Jo Coburn and Andrew Neil are joined by the former home secretary Alan Johnson to look ahead to the Queen's Speech, as well as all the latest political news, interviews and debate.
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Daily Politics. Westminster is gearing up for the big event, the
Queen's Speech tomorrow. We will have the lowdown on what the
government is planning for the year ahead, and what it is not.
The speech won't include a commitment to any EU referendum,
despite today's call for one from former Chancellor Nigel Lawson. We
will discuss the pressure on camera and over Europe.
The government is pressing ahead with plans to sell off the Royal
mail, or at least part of it. We will speak to the Business
Secretary, Vince Cable. We will hear from one MP kicking up a stink about
some cheese. That is all coming up in the next
hour. With us for the duration, former Labour Home Secretary Alan
Johnson. It is so good to see you in daylight! I was beginning to wonder
if you were allowed out during the day.
Let's start with the news over the weekend of the arrest of the Deputy
Speaker of Parliament Nigel Evans. He is accused by two men of rape and
sexual assault, charges leave a and Lee denies. Let's get the latest
from Carole Walker. -- charges he is a are mentally denies. Nigel Evans
will be holding a press briefing in the next couple of hours. We believe
he will simply be -- simply be outside the Houses of Parliament
that he is getting on with his job as an MP, attending meetings as
Deputy Speaker even though we know he will not be sitting in the chair
in the Commons for the Jura Asian of the debate on the Queen's Speech,
which will go on until the middle of next week -- for the Jura Asian of
the debate. Here is not hiding away from the allegations, which he has
described as completely false. He has a lot of support from fellow
MPs, but I understand that behind-the-scenes there is concern
that the office of Speaker and Deputy Speaker should not be in
anyway caught up with controversy. Nigel Evans was elected by fellow
MPs, it is up to the House of Commons what happens to him in the
future. Because he is one of the first Deputy Speakers elected in
this way, the rules and mechanisms are not entirely clear about if it
was considered best for him to step aside. There will be meetings to try
to clarify that, but for the time being the hope is that Nigel Evans
will not sit in the chair for the next week or so. After that there
are only if you parliamentary days before recess, so perhaps the matter
can be left for a fewer weeks until it is
The principle is interesting. Should those accused of this sort of sexual
offence, arrested but not charged, and it looks like he won't be,
should they have anonymity at least until they have been charged?
don't think so. This was a coalition policy, no one knows where it
emerged from, it was not in any manifesto. But that was in the
coalition agreement. It took about two months for them to do an
inelegant U-turn. They are not going to do it now. There was a real body
of opinion that said, why should rape be the only crime, not murder,
not child abuse, not a fraud, where the defendant has anonymity? And the
other body of evidence suggests that many women, seeing the defendant,
most people guilty of rape have raped other women, and that was a
big factor in many high-profile rape cases, the fact that other women
came forward, such as that taxi driver in London, other people came
forward. The Associaton of Chief Police Officers, they say they want
to end, quote, the bizarre power game where journalists try to come
out with the names of people. They talk about a blanket ban on names
being released. When Quentin Blunt, then the minister, withdrew
anonymity for rape defendant, he did so on the basis that they would look
at trying to find a way that these names would not come out in the
media and through the police. There was another way of tackling this.
Nothing much has happened, this might spark it off. For the
government to decide there is a problem because an MP happens to be
the person alleged to have committed the offence, as opposed to all the
others, it looks like, we don't mind anyone else, but when it is an MP...
Is it not a wee bit suspicious that the press were tipped off in time to
get to Pendleton, not a major press hope, photographs of the police
going through his car, they knew exactly where the car was parked and
all the rest. You have a very suspicious mind, it had not even
crossed my mind. Who knows? Knack of the yardstick datapath. Could well
have been. You and your suspicious mind. Put it to good use, it is time
for our quiz. Writing in The Times today, former Conservative
Chancellor Nigel Lawson says it is time for Britain to quit the
European Union, but which former Prime Minister does he think David
Cameron is following in the footsteps of? Is it Harold Wilson,
John Major, Margaret Thatcher or Gordon Brown? At the end of the
show, we'll have the correct answer. If I know, Alan knows! That is for
sure! Last week the Government signalled its intention to sell off
some more of the state's family silver. At least that is what Harold
Macmillan called it. Downing Street's famous 'nudge unit' was
mentioned - it's been thinking up clever schemes to nudge people to do
things like pay their council tax bills on time. And ministers talked
of dozens of other areas of government which could be sold into
the private sector. But the real biggie was the Royal Mail. Last
Monday the Business Minister Michael Fallon announced he was about to
start hiring banks to handle the sale of the national postal service,
a move made possible by the Postal Services Act passed two years ago.
