06/12/2013 Daily Politics


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Afternoon, folks, welcome to the Daily Politics.


World leaders pay tribute to Nelson Mandela, after the former South


African president dies at the age of 95. We'll hear from Britain's former


High Commissioner to South Africa, Paul Boateng.


As the dust settles on George Osborne's Autumn Statement, the


Chancellor has a spring in his step. But how resilient is the recovery?


Questions, too, for Ed Balls, left red in the face after a stumbling


performance in the House of Commons. We'll discuss the political fall-out


of the Chancellor's statement with a trio of frontbenchers.


And in the latest of our series on great political thinkers, Toby Young


tells us about his favourite philosopher. JS Mill was the first


political philosopher I read, aged 17, as part of preparing for my


Oxford interview. I was a punk anarchist at the time.


Punk anarchist? What is that? All that in the next hour, and with


us for the duration, Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, and the


editor of the financial newspaper City AM, Allister Heath. Welcome to


the Daily Politics. We start, of course, with the death


of Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela had been suffering from a lung illness


for a long time and had been receiving treatment at home since


September, when he was discharged from hospital. The news was


announced just before 10:00pm London time by the current South African


president, Jacob Zuma. Today, South Africans have gathered in


Johannesburg and Soweto to mourn his death and celebrate his life.


Tributes have been paid by political leaders around the world. Tonight,


one of the brightest lights of our world has gone out. Now some Mandela


was not just a hero of our time but a hero of all time. The first


president of a free South Africa, a man who suffered so much for freedom


and justice. And a man who threw his dignity -- through his dignity and


triumph, inspired millions. We will not likely see the likes of Nelson


Mandela again, so it falls to us, as best we can, to follow the example


he set. To make decisions guided not by hate but by love. To never


discount the difference that one person can make. To strive for a


future that is worthy of his sacrifice. For now, let us pause and


give thanks to the fact that not some Mandela lived. A man who took


history in his hands. And bent the arc of the moral universe towards


justice. He is now resting. He is now at peace. Our nation has lost


its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.


South Africa's president, Jacob Zuma. Of course, Nelson Mandela's


life had a huge impact on British politics. Ross Hawkins looks back on


the changing attitudes towards South Africa and the relationships forged


between both countries. A politician honoured to like no


other, with ceremony and a statue at Westminster in 2007. It wasn't


always like this. As he recalled at the time. When we visited


Westminster Abbey in Parliament Square in 1962, we half joke that we


hoped that one day a statue of a black person would be erected here.


Some hope. Nelson Mandela, who met Labour and Liberal leaders back then


but not the Conservative minister, Harold Macmillan, was a wanted man


in South Africa. Two years later he would be jailed for sabotage. He was


still in prison when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister. She


regarded his African National Congress as a terrorist


organisation. She wanted an end to apartheid but opposed, rents of


economic sanctions, argued they hurt black South Africans. You don't want


to always hand the stick to South Africa, I think she is a bit fed up


with that. When she does things that we want her to do, I think we have


got to encourage her. This was the era of the Cold War. The West feared


commonest influence on the ANC. Global concerns were different back


then. The ANC had the support of the communist world because the West


would not support it, with the exception of Scandinavian countries


like Sweden. So many countries in the West, including Britain and the


United States, almost saw not some Mandela as agents of cumin is.


Nonsense, but that is the way it was seen -- agents of communism. When


his freedom finally came, the world was different and the politics had


shifted. Once he was released, everything changed. It all switch to


trying to create a harmonious transition to a different type of


South Africa. The Conservative Party attitudes changed, John Major was by


minister and was very supportive. By 1996, Nelson Mandela was addressing


parliament, and politicians from all sides assembled to pay tribute. This


was a star like no other. One who could inspire, move and bring call


political gold dust. -- sprinkle political gold dust.


