28/01/2014 Daily Politics


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Hello, and welcome to the Daily Politics.


Economic growth returns to the UK, with figures out this morning


showing Britain's economy growing at the fastest rate since 2007. But


Vince Cable is still gloomy, warning the recovery could be short-lived.


The Royal Household is criticised by MPs for not doing enough to save


taxpayers' money. The Public Accounts Committee wants Buckingham


Palace to be opened to more paying visitors, to fund improvements to


the royal estate. How much energy could we produce


from renewable sources? The leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett,


joins us live. And, what's the best way for MPs to


connect with voters? We'll debate whether TV appearances or


old-fashioned door-knocking are better for getting in touch with the


electorate. All that in the next hour.


And, with us for the whole programme today is the Conservative


backbencher Nadine Dorries. Welcome to the Daily Politics.


First, it seems that no-one in the country is safe from a ticking off


from the Labour MP Margaret Hodge, not even Her Majesty. The chair of


the Public Accounts Committee has criticised Buckingham Palace for not


managing its finances properly, after overspending the Sovereign


Grant by almost ?2.5 million. The balance is at an all-time low of


?1 million. At the same time they are spending more than they are


getting, the condition of many of the royal buildings means you have


got to invest. The boilers in Buckingham Palace are 60 years old


which means bills are very high. You look at the Victoria and Albert


mausoleum, we have known for 18 years that structure needs


investment yet they have done nothing. The bathrooms in Windsor


Castle, the rain coming through in the art gallery in Buckingham


Palace. All of these are serious issues which need to be addressed.


We've been joined by Graham Smith from the pressure group Republic,


which campaigns for an end to the monarchy. Welcome to the Daily


Politics. Spending above their means, not


making the necessary savings, it is the Royal Household worth it?


I felt embarrassed listening to this list of repairs to Royal buildings


that we have not funded as a country. What the Royal family does


for us is beyond explanation. They bring in investment, tourism, they


put this little island of England on the world map. They are something we


should be proud of. I love the Royal family. I am embarrassed that a


60-year-old boiler exists in Buckingham Palace which has not been


repaired and they have huge heating bills.


Do they not take responsibility for that themselves?


If they decided to undertake that schedule of repairs, people on this


programme and the media would be in Opera at the expenditure. We have to


take it on the chin. Lots of people in this country think they are worth


it and have no objection with the investment we need to put in.


We need to separate two issues, the historic Royal buildings which


belong to the British people, we have a responsibility to maintain


them. Clearly the Royal Household isn't up to that job, it is time for


the government to take them off their hands. To make them revenue


neutral at the Tower of London is so the taxpayer doesn't need to stump


up more cash. The other costs. The cost every year of the monarchy is


well over ?200 million. You include things like the income from the


duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster which belong to the nation but given


to the Royal family, security costs, the cost of police forces, taxes


unpaid. A large amount of money. Equivalent to thousands of nurses or


doctors. Nadine says they are worth it, because of the attractiveness.


It is beyond explanation, because it is not true. There is no evidence.


If we get rid of the monarchy, is there any evidence tourism would go


down? It is not a little family put on the map by the Royal family. This


is a big, exciting country which we have put on the map ourselves. Where


we promote tourism and businesses. This has nothing to do with the


people who live in Buckingham Palace. Is your evidence is


anecdotal? Look at our movie industry alone. The number of


visitors to Buckingham Palace, Windsor. They go there because of


the history associated with them. We have thousands of years of royal


history that other countries have abandoned. They don't have it. We


can get rid of the Royal family which is what many families have


done. Do they have the amount of tourism and interest? France has a


huge tourism industry. Not based around their Royal Family. This


isn't actually about politics and power, it is an institution part of


our political system. Powers are invested in the Royals. These issues


of power and politics, it makes the tourism argument vacuous. There is


no evidence we would lose tourism revenue if the Royals did not live


in those houses. The history would still be there. The crowds would


still be there. We're not going to get a Republic


any time soon. Because the British people don't want it. So you say. If


we look at the Royal Household, Nadine, you said, to posh boys who


didn't know the price of milk. Shouldn't they cut their crop -- cut


their cloth in the same way others have.


They have been come every time there has been a report or analysis of


their budget, they make savings. In terms of their costs, they are going


up. The cost of keeping the Royal family secure and protected, I have


no complaint with that. I am sure there are many millions of British


people have no complaint. These figures are hugely inflated because


there are costs for people we do not know of, like Princess Alexandra.


