit is too high a.


Isn't this a fairly practical way to reduce it? The reason housing


benefit is so high is because the value of housing has gone up so


much, rent has gone up so much, and unless one government or Another


find a way of pegging it to inflation at least, that will keep


happening. One story from Hartlepool, one from Liverpool.


Families whose children have recently died and were told they


had to move because they have now got a spare bedroom. Not only do


they lose their child but they have got to moves. Where to? There often


are not smaller council properties available so they are told they had


got to go but without being given the place they can go to. There


will always be these tragic cases when you design legislation. There


will be deserving people who lose out. But in terms of what changes


could be made to bring down the bill of housing benefit, isn't this


a fairly easy way of freeing up some living space if there spare


rooms are not being used? A lot of those people will have to go into


temporary accommodation and bed- and-breakfasts, which will cost the


earth. The councils have no discretion. This is very rigid. The


council cannot say, we do not have any one-bedroom property, you are


in a two-bedroom property with your child, and they do not have the


discretion to say, so we will leave things as they are. Often, absurdly,


councils will end up picking up the bill for trying to temporarily


house these people who have been thrown out. But to call it a


bedroom tax is to imply something different to what is suggested,


which is a way of reducing the amount of housing benefit paid to


people? It is a shorthand. The with political implications. If one of


your children go to university and may be coming back in the holiday,


suddenly you are told you cannot be in a two-bedroom place any more,


your student has gone. We all know students don't go! They come back


home. And David Cameron is proposing they come back home until


they are 25, but their bedroom will not be there because while they are


at university, it will have been gone.


You can hardly have failed to notice that there has been a bit of


a barney going on about gay marriage. David Cameron raised the


issue when he spoke about it at the Conservative Party conference in


2011. But despite getting warm applause at the time, it by no


means pleased everyone in his party. The argument has been going on for


months but so far MPs haven't actually voted on anything. Today


that changes with the second reading of the Marriage (Same Sex


Couples) Bill. Jon Pienaar is out on College Green and he can tell us


more. This piece of legislation


essentially is going to open up the practice of civil registry


operations carrying out full- fledged weddings between same-sex


couples. They will be recognised and recorded as weddings. That is


the largest change that will take place when this piece of


legislation becomes law. The most controversial bit as you suggested


is where churches get involved. Because of the status of the Church


of England, as the established Church, the Church of England,


which has stated its opposition, is specifically excluded. The Catholic


Church has made its use known. No church will be forced to take part.


-- made its opinions known. It is still enormously complicated


ethically and particularly so for David Cameron and the Tories.


It has caused a lot of political argument.


We expect the government to win. David Cameron will have a majority


because Labour and the Liberal Democrats will be with him. There


will be an enormous split on the Tory side, 120 MPs are clearly


against this. They will be outnumbered. David Cameron will get


his way. Whether or not this is David Cameron's way of showing how


far the Tory party has changed or if he believes it, but others say


there could be a price to pay for David Cameron. That is part of a


wider debate -- debate. We know three senior Cabinet


members, Tories, have made an appeal to their party today in the


leading papers. That could make a difference. There


are people who do not feel very strongly one way or another who


could be influenced and they could be swayed by this intervention by


senior ministers. But so many have pretty clear ideas about this. It


will not have a massive effect but we know there will be a big, big


division on the vote at 7pm this evening. It is a free vote, people


are free to vote with their consciences. It could feel to David


Cameron as if he has been given a bit of a pasting.


Well done despite that background helicopter noise there.


