Andrew Neil is joined by the former Sun Editor, Kelvin MacKenzie, as many voters go to the polls in local elections. They discuss Britain's aid budget and other political news.
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to the Daily Politics. The aid budget has been protected from the
cuts will stop but are the Ministry of defence and other departments on
a mission to raid its coffers by stealth?
Most newspapers are against it but if the Prime Minister set to press
ahead with his plan for the press? How do the politicians of every
colour, including the blue ones, treat the hard-working people of the
South? Like a piggybank, that is how.
Oh, yes, we will pit South versus North.
And as voters go to the polls in England and a bit of Wales, we will
tell you what the weather is going to be like.
All of that in the next half an hour. With us is the former editor
of the Sun newspaper, Kelvin MacKenzie.
First, could the aid budget be spent on the Armed Forces? There is talk
of peacekeeping missions, whose cost is usually met by the MoD, being
paid for by the Department for International development. Its
budget has been ring fenced, but like -- unlike other departments,
its budget has soared during the coalition. The Prime Minister is
looking for ways to ring fence the budget while letting others have a
slice of it. David Cameron has ruled out cutting the aid budget, which
currently stands at �7.7 million. -- �10.7 billion. The government has
pledged to maintain it at that level over national income. Other
ministers want to radiate budget to meet bills usually paid for by their
departments. Aid organisations are worried that money will be diverted
from helping the world 's port. If this was to happen, how much of the
almost �11 billion reaches the poor is not clear. We are joined by
Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children. He used to work
for Tony Blair and Gordon Brown at number ten. If the British Army is
on a peace mission and try to save lives, shouldn't it be in the aid
budget question -- aid budget? It can be a small bit of
peacekeeping, but the rest of it can't. The prime minister also said
yesterday that he would not break those rules. A bit of this is a
storm in a teacup. On the one hand, the headlines today are about
spending on aid and military. He has said he will not break the rules.
you think it is all spin coming out of Downing Street?
A little bit of it could. He says security is given -- important for
development. Somewhere I have been recently, Somalia, you can train the
police force. That is an important part of building security. Some of
that can come from the aid budget. But you can't pay for military
operations. I don't think the British public would support it. I
think they think it is for poverty reduction.
But we know the British public do not like the aid budget to be ring
fenced. I think the polls are mixed. A lot
of people, I think the British public is proud of the aid budget.
If you look at the polls, and they're right number of polls on it,
-- they're right number of polls on it, some of them are as high as 48%.
For any ring fenced budget, that is quite a large group of people. I
reckon 15 million people are passionate. They think it is part of
our DNA. The story of aid is making a difference. The British public
would support... In the past few years, we have had a reduction in
child deaths. It is down to about 6.9 million.
You are claiming all the credit. There are other factors at work,
including rising living standards. It is not all down to aid. One of
the ageist reasons there is a reduction is vaccinations. That is a
lot to do with aid. Isn't there a case for a wealthy
country like Britain, even in tough times, to say, look, there is a
chunk of money that we are going to do ring fence for the poorest in the
world? It just depends. We have plenty of
poor people in our own country. What I object to with Cameron is that he
has not stuck to his guns. I admire people who go through rough times
and say, you know what, this is what I believe. What he is doing is
nodding, unfortunately, towards the UK Independence party on this. It is
a political ploy. I don't want him to play politics over something... I
don't believe in area, schools or NHS, or the chess budget, being ring
fenced. -- the NHS budget. I would prefer him to say, I am
sticking to this. I dislike Cameron on that particular issue.
Personally, I would not ring fence anything. He has made a point of the
fact that we should be proud of it. If he believes it, I would like him
to stay there, no matter the political waters.
I think that NGOs often do not give the government credit. David Cameron
deserves a lot of credit on this issue. They have stuck by their
guns. We have got to 0.7%. It is 1p in every pound.
It is nice to see him believing in something, to be honest!