The PAC has said there had been savings but not enough. The


Sovereign Grant will always go up because it is paid to property


values. If you look at Prince Charles who spent ?30,000 of public


money on a four-day private holiday to Scotland, that is the waste, if


an MP did that, they would be in jail. Why do we challenge them in


the same way? What about opening up Buckingham Palace more, one


suggestion. You mentioned the Tower of London which is open most of the


year. Couldn't the palace be opened significantly more to raise


much-needed funds to repair it? I have no issue with that. That is a


discussion based around practicalities, security when the


Royal Family are in residence. Something for those... So you say


they could generate more money. But I am against again -- this attack


against the Royal Family. Look at the wedding. Nine years ago, MPs


said they wanted the palace to be open all year round, and they said


no. But it is their home. It is ridiculous. It is the headquarters,


in the same way as the Vatican is the headquarters of the Pope. Those


buildings are open all year round to tourists. We could have millions


paying for the upkeep through ticket sales. How much do you think Britain


benefited from the Jubilee, the royal wedding? How many people do


think indirectly benefited? The CBI said an extra public holiday wipes


off billions of pounds from the Jewish economy. So there is no


evidence. Tourism figures on an annual basis. I think... Hang on, we


have to leave it there. It's time for our daily quiz. The


question for today is: What has been spotted in the tea room in the House


of Commons? Was it: A cockroach. A snake.


A mouse. A tarantula?


At the end of the show, Nadine will give us the correct answer.


The growth figures are out, and are being pored over by politicians and


economists up and down the country. Napoleon said we were a nation of


shopkeepers, so how is UK Ltd doing? David Cameron and George Osborne can


point to some pretty good figures. In the last quarter of 2013,


Britain's economy grew by 0.7%. That compares with 0.8% from the previous


quarter. And it will mean in total the economy grew by 1.9% in 2013,


the best annual performance since 2007. However, there's still a lot


more work to do for the managers of UK Ltd. The economy is still 1.3%


smaller than in the beginning of 2008 when the economic crisis began.


What's more, some commentators are raising concerns that the recovery


is too concentrated in London. A report published yesterday by the


Centre For Cities think tank found that 79% of private sector jobs were


created in London, nearly ten times more than the next best area. There


are also fears it's the wrong kind of growth. Whilst the service sector


is doing well, manufacturing is still 8.2% lower than it was before


recession hit. Then, there are fears of a housing bubble.


Speaking to the BBC last night, the Business Secretary Vince Cable said


that, whilst we're on the right track, he does have concerns.


It hasn't yet got the shape of recovery that we want. We are


beginning to see a real revival, and that is really positive, good news.


I don't want to minimise that in any way. To be sustainable and last in


the long term, we need strong, consistent growth of exports, we


haven't got that. Businesses investing in large amounts of money


in the long term. At the moment, a lot are discouraged by over the


European Union and what the Labour Party is saying about stifling


energy investment. We need investment confidence. And to stop a


repetition of the property boom and bust of the past.


With us now is the economist and financial journalist Liam Halligan.


And, joining us from Merseyside is Joe Anderson, the Mayor of


Liverpool. Nadine, it is the government, within


government, Vince Cable, already warning despite great figures, we


could be running into the same problems and conditions that got us


into this mess. I don't know what it will take to make Vince Cable smile.


It is good news, it is growing faster than we thought. Unemployment


is down at an all-time low, down to 2.3 million. More people in work


today than we have ever had in work in the UK ever. It is a good news


story and a developing story. The economy has grown the fastest since


2007 in terms of GDP. It is part of the developing good news story.


Are you feeling it in Merseyside? It would be easy for me to dismiss


those figures and talk about part-time work, zero hour contracts


within the city. We are a city that is growing, we


are doing a great deal to make that happen, creating conditions,


confidence. My argument is, this is a government that came to power,


promising it would devolve powers and more resources, and


decentralised, create localism, and it is not. For me, I want our city


to be able to have more of its own resources to spend, in a way that


creates the regeneration, infrastructure, the right conditions


for growth for businesses to come. I guess, it is both parties, not just


the Conservatives who are in control, but labour previously have


not accepted that cities in themselves have a right to grow and


are part equally with the capital. Like a car with a pristine engine


but flat tyres. Liverpool can actually play a better role -- role


in helping the UK grow. The Chancellor always talks about


trickle-down economics. If London is booming in the south-east, it will


be a driver for the rest of the country. But there are problems,


Vince Cable talks about the economy remaining 1.3% smaller than the


prerecession peak in 2008. Various parts of the coming are not faring


well. Relying on the service sector, not manufacturing.


There's a lot in that. We've had the best performance for six years.