The government's preferred option is to float the company on the stock
market, but it's not clear what percentage of the business will be
sold initially. Another option on the cards could be selling a stake
to a private buyer. The Royal Mail is estimated to be worth between �2
and �3 billion pounds. If the sale goes ahead, Michael Fallon has
confirmed that 10% of shares would be reserved for Royal Mail staff -
although it's not clear whether they would get a discount. Trade unions
are opposed to the move. The General Secretary of the TUC, Frances
O'Grady, says that the Government wants to wreck the Royal Mail. And
campaigners have warned that if the service is sold off, the price of a
a first class stamp could rocket from 60p to �1.
The Business Secretary Vince Cable is with us. You have kept away from
us, you don't call or write! Happy to come on the programme! Happy to
have you. I never thought you would be more Thatcher than Thatcher,
Thatcher said she was not prepared to sell off the Royal Mail eco-she
was, quote, not prepared to have the Queens head privatised. -- the
Queen's head. Bee under Labour, there was a recognition that there
was a problem with Royal Mail. There needed to be a lot of investment. A
report was produced. One element was bringing in private capital, that is
what they are doing. There is nothing new or surprising. Mr Farage
has said so, but you are his boss, that the preferred route for the
government is an initial public offering, that a chunk of Royal Mail
stock would be sold? Correct.Any idea what percentage? We are aiming
to sell the majority, the simple reason is that Royal Mail will need
to raise capital and modernise, in order to do that it needs to get
itself off the public accounts. At the moment it competes with schools
and hospitals in capital spending. So Royal Mail spending shows up in
public debts? The only way around that is to have some private
ownership. Your manifesto says you can only sell off 49 %. We had a
debate before the last election. My colleagues wanted a more cautious
approach. You wanted more than 49 %? We did at the time -- I did at the
time. You will sell off more than 50 %, but on top of that ten % will go
to the workers, but how? Will they have to buy shares? Will they be
donating shares? We still have to bottom this out. We have to speak to
the communication workers union. We are determined that there should be
a workers stake in the new Royal Mail. It will be good for them and
the company. But they could shell the stairs. -- sell the shares off.
Let's say you sell 51 %, then another ten % goes to the
workforce, we are up to 61 %, does the remaining 31 -- 39 % stay with
the government for a period? The aim is to sell off as much private
capital as we need to. It is open, we want to keep our options open
with potential buyers and the mechanics of the sale. Former
postman Alan Johnson, what do you make of this? I'm a Thatcherite on
Royal Mail privatisation. 20 years ago, I think it was the right thing
to oppose, and I think it is now. Vince says quite rightly that the
problem is how you borrow to get capital into the Royal Mail, and it
appears on the government's balance sheet, but the profits of Royal Mail
also help to build schools and hospitals. What has happened where
there is a broad consensus, the pension fund moved on to government
bills rather than weighing Darren Royal Mail, the change in the
regulator has transformed Royal Mail, and a great CEO. Their
operation treble -- profits have trebled in just a few years. There
is a danger that they are selling off a very important part of the
infrastructure and, I would even say, the social fabric of this
country at a time where it is becoming more profitable. Secondly,
there is the issue about breaking apart Royal Mail from the post
office. There is already some separation, but there is a synergy.
Let Vince Cable response. It is becoming a much better operation.
The challenge is enormous. They are losing large chunks of their mail
business, they are picking it up on the parcel side, but they will have
to invest very heavily. I suspect one of the reasons why performance
has improved is they know they have to get ready for the market
flotation. Are we so bereft of any innovation or imagination in this
country that we can't find a way to get some capital into a very, very
much appreciated public sector resorts? The tradition is that you
do it off the balance sheet, which always makes me suspicious, as you
do with network rail? There was a lot of creativity under your former
Prime Minister excavation mark I helped with some of that creativity!
