11/06/2013 Daily Politics


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Daily Politics. The government says 16-year-olds should be sitting


tougher GCSEs with less coursework and more end-of-year exams. So, is


it back to the old O-levels? Should women inherit peerages even


if they have older brothers? We'll meet the Conservative MP who thinks


they should. Ann Widdecombe will be with us,


looking back at her time in politics and on Strictly Come Dancing, as she


publishes the book of her life. And, House of Cards gets the


American treatment with Kevin Spacey.


You might very well think that. I couldn't possibly comment.


All that in the next hour. With us for the whole programme today is


Lord Dobbs, the Conservative peer and the best-selling author of House


of Cards. So, lots to look forward to. But first, Michael Dobbs, what


do you make of the modern Tory Party?


I am rather excited by it. They are going through a wonderful period.


Those of us who can remember what mid-term is always like. We have


lots of new ideas coming out, we will be discussing education today.


Some serious issues, like Syria, one issue I get hot under the collar


about. An economy which appears to be turning possibly.


Do not mention those green shoots. And the opposition in government...


Did you have reservations at the beginning? Were you always a fan of


David Cameron? I have always been a fan,


personally. He once taught me how to use my credit card to scrape the ice


from my windscreen. What about as leader of the party and Prime


Minister? Look at the polls, he is still the


most popular of the leaders. I remember, in the mid-19 80s. 356


economists wrote to the Times, saying, Maggie Thatcher hasn't the


slightest idea to run the economy. She got it right, they got it


wrong. Leaders always come under pressure.


Is he Thatcherite enough for you? I would like him to be leader of a


Conservative government which he does not have the ability to do at


the moment. I am plugging for a majority conservatives in the next


government. What is your sense of the new intake


of backbenchers and their relationship with him?


It is quite fraught at times. On the other hand, everybody says that the


new intake of backbenchers particularly the Conservatives, one


of the best intakes of a generation. There is a lots of talent bubbling


away wanting to get out. It causes problems for him. He is facing a


reshuffle. How can he disappointed even more people? That is the stuff


of leadership, the job he has to What should he do about the rise of


UKIP? He should get on with the policy he


set out, renegotiating that European deal, and fundamentally. I am


sceptical about Europe. It is right he should give it the best possible


shot of renegotiating that usually important deal. You don't think it


is a lost cause? Absolutely not, it would undermine UKIP just like that.


Now it's time for our daily quiz. Who has Communities Secretary Eric


Pickles said that we mustn't upset? Is it: a) Liberal Democrats.


B) Dustmen. C) Germans.


Or d) Hedgehogs? At the end of the show, Michael will


It's being dubbed the biggest exam shake-up in a generation, with


Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, calling today for


something more rigorous than the current system of GCSEs. There is a


statement to the House of Commons in a few moments' time. But what


changes are expected to take place, and how will the exam change


practically? We know that the Department for Education will be


consulting with Ofqual on a new grading system. The current A* to G


system could be replaced with a mark between one to eight. Eight being


the highest. Coursework will be largely abolished in favour of


end-of-year exams. In English, pupils will be expected


to read whole plays and not just sections of them.


English will also see more poetry and the 19th century novel.


Mathematics will see tougher algebra and more statistics.


While foreign languages will require a better understanding of grammar


and translations. The first course is expected to


start in September 2015, with the first exams to be sat in 2017.


And, despite previous talk of it being called an I-level, the new


exam will still be called the GCSE. This was the Education Minister Liz


Truss earlier today. What we are doing in the new GCSE is


we want more long questions, more opportunity for students to think,


more key numeracy and literacy skills so pupils are better prepared


for the world of work. With us now is the former Schools


Minister Nick Gibb. Labour's Shadow Schools Minister Kevin Brennan. And


the General Secretary of the NUT, Christine Blower.


Welcome to all of you. Nick Gibb, these sound like the O-levels I did.


There is a similarity but this is an all ability exam. What they are


designed to do, these reforms, is to equip school leavers with the


ability to face the global job market in the future, with young


people from very high performing countries like Finland, parts of


China. If we want to equip our young people they need to be able to write


essays, to apply their mathematical knowledge in an unpredictable way.


