10/03/2014 Daily Politics


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Good afternoon, welcome to the Daily Politics. Labour has given us their


first firm manifesto spending pledge, an expensive one. The high


command says it will spend ?5 billion to give unemployed young


people a guaranteed job, and the promises good for the whole of the


next parliament if they win the election. Do the numbers add up?


They use hi-tech detector vans to check if you are paying your TV


licence, so you can watch Daily Politics! Some MPs think it is


nothing more than a poll tax on viewers, we will debate the issue.


They are sometimes known as the ministers for paperclips, they get


little power or glory, who would want to be a junior minister? And is


Labour announced their first election manifesto commitment, we


look back as whether they are really worth the paper they are written on.


All that in the next hour, and with us for the whole programme today is


Liberal Democrat MP and friend of the programme Jeremy Browne, and he


joins us fresh, if that is the word, from the Lib Dems bring conference


in York, where he spent the weekend talking about policy, cheering on


the speeches and fielding questions about the inspiration for his beard.


Welcome to the show. Sticking with the conference, the Lib Dems were


keen to talk about their record in government, but they were also


indulging in a new favourite pastime, having a go at UKIP. Let's


have a look at the surprise guest who took to the stage yesterday.


Hello, everybody! Nigel here. I am looking for my mate Nick to see if


we can have a few pints and a few smokes before our little chat on the


2nd of April. Have you seen him anywhere? No? Oh, all right, OK.


Well, I thought, you know, I'd perhaps have a chance to convince


him over this Europe stuff... That was in fact morally bird, the Lib


Dem MP, pretending to be Nigel Farage. -- Lorely Burt. I am not


sure that she was on the right sort of ground, I'd like Nigel Farage as


well as an individual. Was that wise as a gimmick? I think the contrast


between Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems' position and UKIP is wise,


