20/01/2014 Daily Politics


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Afternoon, welcome to the Daily Politics. No one ever said it was


easy being a party leader but has Nick Clegg got himself in a pickle


over this man. Lord Rennard is refusing to apologise to women who


claim they were sexually harassed by him. He says he's done nothing wrong


and intends to take his seat in the Lords. Stepping up the war over


welfare. Labour announce that benefit claimants will be forced to


sit a test showing they can read, write and do maths in order to claim


payments. Were scenes like these the result of the Government's decision


to legalise gay marriage? The UKIP councillor who thinks so has been


suspended from the party. And everyone says they want an end to


Punch and Judy politics, but do we secretly love it? We'll be talking


about taking the yah-boo out of Westminster.


And with us for the duration are three whippersnappers, just cutting


their teeth on the Westminster scene. Former Welsh Secretary,


Cheryl Gillan. Former Culture Secretary, Labour's Tessa Jowell and


former Liberal Democrat Leader, Menzies Campbell. Welcome to you


all. First today, let's talk about immigration. Two senior Government


ministers have announced that new migrants from the EU will not be


entitled to housing benefit, if they already claim jobseeker's allowance.


The Home Secretary, Theresa May, and the Work and Pensions Secretary,


Iain Duncan Smith, also say that those who lose their jobs and get


out-of-work payments will only receive housing benefit for a


maximum of six months. Should jobless migrants be denied housing


benefit? This is almost exactly what Nick Clegg said almost the other


day. It's an assumption that in every other country, member of the


European Union, people get unlimited access to benefits. The fact is


rather different. In Holland, there are quite restrictive conditions. I


think it is perfectly reasonable to say you don't get benefits as soon


as you arrive, you don't get them without any strings and they don't


go on with -- without a limited time. These principles were flagged


up by Nick Clegg some time ago. Are these announcements new, or are they


just restating what already exists? Bitter restatement of the principles


that Nick Clegg set out. If EU migrants get jobs, they can't claim


housing benefit for six months. Do you think that is right, even if


they are contributing and paying taxes? I don't think that is


unreasonable. You want to be satisfied that people are here in


the long term. That they are not floating in and out in order to try


and take advantage of the benefits system. It is important to remember


that although there is a universal right of movement, there is no


universal right of benefits. The universal right of movement, David


Cameron wants to limit that. Is that wise? What we've done today with


this announcement and what Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa May have


done today is reaffirm what we've been doing as conservatives, which


is to take back control of our welfare and benefit system. I think


most reasonable people think that should happen. Menzies said it


already existed and other countries were doing it. We needed to take


control because there's no doubt that after the last Labour


government, there was this feeling that our welfare and benefit system


had got out of control and aggression had got out of control.


I've not done the sums. It's not just a question of how much


ultimately it will save inexact monetary terms, but it's also about


making sure that we are in command and in charge of our own destinies


and borders in this country, despite being members the European Union. Do


you back the idea of David Cameron's, which is to limit the


free movement of people or have a cap on the numbers? I want people


coming here to work. I want a rich and vibrant employment seen here. I


think we need to be careful people do not come here to do other than


work, and that is what we want to see. I think that's common across


all parties. Do you agree that Britain shouldn't be seen a magnet


to people who want to just use the welfare system? Of course it


shouldn't. We should welcome and our economy needs to welcome migrants


with skills that contribute to our economy. Really, the point about


this particular proposal, and in the time available this morning I've


tried to establish with welfare experts what it means in practice,


just bear in mind this, 2% of migrants actually claim benefits.


The numbers involved in this tiny, and therefore the point that Cheryl


is making is probably the main one, which is that this was a bold move


by Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa May to outbid Rachel Reeve speech. It's


electioneering, isn't it? That's completely wrong. From the moment we


came in and took office, we have said we need to repair a damaged


welfare and benefit system. That's what we've been doing. Come on!


Rachel Reeves is trying to catch up with the government. All political


parties try to put a shot across the bow is trying to catch up with the


government. All political parties try to put a shot across the bowels


of anyone... It's almost exactly a restatement of things that have been


said before. It is electioneering. The point I wanted to make is this.