Let's see it within ourselves to celebrate that. But any objective


observer has to say that the eat -- the economic recovery has been


rather in balanced. The manufacturing sector remains almost


7% lower than it was at its pre-crisis peaked. The construction


sector is over 11% below where it was in balanced. The manufacturing


sector remains almost 7% lower than it was at its precrisis peak. The


construction sector is over 11% below where it was and it precrisis


peak. A lot of this growth we are seeing as financial services, which


is generally a London centric activity. There are some pretty big


blots on the landscape. The latest trade figures have a big loud. They


show September to November, our trade deficit widening. It strikes


me also that bank lending, and I think this is really where Vince


Cable is probing, it has continued to contract. Yes, mortgage lending


has been higher, driven by Funding for Lending and so on, but housing


demand... Housing supply has been stagnant and even contracting. It is


a rather in balanced recovery, despite these good headline numbers.


It is imbalanced, there are weaknesses, it's not the economy


that the Government promised. What we have is the risk of an


overheating housing market concentrated again in London and the


south-east, and the risk of it not being sustainable. We promised a


rebalanced economy by 2018. We've only been in power for almost four


years. That's because George Osborne failed on every single measure that


he put in place in his emergency budget in 2010. You may say that the


things are doing much better now. You are right about the banks and


lending. One of the problems is we've seen many more small and


medium businesses growing and creating more jobs. If we could get


the part blow to those businesses from the banks, one of the problems


is the banks are still reticent to lend to business. That's almost like


a cork in the bottle that has to go, to get even more growth coming


through the other end. It is a good news story, we mustn't talk down.


Are better now than they have been for a long time. And they are


especially better in Liverpool. Liverpool is the most fantastic city


on the planet. But your city is growing, you have a massive Hummer


flagship store that has taken on almost 1000 people there. What about


making some things we can export? If you visited Liverpool ten years


ago, I remember growing up in Liverpool, the difference to what it


is today. Your city is rocking. Isn't it all about our resumption of


consumer spending? That's all that's happening, and they are adding to


their own private debt. Wii absolutely, that's the point. When


Nadine talks about promising it in 2018, everyone can see it's a


trajectory. Wii it will continue to fail. If you look at Liverpool and


the regeneration that has taken place in Liverpool, it's as a result


of my investment, as a result of the city's investment. . We have a


fantastic dock. We have an arena and Convention Centre. We are borrowing


?40 million and investing it in a new exhibition Centre. It is


bringing in a 4-star hotel. They are creating 300 jobs. We are doing that


in other parts of the city. What my argument is that if government


allows cities to do more themselves, I know better than Whitehall


ministers what is best for my city and where the growth is. The


government thinks that councils like yours need to be cut back, they need


to spend less, they need to be able to do these things with less money


because there is too much waste. . We are both on the same page in


terms of councils and cities becoming more sustainable. I accept


that. What my point is if they want that, and I want that, then they've


got to allow us to achieve that. The way to do that is by allowing us to


spend the money and taxes. The government take probably a 78% of


the funding, the taxes, all of the taxes we generate in Liverpool away


from us and then deposit back. We want to be able to control a lot


more of that, so we can create the economic conditions for growth and


getting new businesses into our city. We are doing that, but we can


do much, much more. Is it true to say that this recovery, if it


continues, is only benefiting one area of the country, and that cities


like Liverpool, although they are doing better, are not going to be


able to reach their full potential on the basis of the policies that


are in place at the moment? I think that is fair. I was up in the


north-east at the end of last year and I met some of the most


impressive entrepreneurs I've ever met anywhere in the world. And yet


it's very difficult for them to raise capital because banks don't


want to lend, and a lot of long-term capital in this country is rather


unimaginative. Here are some numbers that aren't in the ONS press


release, these are from the World Bank database. Gross investment in


advanced countries around the world between 2009 to 2000 ten. Spain and


France up. Autonomy is we deride, Germany 18%. The UK, 13%. Our


investment in this country is at the lowest as it's been as a share of


GDP since 1952. Wide? Because the banking sector continues to be


broken. RBS have made a provision of biblical proportions last night. I'm


sorry, Nadine, it's great to have you on the show, Rocard fuelling the


economy, good for you, but I don't think our political leaders are


getting in there and getting stuck in and really fixing our banking


sector. Its casting an enormous Powell across the British economy


and the eurozone economy. Our biggest export destination is the


eurozone. It is tremendously difficult to get investment going in


the eurozone because they've got these huge banking stress tests


coming down the track this coming autumn. Until that happens, and the


danger of systemic spasms is over, people won't invest. In the


meantime, Labour is gaining credit for cost of living crisis that they


are putting to the Government. I don't think they are gaining credit


for it. They certainly have taken that agenda forward because the


Government has been accused of following it. Any political argument


which lands on the kitchen table of any home in Britain has resonance.