because that is the big choice facing the country, not just in the


European elections but for our country for decades to come. As we


have globalisation and Moore internationalised world, there are


implications terms of immigration, how we get on with all parts of the


world, Asia in particular. The big choice facing us is whether we try


to embrace that, do we reject and try to make sure Britain plays an


active role in the world, or do we try to withdraw from it and


consolidate what we already have? In a way, I think the black and white


choice facing the country is between the Nick Clegg vision and be Nigel


Farage vision. Actually, it would be blurred by having Ed Miliband and


David Cameron there, because they do not represent anything clear. You


may disagree or agree with what they both say, but I think that, for the


electorate, is the real choice. Do the Lib Dems do, deep well? I'm not


sure any politicians do it well! -- comedy. You have to see them in the


context of being in front of a partisan audience. I think people


quite enjoy it, good on her for having the nerve to go. She drew the


short straw, didn't she? I don't know, maybe she enjoyed it! All


political parties, you can get a bit of fun from the activists by


lampooning your political opponents, and no doubt at UKIP they


will have a similar role for Nick Clegg. What about the policy of


raising the income tax threshold? Is that your policy, or was it a joint


policy with the Conservative Party? It is a Liberal Democrat policy that


is being implemented jointly in government. We are pleased that we


have played such a constructive role in government, that we have been


able to implement important policies. But let's be clear, it was


in the Liberal Democrat manifesto and not in the Conservative


manifesto, so you cannot have a more straightforward case of ownership of


a policy than that. No dispute that it is a Liberal Democrat policy, but


of course we worked collaboratively with the Conservatives in


government. I think they have to be convinced, because David Cameron


said that it was an unaffordable policy, and he would have liked to


be able to implement it but it would not be possible in government. I am


not saying they were against tax cuts for people on low and middle


incomes, but they wouldn't have done it on their own, and we know that


the cause David Cameron told us in the leadership debates that the


Conservatives would not do that if they were in government on their


own. It turns out it is affordable, and next month the policy will be


achieved in full. That is due to the pressure being put in government by


the Liberal Democrats to get that policy implemented, but let's be


grown up about the - there are two parties in government, we worked


collaboratively, and a lot of the successes of this government are due


to Liberal Democrat inspired policies, but we have put them in


effect together. So it was not grown-up to say we had to drag the


Conservative Party kicking and screaming into it? That is what Nick


Clegg said. I was not in those negotiations, but clearly the


Conservatives would not have done that without us, so they have to


have their feet held to the fire a little bit by us to say the priority


should not be on inheritance tax, we want the number-one priority to be


helping people on lower and middle incomes by making them pay less


tax, and that has become the main tax priority of government, but it


was a Lib Dem policy. How would you have characterised James


Brokenshire's speech on immigration in terms of blaming the middle


classes for immigration? Well, it is not a speech I would have made. You


were in the home office. I was, and I didn't make that speech! I do my


own cleaning in the house, and I'm afraid I don't earn enough money to


take on staff. I am not part of the metropolitan elite! How misguided,


in your mind, was that speech, or was he right? I mean, I think it was


a misguided speech, but the one area where he maybe was touching on a


point which is worth debating is that the impact of immigration can


be quite different on people in different parts of the economy. So


on the whole, it is more beneficial to affluent people, and it is less


beneficial to people with lower skills. But the overall message that


James was conveying was a bad message, because I think the joys


that we have as a country is not how do we lock out people and how do we


cut ourselves off from globalisation - it is how we can raise the skills


and opportunities that exist in this country to make sure that we can


compete in an era of globalisation, and for me the Conservatives and


UKIP are going down the wrong part if they think we can cut ourselves


off. You can never have too much of the


Lib Dems bring conference, and it is time for the daily quiz. -- spring


conference. Yesterday Nick Clegg gave us a list of all the things he


loves about Britain, but which one of these was not on his list? The


shipping forecast, the steam engine, the Antiques Roadshow, chewing while


abroad? At the end of the show, I'm sure Jeremy can give us the correct


answer. -- queueing. Nigel Evans, the former Deputy Speaker of the


House of Commons, goes on trial today accused of sexual offences


against seven men. The MP for Ribble Valley in Lincolnshire paces a jury


at Preston Crown Court for a trial scheduled to last around four weeks.


We can find out more from Ed Thomas, who was outside the court, can you


give us any more background? Well, Nigel Evans arrived here this


morning surrounded by photographers and reporters, and in courtroom one


at Preston County Court he faces nine charges in total, eight counts


of sexual and indecent assault, and one count of rape. Now, all these


charges are said to have happened between 2002 and last year and


involves seven men. Nigel Evans, throughout the whole court process,


has insisted that he is innocent, he pleads not guilty to all of the


charges. Oh! Ed, can you hear? Babbs we have


lost contact. What will actually happen today? Well, the first bit of


court business today was to swear in a jury, and potential jurors were


asked a number of questions, whether they were a constituent or not of


Nigel Evans, whether they knew him personally. This jury has now been


sworn in, and we also got a flavour of potential witnesses who could be


called to court. At last count, I heard that nine MPs could come here


to give evidence during this trial. This includes Conservative


backbenchers Sarah Wollaston, the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, and


the transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin. As you say, the case


could last up to five weeks, and Nigel Evans denies all the charges


against him. Labour leader Ed Miliband and Shadow


Chancellor Ed Balls are announcing a new policy today. Not only that, but


Labour says is their first manifesto spending pledge, and it is about the


compulsory jobs guarantee. Under the scheme, 18 to 24-year-olds who have


been out of work for one year will be offered a taxpayer subsidised job


lasting six months. Those who refuse risk losing benefits. The scheme


will also apply to adults aged 25 or over who have claimed jobseeker's


allowance for two years or more. Ed Balls has previously suggested that


the scheme would only be funded for the first year of a Labour


government, but he now plans to extend it for the whole of the next


parliament if they win in 2015. According to Labour, the first year


of the scheme will be paid for by a repeat bankers' bonuses tax, raising


?1.9 billion. After that, the project will be funded by a


reduction in the rate of pension tax relief of 45% down to 20% on for


people on more than ?125,000 per year. The Labour Party say this will


raise ?900 million. Critics of the plans amount to a raid on pensions


and that they leave a hole in funding for other key pledges, and


that is because Labour says it is the only project which will be


funded by a banker's bonus tax, which leaves open the question, how


will they pay for other pledges, such as their promise to build


200,000 homes per year by 2020? We can listen to Ed Miliband talking


this morning. This scheme is fully costed and we will be paying for it


by taxing bankers' bonuses and by restricting pensions tax relief for


the highest earners on over ?150,000 per year, a right and fair decision


to take to get our young people working again. We have got 56,000


young people who have been out of work for more than 12 months, double


what it was when this government came to power. They are not taking


action, we will. Ed Miliband speaking earlier, and


Stephen Timms joins us now. Under the jobs guarantee, Stephen Timms,


long-term unemployed will be offered a job for six months, what happens


to them after that? We would hope that most of them would stay on in


those jobs. In Wales, there is a programme that is working along


these lines, and they are finding that young people taken on with this


subsidy for six months, 80% of them taken on by private companies are


staying on in those jobs after the end of the six months, and you can


understand why. Once a small company has invested six months of effort in


somebody, as long as they are doing OK, the employer will want to keep


them on. The other side of the coin is that it is cheap labour for


companies, bearing in mind the Government will be subsidising it,


six months, then back on the dole and they get a new one. The


Government has to watch what is going on, and the jobs fund was in


place before the last election, and you can make sure that kind of abuse


does not take place. How many companies have signed up to be


scheme? We have not yet announced which companies will be involved. I


have been speaking to a major bank about it this morning, and there is


a lot of enthusiasm amongst employers for helping particularly


unemployed young people into work, and I think we will find no shortage


of companies wanting to support the programme. But people will want to


know whether you will be able to drill that down and keep to that


guarantee, because we are talking about a lot of people being taken on


potentially. You mentioned a bank, are you hoping it will be private


firms and small businesses? In Wales, most of the placements are


with private sector firms, mostly small ones, because those are the


companies generating jobs at the moment, so we would certainly


expect, on the Welsh example, about three quarters in the private


sector. There will be jobs in charities, in the public sector as


well, but a minority. We have not yet announced any companies that


will definitely be delivering this. When will you make that


announcement? We will be progressively making those


announcements as people sign up between now and the election. As I


say, there is no shortage of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is different


from people saying, we are going to take on five of the young people on


the dole that you are talking about, 15 or 20. You must admit that.