Remember, the freedom of movement applies to people in Britain who


want to go abroad. There are estimates that as many as 1.5


million Britons are living and working abroad. If you start


restricting people coming into this country, then don't be surprised if


there are tit-for-tat responses elsewhere. But even you can't fail


to have noticed that Labour is well behind the curve... Save it, leave


it for later. Now it's time for our daily quiz. I'm sorry to break the


sad news if you haven't heard already, but Tessa and Menzies are


standing down at the next election. The rigours of being on Daily


Politics panel were proving too much for them. So the question for today


is... Which of the following is a career that a former MP hasn't


pursued so far? Public relations, trying to fix the Middle East, going


into space or stand-up comedy. At the end of the show, our trio will


try to give us the correct answer. Lord Rennard's refusal to apologise


over allegations of sexual harassment mean he shouldn't be


allowed to take up the party whip, according to Nick Clegg. Mr Clegg


said that Lord Rennard had caused distress and that an apology was a


matter of basic decency. An independent investigation found that


there was broadly credible evidence against Lord Rennard, although not


enough evidence to begin disciplinary proceedings against


him. Lord Rennard has consistently denied any wrongdoing and has


refused to apologise. Nick Clegg insisted this morning that his


authority was not being undermined. Leadership is partly about direct


powers. It is also a process of persuasion and setting up your


views. My views are clear, they are strongly held. If you've caused


distress to another colleague, and that has been shown to be the case,


then the most basic, decent thing you can do is apologise. That is


what I believe and what many other people believe as well. That's why I


think as long as that apology has not been issued, it wouldn't be


right for Lord Rennard to join the group in the House of Lords. Let's


talk now to our deputy political editor, James Landale. As it stands,


in a couple of hours time Lord Rennard will return to the red


benches and won't have apologised. Yes, up to a point. As I walked into


the studio, I got a text suggesting there is now some doubt as to


whether or not Lord Rennard will come to the House of Lords today.


Not because of politics or strategy, but simply because of his health. It


is well known that Lord Rennard has diabetes. It is well known that his


health has suffered during this entire affair. A decision has been


taken as to whether or not he feels up to coming to the House of Lords.


And the inevitable Mediaset to and political pressure that would follow


that. As of this morning his supporters were expecting him to


turn up, come what may. But that is now in some doubt. What about Nick


Clegg's authority? Nick Clegg has his hands tied by his internal party


structures and the fact that the Lib Dems and the Lord is pretty much


come when their own show. He now has two try and show he is taking some


kind of decisive action. The problem is it's not an easy option. If he


persuades a committee internally to restart some new disciplinary


procedures, that then could be used as a pretext by the Lords chiefs to


suspend the whip from Lord Rennard. Then two possible consequences of


that. One is the possibility of legal action by Lord Rennard, saying


that this has been an unfair process. You can't have a new


disciplinary procedure just because you didn't like the results of the


last one that came out last week. Secondly, there is the possibility


this is challenged by the peers themselves. They have a regular


meeting on Wednesday, Lord Rennard could appeal against any decisions


to suspend him. He could potentially persuade enough peers to overturn


Nick Clegg's decision. Not only could Nick Clegg" hugely bruising


defeat and damage to his authority, he could also end up with a legal


case that could stretch along into the distance, right up to the


elections in May. If you talk to the Liberal Democrats on whichever side


of this fence they fall, they also -- they all use the word that is a


mess. Only the Liberal Democrats have the internal structures which


would allow for this process. Most other political parties would have


found some excuse to get rid of Lord Rennard, regardless of the rights or


wrongs over this. Only in a party as smaller of the Liberal Democrats


would Lord Rennard have had such power and influence and such a hold


over this party. There's a huge generational division within the


Liberal Democrats over this. There's an awful lot of undercurrents. This


is a really Liberal Democrat issue, it wouldn't have happened in the


other parties. Should Chris Rennard apologise to the women who claim he


has harassed them? I speak for myself, I don't speak for the party.


Anything I say here is based on what I've been thinking about in the last


48 hours. It's interesting we are suffering from a surfeit of


democracy. If you put it in rather confrontational terms, there would


two sides. The independent investigation found, in relation to


the standard of proof, that that hadn't been achieved. But at the


same time, the independent investigation said women had been


upset. There is a sense we neither one or neither lost. It seems to me


therefore that it's not beyond the wit of man or the Liberal Democrats


to find a form of words in which Lord Rennard is able to assert the


fact that he was found, or in relation to him there was no finding


of proof beyond reasonable doubt, but also to say at the same time


that if by any chance and in any way inadvertently I have caused distress


to anyone, then obviously I regret that very much indeed. At the end of


that, part of it should be an apology. No, it will be highly


qualified. I don't think you were able to remember the -- able to read


the whole of the decision, it was talked about whether there was any


intent. It was the absence of intent that the independent investigation


found as being crucial. So it's perfectly reasonable for him to say,


I had no intention, but if, per chance, I have caused upset, then I


regret that very much. I tell you why I say this, and it's because of


some of the things that have just been said by James Landale. We


cannot allow this to go on and on and on. Should he be allowed to take


up his seat in the House of Lords before that qualified apology? It


needs two lines drawn under it. Were I advising Lord Rennard, which I'm


not, I would have told him not to come today. To get here I came to a


forest of photographers and cameras. It has been well known his health


has been fragile for some time. If the consequence of these events has


been for his health to be damaged, then what ever viewed you take that


is obviously something for which one should be entirely sympathetic. But


he feels he's done nothing wrong. Therefore, why shouldn't he try and


take up his seat in the House of Lords, he seems to have the support


of many Lib Dem peers? Are they wrong, too? You must get away from


the question of who is wrong and who is right. The fact of the matter is


a judgment was issued by the independent investigation saying...