George Osborne has frozen fuel tax, so by 2015, people will be ?11


better off every time they develop their tanks with fuel. That


resonance. That is a policy where you can see the cash in your hand


that you are saving, from policies that are happening now from a


government that promises for the future. But be no real wages have


fallen and are continuing to fall, despite these patents that the


Government are putting forward, which are all out of borrowed money.


They are predicting it will come up in terms of wages versus prices. As


long as we can keep the lid on inflation. Inflation is at 2%. You


are quite right over the banks. I get it in the neck for highlighting


it constantly but I'm not going to stop. We will be talking to Chris


Leslie a little later in the programme. Now for today's big


political news. Yes, it's the Lib Dem deputy leadership election, with


Lib Dem MPs voting for someone to replace Simon Hughes as the party's


number two. Vicky Young is outside Parliament and can tell us more. Is


everyone on the edge of their seats at Westminster? They are talking of


little else. This election going on today, very small but select band of


electorate, just the 56 Lib Dem MPs get to vote on all of this. It is


single transferable vote, you wouldn't expect any less from the


Liberal Democrats. There are some art can bruise, and MP for more than


30 years, although he is standing down at the next election. He is


also the chair of the International development committee. Gordon


Birtwistle, he is the MP for Burnley. But the bookies'


favourite, Lori Birt. She is the front runner. The eagle eyed amongst


you will notice she is a woman. She has said that the Lib Dems very much


need a woman in a top team. Some will say she's perfectly qualified.


Her first job was as assistant governor at Holloway prison. She's


also got a degree in economics. She's got an award-winning training


company and is used to fighting hard against the Tories. The majority in


her seat of Solihull is just 175 votes. So she is a tough fighter.


The serious point is as deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats,


they would have quite a high profile, being in the media a lot


more. The Lib Dems very much under the cosh about not having much


diversity in their party, certainly not many female MPs, only seven, and


none of them really in high profile positions. The result is due at 6pm.


They might put a press release out. So you can't even go to the grand


unveiling. What is the mood like amongst Lib Dem MPs at the moment,


bearing in mind it has been difficult for the party in recent


times? They have been criticised for the way they have reacted to those


accusations against Chris Rennard and Mike Hancock, both of whom


denied the allegations against them. I think it is a bit of a


symptom of the party, the way it works. They have this democratic


process. Very much that people on councils make their own decisions,


and that has made it difficult for Nick Clegg to be seen to get a grip


of this. They are facing a very difficult time come the next


election. But they very much be all they do have to get more women in


winnable seats, if there are many of those left for the Lib Dems.


Certainly they feel it would help to have a high profile woman on that


leadership team, which they just don't have. It looks very white and


very male at the moment. How much of our electricity could come from


renewable sources? Today a new offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea


will start generating electricity for the first time. When it reaches


full-strength, the wind farm, eight miles off the Cumbrian coast, will


have more than 100 turbines and generate enough electricity for


almost 300,000 homes. Britain currently leads the field in


offshore wind. Across the UK there are 3,400 turbines in total at 342


different sites. Around 700 of the turbines are offshore, like those


which have started today. But wind power is not the only source of


renewable energy on the up in the UK, there's solar and tidal energy


as well. In fact, renewable energy accounted for 11.3% of UK


electricity generation in 2012. And it looks set to get bigger. At the


end of last year the Scottish government granted permission for


work to begin on the largest tidal energy project in Europe. But the


renewable energy companies now want to see the Government commit to


long-term offshore targets beyond 2030. This, they claim, will provide


real cost savings and allow for more investment in new technologies.


We're joined now by the Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett. We seem to


be making progress with green energy. Some would say that because


we've invested a lot of money in it. What price is it for consumers? We


are paying subsidies, companies are paying subsidies and people are


having their bills increased as a result. We have to remember that


this is a tiny percentage of the increase. The hugely -- leap we've


seen over the past decade, that is due to the rising price of gas. That


is a reflection of the fact we have to move away from fossil fuels. That


is the high cost, risky energy option. The thing about renewables


is certainly at the moment, per unit it is higher cost. But what we need


is a reliable energy source that we know the cost of. The question is


reliability. We are paying an average ?112 a year just for green


subsidies. Even if the main bit of the cost comes from rising energy


prices, you can understand the bitter taste people are left with


when that section of ?112 on average a year is just for green subsidies.