Indeed, but thankfully the economy is now growing. There are


opportunities for people, when there wasn't. Employers are wanting to


bring in people, particularly those that were out of work for a long


time, to make sure that they become economic reproductive com in


everybody's interests. Sounds like a good idea? I do think he a problem,


so I commend him and others for trying to deal with it. But this is


a big pledge? My feeling is that unemployment is going down, youth


and climate is going down. It's still very high? It is, that is why


it's important to talk about. Our levels of unemployment are much


lower than in southern Europe. How do you make sure you have the right


conditions for people to be employed? It is not just by


politicians announcing everybody will have a job. What it is is


making sure that you have flexible labour markets, skills among young


people that make them attractive to employers. The rest is quick fixes


paid for by the taxpayer. We've tried that in countries across


southern Europe. It's not inflexible labour markets and goodwill by


left-wing governments that make people employed, it is having a


vibrant implement markets like we have in this country. I think Jeremy


would recognise that there is a particular problem with people that


have been out of work for a long time. Young people out of work for


more than a year, older people out of work for more than two years.


More young people out of work for over a year than at any time since


1993. It does need special effort to get those back in work and that is


what we're going to do. Let's look at how you would pay for it. It


would be through a banker bonus tax. You know as well as I do, we had a


Labour shadow minister sitting here saying they pledged that banker


bonus tax to various schemes. Have there was all gone? More money for


the regional growth fund, turning empty shops into community centres,


building 25,000 new homes, that is all gone? If they are in the


manifesto, we will explain at the time had that is going to be funded.


Only the job guarantee will be funded from the bonus tax and the


restriction on pension tax relief for people earning over ?150,000 per


year. They will be funded differently, are you going to keep


all of these pledges? This is one announcement about one commitment in


the manifesto. We will speak about the others as the time draws near.


There is not a commitment to put those into the manifesto at the


moment. There is? The housing policy could go? They could. All of them,


in that case! Were those policies worth the paper they were written


on? What would have been saying for some time is that these are things


the Government could be doing now and we have explained how they could


be doing it now. What we have set out today is what is going to be in


our manifesto next year. We have this one commitment we are anxious


that people should hear about today. That is the banker bonus tax, ?1.9


billion. Alistair Darling, former Labour Chancellor who introduced the


tax, said it would only be effective as a one-off. Do you agree that


actually it is a very ambitious figure to look at again? No, I think


it's very realistic. Based on? Based on the fact that banker bonuses is


going up again. We have seen quite large rises announced by major


banks. When would it apply? We would introduce it straight after the


election. I imagine it would apply in the financial year starting in


April 2015, depending on whether we get the mechanics ready in time. Do


you think that figure adds up? ?1.9 billion seems like a very large


figure. Labour's phones only add up if the banks pay they get bonuses to


employees. Labour presumably become a party cheerleading for banker


bonuses, as the only way to make their manifesto had. It is a


windfall tax. They are not going to do that, are they? The bonuses are


going up, it's appropriate that we say to those people doing very, very


well, you should be making a contribution to young people into


work. I recognise this, when the Lib Dems were in opposition for decades,


we used to come up with policies that were not properly costed


because we didn't think we would ever have doing the mend them. I


recognise the phenomenon that is Labour now. -- didn't have to


implement them. Every single time this Government has come up with a


proposal to get the appalling deficit down, Labour has opposed it.


Labour is sitting on tens of liens of pounds of costed commitments.


They are all going to pay for it, supposedly, by these bankers they


have not identified. They will keep their fingers crossed that those


bonuses will be so high it will pay for a handful of their commitments.


The bonus tax will solely play -- pay for the job guarantee. There is


an irony, that you needed to be high to cover this ambitious pledge? They


are still going up. You want them to go up, because otherwise it won't


add up. The amount yielded by the bonus tax will easily cover the cost


for the first year. The Treasury says the policy doesn't add up. You


claim the jobs guarantee will cost ?1.9 billion in the first year,


Treasury officials say it will cost ?2.6 billion per year. Have you


underestimated the cost of the scheme? The Treasury say they have


figures that it will be almost ?1 billion more. How will you convince


the electorate? The only basis on which that could be the case is if


youth unemployment is about to go through the roof. On the basis of


the current levels, which I hope will come down as the economy grows


in the next year, the cost of delivering the guarantee will


reduce. You're going to be taking money from older people to pay for


the younger generation? He will reduce the rate of pension tax


relief? Or people earning over ?150,000 per year.


If you are watching this, it means you have hopefully paid your licence


fee. If you haven't, watch out, we will send Andrew round first thing


to get it, and he can be grumpy in the morning. If you watch broadcasts


on your TV or other electronic device, at the moment you can be


convicted and fined. There are moves afoot to make it a civil offence,


not a criminal offence. Would this lead to more people failing to pay?