And also to become fluent in mathematics. That is what these new


exams are designed to achieve. And none of that was being tested or


taught? They were piecemeal, bite sized


exams. There was a culture of resits where people were entered for exam


exam. Between the age of 15-17, we were the most examined nation in the


world because of this culture. And controlled assessment absorbed


teaching time in schools but not delivering actual education.


One of the biggest criticisms is having an end of year exam was a


linear way of testing the achievement and performance of


pupils, hence the introduction of coursework. All that seems to happen


is a hamster wheel of changes in education where one system is


replaced by another, then it reverts to the original system.


There is an ideological debate in education. Over two decades, this


country has drifted down international league tables. This is


a way of testing what children have learned. Children are used to taking


exams at the end of the first three years so they shouldn't be under


more stress if they have practised them by the time they come to year


Do you accept the claim that the system and the performance of the


country has drifted as a result of GCSEs based on coursework weather


wasn't enough rigour, according to Nick Gibb?


It is clear in recent years we have not improved our performance,


according to OECD figures. The government has been criticised


heavily of misinterpreting those statistics. This is Michael Gove


with his fourth we sit at the exam question! First he wanted O-levels


to come back, then we had about I levels. Now, we have what seem


perhaps like O-levels but somehow for everybody. What is wrong with


this reform is, instead of making a reasonable reform, there is a good


case for reforms of GCSE. Because of the ideological battle which Nick


admitted, rather than evidence -based changes, they have swept a


lot of good things like coursework in some subjects which can be


valuable. It is wrong to assess people solely on what they do in a


two and a half hour exam at the end of two years. If there is a fault in


assessment, let us not sweep it away for ideological reasons.


Quoting one commentator, some countries are storming ahead. We are


in a global race. We have fallen dramatically down the league tables.


What is your view to these reforms from the teaching perspective? Is it


something which will be welcomed if there is more rigour as the


Conservatives are claiming? If, what has been child is what will be


announced today, it won't generally be welcomed. What we mustn't do


today is undermined and demean the things which young people hitherto


have achieved. They have been working very hard these GCSEs and


just because more people were able to pass them does not mean they were


being dumbed down. Teachers are working hard, young people are


working hard. To sweep away all coursework on the basis, yes, there


was a problem last year, but the Welsh government took the sensible


decision they would regrade children so they actually got what they


really deserved. In this country, we did not do that. Let us come back to


the point teachers and pupils working very hard, do you challenge


the assertion GCSEs have become too easy? With coursework, it was too


piecemeal, somehow there wasn't a system recognised internationally or


by businesses that our children in England weren't doing tough enough


work in exams? I do challenge that. Also because of the work being done


in Canada which has successful provinces. With so many students


doing remarkably well over a period of years. Teachers got very good at


teaching GCSEs. There is a discussion to be had about the


balance between coursework and final exams. I am not saying there should


never be a review of exams. The fact we are sweeping that away, we only


have a final exam for every subject doesn't seem to treat this with the


seriousness it deserves. Actually, we need to look at what is in the


syllabus and how best to examine These changes would be coming in, in


England. One of the points raised by the Education Select Committee is


the worry, fear and regrets about having three different systems for


England, Northern Ireland and Wales, how can that be a good thing? It is


a consequence of devolution. It is a bad thing if Wales does not accept


it means to do something about GCSEs. It is falling down the league


tables even faster than this country. Michael Gove has given up


too easily on having an exam in England, Wales and Northern Ireland,


to be sat by all. Just because there is some disagreement, he says, I am


cutting away from the rest of the UK. Extremely petulant and a


divisive thing to do. Why not seriously have discussions about how


best to keep a GCSE across the country 's even if Wales wants to


keep it more modular than England. Is it a good thing to sweep away


everything that has gone before, in terms of GCSEs and coursework? For a


single exam which would fit in with other parts of the United Kingdom?