No conclusive evidence, but reason for an apology for causing distress.


Exactly. It is not beyond the wit of man, this happens in law courts up


and down the country every day. People say, I don't admit liability


but if as a result of something then I'm willing to say... Will make some


kind of apology. Now people really should be thinking about the future


of the party, and not about trying to rerun the events. Except that


friends of Chris Rennard says he's been through an awful lot. It's been


very trying for him and his family. He feels he doesn't want to


apologise on any grounds. Rightly or wrongly, that is how they feel. It


looks as if, as James Landale said, they could advise him to take legal


action, if there is now some sort of disciplinary proceeding about


bringing the party into disrepute. Do you think that should go ahead? I


believe there's a meeting going on at the moment. We should put these


judgments aside. That is a judgment the Lib Dems... No, we've got the


judgment of the independent investigation. We are where we are.


The question is whether or not that is accepted. And the question is


whether or not it can be lamented. On the basis I have suggested, I


believe it can. I know him very well, I have worked closely with him


for many years. The Liberal Democrats have become his life and


his soul. But the party has been his life. And his wife as well, there is


a huge affection between him and his wife. I do not know how Tessa feels


about this, but aside from how everything Menzies has been saying,


I am just speaking as a woman, and as a woman politician, we have


enough trouble attracting young people to come into politics, and


so, for me, the greatest sadness of this is that this is a story which


has gone on and on and on, and continues to leave a nasty taste in


the mouth, no matter what the rights or wrongs. I really regret it


because it is just another example which can put women off politics.


But do you think women have a right to have made this claim in the first


place? I think women do have a right to make that kind of claim, as men


would in a similar situation. It is not about women or men in that


sense. Should he apologise? As far as I am concerned, sorry seems to be


the hardest word to say. Menzies has come up with what I would consider


to be a diplomatic solution to this. But it is a matter for the Liberal


Democrats. Speaking just as a woman, I want more women to come into


politics and I think this is yet another story that will put them


off. This is about culture and attitudes to some extent in


Westminster as a whole, isn't it? I cannot judge the Liberal Democrats


culture, but I think it is part of the culture of politics. Menzies


Campbell is white, you do not have to sign every last bit of legal


exoneration, but what you do say is, if I have caused distress, then I


regret that. It is not only Lord Rennard who have been upset by this,


and his family, but also the women. This is a phenomenon which happens a


lot in politics, the refusal to say sorry, and it is a great pity.


Because actually, people watching at home, it makes us seem even more


alien. We are going to come back to this later in the programme. Now,


what action should you take if a member of your party says this? We


have done many things over the years which have caused problems. One, for


example, is the abortion laws, in which something like 6 million


children, as many as the people killed by the Nazis in the death


camps, have been killed as a result of the abortion laws. Now, the


latest in this process is these homosexual laws, and I believe that


the Prime Minister, who was warned that disasters would follow if he


went in this direction, he has persisted, and I believe that this


is largely a repercussion from this godlessness which he has persisted


in. Well, the councillor concerned, David Silvester of UKIP, was


suspended from the party last night. We are joined now by the UKIP


spokesman Peter Reeve. At first, Cheryl Gillian, was it right for


UKIP to suspend him? It is a matter for the party, but I think most


normal people, listening to what we have just heard, and certainly


members of the Major Roger: Office, came to recognise the connection


between people's sexuality and legislation and the weather patterns


in this country! -- of the meteorological office. You thought


the attitudes were ridiculous?! You can tell, by my reply, that I think


most normal people in this country would feel that this gentleman was


expressing some very deeply held, personal views. Except, it was not


that long ago that he was in your party. Should you have done more?


Well, all parties have people with strange views within them, as I am


sure my colleagues will agree. But it is a matter for UKIP as to


whether they suspend him. I do not believe he expressed those views in


those terms whilst he was a member of the Conservative Party. But no


doubt he still held them. I do not know this gentleman personally, so I


have not had the opportunity to discuss the weather with him


recently. There was a very good tweet from someone who said, it is


the hot air coming from UKIP! Lets see what Nigel Farage had to say,


the leader of the party... Shall we just get a sense of perspective?


This is somebody I had never even heard of, not even a district


councillor, a town councillor, in a small town in Oxfordshire, who


defected to us from the Conservative Party. This is not the party


chairman. I think it is very interesting, the way that absolutely


everybody in UKIP is under intense media scrutiny, where people from


the other parties, at local level, are simply ignored. Here we go


again, and other controversies around in one of your elected


representatives, it is not going to stop, is it? It shows the pressure


we are under as a political party, when a parish councillor says


something that our party does not as assembly agree with, but would


defend his right to say it, when a parish councillor writes a letter to


a newspaper, a government minister comes on television to attack him.