I can see men and women who were the candidates to immortality. A Tory


leader battling Tony Blair met Nelson Mandela and said the


Conservatives had got it wrong on the ANC and on sanctions. And the


man who first came to Britain as a fugitive is now celebrated by the


right and left alike, as the greatest and most successful of


politicians. Ross Hawkins, with a reminder of


Nelson Mandela's impact on British politics. We've been joined by the


Labour politician, Paul Boateng, who served as Britain's High


Commissioner to South Africa from 2005 to 2009. Welcome to the Daily


Politics. A sad day, in the aftermath of learning of Mr


Mandela's death last night. You met him when he got out of prison. I met


him in Geneva at the world Council of churches, his first public outing


was to Switzerland and the churches. Who had been at the backbone of the


anti-apartheid struggle, who had stood alongside him when many


described him as a terrorist, many wore T-shirts that said, hanging


Nelson Mandela. A very different time. You saw that this was a man


imbued with values and a vision. He gave that to politics. And it is


that which is so sorely missing for politics, not just in South Africa


but in our world today. What had prison done to him? I think it had


strengthened him, ironically. This was a man who had always had focus


and discipline. That was the hallmark of his life up until then.


That was amplified in prison context. He was always, and we


should never forget, a freedom fighter. He believed and led the


armed struggle. But such was the overwhelming power of love in his


life, that he knew that part of the discipline and focus of that had to


be the capacity to reconcile, had to be the capacity to build bridges.


Whenever I met him, in whatever capacity that was, whether it was a


lay church person as a Cabinet minister, or High Commissioner,


always there was this sense that he had this profound moral purpose,


linked with an acute political strategy. He was not, and it is a


great mistake to paint him as somehow a sort of saintly, innocent


abroad. He was a politician through and through, an activist, but he had


a moral compass, and that didn't just guide him and the ANC. We are


talking about a man who worked alongside the famous names of the


early ANC. They were part of a movement that had this focus and


discipline but was rooted in profound values. Is what makes Mr


Mandela different from all of them, is it this? Would it be fair to say


that if Nelson Mandela had not existed, the history of South Africa


could have been very different, in a bad way. I think he played a key


role at a critical time. But I don't think that he was, in himself,


bigger than the ANC. He was the product of the ANC, a product of his


culture, and he brought to that unique personal qualities. But we


really must not take this man out of his context. It would not have been


possible to have had a peaceful transition in South Africa...


Although don't forget, 10,000 people died after his release. But it would


not have been possible to avoid the racial bloodbath that all feared,


had it not been for a movement, the ANC, that embraced the path of


reconciliation and made enormous sacrifices economically for it.


Because the black man in South Africa today is still grossly


disadvantaged as compared to the white. And there is still a way to


go before Nelson Mandela's dream and aspiration for a rainbow nation in


which the Freedom Charter is embedded is achieved. Mandela was


the one black leader of all the ones that you have mentioned that had an


authority and a cut through with the Afrikaner and other white South


African community. The other ANC leaders did not have that. Mr dig --


France De Klerk said he could not have done


it without Mandela. De Klerk was intimately involved in those


negotiations and there is no doubt the two meant developed a strong


relationship. In politics, relationships are, at the end of the


day, very important. That relationship between FW De Klerk and


Nelson Mandela was an important one. I say again, having lived there and


work as part of this movement for many years, don't forget the other


leaders. We are not forgetting any of these. But we are just in the


aftermath of Mr Mandela's death. Because they are all part of the


movement. You have made that point. What are your thoughts this morning?


He does make other world leaders shrivelled, I am afraid. There was


something so magnanimous and splendid about him. He was


theatrical and he was wonderful at the theatre of politics. He was a


politician to his fingertips. There was that great moment when he turned


up wearing the Springboks colours, Springboks really synonymous with


white South Africa at the time. That was a theatrical event. I spent a


lot of my youth outside South Africa house, demonstrating. I worked for


amnesty in Rhodesia in its apartheid days and thank goodness it has all


gone but it was horrific. It is sometimes hard to remember it


happened, it sound so ridiculous. It is extraordinary to think how few


people supported him. I was 13 when he was released from


prison and it was probably the first of the big political events that I


remember. It was this amazing event that 13-year-old Scot involved with.