Let's look at the kind of high-tech TV detector vans that were in action


in the 19 six days. Licence dodgers watch out! The


Minister of Telecom indications is on the warpath. Nearly 1.25 million


householders watch the telly and don't buy a licence. But they'd


better, and quick. Vans would highly efficient equipment are out in


force, in an intensive campaign to cut back drastically the number of


welshers. He says it's a fair deal for everyone, honest folk should not


subsidise the others. If you switch on, be prepared to pay up. We are


joined now by the Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, who has described


the licence fee as a poll tax and who wants to decriminalise


nonpayment. We're also joined by the shadow culture minister Helen


Goodman. Welcome both of you. Andrew Bridgen, you are proposing that the


nonpayment should be decriminalised, have you thought


through the invitations long-term for the BBC? Do you care? I do care,


there are many things I like about the BBC, some things I think they


get wrong. The relationship with the consumer, criminalising them if they


don't pay it, is placing a barrier to the BBC. I think it is making the


BBC distant and disconnected. In fact, there is some derision, in


some areas. And it is driven by this, this disconnect. What about


the figures of people that are prosecuted, can you give us an idea


of what we're talking about? To huge problem, a huge burden on the


Magistrates' Court. One in five cases in 2012 were due to nonpayment


of TV licences. The magistrates themselves have been calling for


decriminalisation for over 20 years. I had a number of e-mails from


magistrates supporting my campaign. If the BBC were to find out of a


banana republic country, where they announced they were going to have a


poll tax to allow people to have access to television, regardless of


income, and threaten people with criminal prosecution and


imprisonment, and that the majority of people in prison would be women


with children, there would be outcry, but that is what we have


got. It's a poll tax, it should be got rid of, no longer criminalising


people? I think there is a question mark about whether it is right that


people should end up going to prison. I also think it has to be


set amongst the increase of the number of people that would probably


not pay. For every 1% of people that don't pay, that costs 35mm is. That


would mean a reduction in services, fewer jobs. -- 35mm pounds. I think


this is one we should put into the discussions for the new royal


charter. Let's look at the figures. 1% increase innovation, this is the


BBC spokesman, it would lead to a loss of around ?35 million, the


equivalent of about three local radio stations. I think it's very


emotive to say that instead of cutting back on extra redundancy


payment when somebody is made redundant, all wasting ?100 million


on the digital initiative, it is going to be local radio stations.


That is very emotive. The BBC are playing a blinder on PR, but they do


work in media! Do you concede that there will be more income lost? It


is up to the BBC to set systems in place. We don't criminalise people


for nonpayment of parking fines, it is a civil offence and that have to


be connected. The timing, as Helen Goodman suggests, would it not be


better to tie it in on the overall funding arrangements and charter


renewal in 26 team? What we can see from the cross-section, the


political spectrum, is that there is a feeling in the House of Commons


that it is disproportionate to criminalise. If it is wrong, it is


wrong. Saying we will decriminalise it in another two years or three


years, it is wrong or right, if it is wrong, it is wrong now. Otherwise


we are going to make criminals of another 45,000 people unnecessarily.


Where do you stand on this? I think it is to Coney and to send people to


prison, but I wonder if it is a substitute of a bigger debate, along


the lines of the long-term funding of the BBC. There is a debate about


whether in 20 years time the licence fee model is going to be compatible


with viewing habits. But as that is the system we have at the moment, I


think people should pay their TV licence. What is your view in terms


of the sustainability of the licence fee and funding for the BBC? I


certainly think we can have another round with the licence fee. 97% of


people use the BBC. It's a very fairway, given that a lot of people


use it, it is cheaper than subscriptions to some other channels


. I think there is quite a lot of support amongst the public. It means


that, actually, the system for collecting the money is simple than


if you move over to subscription. Should we continue with the licence


fee model for another session? I think that is probably necessary.


But I think decriminalisation can be accommodated at the same time. What


would you like to see, in 2016, in terms of funding arrangements for


the BBC? Would you like to see the licence fee go up or frozen? I think


it needs to be frozen until it is changed to a different mechanism.


What different mechanism? I think it should be subscript. You do? But in


the meantime, there are a lot of income streams the BBC can access. I


know friends of mine that live abroad that would love to access the


BBC, Spain, Italy or France, they are not able to and they would pay


for that. There is an income stream there and I think we could make


money out of iPlayer, micro-charging... But should this


not be discussed... Necessity is the mother of invention. You would like


to see subscript and after 2020? Probably, yes, if not sooner. What


is clear is that people do not like advertisements on the BBC. That is


another advantage of the licence fee. The BBC says that a


subscription model would lead to more expensive fees, paid for by


fewer people. Do you accept that? There are lots of different options.


There is a possibility of having a smaller, concentrated licence fee


and then subscription on top of that, stripping the core BBC offer


down to the really obvious public service broadcasting and saying, if


you want the best, you can buy through funding methods. The


difficulty is you get more and more, particularly young people, not


watching live programmes but watching it through their computers.


They are not paying and other people sitting at home are paying. The


system will become harder in time to sustain. I think the BBC need to be


thinking about how they can operate in a world that has some licence


fee, or no licence fee, rather than assuming that for decades to come


we'll have the same system. There is a word that sends a cold chill down


the spine of ministers of State, a word that can mean a brighter future


in government or a humiliating exit. Reshuffles, part of the political


landscape. As a junior minister, as our guest today has been, is it very


fair? Does being good at the job count and does it hurt getting


dumped? Being the Parliamentary under sect


tree -- Undersecretary of state media have made it to Whitehall and


government. Using it more usual title, being junior minister is the


lowest paid run on the government ladder. And which of those bits of


title you get to be, junior or minister, really depends on the


character of the secretary of state and the department you are in. If


you are in the Foreign Office, you can be junior minister for an entire


continent. If you are in transport, you might end up junior Minister of


State for cycle lanes. When I was in the environment, the transport


department, a huge department, many junior ministers, life was a cascade


of all the things that one's ministers didn't want to do. Some of


them want to get all the headlines themselves, they will micromanage


the team. What you need is ministers that know what they are about, know


their brief and have the competence and relations with the outside


bodies that they are there to serve and look after, to be able to push


forward their programme of reform. If you have got that, then a good


secretary of state should leave you alone to get on with it. If allowed,


you can make a junior ministerial roll your own. Don't pussyfoot about


and it is certainly a way of getting further up the ministerial ladder.