The hallmark of the British mail system, which almost every other
country copied, was that there was a single price for sending a letter
anywhere, not a parcel but a letter. That is enshrined in legislation for
about eight years? What would happen after that? It is for Parliament to
decide. Parliament has to decide if that has changed. One of the key
objectives of privatisation is to underpin the universal service
obligation, which is a guaranteed of a uniform price. If the Royal Mail
is not viable, we can't uphold universal service obligations.
party is criticising, quote, the timing of privatisation, but not the
principal. We voted against this. Royal Mail is improving all the
time. George Osborne is desperate to do something about the borrowing
statistics, �245 billion more than planned, he has all the harm -- it
has all the hallmarks of a fire sale. They haven't thought through
whole elements of which. In which case, this has been in public
ownership for around 370 years, what is the rush? If it was a fire sale,
why have we taken two years? Because you needed to get the pension fund
of the books. The key issue is, what would you guys do? Chuka Umunna made
it very clear that the debate is now closed. You will not re-nationalise
it, we all know that. We are at the end of that particular story.
the Queen's Speech tomorrow, on immigration, the proposals are to
toughen up a lot of things on welfare as immigrants get paid or do
not get paid. You happy to go along We have overseas students come to
go Britain and I would encourage that.
We picked up, we didn't need these elections to tell us, there is a
lot of public anxiety and much of it centres not on the gree gree
free movement of -- the free movement of people per per se, but
it is the sense that people come from overseas and get benefits they
are not entitled to. Your party fought the election an
an amnesty. Wasn't that a principled position? Wasn't it the
right position to start again and have a line drawn under it? Nick
Clegg made it clear that he he thought that was a mistake and we
shouldn't have done that. I'm asking you? We have agreed that
we are we are not going down that road again. The amnesty has been
abandoned? Well, it had merits and demerits. People didn't like it.It
created a lot of public anxiety P. What do you make of Nigel Lawson
saying he will vote against. He doesn't think there will be much
repatriation and he will vote to get out? Well, he is a clever guy,
but he is often wrong on the issues like climate change and this. The
problem he has and is explaining what the alternative model. I mean
if you decide to leave the European Union, what are you going to
negotiate with? He is a free trader I think so you would need to have
agreement on the continuation of the single market, free trade
arrangements. I am not sure how he would secure that.
And where are you on the the idea that it is popular on parts of the
Tory backbenches for a mandate referendum whereby a referendum
would take place mandating the Government to go and repatriate
powers from Brussels? Well, I don't see the need for that. Parliament
has already set out the ground rules for a referendum. We have
passed that legislation. But if the terms of our treaty position
changes, we we should have a referendum. Parliament has decide
that had. We don't need to go back on that.
The Lib Dems would not support a Conservative part of the coalition
trying to introduce mandate legislation?
On the business of RBS if the Treasury is going to sell RBS at a
loss and it looks as if that is what they are going to do. Wouldn't
it be better to nationalise RBS? we had gone back fours years ago,
that would be the thing to do. Nationalise it now would require
the acquisition of the remaining shares... Not that much?It is a
somebody standings sum of money. My main concern about RBS is the
taxpayer get value money for money when it is sold.
Well, they won't if it is sold at a loss. It will be sold eventually.
There is a big issue about why the big banks including the State banks
are not supporting small business and that's a real problem.
Are you part of the three out of four who do not regard Ed Miliband
as a credible Prime Minister or are you part of the one out of four who
does regard him? He has not established that Labour are a
credible alternative Government, but that's the challenge to him.
His problem is not around personality, but he was part of a
Government that oversaw the massive financial crisis and the
consequences that flowed from that. So he a credible Prime Minister?
Not yet and the challenge is for him to prove he is.
Will you come back? I am happy to come back, Andrew. I used to enjoy
my appearances on your programme. I will have the diary outside as
you are leaving! Now as you may or may not know, we're not on air
tomorrow. We are not? That means we don't get paid!