I agree -- 13-year-olds got involved with. It is ridiculous, looking


back, that it took so long for this to happen. To me, it is the end of


the 20th century, his passing. The end of an era of great struggles


against oppression for the B had fascism, coming as, apartheid and


horrible ideologies. It was a great man who transcended everything and


one of the very few global figures... Gandhi is another one.


You are right, he is probably the last of the 20th-century figures


with that iconic status. Polly is right, the ante apartheid --


anti-apartheid movement was pretty small to begin with and it was a


long time before it grew. Can we pat ourselves on the back as a country,


that written in general, London in particular, -- Britain in general


was a main centre for the anti-apartheid movement? I think we


can all stop there is something special about London and the British


people in terms of their capacity to embrace global struggles. Whatever


their political leaders are saying or doing, and that is to the credit


of the British people. I found that there were trade union groups, the


mothers' union, village halls, ordinary people in rural and urban


England who recognised that apartheid was a gross injustice. But


there was a hell of a political divide between Labour and the


Liberals on one side and the Conservatives on the other. But at


the end of the day, the people won. That is what Nelson Mandela


symbolises, that whatever happens in terms of the Cold War or party


politics, people's movements and activism, when rooted in values and


vision is, can triumph. "The plan is working, but the job of


recovery is not yet done" . That was the message from Chancellor George


Osborne yesterday as he outlined his Autumn Statement to MPs. But despite


growth returning to the UK economy, the Office for Budget Responsibility


warned of the risks with the recovery fuelled by consumer


spending and high levels of household debt, which could top ?2


trillion within four years. The OBR expected the economy to grow by 1.4%


this year, double the 0.6% they predicted in March, and by 2.4% next


year, higher than they predicted in March as well. The higher than


expected level of growth means the chancellor will or less this year


that was forecast at the Budget, and he told MPs yesterday that he hopes


to run a surplus of ?2 billion in 2018-19. The deficit may have


started falling again after two years of little movement, but total


debt is still eye-wateringly high and is due to peak at ?1.4 trillion


by 2015-16. I have no idea what that means, but it does mean we will have


to work for longer, with Osborne announcing that the retirement age


will go up at a faster rate. Those in their late 30s will now have to


wait until they are 69 to claim a pension. But it was not all gloomy


news. The chancellor announced that National Insurance contributions are


being scrapped for employers taking on someone who is under 21 as part


of an attempt to bring down youth unemployment. And there were


measures to help bring down the cost of living. There was the planned 2p


fuel duty rise for next year which has been cancelled, and average rail


fares will be frozen in real terms from January. This morning, the


chancellor was challenged on whether this was the wrong type of recovery,


fuelled by consumer spending and high levels of debt. I don't accept


that, because actually, 400 thousand new jobs have been created this


year. Those are new opportunities for people, many of whom would have


been out of work because of the recession we endured in 2008 and


2009. Jobs are being created in businesses like this and in small


businesses. Yesterday, we were able to provide help for those high


street shops trying to stay open. There is better news cost the


country, but I would be first to say that we have got to work through


this plan. The biggest risk would be coming off the plant that has got us


this far. So how does the Autumn Statement


look 24 hours on? Our political correspondent joins us now. What a


lovely winter scene. Obviously, the whole Autumn Statement was hugely


overshadowed by the death of Nelson Mandela, but how does it look this


morning? What bits are getting praise and what bits are beginning


to unravel? As you mentioned, the Office for Budget Responsibility,


set up as an independent body by daughters worn, has been questioning


the nature of the recovery -- it was set up by George Osborne. What lies


beneath the recovery led by consumer spending? Lots of people are


appealing to their much diminished savings in order to spend. That


could lead you on to Labour's territory about talking about a cost


of living crisis, with people dipping into their savings to make


ends meet. There was more disappointing news from the Office


for Budget Responsibility, because we are not getting the export led


recovery that the government would like. Forecast are disappointing.