Ultimately, that Cabinet table. But there is a clock ticking on your


time in office. And there are a couple of really odd things about


your role. First, you can get appointed without knowing the first


thing about the subject you're going to cover. If you do get a handle on


it, and actually get good at the job, that is no guarantee you will


get to keep the job when that especially chilling word, reshuffle,


gets mentioned. After a couple of years, when I think I was by that


time of some use, the man in Number Ten raises its finger by this much,


and you are gone, and some other poor blighter has to be briefed all


over again, and the learning curve is quite steep. In the last


government in office for quite a long time, there were 30 Europe


ministers, eight Work and Pensions Secretary is, and nine African


ministers. While the coalition has chopped and changed, it has been far


less, although the added dilemma for them as been squeezing two parties


into one government. Our guests today has been suffered that, being


eased out for a colleague who has no beard but did raise eyebrows. There


are fewer jobs for Conservative ministers, we have to share them


with the Lib Dems. There is a limited gene pool to pull those


ministers from, parts of the coalition as well, so it is a


question of it being someone's turn, and we need to push someone up the


greasy pole even if you have done a good job. It all begs the question


that whilst any PM probably should retain the right to pick his or her


government, does a regular switch of those who are in it made for decent


government or anything more than fun for speculating politicos like as?


We are joined now by journalist and former Conservative MP Michael


Brown, welcome to the programme. Jeremy, are the junior post really


about patronage rather than ability? They are probably a bit of both. I


agree with the film that it depends quite a lot on the character of the


Secretary of State and how he or she runs the department, and it depends


a lot on the department itself. In some departments, junior ministers


have bigger roles. Let's look at the patronage, if it is a case of that,


as we heard from Tim Loughton, talking about the fact that it is


such and such a person's turn, are there some people who should not be


junior ministers? Let me put it slightly differently, which is that


David Cameron and Nick Clegg, before then Gordon Brown and Tony Blair,


had never done any jobs in government apart from being Deputy


Prime Minister, Prime Minister and Chancellor. None of them had been


junior ministers. I am not sure how much they know about what it is to


be a junior minister and what it entails, and they may see the


benefit of moving people around, freshening it up, but they may


exaggerate the benefits of that and sometimes overlook the disruptive


effects of it. The voters will say surely it is the best person for the


job and should be about ability in these roles. So far as the boat is


concerned, I suspect the only thing that the voter of the Somerset


constituency that Jeremy represents is the fact that he is a Member of


Parliament. I was a junior whip in the back end of the John Major


government, and my being in government counted for absolutely


nothing so far as my constituents were concerned. The voters are


concerned about who is the Prime Minister, the Chancellor, the


Foreign Secretary, maybe the Home Secretary, but beyond that, under


secretaries of state are of no consequence. Do you see them as


junior ministers for paperclips? Is that what the role is? Frankly, I


would say to everybody that gets the chance, you have to accept the


invitation to be a junior minister to know what drudgery it is. Jeremy,


and by the way, anybody, and this is the words of a very senior whip in


the Margaret Thatcher government who died this year, the late Robert


Boscombe, he was a long serving government whip, and when he was


asked his opinion about whether somebody was capable of being a


junior minister he said, he can read, can't he? So long as you can


read and are a Member of Parliament, those are the sole qualifications.


So we assume you can read, Jeremy! There is quite a bit of drudgery,


because some of the tasks are tasks that the Secretary of State does not


wish to do but probably thinks that somebody should do them. Almost by


definition, they are the unexciting tasks that need to keep ticking


boxes. Were you upset at losing your role? Being a Foreign Office


minister was more exciting than being a junior minister in the Home


Office. You cover huge part of the world where the Secretary of State


is unlikely to go and you are the most senior minister that that part


of the world is ever going to see. But was that because the boss there


debut more power and scope? That would be telling tales. Absolutely!


So tell us! Anybody who has been in any workplace will know that some


bosses are willing to give you a little bit more freedom and


discrimination and others are more controlling. In the case of the


Liberal Democrats, who have not been in government for over half a


century, obviously they need to take every opportunity in this Parliament


to get the experience. But I say too many of the Tories who want to be


junior ministers, it is not worth the candle. Jeremy is absolutely


right to say... It is easy to say that. David Cameron has never been a


junior minister, nor was Tony Blair or Gordon Brown. Does it mean that


he will keep it if you are suited to it? Everybody deserves a turn... Do


they? Yes, I would say they do. It is important to refresh the ranks.