And we are joined now by the director of the gay-rights campaign


group, Stonewall, Ben Summerskill. And from Catholic Voices, Fiona


O'Reilly. The bill gives religious organisations the chance to opt out


but they have been the most vocal opponents. Why? While the


government is not trying to redefine religious marriage it is


looking to change civil marriage and that affects all of us in


society. The church is speaking out because they see the grave risks


that this brings. They see the risks coming from two different


places. They are looking at what happens when we changed a


fundamental building block of our society, marriage. If you change


the definition of marriage, you effectively removes from law the


ability to protect marriage defined in that way. The Church says


marriage is good for children and if you take out of law the ability


to recognise and protect the fact that it is only between husband and


wife that new life can come and be given its best start, you we can


society as a whole. -- you then we can society. Stonewall have never


regarded ourselves as a gay rights group. The reason I say that is


because all we have ever sought is exactly the same rights that


everyone else takes for granted from the day they were born. The


reality is, they are already tens of thousands of children in this


country who are grubbing up with lesbian or gay parents -- there are


already. Growing up with lesbian or gay parents. Fiona may not agree


with that but that children are entitled to grow up without


structure. There is no evidence that children who grow up but two


mums and dads N-Dubz any different from any other children to -- end


up any different. We do not know what the impact are because this is


a recent change, but same-sex couples and those who are adopting


children are doing a splendid job in difficult circumstances. However,


the Data says that if you want to give a job the best start in life,


and this is not to be disrespectful of other arrangements, then you do


so by allowing children to be raised by their biological mother


and father in a stable and committed relationship. If this


legislation was truly looking to make marriage available to same-sex


couples on a completely equal basis, then you would have to wonder why


same-sex couples do not have to consummate the relationship? Where


a dog Tree for same-sex couples will not be grounds for divorce --


why adultery of for same-sex couples? I think you have


misunderstood the legislation. There is unreasonable behaviour in


terms of adultery. There is very little evidence that that has


presented any difficulty in the seven years we have had civil


partnerships. I do appreciate that some people, particularly in the


Roman Catholic Church, do like to get obsessed with the sexual


details of consummation but gay people are not quite as obsessed


with sex as you might be yourself. Can you respond to the point about


to make better parents? You seem to cite evidence that gay couples


could not be as effective? There is absolutely clear evidence now, and


there used to be a lot of bogus evidence to the contrary, there is


clear evidence from places like the University of Cambridge that


children do not grow up develop mentally different from others.


There are 3 million children in this country growing up in single-


parent households. If they really cared about two-parent families,


they would be addressing those long before they turned their attention


time and time and time again to a tiny number of lesbian and gay


families. We are not talking about the individual experiences of


couples, we are talking about how an institution is defined in law


and what we can provide for, and what we are saying is that it is


important that in law we are able to recognise a unit, a husband and


wife, and be able to provide for that and for other relationships.


For centuries, marriage has quite properly been redefined as people's


understanding of the changes. Only 20 years ago, rape in marriage was


made an awful. It is only 15 years ago that people could start getting


married in stately homes and amusement parks. Can I go to the


issue of the redefinition of marriage. I think most outsiders


are a bit puzzled by this because it is just a word. The legal status


of being a civil partner, nothing changes about that. They have all


the same legal rights, tax rights inheritance rights, so the argument


is literally about whether one group of people should be allowed


to use the word marriage. It has no other legal meaning. Most people


are saying, the stable door has long shut. The course has gone. We


have gay rights. -- do horse. We have many gay couples with children.


All you are left with is the empty word. You can fight over that but I


think by now the rest of society has moved on and are a bit


perplexed by it. What about religious organisations? The


provisions that will protect the Church of England for example. Do


you think they should be protected. It seems to be idiotic and sad that


we have a new Archbishop of Canterbury who could be starting


again, saying, this is distracting people from what we are really


about, and it pushes the church back to talking about nothing but


sex. Michael goes's own department has said, safeguards are not worth


the paper they are we to none -- Michael Gove. Basically because


what they do is they say the government will take no action


unless there is discrimination, and discrimination is a highly


contested topic, and the European Court of Human Rights would be the


Court of Appeal for anything that happens in this country, and last


year they said if a government introduces same-sex legislation,


they would have to make marriage available to everybody on exactly


the same basis once that is in place and that would also affect


The European Court has made it quite clear that family matters are


delegated to individual states. Most hopefully, Fiona's


organisation produced a briefing last year which said precisely that.


And that briefing was before a particular case, which proved that


actually, the courts have moved on. We have to take regard of


legislation. The other thing people have to look at is, what has


happened in Canada, Spain and other countries. And what you see is, you


see divorce rates rising, and... This is a nonsense. The Government


has offered this quadruple lock... It has offered it to denominations


such as the Roman Catholics, who do not want to engage in same-sex


marriage. But there is also the really important issue of religious


freedom. There are denominations success the quitters, who have


prayed, who have consulted a decided that they want to host


same-sex marriages. It is not for a denominations such as your own to


come and trample over the religious freedom of other denominations.


This is not about the Catholic Church imposing its own


understanding of religious marriage. The Government is changing the


definition of civil marriage, which affects all of us. Two Conservative


MPs whose views are not married on this issue are in the central lobby.