And that is what happened yesterday with Mr Fallon. When you say the


party does not necessarily agree with him, are you saying there are


those who do? No, this is a man with personal views, the mistake he made


was attributing those views to our party. UKIP is a broad church, we


have got many gay people. He does speak on behalf of the party,


doesn't he? The mistake he made was a tribute in his personal views we


are a party under the pressure. We are the most popular political party


in this country, according to a recent survey. Nigel Farage is one


of the most popular political leaders, and we are making real


progress. If you want to play at the top level, you have got to realise,


this is what happens. All of the parties have the same thing. Also,


it is a bit tough of Nigel Farage to dismiss, I think he described him as


a town councillor from Oxfordshire. There are an awful lot of town


councillors up and down the country who will feel insulted by that. I am


a town councillor, I do not feel insulted. If I may say so, you would


not be the spokesman for the party if you were easily insulted. But the


point is this, these are the views of those who have been left behind


in the enormous progressive and social changes in this country. I


support all of these changes, I think it has made us a more


tolerant, a more inclusive and a better place to live. But there are


people who hold views which may not be considered to be mainstream in


all the parties. Who knows? I am not going to say that if you lift the


roof off a town council... What I am going to say is that this man?


Observations were entirely out of sync with the prevailing mood of the


public. The fact that we have embarked, really since the time of


Roy Jenkins as Home Secretary, upon a progressive change in society,


which has benefited us all. Do you believe that the recent flooding was


caused by the Government? Decision to legalise gay marriage? I think


David Cameron can be blamed for an awful lot of things, for wrecking


the Armed Forces... All right, but do you blame him for that? No, I


would not. We are vetting our candidates. What we do not


anticipate is the level of pressure our people are under. This man said


these things when he was a Conservative councillor, nobody made


anything of it. But this is going to keep happening, isn't it? All of a


sudden, you are under more spotlight, the vetting procedure has


not been all that robust. Actually, it has. When you look at the Liberal


Democrats running round in circles with ministers, we are talking about


parish councillors! What do you mean by that? In the interview you gave


just a moment ago, your party is running around in circles in


Parliament, not able to contain itself, attacking its own people.


UKIP does not do that. If I may say so, that is because the word


democracy is not one which appears in Nigel Farage? Dictionary. I think


you will find we are the as far as I can see, the only person that gets


airtime, apart from Nigel Farage, are those who express, how shall I


put it, notoriously use them or maybe even hit journalists over the


head with paper. It just shows you, it is a one-man show. But it is one


which Conservative MPs seem to find a great threat? As Menzies says,


welcome to Test cricket, this is what happens. If you are going to


use that analogy, you had better look at what the women's team is


doing. I follow women's cricket with great interest. What is it about the


party which attracts people with extreme and colourful views? UKIP


does not attract any more extreme views than other parties. Does it


not? The difference between us and the other parties, which is very


often found to be unpalatable, is that we are made up of ordinary the


other parties will claim the same thing. I think if you look at the


other parties, you will find a certain type of person, very


polished, who has been to a certain type of school. Rubbish. Now, it is


a widely held belief in British politics that MPs behaving badly,


particularly at Prime Minister's Questions, is a big turn-off for the


public, especially female voters. There have been repeated calls for


all of the party leaders to town down the aggro. And the first PMQs


of this new session did see a markedly different tone to the


exchanges between David Cameron and Ed Miliband. But can they keep it


up, and just how much would we missed the argy-bargy?


Welcome to a world where Parliamentary democracy is a contact


sport, brought to you by the people who really put the punch into Punch


and Judy politics. Nothing more amusing than watching something like


that in one of those funny foreign parliaments. But when it comes to


our own prime ministers questions, we allegedly do not like it. Ed


Miliband and David Cameron have at times from it to bring an end to


yah-boo politics. But what do we really want? Although there are some


negative public reaction is to prime ministers questions, the


overwhelming majority of people who are interested in politics and PMQs


say fairly positive things about it. And here is another conventional


wisdom you sometimes hear from female politicians. Some of them say


that they think it is Prime Minister's Questions, and the Punch


and Judy show of parliament, which puts women off politics. But that is


why I researched it, I cannot find evidence that that is the case. It


puts off women MPs, but not women in the public, I have found. But there


is no doubt that even for the most experienced hands, PMQs can be a


cruel place. Declare your interests! It is not just between parties where


it gets all macho, sometimes, it is within them. Rumour has it that one


of our guests of today, Tessa Jowell, had to sort out some


handbags between Ed Balls and Douglas Alexander. What are the


chances of bringing peace to PMQs? I think Cameron and Miliband do have a


responsibility to try to behave a bit more responsibly, and not


engaging quite so much yah-boo politics. But I am a realist and a


political journalist and sceptic, and as the general election gets


much closer, and the polls narrow, and there is so much at stake, it is


going to be very, very difficult for either party leader to resist


dishing it out. The institutions and the structures and the ways of


behaving are deeply embedded . they are habit-forming kinds of


behaviour. So, it will take an enormous amount of will. I would not


put my own money on it. So, it seems like cutting out bad behaviour in


the Commons chamber may remain an aspiration rather than a pledge. And


remember, David Cameron has not actually tried this on Ed Miliband,


or even Ed Balls, yet. Well, we have not quite got to that level yet.