The OBR are also concerned about house prices, which are rising more


than they were forecasting in March. Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince


Cable is worried about that as well. But the slightly gloomier economic


news is not necessarily bad for the chancellor. Going into the next


election, his phrase will be, a lot done, a lot still to do. I have


given you a recovery, but it is too fragile to be passed into Labour's


clumsy hands. They would drop it. He wants voters not to be tempted to


say OK, you have sorted out the mess, and now we can trust Labour to


spend our money and tackle the cost of living.


We are doing to now by the financial Secretary to the Treasury, Sajid


Javid. The Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie is in our


Nottingham studio and in Middlesbrough, the Lib Dem Treasury


spokesman, Ian Swales. Sajid Javid, most of the growth this year has


been fuelled by consumer spending. House prices are up 7.7% compared to


last year. Household debt is 116 million pounds higher than forecast


to be six months ago. This is just a mini version of the boom we had in


the lead up to 2007. Let me quickly associate myself with the comments


of Paul Boateng first on Nelson Mandela, who was an inspiration to


me and it was sad news yesterday. Turning to your question, what we


heard yesterday from the chancellor was confirmation that the economy is


growing faster than perceived before. The OECD said a couple of


weeks ago that the British economy is growing faster than any other


developed economy. There has also been an upgrade in job forecasts.


But I was asking you about the content. The economy is growing in


all sectors, not just services. Manufacturing and other sectors are


growing. Exports are not growing. They are. They fell in the last


quarter. Since this government came to office, exports have grown stop


it would be an incompetent government that could not get any


export growth. They have not grown this year. You could pick one


particular quarter and said they did not grow them, but we need to focus


on -- we should have focused on exports a decade ago. This


government has started doing that. Exports are almost 100% to some


countries. We are getting the job done. Business investment is not


growing. Overall investment is growing. Business investment is not


growing. The economy is growing by 1.4% this year. 1.2% of that is


consumer spending. Business investment is a negative -0.4%. It


is because of the lack of investment but growth is less than it would be.


Investment is coming through. It takes time for confidence to build.


But the fact is matter. Business investment has been a drag on


growth. It has played no part in the 1.4% growth rate. Alistair, help me


out. That is true. Do this investment is a drag on growth. They


are hoarding something like 700 LE and pounds -- 700 Ilium pounds.


Unfortunately, it seems like the recovery will be driven primarily by


consumer spending. Exports are not growing fast enough and


house-building is not growing fast enough. We would all like to see all


those things grow faster. We have to deal with the huge problems this


government has inherited, bigger than any other industrialised


country. Part of that was having a method to bring back confidence to


the economy, make sure interest rates stay low to encourage


investment. Foreign investment is at a record rate in Britain at the


moment. In the first six months of this year, the OECD said Britain saw


more foreign direct investment than any other country except China. The


whole world is investing in us. You are selling off a loss of our stuff


to state-owned companies elsewhere. Chinese, French energy, everything


we are building and doing here, we seem to be selling to other


people's state-owned companies. It is all right to nationalise as long


as it is not in this country. Chris Leslie, are you able to answer any


of the questions I asked you yesterday that you were not able to


answer? Before you repeat the question, I think it would be


appropriate if I also paid tribute on the death of Nelson Mandela. It


is important that all of our comments are put in that context


today. So, does Labour support the principle of a welfare cap? Yes.