Green subsidies, about a third of that is for social subsidies, people


who are unable to afford their bills, so that help them. About a


further third of that is going into insulating our homes. That is the


real area of total Government policy failure, in that we are not moving


fast enough. By far the cheapest, as well as the greenest energy, is that


which you don't use. The green deal has been a disaster. What we need to


do to save people 's money and the long runners make sure they've got


energy efficient, affordable to heat homes. And that means well


insulated, well-prepared homes. We need a decent standard of homes we


haven't got at the moment. People have accused the Government of mixed


messages on this. Renewables are now providing 11% of our energy, is that


good news? The reason why the Government has pulled back on


insulating is because most homes are now insulated. The only ones that


aren't other difficult to reach and treat homes. Currently about a third


of our homes are in GE, H or F energy bands, which means they are


basically impossible to heat. A third of our homes are extremely


pour. I just know I had a meeting with the minister responsible for


this recently with an installation company in my constituency. My


insulation company agreed that most homes now insulated, apart from the


difficult to treat and reach. I think, on renewable energy, is the


reason we are here is because we have a European target that we have


to reach by 2020, of having 20% of our energy derived from renewables.


I think in 50 years time, generations in the future will look


back at pictures of those wind turbines and laugh. They will wonder


what on earth we were doing. We should be investing in nuclear power


and fusion power. Unfortunately, all our energy and investment is


diverted away from that former power because we have to reach this


arbitrary target set by the European Union. Do the government never


really believed in those targets, did they never really have a green


agenda? All of that boat blew, get green, is all a myth? We have to


meet the directive which has been set. I very much think we should be


channelling our thoughts, energy and investment towards a far cheaper,


far cleaner type of energy, which is far more efficient. Every time you


talk about fusion power someone tells you it's only four years away.


It's about 20 years away, as it has been for the past three or four


decades. The problem with renewables is the reliability.


The European point is important. We have the climate change bill which


demands we reduce our carbon emissions. The three large parties


agreed to that, recognising its importance to tackle climate change.


That is set in law by the European Union. This is the law agreed by the


British Parliament. Running in parallel with the directive, we


can't do anything else. If the EU says this, we have to pass a bill.


The physics also says we have to do that. The Green Party does state


that, but... There are other options now. Looking at shale gas, the


nuclear option. You could plug the gap, without investing more, without


asking consumers to pay more on their bills for further investment


in offshore, onshore wind and other renewables. In terms of wind, the


government has agreed a good strike price. Nuclear, there are issues


around safety, no plan for dealing with waste. The people of Cumbria


had strong words on that. Germany has turned its back. Indeed, as has


Japan. I have just been reading about Chernobyl. I am happy to park


all of those arguments and simply come to one point. The last two


plants have taken on average 14 years to build and 16 years to bring


online. Nuclear is way too slow to fill our energy gap now. It doesn't


provide any answers. The government prevaricated over its commitment to


nuclear, whether there should be a subsidy. Every government has


prevaricated. But they won't be online, on time. By the time the


nuclear power stations are finished building, we will need renewables,


there will be a gap. The only advantage from wind turbines is a


small amount of wind energy. Tidal wave power is doing better, I


believe, providing energy. What is the percentage from offshore wind?


About 5%. Barrow will provide an extra amount. We have rich offshore


resources. Look at Germany, China, the US. Racing ahead. They don't


have the wonderful wind resources and tidal resources. We are a tiny


island. We do not want our skyline blighted by these turbines? 64% of


UK adults according to one research, said they wanted


renewables installed between now and 2020, clean alternatives. If you


have specified, wind turbine? It depends how the question was asked.


I have not heard from anybody who lives within sight of a wind turbine


who is happy. Our population is growing. We have enough challenges,


we have very little... We do not want this blighted -- blighting our


views. There is an answer in terms of why we need to change the way we


build our renewable resources. The government has introduced a small


but good community energy policy this week. We need to recognise that


on the continent, communities compete to get wind farms, because


they are community owned and they see the benefit. Where people feel a


multinational company is imposed on them, they feel different. We will


have to leave it there. What would you do if you lived under


a repressive and unjust regime? In his new book, the former Labour


Cabinet Minister Peter Hain tells the story of his parents who were


forced to leave South Africa in the 1960s for their stand against


apartheid. In a moment, we'll be talking to Peter.


I'm joined now by Labour MP Peter Hain. Welcome.


How did your parents become involved in activism in South Africa? They


didn't start off political at all, there was nothing in the


background. Not members of parties or involved in local politics.