Perhaps not something to aspire to, necessarily. But did you find the


behaviour of some MPs cruel, when you were leader of the Lib Dems in


the chamber? Well, you saw that clip. I learned afterwards that


because I had quite large writing, Eric Forth had spied that I was


going to talk about pensions, so he had had time to work up the joke.


But of course, it was beautifully timed, and if you get something like


that, it is very difficult to cope. But what is interesting is that in


the first Prime Minister's Questions after the New Year, the whole house


was shaken by the death of an enormously popular person from


within the house, and a man who had respect. As a result of that, the


atmosphere was very, very different. What you find, the Speaker


frequently says, I get letters every week from people complaining. But I


have got friends in the United States who will not go out to dinner


on Sunday night because they want to watch Prime Minister's Questions,


and one last point, if I may, since we have been talking about women, I


sit just below the gangway on the government bench, I look across, and


some of the most noisy contributors are women. And there is one


particular woman, who I will not identify. Oh, go on. No, it would be


unfair. She keeps up and running, drew from the start to the end. It


is not Tessa. Do you turn native when you get into


the chamber? They say women MPs, and the lady in that film said women MPs


don't much like, but in the end, do you just join in? Guess, is the


answer. But Menzies' point is an important one. An occasion like the


announcement of Paul Goggins' death, or I remember Tony Blair's


last PMQs. I remember the day that David Cameron's son died. There is a


sense that the whole mood is to behave properly on those occasions.


Should it stay like that? We did the story that Ed Miliband would like to


see the whole tone brought down a level or two, do you think that's


right? I think there's a difference between the shouting and all the


rest of it and personal abuse, just being rude and not answering the


question. I think that is what frustrates people at home. But I


think there is a difference here. I don't accept that women like this. I


think we all join in but that is PMQs. But actually, people want to


feel that politics is more engaged, politicians are more engaged in the


specific problems of the lives of the people. Churchill said, we shape


our buildings and our buildings shape us. The House of Commons is


very confrontational. But what people fail to appreciate is it's


just that half hour in the middle of the week. There are so many other


debates for hours and hours on end. But it is held up as the


centrepiece. But partly because of journalists as well. I looked up in


the gallery and it is during Prime Minister 's question Time that that


gallery is packed with journalists with their tongues hanging out. We


can't hear anything because you are also busy shouting at each other!


This The reason we have a rectangular shape is because the


first parliament met in a chapel. Chapels are rectangular. So when


they built a house of parliament, they built it in a rectangular


shape. As a result, we have adversarial politics. Go to Europe


and they are built in a hemisphere. The atmosphere in Westminster Hall


changes as well. There was taunting and hectoring of one of your


colleagues, Julian Huppert. Was that acceptable? No. No more than there


was taunting of a Conservative MP whose physical appearance attracted


some attention. But that says more about the individual politician than


it does about the chamber and the house. David Cameron has been


criticised for making remarks like, calm down, dear. That is all played


up by the media. We all know in the chamber, if we've been there a long


time, like as three have been, we all know how far we can go. We


understand it. I think maybe some of the new younger ones make mistakes.


The personal attacks never go down well. There's a clear difference


between a spontaneous response and organised by raging. A lot of the


time it is organised region. Tessa Jowell, we mentioned the so-called


fight between Douglas Alexander and Ed Balls. Did you have to break that


fight up? I have got no recollection. I don't remember it.


You don't remember breaking it up for the fight? Both. I've talked to


Douglas about it and Ed Balls. Did they say you broke it up? No, they


say they can't remember either. Amnesia on the Labour bench. No!