There are reports that big chunks of money are wasted and it could be
better used. You could cut that �11 billion substantially and the
world's poor could still be helped. I don't think so. 99% of the money
goes on the poor. What about the consultants earning 6-figure
salaries? And the �36 million we gave to Sierra Leone that was spent
on houses and cars? They have made progress in getting
children into school and reducing child deaths. That is because the
war ended! The British Army deserve credit. There are a lot of armchair
critics of aid. The real story is it has worked. We have a chance, for
the first time in history, other generation -- no other generation
has been able to say we can eradicate child deaths. Of the �11
billion, �700 million is on vaccinations. So it is a small part.
That could be ring fenced. We also do education. We fight malnutrition.
In the coming weeks, Greg Britain holds the G8. -- Great Britain. We
did have a report today saying that 250,000 people died from famine in
Somalia. If you are doing that, why do you have two raise money for
British kids? This was a political way to politicise Save the Children,
to embarrass the coalition. founder, 90 years ago, introduced
nurseries. Andrew, I think it is unfair. Save the children is
nonpartisan. I have just praised David Cameron and George Osborne. We
also have an obligation to fight poverty at home. We have big
programmes doing it. In September last year, we raised money for it.
The British public want to support it. We would never be party
political. Our focus is children themselves.
Our guest of the day may look content. Yet, he does, actually. But
there is injustice nagging at him. He is deprived of anybody
representing him. He believes many others in the South East are in the
same position. Here is a party political broadcast on behalf of the
holy fictitious British other party. -- completely dishes.
Statistics show that we in the South work longer hours than anywhere else
in the country, and now commute further and further from our place
of work as we attempt not to pay �10 million for our house. And most
importantly, London and the South East are virtually propped up the
entire British economy. -- London and the South East the Queen propped
How do the politicians of every colour, including the blue ones,
treat these massively hard-working people? Like a PD bank, that is how.
They tax the hell out of us. It is time for a southern party.
According to Professor Nicholas at Warwick University, London is not
far from producing half of the country's comic output. The average
Londoner produces 60% more than a work in the north-east. Sexy 6% more
than somebody in Wales, too. -- 66%. Stamp duty is a pernicious,
virtually southern only tax. Five London boroughs pay more Stamp duty
than the rest of the nation together. There is a basic
unfairness in the way Southerners are being treated. We need political
pressure. I really southern party can supply it. -- only the southern
party. So, is London and the South East
having to bail of the UK? In the know -- northern korma -- in the
northern corner, Mike Smith, leader of Mike's Carpets. And in the
southern corner, Kelvin MacKenzie. He says the average Londoner
produces more than the rest of the country. Rubbish and prejudice.You
should be on the show more often! have never heard such prejudice
against the North of England. We say that the people in London work
harder. They don't work harder than the North of England. There is great
entrepreneurship in the North of England. Great business is going on
in the North. The rum or start up companies per head of the
propagation than the south. -- there are more start-up companies.
The North of England is home to entrepreneurs like him. I see there
are more in the North starting up than in the south. You are all
living on your property profits. have nothing against entrepreneurs.
I am making a different point. With the effect of house prices down
here, the Stamp duty is a southern tax, one of the fracture is the work
now have to commute even further. Therefore, the effect of train
fares... If you live outside London, it is going to cost you
�6,000 simply commuting over the year. Add it to the fact that the
average house price for instance... I looked up a company, and the
average price in Leeds is �178,000. The average price down here is about
�300,000. We get caught in stamp duty, and the North doesn't. I'm not
against this as long as we don't have to pay taxes to go and
subsidise the great entrepreneurial drive of the North. The South of
England contributes �30 billion to the public finances and the North
takes �30 billion out. That is not true. In the South, there is more
well. I am in favour of Stamp duty. The amount should vary a bit. The
property prices are far less than in the North. We have got a multitude
of properties that come into Stamp duty. They are paying more in the
South because the price is more. The standard of living is different.
People can afford to live in Yorkshire on a third of what they
can live on down here. Why should teachers, then, get the same amount
of money in the North East as if you work in the South? They shouldn't,
actually. There should be a differential. There used to be a
Londoner living allowance. Not only for teachers but for the police.