Would that include tensions? We want to have a welfare cap like the


government have said, that tries to define the benefits paid out in


society. The best way to do that is to look at the social security


expenditure we have over a 20 or 30 year time frame. The cap will


probably include some pension benefits in the long-term full of it


is not right that the winter fuel allowance is paid to the richest 5%


of pensioners. We know there is a triple lock on the basic state


pension, and we agree with that. But would Labour's cap, which you agree


with in principle, include the state pension? In the near term, we don't


think we should depart from the triple lock. But over a 20 or 30


year period, if you are managing welfare, just as you have to make


changes on life expect to see to reflect the cost of retirement


benefits, we need to make tough decisions on this. We will probably


need to include pension benefits in the overall welfare expenditure


limitations. But it is important to stress that we also believe the


triple lock for the basic state pension is important. I don't


understand how you can have the triple lock and a cap on benefit


that includes pensions. Well, ask Sajid Javid. The government has made


it clear that they are excluding pensions, and I want to work out


whether you would or would not. You will find that you can't have a


welfare cap of ?120 billion. What is the answer? Excluding pensions from


the cap. How can you say it is a ?120 billion cap? I am talking about


the 120 billion. If you take the state pension out and exclude


job-seeker's allowance, you are down to about 120 billion. Have a look at


the figures. I have. They made announcements about the retirement


age. There are tough decisions to be taken about that. For us, the key is


that it is based on evidence and not just ministers to give their finger


in the air and making a guess. I will file my questions under F for


failure for two days in a row. You are not making me look good. Ian


Swales, are the Lib Dems signing up to the proposed fiscal charter which


would almost legally lock in continued deficit reduction? We


believe the economy should be run in a way that does deal with the


deficit. We will sign up to the charter as part of this government.


We believe the economy needs to have Dutch lower deficits that we have


got today, and you need to take tough decisions to do that. Chris is


pretending they will, and that the WP secretary said they would be


tougher on welfare than the Tories, but they have voted against every


welfare cut being proposed in this government, so I have no idea where


they are welfare. Sajid Javid, don't you have a real problem when the


median wage in this country, the typical wage a worker gets, is no


higher than it was in 2003? And under the OBR forecast, it does not


even get to prerecession levels until after 2018. Clearly many


families up and down the country are facing any key challenges, including


with wages. If we are going to deal -- facing unique challenges. We have


to deal with the problems. The recession was the deepest in living


memory and left the country a lot poorer. Clearly there are


consequences and dealing with that will take a lot of time. That is


what the government is doing. It is a last 15 years, in effect, from


2003. -- lost 15 years. The OBR is saying that GP will be a total of


15% but wages will grow only by 7.5%. So even as the economy, by


your standards, is beginning to repair itself and growth is


beginning to return, the workers, people earning wages, are not


sharing. Their wages will rise by half of the growth in the economy.


We have a plan to deal with that. That is the evidence that was


presented to Parliament yesterday. We need more graves, more jobs...


This is until 2015, you have not got a plan. We have a plan that is


working and if we deviate from this plan, if we abandon the


government's economic plan and listen to the people it took about


more spending, more borrowing, more debt, the situation would be a lot


worse. I don't think anyone said you should abandon your plan. I just


asked the question. He wants to abandon the plan. I am not sure he


does now. Why did Ed Balls make such a Horlicks of yesterday? Plenty of


conservatives would like to say that. 350 or so Conservative MPs


were barracking and Jiri. I defy anybody to try to get their voice


heard in that environment -- and jeering. All his posts, and utterly


breathtaking complacency -- is hosts.


The Chancellor is incomplete denial. For most people in our country,


living standards are not rising. They are falling, year on year, on


year. He used to say he would balance the books in 2015. Now he


wants us to congratulate him for saying he will do it in 2019, Mr


Speaker. Chris Leslie, you say that conservatives are out to say he did


so badly. Can I tell you that off the record, myself and my own people


have had three separate briefings from Labour aides, some of them


close to Mr Miliband, essentially bad-mouthing Ed Balls. It is always


off the record, isn't it? There are all sorts of people you might want


to quote but until you can tell me... I am glad you played the clip.


First of all, it showed Ed Balls communicating very loud and clear


that this is a Chancellor who is out of touch with the cost of living


crisis. He also, very loud and clear, made the point that this is a


Chancellor who wants to be congratulated for failing to meet


his plan to balance the books in 2015. We now have four more years of


this large amount of borrowing. Remember, more borrowing in the


three years since the general election than was borrowed by the


previous government in the previous 13 years. They failed on their own


targets and the cost of living crisis continues. We'll Ed Balls


still be Shadow Chancellor this time, next year?


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