Maybe you got a blow to the head in the middle or something. Let's take


a look at what's happening this week. Later today the Transport


Committee will hear evidence from Sir Howard Davies, Chair of the


Airports Commission, on increasing aviation capacity in London and the


South East. On Wednesday, Prime Minister David Cameron faces his


regular questioning session in the House of Commons. Wednesday also


marks the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos in the Swiss


mountains, where more than 2,000 politicians, business leaders and


journalists from around the world will meet to chew over the world's


critical issues. And on Friday, James Wharton's EU Referendum Bill


is at committee stage in the Lords. Joining me now is Laura Pitel from


the Times and Oliver Wright from the Independent. The announcement was


made by both parties today on welfare, clearly indicating a battle


over who can sound tougher on the issue of welfare. Is that how you


see it? Totally, they are trying to outdo each other. Most would agree


that the Conservatives have the lead. Labour are very conscious that


even amongst their own supporters, these Conservative policies are very


popular. So they've been trying to hit back a bit, these Conservative


policies are very popular. So they've been trying to hit back a


bit and come up with their own welfare announcement. The


Conservatives have been trying to drown them out by doing more of


their own. Why don't we ever hear the parties talk more about the


positives of welfare and what it's for, who with there to defend and


help? It's not in vogue at the moment. What is in vogue is saying


how tough you are going to be on benefits. What is interesting is how


circular these debates are. Thinking back to 1997, it was Labour saying,


we are going to be more generous and give more, that was electorally


popular. The Conservatives are gambling that in 2015, the mood of


the country will be being tough on welfare and benefits. But it is


possible that if the economic situation improves a bit between now


and the election, that the mood of the country may change and people


may think that we're being too hard on benefits and that people need a


helping hand. What Labour are gambling on is they put the emphasis


on training and education and helping to get people back into


work, tough but fair, that will perhaps be more appealing message


than the Conservatives, who are characterised as just being tough or


mean. Do you think it is a gamble that in the end, the Conservative


Party will be risking being demonised by being too tough on


benefits? It feels very negative. We're talking about benefits,


migrants, bad things and people who are coming here to take advantage of


what we've got. The politicians coming up to this time next year and


going into the election, they will need to portray a positive message


that doesn't just leave people feeling depressed. Lets try and


lighten the mood a little bit and think about those politicians and


journalists skiing in the Swiss mountains, I mean attending a


conference on economics! What is the point of Davos? I'm not quite sure.


I've never been. Maybe if I went then I could understand it better.


It all feels terribly new Labour, all these people getting together


and having a nice chitchat and a bit of skiing. I'm surprised we leave


that the economic crisis didn't lead to a dramatic falloff in the number


of people that go, because it doesn't, to my mind, look terribly


edifying, this elite gathering of business men and politicians in the


Swiss mountain resorts. Yes, sure, it's a good idea for them to meet,


but I'm not sure that Davos sends quite the right image of business


perhaps. In terms of friends for the Prime Minister, is he going to find


himself like Billy no mates, having made these comments about freedom of


movement and trying to limit it? It's gone down very badly with other


EU leaders. There was a piece in the FT about how other leaders in Europe


are getting a bit twitchy about things he has said, particularly


this renegotiation of the relationship between Britain and the


EU. I know it is not always going well, he faces a difficult challenge


over the next few years to get people onside and persuade them to


help him in this task. But the question remains of why they should


do that when he is acting for Britain on its own? It's going to be


difficult for him. In her first major speech as Shadow Work and


Pensions Secretary, Rachel Reeves says benefit claimants will be


forced to sit a test claiming they can read, write, add up and use a


computer. If not, they will have to sign up to training will be stripped


of their benefits. Here she eased -- speaking earlier. Your Low we also


need to take action to make sure that those who are unemployed now


have the skills they need to move into the long-term jobs they want


and that the country needs them to take. So today I am announcing


another important plan to address this problem. The new requirement


for job-seekers to take training if they do not meet basic standards in


maths, English and IT. Training that they will be required to take up


along their job search or lose their benefits. Tessa Jowell, does Labour


need to take a harder line on welfare? We all need to take a hard


line on people who cheat the system. But I think sometimes we can


be led to a position where we overstate and believe there is more


fraud, more cheating than there is. I think Rachel Reeves' proposals


this morning are very constructive and positive. Because actually, low


levels of literacy and low levels of numeracy and not being IT competence


are what Loch Ewe out of the job market. These are the prerequisites


to getting jobs today and staying in work. This is constructive. But it's


also saying, we live in a country where we expect everybody to work.


If they are not working, to show that they are genuinely trying to


get into work. So you do accept, as this policy seems to indicate, that


there is a group of an appropriate for the need a kick up the backside?


I think there's a small group of unemployed people who have just


become completely disconnected from the labour market, who are no longer


trying to get jobs and so forth. I think this will galvanise them to


actually get to the job centre and do what is necessary. But


overwhelmingly, and I'm always struck by this when I'm talking to


young people in my constituency in south London who are ambitious about


wanting to get jobs, they may not be in work, they just don't know how to


get themselves from where they are now to a job that makes them feel


proud of themselves will stop I think this is a practical step


towards that. A person rocks up, does the test, let's say can't add


up for toffee but perhaps passes the others and they lose their benefit.


Are you happy with the idea that they will, if they don't then or not


able to on to training as a result, they don't want to take the training


that is offered, that they will be left languishing? They will have a


choice. If you're literacy is not at the proper standard for you to get a


job, then you go to an FC college and you are taught reading,


writing, the basic levels of literacy that give you the chance of


getting a job. If you are severely dyslexic then that is not going to


happen. That is the kind of thing that will be factored into this.