Nothing to suggest they would end up notorious and expelled from their


country. It was a sense of fairness, due to their upbringing, they


treated their fellow black countrymen and women more generously


and equally. What did they do? They began by simply joining the Liberal


party of South Africa, one of the anti-apartheid organisations. They


then leafleted, wrote letters to the newspapers, joined in meetings and


organised. We used to have black friends come through the front door


of our house. Which was unusual, I presume. Almost unknown, last -- and


then it led to their house being raided, they were arrested and


jailed being charged. Then, they were banned. My mother was issued


with a banning order which meant she couldn't take part in political


activity or even a social gathering. When we had diplomats at parties in


our house, I used to have to take them one by one into the kitchen.


She could only meet one diplomat at a time. The party was going on next


door. But she could only see one person at a time. Amazing they


allowed the party to take place. That wasn't illegal. Then, they


banned my dad. And he couldn't communicate with another band


person. When I asked, what did they do, you said they had a sense of


fairness, to treat their black staff fairly. I am sure there were quite a


lot of people like that. What drove them then to make more of a stand


over the issue of fairness and wanting equal rights for blacks? It


is a very good question and I don't entirely answered it in the book.


They were one of a tiny group of white South Africans, almost alone


among their relatives and friends, with the exception of my mother 's


younger sister, Joan. A lot of whites would say, we don't really


approve of apartheid but we are benefiting from it. We get on with


our lives. They took a stand and it led to progressively more


intimidation, threats against them, restrictions, and to ultimately they


stopped my father working as an architect, there was no income for


us and we had to leave in 1966. What was it likely you? It became part of


our lives. We had security police officers raiding in the early hours


of the morning. My parents subject to restrictions. Security police


cars sitting outside the front gates. It became part of the of


life. My brother and my two younger sisters were very supportive of my


parents, very proud of them. Obviously, we were different from


our friends. You had an understanding at an early stage of


your life of apartheid and its wrongs is to knock yes. I was


brought up to believe regardless of the colour of your skin, faith


politics, you should be treated equally. It was part of our DNA.


That was not the case for every one of my friends and virtually all our


relatives. Nadine, are you surprised there weren't more white activists


in South Africa. The books and films do chronicle the stories of people


who did fight against apartheid, but there weren't that many, are you


surprised? I lived in Central Africa for a while. It was such an


oppressive... Your parents were incredibly brave. It was such an


oppressive atmosphere from what I have heard. I remember getting my


first flat in London, and the couple are shared with had fled South


Africa and were of mixed race. Because it was impossible for them


to have been together in that country. Probably the white


community that... There was also a culture of, a long-term South


African white culture, imbued with apartheid. It was the best standard


of living in the world for the white community so why would they want to


change it? But there is another point. You take great risks when you


do this. The most interesting question about my parents is, why


they risked everything? Their lives, they had to flee the country of


their birth which they loved, risk the future of their family, their


jobs. Very few of us would do that to something we believe in. If you


look across the world, whether it is resistance to tyranny anywhere, very


few people actually take a stand. Even if the majority are suffering


from the very same. I am proud of my parents did so. Hence, I have


written the book. An ordinary couple who did extraordinary things. And


faced a lifetime of consequences. It was their values and sense of duty,


not big politics or ideology. That is the point about it. That makes it


a poignant story. Let's go back to our top story


today. The latest growth figures out this morning show the UK economy


grew in the last three months of 2013. In the last hour, the


Chancellor has been taking questions in the House of Commons. He was


understandably pleased with the figures.


These numbers are a boost for the economic security of hard-working


people. Growth is broadly based with manufacturing growing fastest of


all. It is more evidence that our long-term economic plan is working.


But the job is not done. And it is clear the biggest risk... He has


finished already! We've been joined by the Shadow


Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Chris Leslie.


So, difficult for Labour, more good news, continual good economic news.


It is good we have 0.7%. The same figure, the level of


quarterly growth we had back in the second quarter of 2010 after the


general election, when the economy was beginning to recover. We know


the story, we had three years of stagnation. Let us hope these


statistics translate into real, meaningful improvements in living


standards the people. Our worry is, though, that so far the people who


are benefiting tend to be those who are the wealthier. Most people


watching will be waiting and saying, I am not feeling the


benefit. Do you think a 50p top rate of tax will help?


Yes. The wealthiest in society should pay a fairer share. To look


at some of the reactions from the right-wing press, you'd think this


was an astonishing change. But what we are talking about is on those


pounds that people learn, if they are lucky enough to earn ?150,000


the amounts of money above that, instead of 45 pH should be 50p in


the pound, I don't think it's an unreasonable thing to ask, to make


sure we have the ability to protect some of those services and the most


vulnerable in society. But it's not just the right wing press, its


business leaders. Some of your own donors said it was extreme socialist


nonsense. Across the board in the city, enemy of business, labour is


anti-aspiration, punishing people earning lots of money. Is it your


intention to alienate the business community? No, it's not. All of the


people criticising tend to be beneficiaries of a tax cut if you


are on ?1 million income, for example, you get a tax cut of


?40,000. It's a very nice thing of you could have a tax cut of


?40,000, I just don't think it's fair at the same time you've got the


bedroom tax, cuts to tax credit, the rising VAT, where red is lower and


middle income people... George Osborne today wouldn't rule out


cutting it even further to 40p. Would you like to see it cut to 40p?