The reason? It's the Queen's Speech. The moment when Her Majesty appears
in Parliament to read out a list of the Government's plans for the next
parliamentary session. Here's our insider's guide to the big event
with Quentin Letts of the Daily Q is for Queen's Speech delivered
at the State Opening of Parliament. It is the biggest day in the
Parliamentary day. All the Queen's horses and the Queen's men and this
is where she arrives. The Queen doesn't write the speech herself,
mind you. It is written for her by the Cabinet and that is because it
sets out the Government's legislative programme for the
coming year. The Queen arrives at Parliament,
comes up the stairs and into this little room. The Robing Room. This
is where she gets ready and she puts on the imperial state state
crown. The opening ceremony as we have it today dates back to 1852
when this Palace of Westminster was built, but some parts of the
ceremony go back further to times when the Crown and Parliament were
on less than friendly terms! Before the Queen travels to
Parliament, certain precautions are taken. A member of the Government
is held hostage at at Buckingham Palace and is kept there until the
monarch returns and the yeoman of the guard searches the zel the
cellars of the House of the Parliament for any gun powder. She
progresses through the chamber. On the day t it is crammed with VIPs
and other guests. Black Rod is sent to to summon MPs to listen to the
Queen's Speech.' arrives there -- he arrives there and the door is
slammed in his face. MPs don't open it until he struck on the door with
his staff of office. Black Rod leads MPs back towards
the House of Lords. They amble slowly not wish to go appear too
concerned and they listen to the Queen's Speech. It is standing room
only. My lords, and members of the House
of Commons, my Government's legislative programme will be based
upon the principles of freedom, fairness and responsibility.
Government's programme as presented in the Queen's Speech is debated
for four or five days or for four or five years! Do you think they
rent it out for parties? Quentin Letts. Joining us from
College Green are Kevin Maguire of the Daily Mirror and Emily Ashton
from the Sun. Well, well, we have had local elections, what impact do
you think the rise of UKIP in the local elections is going to have?
It has to be written on on velum! But, we do know that Nigel Farage
is on the Queen's shoulder when she reads it out because we can say the
way the Government is spinning and Nigel Lawson will be another guest
who is there tomorrow, but we know that there are big issues that the
Queen won't address, but they will be dominating the coalition from
now on. Do you think we will see anything
change substantively in terms of how the Tory-led Government as
everyone likes to call it in terms of what they will do? I mean these
things have been onted agenda for a while, but they have upped the
rhetoric. The message tomorrow will be we are on the side of people who
want to work hard and get on. It isn't really anything particularly
new. Or controversial? Exactly. Yeah,
there will be things like, you know, a crackdown on benefits fraud,
foreigners who want to use the NHS, restricting access to the NHS and
housing and beating out -- booting out out foreign criminals easily.
UKIP who managed to get so many former Tory voters on their side,
they want to get them back. Kevin Maguire, if that's Nigel
Farage circling above your head... It is nearly opening time, Jo.
Kevin Maguire! He has a habit of falling out of
planes! Some of the things that were
dropped like the pledge for 0.7% of GDP on international aid. That's
not going to be there. How symbolic is that? And plain packaging of
cigarettes. The fact if you look at the Cameroon issues, minimum
pricing of alcohol. They have been put on the back burner or dropped
permanently. David Cameron is moving to the right and he will be
answering the voice of Nigel Farage and the old days of the huskies and
tilting at windmills are long gone and that's the significance and it
will lead up to seven weeks time when George Osborne gives his next
three year spending plans which will be a bigger political event
than the Queen's Speech tomorrow. We will see the direction of the
Government, but we will see them moving to the right and getting
harsher, that's what they feel voters want. Whether it is the
right right strategy, I think it is the wrong strategy, but I think
that's where we will see the Government go.
Emily, Lord Lawson's intervention is hardly a vote of confidence in
David Cameron's campaign to go for a reformed relationship with the
EU? Well, it is not ideal, is it? I don't know how central Lord Lawson
is to UK politics now, but the fact that he is saying a renegotiation
with Europe would fail is not quite what David Cameron wants to hear.
And it will probably mean his right-wing Tory MPs feel the same
that a renegotiation is word, what does it mean? What does the changes
mean for Europe? It will ring a few bells and get people on side with
Lord Lawson. On Europe, what about the the
Liberal Democrats? We have had Vince Cable on talking to him about
mandate referendums which have been suggested by Tory backbenchers, the
Liberal Democrats won support it. - - won't support it. What's the mood
amongst them? The Labour attacks on the Liberal Democrats, they are
accomplices of David Cameron sting them and they like to to show they
have a more positive agenda. Sometimes they can get measures
they want. On Europe, I think, they are a party that won't move. They
promise add add add in/out referendum. They will hold their
ground. It is a fascinating period in politics. Europe's torn the Tory
Party apart in the past, maybe it will do it again. Labour's is solid.
The anti-European wing is now small and the Liberal Democrats are just
sitting in there. I don't think the Liberal Democrats promising a
referendum would would win them votes at next election. They are
going to go down far and the hole campaign will be to defend the
seats they already have. Thank you. Enjoy the Queen's Speech.
