21/03/2014 Daily Politics


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Afternoon folks, welcome to the Daily Politics. The EU and Ukraine


sign a new deal to forge closer ties. It comes after new sanctions


were announced against the Russian regime. But as EU leaders gather in


Brussels, there are still differences over how to respond to


the Russian annexation of Crimea. Is now the time to get tough on Putin?


We'll be joined by Poland's ambassador to the UK. Is George


Osborne developing "bad habits" when it comes to looking after the public


finances? Heaven forbid! But the Institute for Fiscal Studies thinks


so. We'll discuss that and all the other fallout from the budget. Ed


Miliband says a vote for independence in Scotland and a


Conservative victory in the General Election would mean a "race to the


bottom" across the country. You But will Labour's plan for more


devolution be tempting enough for Scotland's voters? And, did anyone


predict this would be the outcome of the last General Election? We'll be


gazing into our crystal ball and trying to figure out what might


happen in 2015. All that in the next hour, and with


us for the duration two of the most upstanding and loyal members of Her


Majesty's press corps, Sam Coates from the Times and Beth Rigby from


the Financial Times. Welcome to the show. Now if you have any thoughts


or comments on anything we're discussing then you can send them to


us [email protected] or tweet your comments using the hashtag


#bbcdp. Let's start with the Budget again


because this morning's papers aren't quite as kind to George Osborne as


yesterday's. Beth's paper, the FT, has a headline saying: "Osborne


chided for 'bad habits'". This is in response to the post-budget briefing


given by the independent think-tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies.


The IFS is particularly concerned that Mr Osborne is making permanent


giveaways but not being clear about how they will be funded. Here's what


the IFS director Paul Johnson had to say. The Chancellor has tried to pay


for some permanent tax cuts and permanent spending increases by one


or two small things which are just being brought forward a bit so might


cost him money in the long run, all look a bit less permanent Thomas so


the long-term effect will be to have a small but negative impact on


public finances -- a bit less permanent to me. He is a kind of


independent analysis of budget figures. There was criticism is Tom


about as criticism goes, it was a slap on wrist. The ISS go straight


to the heart of the budget. -- the REF S. -- IFS he did manage to find


pension money without having to put any taxes up, so he has brought


loads of money forward and there was a bit for everyone in it. You have


the bingo tax, the fuel duty and then this pensions revolution which


took everybody by surprise and has taken time to digester. My sense of


this is that machine was taken off. As time goes on and people look at


the ramification of the pension reform, then there might be more


criticism because it throws up people using it to avoid tax,


whether you're already fuel is a booming housing market. -- whether


it already fuels. He's had a good response, but in the cold light of


day, the sheen. , . -- the sheen will come off. The papers are full


of the pension announcements, and people are just beginning to grapple


with the incredible implications. George Osborne had a very clear idea


in this budget, he wanted to do everything he could to make people


feel better off the big the pensions this week were one arm of that. We


saw two things in the paper this morning will stop first there was


the initial look by the public, and at first glance they seemed to greet


the pension changes favourably. There are big questions about


whether it will discourage people from saving and start people dipping


into their saving pots. But the current system wasn't working and


George Osborne was onto something when he suggested the reform.


Whether this will work all the wheels come off remains to be seen.


The narrative of Budget has not been set, I would argue. Labour says it


was not a game changing Budget. They said they would still go on the cost


of living. I think we have to wait and see about that. The first two


polls we have seen since the Budget has seen the Labour Party go up, but


when people digester big changes people might just offer documents --


digester their big changes, and people might dust off their big


changes, and people might just offer documents and it might give the more


money than they thought. George Barker in the Financial Times has a


quote from an anonymous Labour MP wondering aloud if the cost of


living crisis narrative that Ed Miliband this stock with in his


response has got legs? -- that Ed Miliband has stuck with. If the obi


are saying wages will overtake prices and every year for the next


five -- the OBR say wages will overtake prices, then it might run


out of steam. If household incomes start rising the key argument about


winning the 2015 election falls away. What is it got left? The


problem for the Labour Party is that they have this one trick pony, and


other elements of the debate are set by the Conservatives, the economic


debate, the welfare debate and they need to start coming up with a


broader set of selling points to the electorate and being more creative.