My son last year had to go through and enjoy the GCSE fiasco. I do not


get the complacency. He had a lot of coursework which was entirely


unnecessary. I do get a problem, I do have a problem with all of these


systems being run for the teachers, the ministers to be able to say,


look how we are going up the league table, which is what Labour did a


year after year, promising education, education, education. It


did not deliver. We needed a new way to look at things. I, as a parent,


find it very difficult when I see teaching trade unions whose slogans


are, putting teachers first. As a parent... That is not a slogan of


our union. Teachers should be putting pupils first, not


themselves. Teachers should be putting education first so we have a


service working very well come to make sure what we have is educated


citizens who come through the service and who have something


worthwhile. The issue is not what is best teachers but what is best for


the education service. To simply say a linear exam at the end of two


years is best for everyone in all circumstances is not answer. What is


best for pupils. Is a single exam the best way? I think they will be


making progress. I despair of teachers because politicians have


changed the system time after time. Not all parents with a Greek


sweeping away coursework is a good thing. Many parents will be


concerned their children will only be tested on how they perform after


two years without there being any leeway for the work they have done.


A Labour government, would it reversed these changes? We haven't


had a good look at the AF changes. On GCSEs, we will have to look. We


don't want to reverse things. This is a consultation. We will look


carefully at the detail. It has been There is disagreement in the best


way to test people's. You are talking about competition on a


global stage. Are you obsessed with international league tables? It may


not be preparing pupils for the job market. Will doing more poetry and


having an exam - will it help young people get better jobs at the end


of it? The CBI says 42% of its membership are concerned about the


skills of school leavers and graduates coming into firms. It is


about improving essay writing skills and making sure young people


can understand how the mass applies to problems. At the moment, with


GCSE maths, it is very clear which formula to apply. We want there to


be a problem where they have to work out which maths applies to it.


It will equip young people very well for the international jobs


market. Combine that the changes we are making to be competing exam,


Syrian people will learn about programming and not simply using a


spreadsheet. Some of that I am very happy to support. We will support


the IT changes. In fact, the CBI this morning has said these changes


will not do what it was said they would do. What they have suggested


is we need to look much more about what the role of high-stakes exams


at 16 is in a world where the participation what everyone that


has been raised to 18. It is no longer a school leaving point. The


need to reach a consensus about the best way forward and pilot it


properly. No exam form ever works unless you try it out first.


will the teachers cope with the changes? Is it enough time? Is it


practical to change the system that automatically? There is a great


deal of change being proposed in that time frame and nothing in the


way of a pilot. Talking Rugby increasing participation and age,


that is very significant. -- talking about the increasing


participation age. Which will one young people to remain in education


for longer than 16. -- we all want. We did think there is a problem


with this. We agreed that any government should consult with the


profession and look at having the very best exam system we can have.


We do not believe that what is likely to come out today is tending


in that direction. Now, a new book, The Body Economic: Why Austerity


Kills, argues that across the world there is clear evidence austerity


measures introduced in response to the financial crisis have harmed


our physical and mental health. According to research by the book's


authors, David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, there was an increase of


4,750 suicides above the statistical trend during the


recession in America, and around 1,000 extra suicides in the UK in


And for each suicide case, there are an estimated ten attempts and


up to 1,000 extra cases of depression. The authors argue that


the effect of austerity measures in the UK since 2010 is evident in


homelessness rates. They say 10,000 families have been made homeless.