Welcome to the programme, Peter Bone and Nick Herbert. This letter,


signed by George Osborne and Theresa May, saying that a


substantial majority of the public now favour allowing same-sex


couples to marry, this is the right thing to do at the right time - do


you agree with it? It is a very interesting argument. What it says


is that people think this is a good measure. I do not think that my


view or anybody else's you really matters, it is what the people


think. This is not in anybody's manifesto. Nobody has put this


forward as a policy. Let the people decide. It will unite the


Conservative Party overnight, like the European referendum dead. --


did. What I am concerned about is the people on the other side of the


argument, who do not want that referendum, which I think is anti-


democratic. This kind of issue is usually decided with legislation. I


do not object to the principles of a referendum, but since all of the


a pendant -- independent opinion polls are suggesting that a


majority of the public is in favour of this, then... You have no need


to worry about a referendum, then. We cannot sort every issue out with


a referendum. Normally, Parliament takes a view on these issues.


Normally it is a manifesto issue. David Cameron has always made his


position clear on this - in his first speech as party leader at the


party conference, he spoke about this and won applause, which


reflects the fact that attitudes are changing in the Conservative


Party as elsewhere. This is very important - three days before the


general election, on Sky Television, the Prime Minister to be said he


had no plans to bring in gay marriage. That's what he said,


that's how people voted, and that is why what Nick Herbert has said


it is not correct. It was not in the party manifesto at the general


election, and the Prime Minister to be said he would not be introducing


gay marriage. The change has happened after the election, which


is undemocratic. But you're getting a free vote, which is quite often...


It is not. You know very well that on this motion, the most important


section of what we are going to vote on today, there is a heavy


three-line whip, and any minister who votes against it will be thrown


out of the government. It is not a free vote. Well, it is certainly a


free vote on the key issue, the issue of principle - do you support


it or not? We know that some ministers will not support it, so I


think that indicates that it is a free vote. That having been


established, and I think the majority of the House of Commons


will support it, the Government is perfectly entitled to say, we need


sufficient time to debate it. It will have two days of consideration


of the floor of the House of Commons, which is additional to


what had been expected. We have heard an awful lot of use being


presented on this issue - do you dismissed the view which has been


expressed by some in your party that it could actually damage the


Conservative Party electorally? do not dismiss any views. Firstly,


we have got the political issues, and I disagree that it will be


damaging to the Conservative Party. I don't think there is any evidence


to suggest that. Any party has to Mount a broad appeal to society.


The most important issue is actually the issue of principle,


and I respect the fact that some people in conscience disagree. We


must make sure that religious freedom is guaranteed in the


legislation. I believe it has been. I would not support the bill


otherwise. But let's remember, if you do not want to enter a same-sex


marriage, you do not have to. If your church does not want to


conduct it, it does not have to. So, why is this proposal harmful? Why


is it harmful to the institution of marriage? I would say, far from it.


Peter Bone, that's the view which was expressed by David Cameron -


you are a conservative, let everyone be able to opt into the


institution of marriage, in which you believe... I personally believe


that marriage is only between a man and woman. That is not to say that


my view or David Cameron's view is right. That is why I say that it


should be put to the British people. The programme motion is not a free


vote, and that is really the problem. Today will be -- we will


be allowed a maximum of four minutes to discuss this. There has


not been enough time. The Government is trying to get this


through, this huge constitutional change, without proper scrutiny. It


is really, really wrong. It is a simple answer - let the British


people decide. Why not have it on the same day as the in-out


referendum on Europe? Briefly, Polly Toynbee, listening to this,


out in the country, there could be a feeling that the Tory party is to


some extent tearing itself apart over this, but once it is done and


it is over, and if it does go through, will it not be forgotten


about? I think the issue itself will be forgotten by tomorrow


morning. I think it is so irrelevant. People are absolutely


puzzled - how is it that a party in power, in the worst depression of


our lifetime, is wasting time on something most of the voters...


What about fox-hunting? That was not in the middle of the worst of


the Depression. I think what we'll -- what we will be left with is a


sense of quite how disunited the Tories are. Europe is still


bubbling away. There are all sorts of issues tearing them apart.