Thank you. David Cameron, wasn't tilting at
windmills, he will building them. So was his father-in-law. Solar
panels. He wanted to put them in his wee
back garden of 20,000 acres. When is a blue cheese that tastes
like Stilton, smells like Stilton and is made in the village of
Stilton not a stilton? Well, the answer is when it's manufacturers
have no right to call it so under legal protection of products and
traditional foods that are tightly controlled. But what if new
research suggests the so called "source of origin" is more
complicated than those rules allow? I though you have been thinking
about this night and day for weeks. So Giles has been hunting for
scraps to find an answer. It is time for a bit of honesty, being a
political reporter in and around Westminster is a tough job. There
is a lot of pressures and the working conditions aren't great.
You never know when the next meal is coming from and have to put up
with rough things like this. There is a reason why I'm out here with
this. All the products on the table are protected by law. If you want
to sell them under a certain name. Certain morex, a Melton Mowbray
pork pie must have come from mel tonne Mowbray. From Melton Mowbray.
Sam pain has to come from the champagne region otherwise it is
just sparkling white wine. Let me introduce my guest. I I thought the
principle of this legislation was to protect a traditional recipe or
product from cheap copies, marketing under the brand. What's
wrong with that? There is nothing wrong and I am in favour of ensure
when you have a product that calls itself a certain product and says
it is from a certain areas, that's what it is and if there are going
to be cheap imitations then that's wrong. So we should have quality
control. What I am saying, there are strict rules here and there
ought to be flexibility because as time goes on, it is possible that
that people may unearth things like they may find that a particular
product was actually made or grown in a particular area and therefore,
they need to revise the rules to include something else. That is all
I'm asking for. Let me be clear, I am not suggesting that standards or
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 44 seconds
quality control should be at the end of the day, you can say
that this product is the real product. What I am trying to argue
is that these rules are so strict that sometimes it can be difficult
to break through. In a time of austerity, these are nice, high
quality products, which are you partial to? A bit of cheese,
genuinely, a bit of Stilton to use with a bit of wine closedown well.
-- a bit of Stilton to. I think we should have lunch now! Shailesh Vara
is joined as in the studio, as has Nigel White, the chairman of the
Stilton Cheesemakers Association. -- Shailesh Vara has joined us. Does it
not seem silly that a cheese produced in Stilton cannot call
itself a Stilton to? The name was protected in 1967 or 68 by a
certification trademark granted to the Stilton Cheesemakers
Association, which said that it must be made to a prescribed recipe in
the counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.
But some historians say that Stilton is has got its name after being sold
to travellers passing through the village of Stilton in the 18th
century? So it came from there? about 1745 onwards, most of the
Stilton was coming from Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.
As far as we know, there has been no cheese made in the village of
Stilton for at least 200 years. there was a Stilton and is recipe
published in a newsletter by Richard Radley in 1723. I remember reading
about it at the time! It was a recipe for what was called Stilton.
The recipe bears no relationship whatsoever with the cheese protected
from 1968 onwards, that recipe was what we call cooked, pressed, cream
cheese. No mention of blue. The Stilton we have been making the
dairies for well over 100 years is unimpressed, uncooked, blue veined
cheese. You are a bunch of imposters! Not at all. A local
historian, working with the people making the cheese in Stilton at the
moment, they have come up with a pamphlet dating from 1722 which not
only speaks of Stilton making a cheese that of making Stilton is.
There is a book which makes reference to the village, and even
Daniel Defoe, writing in 1724, makes reference to Stilton and is being
made in the village of Stilton. Lawrence says a perfect Stilton
should be about seven inches in diameter, eight inches in height,
and weigh about �18, which is exactly what my Christmas Stilton
did. But this was referred to as the English Parmesan. You ought to put
the facts straight, no recipe at the moment adheres to what was made in
the 18th century. In the 18th century, the cheese made in the
village of Stilton was the same as is subsequently amazed in
Leicestershire. Foreign muck? ! Leicestershire, Derbyshire and
Nottinghamshire are new boys to the scene. The owner of the Bluebell in
wanted to increase production, he did a deal with Leicestershire, a
married couple, they then allowed Leicestershire... Or I would say to
Nigel is produce the facts, produced the dates and the documents and the
authors. Have you been making cheese in Stilton for the last 200 years?