But the most extreme examples they give concern Greece. They argue


cuts in HIV-prevention budgets have coincided with a 200% increase in


the virus in Greece, driven by a sharp rise in intravenous drug use


by unemployed young people. The authors contrast Greece with


Iceland, which saw a collapse of its banking system but protected


social spending. And they say that not only are anti-austerity


measures good for the health of a nation, but actually good for its


economy, pointing to Iceland's growth of 3% in 2012 compared to


0.2% in UK. I'm now joined by one of the authors of The Body Economic,


David Stuckler, and the Director General of the Institute of


Economic Affairs, Mark Littlewood. Where does the UK fit into the


crease, Iceland spectrum? We have been looking at how economic


hardship and unemployment and poverty come decked, poses risks to


health. When politicians respond with deep cuts, that can be turned


into epidemics. Receipt early- warning signs come such as a rise


in suicides. -- receipt early warning signs, such as a rise in


suicides. Is it your contention that austerity measures undertaken


by the coalition government have actually killed people? What we are


seeing in cases such as Greece, effective prevention programmes


have been slashed and leading to a return of malaria has prevention


programmes were cut and HIV programmes slashed? In the UK, we


have seen cases where there has been an increase in homelessness


rates, coinciding with cuts to social housing budgets. We have


heard recently that has caught some people to end their lives rather


than leave homes they have been living in for 20 years. It is eight


too high a price to pay for individual well-being. I'm sure he


is right. If we could find a mechanism where we could ever live


beyond our means, we would be happier and healthier. We could


build many more hospitals, if we were willing to add even more to


the budget deficit of �123 billion a year. It is very difficult to say


whether austerity works. In United Kingdom, it has not been tried. We


are adding �600 billion to the national debt to the cause of this


Parliament. �10,000 for every man, woman and child will be spent by


George Osborne. Where we have seen what is sometimes described as


austerity, it is in fact fairly substantial spending and it has


been pitiful. Growth has been flatlining. Spending vast sums of


money we do not have does not seem to be doing the trick. What you say


to that? It is crystal clear that the punches with the deepest cuts -


- be can choose with the deepest cuts, have had the best recovery.


The UK economy has flat lined. has been very similar in the UK and


the US. What you mean by posterity? Are you talking about cutting


government spending? -- what do you Mistakes were made in the lead-up


to the crisis. You must save him the good times and spend in the bad.


One example comes from collective history. In the post war period,


the Government founded the welfare state. It did not break the bank.


The debt fell by half. Virtually every Western country has suffered


because of the financial crash. There are enormous differences


between the position we found ourselves in after World War II.


Getting itself heavily in debt to defeat not season seems a price


worth paying and it was sensible to do. -- Naziism. In Iceland, the


banking crisis was a huge one-off job. Underlying Iceland was a


stable situation. Underline Greece was a nightmare. A wise man once


said, when the tide goes out, you see who is women with no clothes on.


The Greeks had no clothes on and the Icelandic were not. There is no


comparison between Greece and Iceland. Iceland has its own


currency and Greece does not. Greece were denied the tools it


needed. Do you accept that the arguments over whether austerity is


the right policy to pursue - do you accept that cuts in public spending


to result in reducing the well- being of the country's individuals?


In Greece, where there have been extreme cuts, it has resulted in an


increase in suicides and depression and this has happened albeit to a


lesser extent. It depends what companies the Kurds. I am in favour


of the government taxing a lot less. -- the Kurds. We must not spend


more year on year than we bringing in tax receipts. That is dangerous


and immoral. We are spending on ourselves today, our health care


and social security costs and sending the bill to our


grandchildren to pick up. Doesn't that Ben result in a situation you


are describing - economic collapse? -- the end result. It is about


illogical argument and sound data. -- ideological argument. The fiscal


multiply, the effect on government spending on health is changing. We


have one of the biggest Malta pliers. -- multipliers. If it were


the drugs trial, it would have been discontinued. Now with the


epidemics in Greece, it will cost more. I hear what you're saying


about Greece but I think you are confusing the difference between a


bit of surgery, which is often necessary, and total amputation.