Can I just address the hypocrisy? I would like to see it cut. Can I just


say, all credit to you, is that New Labour is dead. Labour, when they


came in and 97, didn't introduce a 50p tax rate. They didn't do it in


2001, they didn't do it in 2005. They did it 100 days before the 2010


election to appeal to your core vote. It was political and


ideological. For you to sit here now and talk about the 50p tax rate and


pulling it back, when you only put it in 100 days before the 2010


election is so rich. I know that in the partisan world it is tempting


for the government to say that it was spending on schools and


hospitals that caused the deficit. The banking crisis came along... It


caused a deficit which needed to be repaired. It was only right to ask


the very wealthiest in society, the richest 1%. You do agree they should


be contributing something? You can understand why your constituents


don't want you obsessing about cutting their incomes, the richest


people 's tax take even more. Why shouldn't people... Why shouldn't


people, in this situation, as the recovery is trying to take hold, why


shouldn't people earning more than 150,000, less than 1% of the


population, pay more in tax? There's no proof that works. There's no


evidence that the Treasury receives any more money by doing that. That


comes back to the issue that this is bad economics. The ISS, I know you


dispute this, the figure that was raised, but the IDF S, very


respected Institute, says it only raised something in the region of


100 million a year. There's no proof of that. There is proof of 100


million at least. The OBR say 3 million. -- 3 billion. The reason I


think it was so low, if George Osborne telegraphed to the


millionaires a year or maybe more that he was going to cut that


operate, what he has said to them is, if you can avoid paying your


bonuses till the day the tax cut comes in, you will do very well.


What did the statistics show about bonuses? They went up 82% the month


after that top rate came from 50p to 45p. There's a lot of staving off.


People avoiding that tax rate. Shouldn't be temporary or permanent?


We've said it should be for the lifetime of the next Parliament.


This government couldn't eradicate the deficit so we will finish the


job. There is a debate, in terms of the money raised, whether you would


make a big enough dent in the deficit on that alone. Let me come


back to the issue, why is Labour wanted to kill off business


investment and job creation at a time when growth has just returned?


I don't think that raising the top rate of tax the -- about ?150,000 to


50p would have that effect on business investment. For restart,


we're not seeing business investment exactly flourishing now. The GDP


figures show consumer fuel, not export or business investment


driven. If you look at the period, the three years when we did have the


50p rate in place, actually, the earnings of those above that


?150,000 level were up by 10 billion more than the Treasury expected.


Actually, there's no proof that it was that deterrent. Its popular.


Topline announcement sounds popular. I have to take issue on the fact


that you've said we live in different times and it was a result


of the banking crisis. You brought it in 100 days before the 2010


election. The banking crisis and problems happened a long time before


that. What you did was political. I think what you are doing now was


political and I think you will pay for it. The attitude now that your


party is embracing as one of the days of Kinnock and extreme


left-wing politics. I think you will find you are losing the centre


ground, you've lost the New Labour project and you will pay for that in


the election. I would strongly advise you to do what George Osborne


did today. We didn't want to talk about the 50p rate at all, because


he knows the public want, guess, deficit reduction, but fair deficit


reduction. Can I ask about an adviser to Labour, Mr Arnie Graf?


Priti Patel, a Tory backbencher believes he may be working in the UK


illegally. What is the status of this man? I'm not party to his


immigration status. I only heard the story in passing on the news today.


Will you find out? And more than happy to look at it. The party has


already put out statements he has made. There's a bit of mischief


going on here by Priti Patel. When Conservative MP is start picking on


Labour advisers and so full, you can probably sense there's a little bit


of bias in what they are suggesting. Is she wrong to write to the UK


Border Agency? That's what Conservative MP 's do about Labour.