Nigel says you have not. There has not been cheese for a while, I don't
know for how long. If you want to change the European definition, it
does not say it needs to be made in... It does.It says it should
originally have been made there, and it was. I certainly know that one
man has been making cheese for the past two years which to all intents
and purposes is Stilton and is. does it matter? For 100 years we had
none at all. Why does it matter? matters that consumers need to know
where the product comes from. What the protected designation does to
any product is to tell the consumer worried has come from. At the moment
it can only come from those three counties. Unless Nigel produces
evidence, what this boils downed two is the existing Stilton is the ones
to maintain their monopoly and cartel, they don't want anybody knew
breaking the market. You as the chairman of the Stilton to should
say, welcome on board if you can provide the evidence. Up to now you
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 44 seconds
Agriculture and then it has to go evidence and we have got to problem
with that. You have got to eat that before you
The political show moves on to tomorrow's Queen's Speech. It is
the moment when the Government sets the agenda for the next 12 months.
So what's on the cards? Jo has the details. Well, the much trailed
Pensions Bill will introduce a single tier pension of �134 a week
for everyone in Britain who spends 35 years working or or caring for
children or the elderly. A new Immigration Bill is coming our way.
It will allow foreign criminals to be deported more easily.
There will be a High-Speed Two Bill. Many Conservative backbenchers will
be pleased that the commitment to dedicate 0.7% to international aid
will not be enthis rind in law -- enshrined in law and there will be
no snoopers charter. Despite the UKIP surge there will be no Bill
paving the way for an EU referendum in the Queen's Speech.
Thanks, Jo. With us now is Bob Neill. So are
you giving up on the standard white cigarette packages and on the
enshrining aid in law and you are going to be tough on immigrants in
welfare. I guess UKIP is getting its way?
Well, we needed to make space in the programme for the cheeses
description amendments Bill, didn't we, Andrew?
UKIP would like that! What we are con concentrating on are measures
dealing with making sure the economy gets back on track,
removing regulation and making sure we assist businesses going for
growth. That's the key for the coming few months.
What will be in the Queen's Speech that will get growth among
businesses? Well, I am not going to pre-empt what's going to be in the
Queen's Speech. But you will find a number of pressures there
Give aus give us a taste of one? And there will be issues around
that and we will be seeing outed important reforms around welfare,
so that people don't have the poorer pensions when they are older but
they have had, looking after carers. Just in the summary that Jo made
earlier, a really good collect Shannon of things will work. -- a
really good collection of things. If you see any studies about the
Borders agency, it has been disgraceful with many people waiting
for ages to see if they are allowed to stay or not. We need to make sure
the system works properly so that people who should be here can get
here easily, people who should not be here cannot. Why have you
abandoned to your pledge to have an amnesty for illegal immigrants?
was not a pledge. We have heard of people who have waited for ten or 14
years to have an answer from the Home Office, it strikes me that as a
Home Office problem. Don't they deserve to stay? Wipe the slate
clean -- clean? People who have been here for a long time are allowed
nationality. You have abandoned a principle position which would make
life easier for people who have been here illegally for a long time to go
for the easier hit of bashing those who are coming recently. I said we
wanted to make it easier for people who should be here to get here.
Constituents find it very hard to get family visas, asylum claims are
waiting for years, the Home Secretary is doing an inquiry
because it is a disgrace that it takes so long. People who should be
able to get into the country find it very hard, we should be able to fix
that. It is hard to avoid the impression that you are running out
of steam, there is nothing which will set the heather on fire.
are important measures going forward. We are putting lots of
things place. I remember my time as a minister, a great deal of the work
is about implementation. That is what I mean, it may be that that is
where you are. The die is cast on your deficit reduction policy, your
welfare reforms are being ruled out, that will not change, your education
reforms are still a work in progress. In a sense, you at a stage
where there are no more big ideas. It is trying to do and get credit
for what you already doing? Doing the job we set out to do, we should
not apologise for that. Alan Johnson, you said that the aftermath
was -- aftermath of last week's election was that David Miliband is
showing too much alike? What does that mean? It is a fixed term
parliament, you do not know when the election will be called, it could be
four years, it could be slightly less. We know there will not be an
election until 2015, so under those circumstances, no opposition serious
about getting into government wants to reveal too much to years ahead.