This is putting job centres back in the position that they were in when


we were in power, which is having a dynamic responsibility to get people


into work as quickly as possible. Is also a tacit that Labour has failed


on education? That there is this group of people that can't read or


write, which is a tragedy, really, isn't it? It is certainly something


that persisted. The numbers reduced when we were in power. I was an


employment Minister, we did something very similar. But in


addition to these very hard to place young people, we put them through


what was called soft skills training, which is required for the


hotel industry, coffee shops, whatever it may be. We are talking


here about a hard-core of people who find it very difficult to get into


work, giving them the practical help they need. This is a practical and


more positive way of looking at trying to get people of jobseeker's


allowance and to work. In that clip I felt I was hearing a


re-announcement of what is actually happening in terms of trying to get


young people who are not numerous and literate, and I think there was


an announcement by Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith some time ago on


this. I went on Friday to Bucks and looked at people trying to get back


into the world of work on the Work Programme. I was really impressed by


what I saw on Friday. There's no point getting people back to work if


their literacy and numeracy is not... What I was impressed with was


not only helping them with interview techniques, but once they were in


work, the Work Programme is actually giving support to people. I saw one


young man who was running his own business, and he was being helped


with the finance of how to keep his business in line with HMRC. I


thought that that was really valuable, because it was recognised


that people need that help and support. That is why I think what we


are doing in our reforms is so important. But if the numbers are so


small, as you said, and the numbers of people defrauding the system are


also very small, this is just posturing, it is just about who is


going to look tough on welfare? We are in the middle of a very severe


period master at it. Every pound counts. But you may have put your


finger on it a moment ago, because to acknowledge that this is


necessary is by implication to acknowledge that these young people


have been failed in our education system. It seems to me that if you


are going to do what is being suggested, then the quid pro quo


ought to be that we are going to invest more in education. What we


have to remember, of course, is that it is a very competitive world now.


We have a lot of university graduates who cannot get jobs, so


what do they do, they trade down. When they trade down, the people


whose jobs they take trade down as well. And therefore it is a much


more competitive set of circumstances than we have seen in


the past. But the one thing which is absolutely essential is that work


makes people feel better, work is... Nobody disagrees with that. But is


this a battle between the parties, to say they are the toughest? There


is no doubt about that, otherwise you would not have these


announcements made on the same day. I would like to say it is more about


ambitions to get people into work who find it very hard, and giving


them skills to do that. Let's return to the story about Lord Rennard. As


we heard earlier, there are moves to suspend him from the Liberal


Democrats for bringing the party into disrepute. He has refused to


apologise to women who brought sexual harassment claims against


him, saying he has done nothing wrong. And inquiry said there was


not enough proof to take the matter further. But it said the claims were


credible. He is due to take up his seat in the House of Lords later


today. As we heard earlier, there are doubts as to whether he will in


fact attend, you to health reasons. One of the women involved says Nick


Clegg must act. We are expecting him to show some leadership on our


behalf. We want Nick Clegg to have the confidence to say it is not


acceptable to have somebody who is under such clout to be back on the


benches, calling himself a Liberal Democrat. -- under such a cloud.


Nick Clegg has said Lord Rennard should apologise. Paddy Ashdown


agrees. Daddy Alexander said the same. Lord McDonald's said it is


perfectly reasonable to expect an apology, and Menzies Campbell has


said a qualified apology is also needed, so why hasn't Lord Rennard


apologised? You will have to ask him that. I am one of those who has been


horrified at what seems to be the lack of acceptance of a due process.


But I think we are past that now. I think the whole argument about an


apology is becoming quite ridiculous. I do not think it will


will understand that that is the fundamental issue of British


politics today. It seems to me that the party is in a huge crisis now.


It is divided into two camps, over what in the grand scale of things is


a storm in a teacup. There is a huge chasm in the party, and each side is


standing behind their own lines, chucking grenades at the other, and


there is absolutely no dialogue going on. What we now need is a new


process of reconciliation and mediation. You say it is a storm in


a teacup - the women who brought those charges against Lord Rennard,


they do not think so, nor do the number of Liberal Democrats who have


formally complained and are calling on Nick Clegg to act. Well, neither


do people who are appalled that having had a due process, that due


process seems to be being ignored substantially. The substantial


issue, that there was no case to answer, is being ignored. But people


on both sides are in entrenched positions, and all this is going to


do is to destroy the party. You have spoken about entrenched positions,


but if Lord Rennard were to apologise, in your mind, would that


then released those positions, and the party could get on? I do not


think so, no. Why? That was part of the recommendation, wasn't it? What


I am saying is that I do not think it would. There are two possible


outcomes at the moment. The first is that Lord Rennard is able to take up


his position, and everything carries on as before, in which case a very


large number of people in the party would be angry. The other


alternative is that he is expelled from the party, in which case


another section of the party will be very angry. There is a huge chasm in


the party, and we have got to start to heal that chasm. How do you do


that? We need a peace and reconciliation process. If it works


between Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley... This cannot be compared