Total amputation is life-changing. You think it has been wrong in


Greece. It has been a nightmare. Almost criminal. The UK has a


political choice in how to respond. Posterity has not stimulated


recovery. It is causing harm. -- austerity has not stimulated


recovery. A generation has been left behind. About the cats being


in the wrong place, what about the amount the work and pentathlons --


work and pensions paid? With the cats, the deficits continued to


They are trying to stamp out fraud. We are looking at about 1% per


annum. George Osborne thinks we should spend �600 billion of money


we do not have over the course of this Parliament. Do you think


things will get better if we spend 700, �800 billion that we do not


have? I do not understand where the limits on that come from. It all


sounds a bit Downton Abbey. But a real political battle is starting


up over whether aristocratic daughters should have the same


rights as sons when it comes to inheriting the estate. Mary Macleod


worked for the Queen before becoming a Conservative MP. She's


calling for a new law to scrap rules which state that younger


brothers are given automatic preference over older sisters. In a


moment, we'll talk to Mary. But, Viewers of Downton Abbey may


remember the story of the Earl of Grantham who cannot leave his


estate and title to his eldest daughter. Some may think it is


depicting a quaint and historic era but that is still the situation


today. The time is right to do something about it. Currently, in


most hereditary peerages, there is no preference cognitive


primogeniture. That means the first born son will inherit the title and


the state. Give them are no more sons, the title could go to someone


who does not even live in Great Britain. The aristocracy is now


well behind the monarchy on this issue. The Queen was able to


inherit the throne in the absence of a brother. If the Duke and


Duchess of Cambridge have a bail, she will be able to be Queen


evening she has a younger brother. integral role in our country and we


want everyone to fulfil their potential.


That beautiful building was the National Trust's Ham House, in


Surrey. Mary Macleod is with us now. And with her is Charles Mosley, the


former editor-in-chief of Burke's Peerage. What you make of that


suggestion? It is bogus league egalitarian,


trying to slot an interest group, the females, into a privilege which


is currently the privilege of another interest group, the males.


There is nothing wrong with that provided you say that is what it is.


Are you being dishonest, Mary Macleod? That is the most outrageous


thing I have heard. We make up half the population and it seems


ridiculous in the 21st-century we do not value women as much as we do


men. Don't you value women as much as men? I have been married twice,


if that isn't an example. We will let that be a measure for you.


the aristocracy, daughters of the nobility get better treatment


whereas the younger sons do not. you saying this bill does not cover


enough of the complexity of what happens in terms of aristocracy and


titles. Excellently put, it doesn't cover the issue of baronet who


outnumber the peers. Surely this suggestion is a good start. If she


wants to make women, give them a leg up in terms of title, she should go


for the bigger group of baronet. would be happy to include the


baronet within that as well. This is not a leg up but fairness and


equality. I feel, nowadays, when you have more than 50% of girls


graduating from university, and doing better at schools, let us have


equality, saying it is the first born who inherited it is. Society


has moved on. If the monarchy can do it, the Queen is way ahead by


allowing the Crown succession bill to go through. It is out of touch


discrimination and you are backing it. My objection is the poor old


younger sons and daughters get the short end of the stick, age


discrimination is just as wicked. But surely you are using that as an


excuse to mask what is an equal and unfair. Life is unequal and unfair.


Ladies should angle also for peerages then. Michael Dobson?


conservative, did I mention that? You are welcome to mention it again.


At the heart of that is not equality, equal opportunity, you


cannot discriminate against people. If you have a hereditary system, I


think it is impossible nowadays to justify it, to have only one sex and


not the other. There are real practical problems. If you have


brought up your family, your daughters and sons, to say when I


die, this is how it is going to be, the life they have become accustomed


to come it is difficult to change it. There are practical problems. In


principle it must surely change in the 21st-century. This affects only


if you people but symbolically it is something we need to address. It is


saying nowadays we should have men and women with equal opportunity to


succeed, and at work. Or abolish hereditary peers, all of them.


peerages to the whole population. Make every female a duchess, every


mail a duke. You are using the Gallup Terry and argument in a bogus


way to try to prevent something which appears to be fairly natural


and inoffensive. Equality is the most pernicious inheritors of the


French Revolution. In practice, it inhibits freedom and the liberty


which is its brother. We are talking equal opportunity rather than


equality. Where do you start your opportunity? Whether you are black,


white, gay or straight, a man or a woman. That is where you start, at


birth. What about the practical difficulties raised by Michael


Dobson, being raised to expect a title, then all of that is taken


away with you -- from you. There are ways to open the bill to make it


voluntary for this generation. Then it would change for the next


generation. To make it easier in transition. You will find the


majority of peers will support this, they feel it is time for


change and we should not discriminate. It is not just titles,


but complex property laws. There is an expectation as you said if you


have been brought up to inherit an estate and it is taken away.