North drives our manufacturing now. The North East has the highest level
in the country. I am seeking political pressure so that the
Tories or Labour or whoever decided we can stick these taxes on and they
are applying exclusively to the south. What I am saying is, I am
Then why pick on the north? I am not picking on the north. Shouldn't
London give more to the rest of the country? If it was not for the
manufacturers of the north -- it was not the manufacturers of the north
that brought us to our knees with the economic crisis, that was
London. If you look over the last 60 years, London has supplied the
earnings so that other people... If you take place like Wales, Wales
spends 44% more on what it does in Wales, ie a subsidy, compared to
London, which is a net producer of wealth, and we have to stop this.
Why should London and the south-east subsidise entire chunks of the
country? Wales is a different area. In Wales, the mining industry was
prolific and subsidised the education system. Yorkshire had the
same problem, because the mining industry has gone now. But now it is
coming back. The pits are open. There are places which may be
potentially opening. It will not be what it was before, but it is coming
back. It brings a cross to bear on the education system, not just in
Yorkshire and Wales, but all over the country. If you are 150 grand a
year in the south, you don't pay any more tax than in the north. The
taxman does the same for everybody. You are not subsidising us.
Actually, the majority of people earning that money are down here.
And they provide a standard of living in the north... I said
�150,000 a year earners, not �150,000 people.
Now, it is six weeks since a deal was done in Ed Miliband's office on
newspaper regulation, without the newspapers being present. All three
party leaders signed up to it, but their plans for a new regulator
backed by Royal Charter has gone down like a lead balloon with
national and local newspapers. Let's get the latest from our
correspondent. The government came up with this royal charter and
parliament agreed with it, but no newspaper has yet agreed to sign
on. So what will the government do? People keep saying this is complex.
In fact, it is simple. On 15th May, there will be a meeting of the privy
Council, the Queen and four of her ministers, standing up. That is how
she likes this business done. They will approve a Royal Charter. At the
moment, it looks like that will be the cross-party Charter agreed in
that office meeting. Many of the papers don't like that one bit. So
the question is, will David Cameron decide to concede to the papers'
demands and either put up the newspapers' version or some
concessional combination? And intriguing bit of spin reaches me
from a well-placed Tory source today. I am told the Conservatives
are amenable to the newspapers' position, but this has to have
cross-party support. So the papers need to be targeting Labour and the
Liberal Democrats for concessions. Hard to know what to make of that,
but lots of Conservatives will tell you it is Labour and the Lib Dems
who are the ones the papers should go after when it comes to a general
election period. We are joined by Steven Barnett of the campaign group
Hacked Off. Kelvin Mackenzie, is it your view that if Mr Cameron
proceeds with this royal charter, the newspapers will not sign up?
is an interesting question. My sense is that they will not, because there
is virtually nothing in it for them. There is the threat of
increased fines if they don't, and that may end up in various strands
bog courts to be fought through -- Strasberg courts. If I were a
newspaper proprietor, forget what the editors think, I would take my
chances. So there is a danger that after all this debate and the
regulation that has come forward, we will have a regular tree system to
which not even the Guardian or Independent will sign up? Of course
there is a danger, because the whole point is that it is a voluntary
system. The situation is more nuanced than that. I am sure Kelvin
is right and some papers will say they don't want to play this game.
Others will look at the detail after May 15. The Guardian, the
Independent, the FT, none of them have come out in support of the
press charter. More importantly, I would advise everyone to look at
their local and regional press. If you look at what could be in it,
picking up Kelvin's point, for the local and regional press, if I was
the editor of a local newspaper and I was thinking, wait a minute, there
is this leader of the council and this local entrepreneur, I have got
stuff on them in the public interest that I want to publish, but they
have been threatening me and I am scared of lawsuits, and I am worried
about being bullied, the point of this system is that it protects you
from those sorts of people. If I was a regional local editor, I would
think this could work for me. far, none of them have said that
publicly. They seem to be more against it than the national papers.