That's to say nothing of these curious groups plotting against a


leader who was really rather successful, outscoring the


opposition by quite some way. Why on earth are they are plotting


against him? These kinds of things are very toxic for voters. They do


not like splits within parties. Unity is very important. Let's see


what happens later on this evening. 7913 miles is quite a long way to


go for a meeting, especially when the meeting gets cancelled. Two


Falkland Island politicians were invited to London by William Hague


to take part in discussions with him and Argentina's Foreign


Minister. Their presence was not welcomed by the Argentinian


politician, who pulled out. Undaunted, they have come anyway,


and they are on College green. any way you slice it, 8,000 miles


is a helluva long way to come for a meeting. Perhaps what it shows you


is just what a sensitive issue this is for Argentina, and how difficult


it will be to find a resolution for this dispute which keeps everybody


happy. I am joined now by Dick Sawle and Jan Cheek from the


Falklands Legislative Assembly. Has this not been a wasted journey?


at all. We will be meeting with the Foreign Secretary, and with some


MPs from Parliament. And hopefully, we will be able to speak to Senor


Timerman himself. If we do not talk up, the problem will just get


larger. Do you think he will come and see you somewhere at the


airport perhaps, Jan Cheek? It is rather unlikely, but we thought we


should take this opportunity to come across and make sure that the


island's view was represented, and that any miss intervention --


misinformation which might be put out could be corrected promptly.


you not feel a bit used by the Foreign Office, in some respects?


It was fairly unlikely that the Argentinians would sit down with


you guys. Have you been used in some way to head up a meeting which


was never going to happen? I don't think so. It was very clear that if


Argentina wanted to have a bilateral conversation with Great


Britain, they would be quite free to do that, on any issue, apart


from the Falkland Islands. They have made it clear that they do not


wish to have any conversations about the Falkland Islands over the


top of our heads. It is fundamental, we have the right of self-


determination. The British Government respect that. I am


sensing from what you say that you have got the referendum coming up


next month, and the chances of you voting to go with Argentina are


pretty unlikely. Just to play devil's advocate, what would be so


wrong with that, planners are Reyes is closer than London? I don't


think geographical Brum meet City - - geographical proximity is the


issue. It is about the Falkland Islanders and what they want.


you were sitting down with Hector Timerman, what would you be saying


to him? I would be saying, let's talk. We have some issues we would


like to talk about, areas where be can co-operate to mutual benefit.


We have the oil industry, opportunities for South America, we


have problems with fish stocks, which we used to talk to them about.


We used to have regular dialogue with them and regular research.


there any way of resolving this to everyone's satisfaction? I think it


will be difficult with the current stance of the Argentine government,


but we are always open to talk about regional interests. I would


agree with that. Also, one has to bear in mind that governments to


change. We might have a government in Argentina some time soon which


we can talk to. I think the Chancellor -- the chances of the


Chancellor giving these two a lift back to South America are slim.


Last week we heard the Electoral Commission's verdict on the


proposed Scottish referendum question. This week, preparations


north of the border are gathering pace, with the Scottish Government


publishing plans for a transition to an independent Scotland. The


referendum has been scheduled for autumn 2014. Under the plans, if


the Scottish people vote yes, Independence Day would be set for


March 2016. Elections to a new independent Scottish Parliament


would take place in May of that year. Before these elections could


be held, a written constitution would have to be drawn up. The


Westminster government would have to legislate to end the Treaty of


Union. The Scottish Government is asking the Westminster Government


to end to intro preparatory discussions about this. But David


Cameron is resisting. -- to enter into... One might suggest you're


jumping the gun a bit with this document. The referendum campaign


has only just started... Not at all. The last time on -- the last time I


was on a Daily Politics, you were asking if we would act on the


recommendations of the Electoral Commission, and that is exactly


what we are doing. It is now for the UK Government to respond and


tell us how they would sit down and discuss matters of process. We are


asking for an exchange of information. We are not asking for


the UK Government to campaign for a yes vote, that might be too or


ambitious. It is certainly a comprehensive document, given we


have not even got a precise date for the referendum itself yet. You


say you want to follow the advice of the Electoral Commission, but


they have said that the voters will want to know about the process


following the referendum, but they do not need to know the exact terms


of independence, neither do they have to be agreed before the vote,


so why are you rushing? We are not rushing, we are taking our time.