You can reveal the direction of travel. The criticism of Ed
Miliband, there is a whole raft... What a lot of people see as the
problem is that the direction of travel has been to an unspecified
vague new left, but all the suggestions are that the country is
moving right. I can see nothing that will come in this Queen's Speech
that tackles the main problem, lack of growth, a stagnant economy. What
Ed Miliband is doing is saying how we can get the economy going.
I don't agree that Ed Miliband has revealed very much policy at all. If
the sheer number of bills passed was the test of success, the last
government would have been a huge success. How many Immigration Bills
did you have, eight or nine? last government dealt with the most
serious economic crisis the world has had for 45 years. You campaigned
on the same platform as us with Vince Cable, if you overdo austerity
you will choke growth. We had growth of 1.8 % coming out of a recession,
it is ridiculous for the Liberal Democrats to say that there was
nothing in America, Lehman Brothers didn't happen, we got into this
situation because we recruited more nurses and teachers. You deregulated
the banks, you allowed the boom to continue. Are you in favour of
having a mandate referendum whereby you introduce a Referendum Bill, and
the people voting would or would not mandate the government to
renegotiate their powers? Are you in favour? The one caveat about that is
we know... I am in favour of exploring all the options and making
it very clear that we set out our stall for renegotiation and what it
would be. We said we would publish a draft before the general election. I
am in favour of publishing the draft bill, that makes sense. Whether or
not the bill which would probably not get through adds anything to
that, that is a question. Would it not help you with that was opposed
by other parties? You would say they had a chance to vote, and the only
party which would give you a referendum is to vote Conservative?
That is superficially attractive, but we have already shown that the
Prime Minister has delivered on the veto and the renegotiation of the
Budget, he will do that on the Government is to keep us safe, but
monitoring those who would do us harm becomes more difficult and
intrusive on the pif asy of ordinary people. This Government,
like the one before t has tried to give the Security Services greater
powers to monitor the internet, but its latest attempt, the
Communications Data Bill has been vetoed by Nick Clegg and won't
feature in tomorrow's Queen's Speech. A senior Lib Dem, Lord
Carlisle accused his leader of putting party politics above
national securitypm. David Thompson reports.
Two plots to bring terror to the streets of Britain. One thwarted
using surveillance intelligence, the other stopped by a random
traffic check. That's the head quarters of MI5. Their job, to keep
us safe by keeping one step ahead of terrorism and organised crime.
But in an internet age, that job is increasingly difficult which is why
successive governments tried to give them increased powers to
scrutinise activities on websites. The latest attempt is the
Communications Data Bill and experts believe it is crucial.
kind of legislation is vital. The data that we are talking about has
been used for crucial prsz, murder, -- prosecutions, murder, serious
organised crime. I think it is necessary to have this Bill in
order to organise data which is already available from mobile
telephone operators. This is existing material that tells you
the the when and the how long of communications.
Maybe, but it has been dubbed the snoopers charter and derailed by
Nick Clegg and is unlibly to see -- unlikely to see the light of day
soon. The main criticism is on privacy grounds. The internet
businesses expected to provide information on service users and
hold it for 12 months are sceptical too.
When you have people like Skype and Microsoft and Google asking what
information is it that you want that we don't give you and the
officials condition answer that question. Then it is time to take a
step back from the Bill as we have and think about what information it
is that we need. What people dubbed the snoopers
charter, that is not going to happen.
Nick Clegg was cheered by civil liberty campaigners when he vetoed
the Bill. The man hose job it was to keep tabs on terrorism
legislation. He is scathing. He has torpedoed this. I am disappoint
that had some of the my my Liberal Democrat colleagues including a few
in the Lords decided without knowing any of the evidence to
oppose this legislation. If we don't have an organised
Communications Data Bill which provides the authorities with
access to the when and for how long of mobile phone telephone calls in
appropriate cases then there will be increased danger to the public.
That doesn't seem like responsible Government.
The key task of the men and women who work in these buildings, MI5
and MI6 is to safeguard our freedoms and our way of life. Their
challenge to do it without destroying the things they are
trying to preserve. Alan Johnston is still with us. He
was Home Secretary in Gordon Brown's Government. Alan Johnson as
Home Secretary you were privy to intelligence briefings. What do you
make of the Liberal Democrats tor peed owing this Bill? -- por --
torpedoing this Bill? I agree with Lord Carlisle. Julian sat on a
committee that produced a very good report as did the committee which
men zee Campbell Menzies Campbell sits on said there was a problem
that the problem is growing and the problem needs to be tackled. It
isn't going to be tackled for two years.