Jeremy was obviously disappointed when he stopped being a minister,


but between now and the next election he and his constituents who


is -- whose confidence he hopes to retain will be grateful he is not


flying around the world. That may help you in the run-up to the


general election, but do you agree that everyone deserves a turn? No, I


wouldn't go that far. I think there are some... I agree on the related


point in that it is probably a delusion to think the perceptions of


the government will be altered by the junior ministers. The people out


there form their perceptions of the government based on what they think


of the Prime Minister or other senior figures. Patrick McLoughlin


was sacked by John Major, ten years later he became the longest serving


government Chief Whip and is a very successful transport minister. Being


sacked is not the end of it. Snakes and ladders, that is politics.


George Young was sacked by Margaret Thatcher, he is still serving in the


Government. There is hope yet! Now it is time to look at the week


ahead, and we are joined by a journalist from one of the oldest


newspapers in the world, Laura Patel of the Times, and one of the newest


rivals, Jim Waterson of Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed is one of the


fastest-growing news sites thanks to items such as witch-hunt the games


character are you and 50 puppies to help you get through work today. --


which hunger games character. Here is our look at the week ahead in the


style of Buzzfeed. With tension still high in Crimea, the Prime


Minister will make a statement this afternoon on the situation in


Ukraine. Also today, the Care Bill is back in the Commons, the vote on


plans to give greater power to the Health Secretary to close hospital


departments will take place later in the week. And former Prime Minister


Gordon Brown will today outlined six constitutional reforms as a positive


alternative to Scottish independence. Tomorrow Universities


Minister David Willetts will announce a UK contribution of over


?200 million to three pager European space projects. Also on Tuesday, the


Governor of the Bank of England appears before the Treasury Select


Committee, where he will be asked about a currency union with an


independent Scotland. On Wednesday, the weekly bout of Prime Minister's


Questions. Thursday sees the start of the Scottish Conservative Party


conference. Let's hope our guests are still there, still await! Let's


talk about tax. How much of an issue is the fact that more people are


being caught up in the 40p bracket? It is something that is getting Tory


MPs very animated. They feel there have been tax cuts for lower paid


people since George Osborne great the threshold in conjunction with


the Liberal Democrats for basic rate tax, and more and more people have


been sucked into the upper rate. The Conservatives consider those core


voters, people earning ?40,000 or ?50,000. They have to be a little


bit careful, because sometimes they talk about the squeezed middle, and


those people are not necessarily the middle. The average income is about


?26,000. They have to be careful with their language, but it is going


after those people, doctors, train drivers, people who are in the


middle bracket who could get sucked into that rate. One idea put forward


at the weekend is that scrapping the rate, lowering the threshold for the


45p rate to those earning around ?62,000, do you think that will gain


traction? I cannot see that happening, it is a pretty strong


line, you do not want to cut taxes for people who are perceived to be


rich. Earning 50 grand outside London is a lot of money, but it is


a London issue when you are concerned about teachers earning


that. It is a case of the media seeing the capital, rather than


people in Halifax struggling to get by. Do you agree that is a regional


debate, London being seen as different in every way to the rest


of the UK on the issue of tax as well? Yeah, I think there is an


element of that, and it is easy for those in politics or the media, God


forbid, to forget that there are people on low incomes outside of the


capital. I was just going to say that the Tory party is trying to


pitch itself in lots of directions, there was a drive for them to make


themselves out as the workers' party, John Major saying, look, we


can support a working-class kid from Brixton and make him Prime Minister.


But then there are those who want to keep the core voters happy, a


difficult balance. The Lib Dems' spring conference, obviously lots of


fun, Nigel you were there, but what about the leadership issue? We had


Nick Clegg, first of all asked whether he would sort of stands down


if the Lib Dems weren't in government at the Lib Dems weren't


in government after 2015. After response, we had a strong line, he


will be there as leader until 2020 no matter what happens, which seems


pretty unlikely if they are not in government. If he stayed until 2020


with the Lib Dems in opposition, he would have been a leader for 13


years, the public would be sick of him and he would be going out of his


mind unable to do anything. Before the weekend, we heard that he was


young to have a second career, possibly back in Europe. It is all a


bit messy. I'm sorry, a particularly loud motorbike went past! Talking


about Nick Clegg's leadership, we heard that because he is young, he


has a chance of a second career, so the whole issue has been a bit


messy. It was strange they did not have their ducks in a row ahead of


the conference. It is impossible to speculate at this stage, really,


because so many different things can happen with either rural Democrats.


They could be wiped out at the next election, they could be in coalition


with Labour or the Conservatives. Whether they are going to the left


or the right, that will affect it was the leaders. I am sure Miriam


Clegg would be delighted if he packed it in, but as she has not had


a save as file. Now that motorbike has finally gone, what about the


others? What about Vince Cable, Danny Alexander? If you were at the


conference last autumn, you would find the left wing of the party was


pretty quiet, and it was not clear whether there was support for a


left-wing candidate. Tim Farron has been positioning himself, but there


seems to be the economically liberal people who are remaining. I would


have thought Nick Clegg, if you want to stay on, will not have any


trouble for as long as it once. Can we look forward to a list on


Buzzfeed of potential Lib Dem leaders? We will do our best, but I


think it will be a short one! On that crushing note, thank you very


much. As we heard, Nick Clegg said the hair running when the party put


out a statement which appeared to suggest he would quit leadership of


the party if it was not in power in 2015. By the end of the day, they


said he was staying put no matter what, so what is the best way for


the leader to handle that tricky question of when and how to stand


down? This montage contains flash photography.