Labour would do -- never do it, would they? According to this, Mr


Graf advises the party on campaigning and visits the UK on a


business Visa. Party say they reimburse him for lost earnings and


expenses. It sounds like they pay him. Is there something that needs


to be investigated? So nobody is allowed to talk to anybody from


other countries? Lynton Crosby had quite a number of dealings in


Australia. Are we not supposed to have those conversations? I don't


think this is going to go very far. We've made them eat bugs, we've seen


them pretend to be pussycats - it seems as though some MPs will stop


at nothing to make the voters like them. Those, like our guest of the


day, Nadine Dorries, say they go on shows like I'm A Celebrity because


it helps them get their message across to an increasingly apathetic


public. Not all of her colleagues agree, to put it mildly, but where


they do concur is on the need for a greater connection between


politicians and the people. So what works, and what leaves a nasty taste


in the mouth? Here's David. If there's one thing politicians


really like, it's connecting with the lovely voters. If they could,


they'd shake everyone occupied the hand, preferably while kissing your


babies at the same time. The problem is they can't, so they are coming up


with ever more inventive ways of reaching out and showing they are


just like you and me. No politician worth his or his salt is now without


a Twitter account, holding forth on everything from the deficit to


Strictly Come Dancing. Talking of reality TV shows, here's an early


example of the genre, with Michael Portillo trying life as a single mum


in the 90s. Since then, do trips to the Big Brother house or the jungle


is all part of the plan to get down with voters. Do they work? Those


shows are entertainment based around a concept that you humiliate and


embarrass people. Politicians face more humour lesion and embarrass


anyway, they don't need more of that. What works well is where


politicians are talking about themselves as human beings and the


issues they are dealing with as politicians. It doesn't work well


when they are doing things like having to eat cockroaches live on


TV. Could that be more preferable to taking your chances every week on a


live phone in with voters? Do you approve of MPs using 10,000 pounds


of taxpayers' money for acting lessons? You Low we've seen how it


completely dominates the political news agenda for that morning or


sometimes all the way through the day. It allows Nick Clegg to set out


his position on issues, in a position where he is not completely


in control of the agenda because anyone can ring up and ask him any


question. But if there's a message she wants to get out, he can get it


out. Daewoo out the old school ways of keeping in touch. I like meeting


people in the street, knocking on doors. It humanises you and reminds


you where you came from and who you are. Holding an advice bureau, being


in the constituency is absolutely crucial to keeping your feet on the


ground and illustrating to people locally that you still care and are


still there. So what's next? Things like virtual town halls, if you run


MP in London representing a constituency many hundreds of miles


away, you could be in Parliament voting and debating, then in the


evening in the virtual town hall you can engage with your constituents,


even though they are at the other end of the country. That technology


is the future. It looks like MPs will continue to use methods, old,


new and, frankly, bizarre, to connect with you lucky voters,


whether you like it or not. And we've been joined by Michael White


from the Guardian. He's not wearing a tiger onesie, thank goodness! Do


you have any regrets about your time on reality TV? Gosh, no. Penny


Mordaunt doing splash recently, I don't think she is an MP in a


marginal seat. So it is about self-promotion? Yes, and then


looking what you does behind. More people know who she is, will be


interested and look at what she's doing as an MP. Therefore she is


being able to reach out to many voters. Somebody said on the film


just now, you've got to go and knock on the doors. We do that anyway, we


kissed the babies, we knock on the doors and talk to people, but we can


do other things as well. Because it clearly isn't enough on its own. I


agree with Nadine Dorries on most of that. It's not for the


faint-hearted, reality TV and live phone-ins. Should politicians be


doing it? Why not, if you're an extrovert. Michael Portillo,


introverted figure. The difference between Gordon Brown and Tony


Blair, won an extrovert... If you can carry it off, I didn't see


Nadine on I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here... The wonders of


YouTube! If you can carry it off and if the voters don't mind, if they


think she's doing a good job, they will re-elect her. Did she carry it


off? I don't know. The best person to judge that, it's not my kind of


show. If she gets re-elected, it's all part of the process, like social


media, tweeting, but it's dangerous. If you are not good at it, people


won't like it. Being voted off early on... On another programme, voted


off air, if you are a politician you will be voted off first. For me,


that was taken in to the whole process. Was an Widdicombe voted off


first? She stayed on for ages. Would you do another reality TV show? Not


while I'm an MP. There are two aspects to this. There is the media


and your constituents. All I can say is, if you'd read the media you


would have thought my constituents... I don't know the


exact figure, but somebody got a nationwide campaign up while I was


in the jungle to get me removed as an MP. 65 million people could vote.


There are 80,000 people in my constituency. I think they got


something like 400 signatures. The people loved it. So you are not


against them being on reality TV shows, it's just got to be the right


person? It's very risky. It sounds as if she got away with it, but


she's not doing it again. There's just time before we go to find out


the answer to our quiz. The question was... What has been spotted in the


tearoom in the House of Commons? I've seen a mouse on a daily basis.


It's so bold, it runs over your feet. You've seen it? I photographed


it, I put it on Twitter. I'll be back tomorrow. Goodbye.


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