So was it responsible of the Liberal Democrats to do what they
did? No, it was responsible to get the balance right between eitheries
and the need for the -- -- civil liberties and there were problems
with the draft Bill, but to scupper it... Is it responsible according
to your colleague who knows something about this stuff. He did
scrutinise terrorism legislation. He says it will lead to an increase
in danger to the public. This was irresponsible Government?
disagree. A huge amount this data is available. Last year, there were
500,000 requests for this data under existing law. We know that
Labour tried to expand it, to collect move information on every
website that everybody went to. That's what that was and that's
what this proposed Bill would have done. It is responsible responsible
not to allow that to happen. The committee had a look and we said
the information coming from the Home Office was unhelpful and
misleading. We never said there was a need for legislation. There was.
It doesn't say there was a need. You can have a look and you will
see it does not say it. It says there is a case for legislation,
but this goes further than it needs That does rather admit there is a
case for some sort of law and an enhancing of the laws to pro at the
time individuals or to -- enhancing of the laws or to catch criminals?
It could lead to less information being available to the police and
the Security Services. If you had �1.8 billion to help the police,
how would you spend it? His answer was not this Communications Data
Bill. It was about having more police on the streets and more
training. I am surprised any party wants to spend �1.8 billion on this
rather rather than doing proper police. Would it have been value
for money? When we have had Alan Johnson saying sophisticated
criminals are going to be ahead of the technology and would have about
enshrined in this Bill, pointless? Jacqui Smith published the
consultation dumb on this. I saw it -- document on this. I think
Theresa May and the Conservatives came in and they were libertarian.
When they saw the evidence of the gap and no one can say what the gap
is because it gives a gift to the people who want to exploit it. It
was clear that there is a problem as the Intelligence and Security
Committee on which Menzies Campbell sits.
There were issues in the join committee report and Nick Brown sat
on that and Julian and they they produced valid points. Now, that
needs to be taken into account because it was a draft Bill and a
new Bill needs to come forward. was a draft because Nick said it
was a draft. I will quote you on that. But the issue about the gap
has not been substantiated. We have been told there is a 25% gap. The
former head of Fife said that relied -- MI5 said that. It was
said by the former head of MI5. The case has not been made to spend
billions of points setting up a database to keep track of every
wooilt we go to. Every time we do something on Google, send a Gmail
that's a huge amount of personal information.
What you have not answered is, was it right to get rid of the
legislation as a result? It is right not to have this new Bill,
yes. You could have put safeguards in.
You admitted there is a case to be made for new legislation and you
have cast aside the legislation? would be comfortable with just
having the extra safeguards. I don't think the Home Secretary was
happy to do that. There is one issue of data about IP address
matching which is is technical where there is agreement. That is
what the police told us would be really useful.
Are we going to be less safe? Julian was dealing with the police.
His colleague was dealing with the intelligence services. A smaller
part of this, law enforcement is the major part. 90% of the cases
they resolve are resolved because they put together who was
contacting who. Who else was in this plot? What the network is. And
there is a tranche of this that is not legislated for and that puts us
in more dangerpm. I am going to have to finish it there.
As well as being a former Home Secretary and former Education
Secretary and former chancellor, Alan Johnson turned his hand to
writing. This book, This Boy, is out this week. It focuses on Alan's
tough upbringing on on an estate in London. Here is a snapshot of his
time in politics so far. People from my kind of background
It is simple. What we are worried about is you
you haven't got the bottle or the experience.
We have got the book. This Boy by Alan Johnson and I will make him
sign it, but the unsigned copies are worth more. It really is an may
an amazing story. My mum had a sad and tough life. She She died young.
I call her Lily. She had a terrible life. She had a terrible life that
that me and my sister escaped from because of her courage and because
of her... Your sister a hero.She should have been Prime Minister!
That generation, they took comfort in us having a better life?
Absolutely. They came through the war. My mother came from a family
of ten. Two of her siblings died young. A really tough life and were
really, really determined to deliver a better future.
We have to go. Harold Wilson is the answer to our quiz. He went to
Europe to renegotiate and didn't give much back. That's it for today.
Jo Coburn and Andrew Neil are joined by the former Labour home secretary Alan Johnson to look ahead to the Queen's Speech, as well as all the latest political news, interviews and debate.