Could I ask you to comment? This is the microphone. I am naturally very


pleased that I got more than half the Parliamentary party,


disappointed that it is not quite enough to win on the first ballot,


so I confirm it is my intention to lead mining go forward on the second


ballot. Today I announce my decision to stand down from the leadership of


the Labour Party. The party will now select a new leader on the 27th of


June, I will tender my resignation from the office of Prime Minister. I


have been Prime Minister of this country for just over ten years. In


this job, in the world of today, I think that's long enough. For me,


but more especially for the country. I'm announcing today that when


nominations open I will not be putting my name forward. I am


standing down as leader, with immediate effect. Charles Kennedy,


ending that montage. A trip down memory lane for the guests. We have


been joined now by the Conservative Margot James and labour's Owen


Smith. John McTernan is also with us, he used to advise Tony Blair on


political strategy. Welcome to all of you. John McTernan, was at a


fatal political mistake for Tony Blair to announce that fighting the


2005 general election, he would serve a full term and step down to


allow a succession to take place. Because it didn't happen? The best


thing to do is what Harold Wilson did, shocked everybody. The truth


is, use all leaders in the montage who all had to say what they said


because they were weak and under threat. Strong leaders don't need to


defend themselves, weak leaders do. The right thing to do is to breeze


through all of it and say, you voted for me, I am on the ticket, it is my


agenda, I will deliver it. But you can only get away with it when you


are strong. As soon as you are weak, you can't get away with it, which is


why Nick Clegg has questions now. Great in theory, but who says to the


leader, you are weak, you are going to become weak, better to think


about stepping off the stage? There are moments in politics when the


forces that surround you are unbeatable, that you're going to go


through the same thing again, again and again. Charles Kennedy got


there. The truth is, Margaret Thatcher, you can see in her eyes


she knew that she was there. The Labour Party chose, insanely, to


ditch its most successful elected leader ever. The only one ever in


history to win three elections in a row, never won for the election, and


this is the problem. The internals become too difficult to manage. What


do you say to that? It was mad for the Labour Party to ditch him, and


yet, he won three elections, but it seemed his time was up? I think it


was. It had been subjected to a sustained campaign of vilification


from Gordon Brown and his henchmen for years. I think the Labour Party


should have been careful what it wished for. It got what it wished


for. Gordon Brown, really, was not a good Prime Minister. What about


David Cameron? Should he stay on to 2020, come what may? David Cameron


is Prime Minister, I hope you will be again after the 2015 election.


There is no need for speculation. Except we have had one coalition, if


the Tories do not win an overall majority, should he stay on? I think


that is a decision for him. The tradition in recent years has been,


I mean, the tradition has been backed leaders, prime ministers that


have lost general election is, have stepped down. Conservative Party


leaders have stepped down as well. But what if they don't win an


overall majority, as last time? The biggest party, does not win an


overall majority, has to have a coalition, should he step down?


Well, he'll have various choices. He could possibly lead a minority


government, he could lead a coalition. It depends on what the


electorate, really, decides. Trying to prejudge it, second guess at this


stage, is futile. But it isn't the electorate in the end, in those


discussions, it is the party, MPs, the Cabinet in Margaret Thatcher's


case, rivals within the party like Gordon Brown, they are not in


charge. Nick Clegg, John McTernan says he's in that position, a weak


leader, which is why those discussions are coming up now? I


think it's very unhelpful. We are in a really difficult position as a


party. We are on about 9% in the opinion polls, looking at a very


tough European election, a very difficult general election next


year. What I would say to any of my colleagues is, you know, don't go


around spending your whole time telling the newspaper is what a


wonderful leader you would be after the next general election, why did


you get on with helping the candidate in marginal seats to make


sure we are a force to be reckoned with and the leadership of Nick


Clegg and can be in government again, doing the right things for


the country? Is that Vince Cable and Danny Alexander? I'm not naming any


names. I think if I was standing in a marginal seat, and I am standing


in a marginal seat... I hate to remind you! Less marginal than it


was. But if I was standing, talking to a lot of candidates in seats they


are hoping to win, working extraordinarily hard, I would not be


hugely impressed by anybody in the Liberal Democrats taking on spin


doctors to go around telling everybody what a wonderful


leadership contender they would be after the next general election.


Nick Clegg is the leader, we chose him collectively and we are all


behind making sure that we get the best possible election outcome. I


think the rest is unhelpful. All suite in the garden for Labour, no


spec elation about Ed Miliband? None. I don't think there is any.


Lots about Nick Clegg, even in the Labour Party. What happens after the


next election if Labour is not at least the largest party, never mind


winning an overall majority? Does Ed go? I fully anticipate he's going to


be the next Prime Minister, therefore... If he isn't, does he


go? It's difficult to get straight answers! Don't say that, and make it


more difficult for me. We can talk about Nick Clegg all day long, I


think he should have gone when they lost to the Bus Pass Elvis Party. Of


course it will go on and on, to coin a phrase, he will do what Tony Blair


did, announcing a well before he stepped down? The guys on the other


benches are your opposition, the guys on your ventures are your


enemies, and you have to be strong and crush your enemies when you can.