Wouldn't that every -- wouldn't that happen every time you make a new


law. The principle has to be clear. Whether we get there right now or


whether we phase it in is an issue we should discuss. If the bill going


to get anywhere? Private members bills don't often get anywhere. But


actually not. It is something we can fight for behind the scenes. It is


something I feel personally about strongly. It is something I can try


to persuade as many people as possible to support. But not you?


Not me. I can give you technical advice but purely on a business


basis. She has been a government minister,


a novelist, and a celebrity ballroom dancer. She has tangled with Michael


Howard, and tangoed with Craig Revel Horwood. The Daily Telegraph's


expenses investigators described her as a "saint" among members. But that


didn't stop her starring with the baddies in an episode of Doctor Who.


I wonder what Ann Widdecombe found to write about in her new book? In a


moment, we'll ask her. But, first, What does something of the night


mean? I don't think I will elaborate on that.


He has formally proposed a policeman should approach a junk and blog and


demand a �100 fine. Correction-macro published the story of her life:


Strictly Ann. The book starts with your early life


in Singapore. Very sheltered, no TV, no sex education, nobody got


divorced. How much of your later political beliefs were forged in


those early years? I think very few people find their


political beliefs based on their life experience. The reason I chose


conservatism over socialism was precisely because I believed in the


individual over the state. And I hated what in those days wasn't some


muddle about the tone -- centre ground, it was out and out


socialism. You never dabbled in any ideas of socialism? I was never


attracted by it, I always believed in the individual right to grow.


What about religion in terms of affecting your political life, it is


a huge part of the book. The parable of the good Samaritan, he was a


businessman, a successful guy. He put it at the disposal of the man


who needed it. You complain about the lack of Scripture in schools,


you oppose women priests. How did it affect your political career, in


terms of the ministerial jobs you did and didn't get? I was pensions


minister and prisons minister, highly complex posts. I can't say


that influenced any of them. Would becoming Health Secretary have been


difficult? I could not have taken on the role of licensing abortion


clinics, so I would have had a difficulty with that.


You wanted to be a politician all your adult life. That is right, I


developed political ambitions very early, but did not get into


parliament until I was 39. What did you do before? I began by marketing


with Unilever. I went to London University where I looked after


buildings and medical equipment. there too many special advisers when


in Westminster? I wouldn't say there are too many now. But if the trend


were to grow, my answer would be yes. When you have ministers who are


themselves special advisers and little in between being advised by


special advisers who have come straight from the research


departments of their party HQ, you have a problem.


Having been an MP... Constituency selection panels will look at


anybody up to the age of 45 but it would be a healthier system if they


said we will not look at anybody below the age of 45. By that age,


you have experience, and outside world. You have some independence.


What is very important for MPs is to be independent to themselves.


said you admired the young new intake. Surely that is a good


thing, not full of old fuddy-duddies. Winston Churchill


became an MP at the great age of 20. There are exceptions to every rule.


We are talking about a balance which has shifted nowadays to the younger


generation. Where do you stand in terms of the leadership? The MPs


reduced the list to two people and I knew I simply didn't have sufficient


support. I did have some. I suspect, if you ask people about Ann


Widdecombe, they would remember the something of the night description,


and Strictly Come Dancing. With that oppress you? That would not depress


me at all. I had to address it for the first time for the sake of the


book. Margaret Thatcher, she would never have won the next election in


1992. Undeniably, we secured ourselves that election. I would say


ideally I wish we had lost 1992. Would you have like to see Ann


Widdecombe stand for the election? do not think she would have won. The


Tory party is strange. We elect leaders not because of who they are


but because of who they are not. Maggie was not Ted Heath. We made


sure we would not elect Ken Clarke or Michael Heseltine. Which is why


we have had the range of leaders we have had. It would be good to vote


for candidates positively. Wasn't John Major the perfect antidote to


Maggie Thatcher? He was a very underestimated Prime Minister. The


problem was everyone expected him to do what Thatcher was doing without


the majority. At one point, no majority at all. You are saying you


would rather have lost the 1992 election? We had to go through the


ERM disaster which damaged us irrevocably. If Labour had gone


through that it would have damaged them. Do you agree with that?