Not so long ago, we were told we were being too slow. I think we


have got the balance right. We will publish information on what


independence would mean, the benefits of independence, and those


will be published over the course of the campaign. In the democratic


vote, the people of Scotland will have their say in the autumn of


2014. You could argue that you are becoming a bit obsessed with


process. The Scottish Secretary has said, the Scottish Government


should be concentrating on substantive issues in this debate,


rather than endless distractions over process. They say, once again,


they are devoting their energy to the picture frame, without having a


You have still got to resolve the issue of financial assets and


liabilities, military bases, overseas assets. Are they not the


things people want to hear about in Scotland? People want a certainty


around continuity. We are more than happy to talk about the substantive


issues on Scottish independence, while Scotland would be a wealthier,


healthier, fairer and green men nation? People have to know that


the process will be fair and positive and the challenge I put


back to the UK government is they can solve this in one day if they


agree a joint station with us -- joint statement with us on matters


of process? Well would you expect David Cameron and the government in


Westminster have to agree to details of a constitution now when


they are opposed to the idea of independence? We are not asking


them to agree to the details of the written constitution. We are asking


them to exchange Thatcher will information to show what options


are available to Scotland -- exchange factor will informations.


We should exchange that information so that there is be clear process


on how opposed a referendum negotiations will be conducted. One


of our challenges was that the process would be too quick. Since


1945, of the 30 nations that have become independent and recognised


by the UN, on average the timescale was 15 months, which just goes to


show that the position of Scottish government had taken was in keeping


with the experience of other normal and independent nations. One of the


substantive issues in Scotland's status in terms of membership of


the European Union. How are those discussions covering with the EU?


The Deputy First Minister has written to the nations of the


European Union. A new response? I am not sure what correspondence


has been received. I think you would know. The Deputy First


Minister has written to the nations within the European Union. Our


position is that Scotland will stay in the EU on the vote in 2014 and


will have that period to discuss with the European Union our


position. It is curious that in the debate in the UK context, the


question of whether Scotland will be in Europe is coloured by the


position of the UK government, which the Tories are certainly


proposing a referendum to take the UK out of Europe. Scotland would


only have a say it will have been the powers of an independent nation.


What do you make of the ideal setting out the terms of the


transition explicitly at this stage? It is sensible. They want to


make it seem practical and likely. The more they can discuss it in


detail, the more realistic it seems. And that is why the government is


worried and will not engage. Indeed and I understand. They do not want


to talk about what will happen to pensions, defence, difficult


subjects, but the SNP will have their answers to that. Will they


bite the referendum date? They will have good enough answers. But


others will say they are not good enough answers and the voters will


decide. I think the big decisive issue will be, who looks as if they


will win the Westminster election? If it looks as if the Conservatives


might win again, I think Scotland might go off. If it looks as though


the Conservatives are going to use, which it does at the moment, I


think it will swing. Scotland is not a Conservative country. Being


governed by Conservatives, it is an abrasive time to be having that


referendum. Or write. -- a right. Tony thinks it is about time Ed


announced a few ideas. But should they be New Labour, Old Labour,


Blue Labour, purple? Or even just Ed's Labour? The Daily Politics has


been given a rare interview with one figure in the party who is


likely to have a big influence on their future direction of travel.


But who is he? I will let David Thompson explain.


Meet one of the most powerful men in British politics. He keeps a low


profile but he might be setting the course of our next government. Ed


Miliband certainly hopes so. He is the ideas man for the Labour Party.


His job is to come up with the policies that will convince you to


vote for Ed Miliband in the next election. But to his seat? He is a


sailor's son who went to a comprehensive in Portsmouth, then


academia before working for the Labour Party. He became the link


between Number Ten and the unions in the first Tony Blair government.


He ran unsuccessfully for deputy leadership in 2007. There are


interesting, but where does Jon Cruddas begin with the day-job?


Getting people to vote Labour again? Has Labour regain the trust


of the voters? Not completely. We did not do enough on housing and we


acknowledge that. There is a massive crisis in terms of social


housing. We did not do enough on immigration. Ed Miliband is


beginning to acknowledge that in terms of some of the recent


speeches. We have got a lot to do. There were some negative things but


our record was extraordinarily strong for 13 years. We have to


acknowledge some of the problems but at the same time, owner our


record and develop a policy agenda that goes along with people's


concerns today. Labour might be ahead in the polls but their


leader's personal ratings usually lag behind David Cameron's. You six


that over time. I did not know Ed Miliband until I took the job --


you fix that. I like what I see and the more I see of him, the more


impressed I am. He is tough and resilient. He knows when he wants


to take the party. It is not fully done in terms of projecting Ed


Miliband but over time, I am very confident we will achieve this.


editor where they have not seen eye to eye is on Europe. Jon Cruddas


was in favour of a referendum. What does he think now? Until I formally


took this job my position was fairly clear. Look, the party


political position is that we do not see any need for it imminently.