-- on your benches. Always good to use power to eliminate dissent


within. Or have a party like the Labour Party at the moment, where


they have united around Ed Miliband. Because there is no real surround?


They were evenly split between David and Ed, they have seen what was done


to the previous Labour Government by disunity and have chosen to be


united. If he does not form a government, I think he will get a


second shot, because he took us from 20% to 38%. Those are good numbers.


So, he could still stay? Let's about Nick Clegg as well. That is a


symptom of labour's weakness, that is because he does not have a


challenger in his party to confront the difficult issues. Oh, come on!


Did you not see the special conference? The last time they have


a working majority and Tony Blair was not the leader, was the year


that England won the football World Cup. They got rid of the one leader


that was capable of winning and replaced him, eventually, with the


current leader. Well, having a leader that didn't win an election,


but certainly brought them into power, if the Lib Dems... He's the


most successful Lib Dem leader in my or my grandparent's lifetime. But


should he stay as leader? I could just say it's speculative and I will


not speculate. But it's a perfectly possible scenario, where we have a


bigger force in British politics, but not in government. It's


perfectly possible one of the other two parties would prefer to be a


weak minority government and be part of a strong coalition government.


It's hard to answer that. Indeed, let's move on. Spring is in the air,


certainly at the weekend, the daffodils are out. At Westminster we


are just as excited to see the first manifesto pledges picking their way


through after a long, wet winter. Labour said it would put its job


guaranteed to the manifesto for the 2015 election. But does that really


have the same impact it once did? Here is a reminder of some of the


more memorable, or maybe not, manifesto launches. Everything was


being done to smooth out any wrinkles along the way.


# These words are my own! Margaret Thatcher was all set to


make up ground. The Conservative manifesto, completed ten days ago,


arrived at Central office just as she did. Then, jackets off for the


first conference. The party is keener than ever to


present a united front. At last, they believe there is a chance of


beating Margaret Thatcher in the next general election.


# These words are my own... Someone asked, what business is


Labour in, past or future? Our answer is as clear as the question


was then, we are in the future business.


We say we are all in this together. So, come with others and we will


build a better country together. And I'm sure our guests have got


piles of previous manifestoes stacked up in their bedrooms. Let's


start with Owen Smith. Would you describe the jobs guarantee that has


been outlined today has a cast-iron manifesto commitment? Yes, very


straightforward. What happens if you are in coalition, it stays come what


May? I think it would be one of the key priorities for a Labour


government. Therefore, I would be absolutely flabbergasted if a Labour


government, even if we were in coalition, it stays come what May? I


think it would be one of the key priorities for a Labour government.


Therefore, I would be absolutely flabbergasted if a Labour


government, even if we weren't coalition, and I don't anticipate we


will be, would not comment that pledge. A bit like tuition fees? You


said it was a red line? Everybody is about to get a tax cut, well, not


everybody, most people in the country and work going to get a tax


cut and that is because the main commitment in the Lib Dem manifesto.


Why should anybody believe anything you say? I've told you, it was a


policy, implement it in full. That might be by default, rather than


design. It is because we got into government. Are manifesto is worth


the paper they are written on? I looked back on our manifesto, quite


a lot of things, on the economy, taking people out of tax, raising


personal allowances. That was the Lib Dem policy, not in the


manifesto? Taking out a Labour's increased employers national


insurance, on health, ending mixed sex wards, reducing hospital


infections, on education I think we have gone even beyond our manifesto


Thomases. Of course, when you get into coalition, the water does get


muddied. -- promises. That has a problem, because you don't know


which are going to be kept. Do you think there should be I manifesto


written, so you say, these are the red lines, we will not negotiate on


that, then the public knows? I would advise against red lines, because if


there is likely to be another coalition, it will be a process of


negotiation and I think that the parties will want to get the maximum


of their manifesto into a coalition agreement. And they don't want to be


hampered, I don't think, by too many red lines. I think there will be


some red lines. But there will have to be some negotiation, and there


are Tory MPs that come on this programme and say, it's the Lib Dems


fault we couldn't put all policies into practice, do you agree with


that? It's a bit simplistic. If the electorate have not given one party


an overall majority, either a minority government or a coalition,


if it's a coalition, there has to be a process of negotiation and neither


side will get everything they want. I don't think we should let the fact


that we've had a coalition, and the Lib Dems going back on a core


promise on their manifesto, let us believe that in future manifestoes


would be worth the paper they are written on. Normally, in the normal


run of politics since we have had manifestoes, most parties want to


stick to what their promise and most parties recognise if you go back on


promises that you make to the electorate in the manifesto you are


not going to last very long. I suspect that, in some respects, the


fact the Lib Dems will suffer as a result of their manifesto pledge is


a measure of how important they are. We'll have to leave it there. Before


we go, time for the answer to the quiz. Can you remember? Nick Clegg


gave us a list of all the things he loves about Britain. Which one did


he not say? I think it was the Antiques Roadshow. I think you are


right, I remember the other three. He might like the Antiques


Roadshow... He might do. Before Owen managed to get in with a date. Ed


Miliband really likes it! Thank you to all of our guests, the one


o'clock News is starting on BBC One now.


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