What is your response to that? Leveson, which has turned out to be
a disaster, as you will see from various stories beginning to trickle
out already with the shadow of Leveson over people, I think local
papers will run a mile from doing anything under any system right now.
Because of the fear of penalties? The fear of penalties, the fear of
threats of this, that and the other. So you end up this morning where a
police authority will not name an ex-police officer who is charged
with �117,000 worth of stealing because they say we are "following
Leveson" . You are getting all kinds of people in authority now saying,
we will not reveal this or that. It is hard enough to find out what is
going on without people than threatening you about disclosure.
are in danger of confusing two different things. One is the system
of voluntary self-regulation which is on the table now, which I and
others believe that a local press will look at and say, that will help
us do decent investigative journalism. There is a different
point, which is, are there things being said by certain people like
police forces, who are perhaps using Leveson as an umbrella? Maybe, but
that is a different issue from whether this particular system,
which I think will be signed off on 15th May, will work or not. I hope
it isn't. I think Cameron made a shocking error by announcing Leveson
in advance of the trials taking place. I think it would have been a
stronger suit... But we are where we are. OK, on that basis, I hope the
newspapers stick together will stop but they haven't got much of a
backbone. They talk about free speech, and as soon as a puff of
wind comes their way, there seems to be a lot of ways of accommodating
people. If they don't sign up, the government is in danger of calling a
party to which no one will come. it turns out you are wrong about
regional papers, the jury is out on that matter, if they decide that
exemplary damage will go all the way to Strasberg as it could be an
offence to human rights... That is not going to happen. Forget the
scaremongering. I have seen the legal advice on both sides, and the
legal advice for the press comes from those providing advice at
Leveson. Put that to one side. Yes, you are right. It may be that no one
comes to this party. If that happens in a years time, the recognition
panel will bring forward a report saying that nothing has happened.
That is the point of a voluntary system. But you will have failed. It
is not us. This has become your life's work. The people who will
have failed will be the people who have suffered from press abuse,
because there will not be a system to stop it happening again.
As you may have heard, there are a few elections taking play today. 35
local authorities are holding them -27 in the county can, seven unitary
authorities as well as Anglesey in Wales. 2300 seats are up for grabs.
There are also mayoral elections in Doncaster and north Tyneside. And
there is a by-election in South Shields after the former Foreign
Secretary, David Miliband, resigned. Before you venture out to the
polling station, it is important that we give you a weather forecast.
You will need your sun hat, if you can find it, as you have had a long
time without using it. We are joined now by the BBC's Huw Edwards, who
will soon be taking possession of this enormous desk. When do we start
getting the first results? Normally, you know better than
anyone, on election night, we are waiting hours for results. But when
we come on air tomorrow morning at 8.30 on the BBC News Channel, we
will be able to talk about the South Shields Parliament drew by-election,
which will have been done overnight. And one of the mayoral elections and
six local authorities. We should have some strong signals. And for
the rest of the day, you carry on. A lot of accounts are being done
during day two, so you will get the results in the morning and
afternoon? Six have done there's overnight. Then there will be more
during the day. Some of those will be very interesting. We will be on
BBC Two from midday and then back on at two o'clock and then five. Most
of the day will be on the BBC News Channel, but three hours on BBC Two
during the afternoon. So a long day, but an important day. Parties are
very nervous about this election. There are a lot of unknowns.
Politicians like to dismiss local elections as local affairs, and in
many areas, they are. But there are bigger things here and there are
high stakes for the parties and their leaders.
Don't miss Hugh Edwards on the BBC News Channel at 8:30am and then on
BBC Two from 12, two and five. But is it for today. I am back tonight
with a special This Week on BBC One from as special secret location,
with an audience. We have never had an audience. We will have Michael
Portillo, Alan Johnson and Nigel Farage and Miranda Green. I will be
back on Sunday with the Sunday Politics, when we will be chewing
As many voters go to the polls to elect local councillors, Andrew Neil is joined by the former Sun Editor, Kelvin MacKenzie. They'll be discussing Britain's aid budget and whether it should be ring-fenced as well as all the other political news, interviews and debate.