Because of the nature of the crisis in the eurozone. To spite holding


the reins, Jon Cruddas's -- despite holding the reins, Jon Cruddas


insists the policies will not be a shopping list of Labour ideas.


the party put forward an agenda I would want, it would not win. That


is not the exercise! The task is to build a process. Use the policy


review to tell the story about where we want to take the country.


Reform the party. Demonstrate it is across the concerns of the British


people, and sell that at the time of the general election.


Labour's battle plan may not bear too many of the fingerprints of its


co-ordinator, which is exactly how Jon Cruddas likes it.


We are joined now from the pollsters IPSOS MORI by Ben Page.


Polly Toynbee, quite a candid admission from Jon Cruddas, looking


after the policy review, that if he put forward his favoured agenda,


the voters would never go for it. Is he the right man for the job?


Absolutely. He is a great thinker. Not a nuts-and-bolts man. But of


course he is right, Labour's dilemma, from the beginning when it


was founded, is how far would it go? We would like to be more social


democratic but we have to be careful to what extent. Spending of


course is spending -- restricted and to what extent do we have to be


careful about public opinion? To what extent should Ed Miliband be a


strong leader? To what extent should you follow what his focus


groups are telling him? He did not support Ed Miliband from the office.


He was a David Miliband supporter. Can we be confident he really


believes in Ed Miliband? I think he does. Jon Cruddas is alone us. He


has been on his own. He has not been at the heart of things. People


have tried to get him to run for leadership and things... He did not


become deputy leader. The he is an academic and a thinker. He is a


kind of Oliver Letwin figure of Labour. Do you want to hear the


policy ideas now? Looking at the economy, which we know is the issue


that concerns everyone, do we need to hear a strong narrative on the


economy from Labour now? necessarily to be honest. I still


think it is true that government tends to lose elections. People


cast their votes on three things. Their views of the party, their


views of the policies and their views of the leader. The policies


are only one part of it. Their gut feeling about the state of the


party also matters and increasingly, with leadership debates, the leader


themselves matter. At the last general election, people were


voting on the character of their leader just as much as the policies.


As we get me with a time, the clamour in Westminster for policies


and red meat of course will rise but at the moment, I would observe


that Labour seem to be doing well by watching the Conservatives fall


over their shoelaces. In terms of polling, if you think about the


economy, no growth, rising inflation, squeezed living


standards, and they are 10, at best 15 points ahead. You could argue


they are not capitalising on it enough. Yes. It is true that before


the 2010 election, there were points that the Conservatives, who


did not win, were 22 points ahead on the same measure, so Labour are


not in some place where it is cut and dried. But it is certainly


better than it has been for them. In a way, Ed Miliband's ratings, he


does less well against his party then David Cameron does against his,


but he has recovered from a very low point at the end of 2011. He


has regained his stature. Any talk of leadership challenges have


evaporated. He has a bit more time. I would probably say he has another


year, in my judgment personally. You have written recently that


Labour should be more daring to seize ground from the Tories.


look at the economy particularly, because that is what really matters.


If they could produce a good growth and jobs policy. My guess is they


will come up with something quite eye-catching like, we will build a


million houses over one parliament. Still less than Howard Macmillan.


We will have apprenticeships for the young, get the construction


industry back again. That can be done and is perfectly reasonable


within the fiscal envelope they will have. Investment and growth is


what they will really go for. There will be lots of other policies.


They will want to move around the spending within the same envelope.


Alan Johnson said this this week, will Labour feel obliged to say we


will freeze the total size of spending? Particularly as the


Conservatives will have announced the spending for 2015. Do you


accept that Labour has a problem with combating the central message


of the coalition, which is, Labour spent too much and we are paying


the price? Lot of people write in and say, we have had enough of


blaming Labour. But there is an acceptance in the public that cuts


have got to be made and Labour would not be prepared to do their


dirty work. That is still a problem. The gap has narrowed a great deal


on who is most competent but that is still a problem.


Conservatives retain the lead on the economy. Labour is still more


likely to be blamed in the coalition government for the cuts,


although that is diminishing. But they have to acknowledge that there


are challenges. It is a difficult place for them but it is slowly


shifting. Whether it will shift enough... It still could be like


1992. At the last minute, do you trust that Ed Balls character?


is one of the issues. Very briefly. Is the message from Labour on


welfare too vague for the public? We broadly support the idea of a


benefits cap but not the one put forward by the coalition? Is it is


a bit too vague. The cuts to welfare so far, and there are lots


going through the mill at the moment in terms of reforms and


Universal Credit and the NHS, it is only when voters see the impact on


the ground they will determine it, but people assume that Labour are


not quite as keen on cuts as the true Rees. -- the Tories.