to that, can it? Of course not. But if it works on huge great things


like that, if it worked in South Africa, surely, for what is in the


grand scale of things, within the Liberal Democrats, a small party in


this country, a relative small in -- a relative storm in a teacup... What


I want to say is that we have got to get together as a party. Any of the


possible outcomes at the moment are going to seriously damage this party


for a generation. We have got to call a halt, step act, give


ourselves time and see if it can be sorted out. Should Chris Rennard be


allowed to take the whip again in the House of Lords? Allowed by


whom? By Lib Dem peers. Well, it is accepted by the officers of the


group in the Lords that they have no grounds at the moment, as we speak,


to exclude him. This has been described in almost apocalyptic


terms as a crisis facing the party. You took the words out of my life.


-- out of my mouth. Of course we would like not to be where we are.


But I think the last thing we need is another process, with all that


that involveswhat we need is common ground and common-sense, and I


believe that can be achieved without going through the paraphernalia, if


you like, of another formal process, and I said this earlier in the


programme. But some members of the party are saying they will define


Nick Clegg over this. The one thing I do agree about is the fact that


the volume should be turned down. People should not be rushing into


television studios on either side of this argument. A period of calm


reflection would be better, and would provide the opportunity for


the kind of circumstances I suggested - a joint statement in


which it is pointed out firmly on Lord Rennard? Behalf, that so far as


the allegations against him were concerned, they were not able to be


proved beyond reasonable doubt, but that there is an acceptance that if


in any way, people were caused distress, he is willing to say how


much he regrets that. And that is the crucial thing, at the moment,


those people would not accept such an apology. I am not sure about


that. I am. We are both calling for peace. Peace has broken out on The


Daily Politics! After the coalition government called for a freeze on


council tax, immunities secretary Eric Pickles said councils had a


moral duty to abide by it, despite swingeing cuts to their budgets. --


Communities Secretary. But the Government said that if local


authorities wanted a council tax rise above a certain amount, they


would have to hold a referendum. The Green Party in Brighton could be the


first to hold one. They want a council tax increase of almost 5%.


Their leader is in Brighton. Welcome to the programme. Is it just a


failure on your part to manage your budget? It is a serious proposal. It


is needed. We think we should ask the people for a referendum on the


future of social care. As you said, we have seen a huge reduction in our


funding by government. We have also got growing demand, an ageing and


growing population, neither of which are recognised by covenant funding.


And we have a situation where -- government funding -- in previous


years, a freeze has been imposed upon us. Inflation since we took


control has been 9.6%, and council tax has risen in that time Western


2%. So, we are well behind. We have a huge pressure on social care. --


less than 2%. Many other councils have similar structures, but they


are not trying to increase council tax by 5%? Directed now is that it


is a difficult time for everyone, and I think that is why we want to


let the people decide. -- I recognise that it is a difficult


time. These cuts have gone too far and too deep for councils across the


country, and many councils are proposing increases. We think that


the elderly and the disabled need support from local government. Do


you think there will be a majority of people who will vote for more


taxes? I think we have got a long time to make that argument. The


referendum will be in May. We need the opposition parties to accept the


idea of letting the people choose. Since our last local elections in


Brighton, the circumstances are quite different. Nobody expected to


have ?100 million cut out of our budget. How much would the


referendum cost to run? Because it can be held on the same day as the


European elections, the estimates are around ?30,000. It is the only


choice I have got on the table. Conservative MPs said this proposal


was bonkers. Actually, Brandon Lewis, the Local Government


Minister, said that we should trust the people. Much has been made by


Tories about their care and concern for pensioners, and yet when we say


that social care cannot take any more reductions in spending, they


seem to be running away from the idea. There is just time before we


go to find the answer to our quiz. What was that question?! The


question was, which of the following is a career that a former MP has not


pursued so far? Is it public relations, trying to fix the Middle


East, going into space or stand-up comedy? Going into space? I presume


so. I think that is the right answer. I do not think anybody has


gone into space. You two, what are you going to do when you stand down,


are you going to stand for Mayor of London, Tessa? I have not decided. I


am going to Harvard for three months to teach at the School For Public


Health. I am also going to be doing work with the city 's programme at


the London School of Economics. And there are other possible to use.


When are you going to make up your mind? I do not think anybody should


be making up their mind until the other side of the general election.


Would Tessa make a good Mayor of London? I rather like the one we


have got. I am fond of Boris. I am rather fond of Tessa. I certainly


think she would give Boris a run for his money. And she has got a much


better haircut. And she does not do this all the time with her hair.


What about you? I am not reading up politics, and I am going to get my


week out. -- giving up politics. -- wig out. That is it for today. I


will be back tomorrow.


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