wrong to win the 1992 election? was a point put to me before the


1992 election campaign. Seeing the future and not liking it. As a


political activist and a personal friend of John Major, I could not


support that. I have to say the historians will look at it and say,


it did change the course of British politics, not necessarily in the way


the Conservatives wanted. Before the election, I would have said we


wanted to win, I was euphoric when we won. I desperately wanted to win


What we your tactics on Strictly? Just having fun. Would you ever do


that? Maybe you have been asked. wife said she would shoot me be for


ever letting me go on to that programme. There are many gorgeous


women on there. I do not have the moral rigour that Ann Widdecombe


has. There are worse things you can do. There is the book. Are the


Government monitoring your e-mails, Facebook and Google searches? Well,


quite possibly but, according to William Hague, the data-gathering


centre GCHQ are not doing it illegally. The Foreign Secretary


gave a statement to MPs yesterday in which he denied UK spies were


using their partnership with the United States to get around UK law.


It has been suggested that GCHQ uses our partnership with the


United States to get around UK law, obtaining information they cannot


legally obtained in the United Kingdom. I wish to be clear this


accusation is baseless. Any data obtained by us from the United


States involving UK nationals is subject to proper UK statutory


controls and safeguards. They quote back the words of that Foreign


Secretary in a BBC interview yesterday when he stated, if you


are a law-abiding citizen of this country going about your business


and your personal life, you have nothing to fear. Nothing to fear


about the British state or intelligence agencies listening to


the contents of your phone calls or anything like that. This assertion


however assumes that the state is either incapable of error or


incapable of advert and or inadvertent wrongdoing. On the


point of sharing intelligence by the G C H Q, Camber find sexy


clarify where the United Kingdom provides occasional intelligence --


can the Secretary of State clarify whether of the United Kingdom


provides occasional intelligence? cannot comment. How does the United


States used materials gathered from network and service providers and


offer it rather than having sought from them in a way that makes


authorisation extremely difficult? I am so sorry, Mr Speaker, I was


getting up to leave the chamber. are sorry the honourable lady is


taking Halle that we will hear from her on other occasions. -- her


leave but we will hear from her. Joining me is an Taylor. Just


before I come to you, can politicians and spy agencies be


entrusted not to misuse our personal data? The problems with


the whole Iraq war showed that the intelligence agencies have to be


willing to answer questions. We cannot give them a blank cheque to


go and do as they, in their own view, feels they are doing.


they being given a blank cheque? Technology is advancing beyond all


of the political normals and operational regulations we give


them. That is a constant battle to keep up-to-date. What do you think


about the whistle Blower? Is a hero has he harmed the cause of national


security? Probably a bit of both. We need to get a sense of


perspective. There is a balance to be struck between privacy and


security. The agencies, as far as we have no, have kept within the


law. They cannot have a blank cheque. Commissioners look at


warrant issued. They can go into a great deal of depth. Part of the


problem is that we hype these things up. We say every individual


is threatened. Collecting and analysing intelligence and using it


properly is very difficult. There is a massive amount of information.


It is honing in on the things that are relevant. I think we need co-


operation with other countries. You need checks and balances. What


Michael says is correct. Part of the real problem is keeping ahead


of the game from those who want to do us harm and coping with the


changes in technology and information that is out there.


you worry about foreign spy agencies trawling through data?


course. We all need to be concerned about that and have firewalls


wherever possible. That does not mean you do not co-operate with


other people. The point that David Blunkett raised, in your clip, is


the most significant. If we are offered intelligence about British


nationals, by a third party, then how do authorisations actually


apply? That shows you how you have got to keep changing things in


order to keep up-to-date? In terms of individuals, our supermarkets -


hour credit card agencies - have far more information on us than


anyone else? Haven't we just given up our right to privacy because of


Facebook and all of these sites where people are handing over their


personal details, financial, private? Why be surprised when spy


agencies are trawling through a data? We are all told them up risks


on the internet. Both of us -- most of us use the internet in a shallow


way and do not take provisions that we should use. There is a balance.