Now the resignation of Chris Huhne yesterday over driving related


offences means the people of Eastleigh need to find a new MP.


The last time they went to the polls in 2010, the Liberal


Democrats pipped the Tories to the post with a majority of just under


4,000. This morning the big political guns have come out


blazing ahead of the by-election. Lembit Opik announced that if the


party lost the seat, then Nick Clegg should consider his position.


So could it be a coalition blood- bath? We are joined now by John


Curtice, professor of politics at Almost undoubtedly, it is going to


be tight. Given the record in by- elections, if the result were to


follow current opinion polls, then the Conservatives would narrowly


squeaked in. If, on the other hand, it goes the way of recent


parliamentary by-elections, at the back end of last year, the Lib Dems


would still sneak in. So, in truth, it is too close to call. The most


remarkable thing about this by- election, yes, the two coalition


partners will be fighting it, but in truth, it is an unpopularity


contest, it is whichever of the two parties can lose the least votes.


Whichever one can minimise deaden losses to Labour will come out on


top. The Tories, of course, are going to have to try to minimise


their losses to UKIP as well. Both parties know that it is a difficult


task. In recent weeks we have seen David Cameron making a major speech


to try to minimise the threat of UKIP, which has not had a great


impact. Equally we had Nick Clegg last year making his famous YouTube


hit, apologising for those tuition fees fiasco, and that did not do


much good, either. You did that very well, without drawing breath,


answering all of my questions! Thank you very much. Joining us now,


Paul Goodman, from Conservative Home - will Eastleigh have a big


effect on David Cameron's leadership? It is a burden on all


four parties contesting it. If David Cameron cannot win in


Eastleigh, in Hampshire, then the question will be asked, how can he


win anywhere? But on the other hand, if the Liberal Democrats cannot win


a seat in an area where they are the overwhelming force on the local


council, then where will they win? John seem to imply that everybody


will lose, but somebody is bound to win. If we look at 1992, the last


time the Conservatives had a majority nationally, they had an


18,000 Conservative majority in Eastleigh. They have not been able


to win the seat since then. In 1997, in the general election, when Chris


Huhne became MP, the Lib Dem majority was just 600-700. So it is


generally a Lib Dem-Conservative marginal seat. The only thing which


is clear is that Labour are well out of it, as confirmed by the


bookmakers yesterday. Will it be a verdict on Nick Clegg? Salmon so.


By-elections move on very quickly. -- I don't think so. You say that,


but one suspects that this by- election will be conducted in the


glare of tribal conflict. Both sets of backbenchers want to get at each


other. Coalitions are more common in other European countries, where


they are more used to the idea that people will agree on some things,


disagree and others, and stand against each other in by-elections.


People understand that. But if you read the papers, that is not the


way it is being characterised. think the backbenchers and some of


the front benchers in both of the main parties will be keen to get


stuck in. I doubt if David Cameron and Nick Clegg will be so keen, for


reasons which have just been put forward. But at the end of the day,


I come back to the point that by- elections are nearly always a


protest against the government. But the problem here is that there are


two parties in government, and the third party in this seat, Labour,


are very weak. What about the feeling that Chris Huhne has let


people down there, is this something which will help the


Conservatives? I come back to the big Lib Dems strength on the local


council. One idea going around about the general election is that


the Lib Dems will do badly where they have not got an incumbent MP


who works very hard, but that they will do better in seats where they


have got a strong presence. And they have a big presence in


Eastleigh. So, it is a test for them, as well as for David Cameron.