The balance I would suggest witches from time to time. Just supposing


tomorrow, there was another nine/11. -- 9/11. In which, it was said, why


I went the agencies following these guys? -- in Woolwich. Now people


complain that somebody might be looking at somebody. We need checks


and balances but we cannot stop the agencies from doing their jobs


because that is protecting us. Intelligence agencies and the


regulator must not be run by headline writers on newspapers who


will see the worst in everything and will demand that life is


perfect. Life very rarely is perfect. Let's talk about scrutiny.


You have said they need to be laws governing privacy. Is the committee


of MPs really equipped to scrutinise organisations like GCHQ?


Yes, organisations like GCHQ and MI5 and MI6 have had to come to


terms with the bat they have got a responsibility to Parliament. --


with the fact. It was said that beforehand they would hardly give


their name and number. That approach has gone. I think the


Intelligence and Security Committee has become more proactive and far


more able to keep the agencies on their toes. Now for the dark arts


of politics. And our guest today, Michael Dobbs, has seen plenty of


that. He was with Margaret Thatcher when she took her first steps into


Downing Street as Prime Minister. He was there again with John Major


when he was kicked out. In between he got bombed in Brighton and


banished from Chequers after a row with Maggie. He ran plenty of


election campaigns and cracked any number of heads together. It was


one of those behind-the-scenes political careers that, it was once


said, in Latin America would have got him shot. And in a quiet moment


on holiday by the swimming pool, he thought he would have a go at


putting all that experience into a novel. The result was House of


Cards. It was a great success, it got turned into a memorable TV


series and it has recently been remade by Kevin Spacey and


Garrett Walker, to ride like him? No. Do I believe in him? That is


beside the point. -- Dubai like him? Look at that winning smile and


trusting eyes. After 22 years in Congress, I can smell the way the


wind is blowing. It is now out on DVD. Ann Taylor, a former chief


whip, of course, is still with us. The brutality of politics. Is it


still as dirty today as it was in your day? I think just banned in


many ways. Anne macro was a whip in the extraordinary days of the


collapse of the James Callaghan government. Heady days!With all


these allegations of sleaze, it is worth reminding ourselves that


Labour MPs and Tories put their lives at risk. They got out of


their sick beds and came to vote for what they believed in. But


ignited Jimmy a passion for politics and the values of politics.


-- that ignited in me a passion. The heady days, you say, of the


1970s and having to get people to turn up for votes otherwise the


Government may have collapsed. Later on, during the 80s and 90s,


do you think the dark arts - the spin - what has been ducked with


Lord Mandelson being the Prince of darkness, did that takeover? I do


not think he ever got near the Whips Office. We would not let him


and he would not take any notice anyway. That did not matter.


Politics has changed. It was a team event, a team-building exercise all


the time in those days. You felt you were part of something. One


thing which has happened in the House of Commons is that people do


not know each other and feel as much a part of that team. That has


changed things in all parties. Recent figures about the number of


people who have rebelled in the last three years, or in the last


three years of the Labour government, show a great


independence. Perhaps it also shows less communication between the top


and the grassroots -- the grass roots. You are once dubbed the


baby-faced assassin. Is it about MPs becoming more independent or


have whips lost the power to impose the will of the leadership? A bit


of each. In the days of the Callaghan government, the Thatcher


government, politics was black and white. There were fundamental


issues on a tribal basis. Everybody, you said trade unions, and everyone


knew which side of the fence used baton. Issues are now much more


complex. Environment and green issues. They are issues which need


to be debated much more and do not allow for the sort of very


straightforward decisions which politicians came to in those days.


Do you think it is a good thing? MPs are not as predictable as the


party line. I'm a great believer in politics being a team game. That


should have plenty of room for independent souls. The best


politicians know what it is they want and are willing to make


sacrifices for it. They do not win on ill-discipline or the gears. I


can remember going back to the 1970s, people thought it they'd


vote against the Government, the Labour government is rubbish, vote


for me. They lost. Hard lines will do what people want to see is


people who are able to deliver. You do not live at as an individual. It


might make you feel good but you do not deliver. There's just time


before we go to find out the answer to our quiz. The question was: Who


has Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said we mustn't upset? Is


it: Liberal Democrats? Dustmen? Germans? Or hedgehogs? It has to be


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