Where would you put your money? think it is too close to call. It


is a personal situation about what they think about Chris Huhne. On


the other hand, the Lib Dems are very good at holding on to seats


which they have had for some time. Labour is in the comfortable


position of sitting back. Of course, you have said, Labour voters will


know that they have not got a chance, and so Lib Dems will be


bidding to get the tactical vote from Labour. Will Labour voters in


these kind of seats still give their vote to the Lib Dems? It is a


tricky one. In seats like this, at the general election, Labour will


not want the Conservatives to be picking up all of the seats lost by


the Lib Dems. What I said was, it is a question of whether they will


or not, we do not know. There is an issue for Ed Miliband. What Polly


Toynbee said was right. In these kind of seats, Labour will want to


see the voters going for the Lib Dems. However, another argument is


that if Miliband cannot get Lib Dem voters to vote Labour, what chance


has he got of doing that at the general election? Is this not going


to be about the disagreement between the two parties come into


the Four? It will be very difficult for Nick Clegg and David Cameron to


control it. They will both have to fight hard on the ground to try to


win the seat, but neither of them want to see the coalition come


apart. How are Nick Clegg going to control his activists and


backbenchers? There will be a genuine battle between the Lib Dems


and Conservatives, claiming credit for some of the tax changes. The


Lib Dems will point out that in Eastleigh, lower-paid people will


be paying no tax whatsoever, income tax, compared to before, something


like 4,000 people. That sounds good, but actually, the low paid will


just be stopping paying a tiny bit of tax. Most of the money went to


the top third, according to the IFS. But I think the issue of �600, it


is quite a substantial tax cut for people on lower and middle incomes.


You are fighting a by-election mostly against the Conservatives


here. Thank you both very much. Who would have thought a bag of Bones


would have caused such a fuss? The body of Richard III is a


historian's dream, but that does not mean politicians cannot get in


on the act. Was he a goodie or baddy? Adam reports. Our Richard


was a bit of an enigma, a villain to many, hero to some. He ruled


between 1483 and 1485, during the decade-long too known as the War Of


the Roses. He has been credited with some liberal reforms,


including the right to bail and the lifting of restrictions on printing


presses. William Shakespeare portrayed him as a jealous


Hunchback murderer, who offered his kingdom for a horse. But many


historians say that was all just propaganda. His rule was challenged,


and he was defeated and killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field, by


the army of Henry Tudor, who went on to become King Henry VII. We now


know that he has been lying dead under a car park in Leicester. Now,


the debate is over whether Richard should have a state funeral, and


where he should be buried. We are joined now by three parliamentary


villains. John Mann, how and where should he be buried? With dignity,


and in the family plot, which was built for Richard I, at the great


Prior in Worksop, which was the centre of the Plantagenet Kingdom.


Was it? Well, Fotheringhay was where he was born, so I would say


that was probably the centre of the Plantagenet Kingdom. I think John


has come up with an ingenious solution here. Personally, I would


say Leicester is the best place for him to be buried. Absolutely right.


Bravo to John for trying this on, but quite frankly, it is ludicrous.


He has been in Leicester for 500 years. He was actually buried by


the Grey Friars in Leicester. He should be reinterred at the


cathedral. Yes, but he was Richard of York. Why not in York? Firstly,


there is the procedural issue. After the skeleton was found, the


certificate had to be signed, and it had to be stated where the body


was found. I have just written a book about Bosworth, and I will


have to we write it now. At the Battle of Bosworth, 400 men were


requested, and they did not turn up for the battle. So, have they


forfeited their right? Yes, I think Richard would not be too pleased to


be buried in York. So far, York is winning. I can tell you, Worksop


has a big fat zero. That's because the battle of Worksop has not been


properly researched. Tell us about it. The last great battle where the


Yorkists Fort, the bodies lay there. Not only was Richard I in this


great place, but there is a practical reason - a state funeral,


we have the spot in the gate house where people can file past, as they


did in the time of Richard III, the resting place at the Great priory,


in order to see the remains before the burial. Jon Ashworth, does he


deserve a state funeral? I have suggested it in the past, although


some people have criticised it. In fact he has already had a burial,


so there is an argument that it is not necessarily appropriate for a


second funeral. It just needs a service of remembrance, which is


what Leicester cathedral have been talking about, which seems


dignified and suitable. It seems that everybody is fighting over


this because Richard III was painted as a monster, one of


Shakespeare's favourite villains. The original has been trying to get


his reputation changed. Has he been unfairly portrayed? It is a classic


case of history being written by the winners. When you go back to


the contemporary evidence, before Shakespeare, it was more complex.


Obviously, the Prince's disappear in the tower under his watch, we


cannot exonerate him over that. But he was a generous king. He looked


after the poor, he created the Court of requests, he was quite an


unusual king. Where would you have him buried? I am no monarchist, I


would put him back in the car park. So you would still have him in


Leicester? But should not all kings be buried in Westminster Abbey?


personally think that there would have to be a vote in Parliament if


it was a state funeral. This is madness! I would like to see the


opportunity for the public to pay their last respects, for the coffin


to lie in state. Is it really him? I think so, the evidence is all


there, the arrow in the back and everything.. We have run out of


time, but that will be something for you to debate. That's all for


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