People in the office of Ed Miliband know that his response was a bit


weak. He seems to be responding to the 2012 budget rather than the 2014


budget that has caused some upset. Labour have a big decision to make.


Do they back and vote for the big pension changes or do they say that


we reject those changes because they will mean that some people will


spend their money and be left in January. They can't be left in pen


Yuri, because they will store have the state pension. -- they can't be


left penniless. These are the unanswered questions. Yesterday it


was pointed out that although pensions or the state pension,


there's that, but 20% claim housing benefit, so if we end up with


pensioners who have spent their pensions, what happens to the


housing bill? It doesn't really quantify what the knock-on effect


is, but it does say that most means tested benefits have gone so it


makes it more realistic to expect people to live on the state


pension, and if you spend all your money, then so be it. You could be


claiming housing benefit in the Costa Del Sol. There will still be


something like a third of pensioners on means tested benefits in 2030. We


will have to move on, because that will be in the debate tomorrow. EU


leaders, gathering for their spring summit in Brussels, have signed an


agreement on closer relations with Ukraine, in a show of support


following Russia's annexation of Crimea. However, it comes as the


upper house of the Russian Parliament - the Duma - unanimously


approved the treaty on Crimea joining the Russian Federation. The


EU this morning announced sanctions on another 12 Russian individuals


and warned that further destabilisation in Ukraine would


have "far-reaching consequences" for Russia. Of course, the Kremlin has


heard that before. But how far are EU leaders prepared to go? William


Hague vowed to fight for the strongest sanctions available,


possibly Russia's exclusion from the G8, but will be aware of London's


reliance on Russian money. France is taking a cautious approach, as


they've signed a 1.2 billion euro deal with Russian for two warships.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the Crimean invasion as


"the law of the jungle", though Germany relies on 36 billion euros


of exports to Russia, and almost the same amount of imported Russian


energy. But it's Poland who seem most


determined to impose harsh sanctions, despite their dependence


on Russian energy and a 30 billion euro trade relationship. Joining me


now from Brussels is our political correspondent Iain Watson. What is


the latest at the summit? The latest is we expect some of the press


conferences to begin soon -- soon. The list of the 12 Russians has


still not been published and we are told it will not be published until


later this afternoon so if we wanted to ask David Cameron and Angela


Merkel about it, we can't. But I have been told there are no Russian


oligarchs on the list. We thought it would be a high-powered list but it


was slightly less high-powered than the American one issued yesterday.


It seems to be tweaking the tale of Vladimir Putin but he is still


strutting around and endorsing the annexation of Crimea. What we


expect, if anything, will come out of the summit today? I think there


will be two things. First of all, you have the political agreement


signed with the Ukraine and then the prospect of signing an economic


agreements after May, that is what many people thought sparked the


argument from Vladimir Putin when it was mooted in the autumn. We will


also see a statement on energy policy, so in the short term we have


the sanctions discussion but in the medium and longer term -- it is how


you get countries less dependent on Russian oil and gas. Germany is 30


or 40% dependent. So there will be a move to recast the trading


relationship with Russia and make the EU diversify its energy supply,


and Britain has been circulating ideas on that. The next stage is


drawing up a list from the European Commission on future sanctions if


there is any further ones to come and any further destabilisation I've


played it -- President Putin. But the rub is this, what does


destabilisation mean? Does that mean Russian tanks going to eastern


Ukraine? Is it short of that? So the consensus on drawing up the list


will be nonexistent. While we were talking we learn that the US is


preparing military exercises in Poland involving the Czech Republic,


Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltic states. That is


according to Polish radio quoting the US ambassador to Warsaw. With us


now is Richard Ottaway, Conservative MP and Chairman of the Foreign


Affairs Select Committee, and Polish Ambassador Witold Sobkow. Wellcome,


ambassador. Let me come to you first. Presumably these exercises,


they are a signal to the Kremlin that those states that are members


of NATO and have the protection of NATO and are also in the EU, they


are an entirely different league than Ukraine Crimea. Poland has been


a member since 1999, so this is something that should be natural.


There are no two classes of membership, so this is another


exercise we have already had with our allies. But the timing is


significant. Yes, but it is also a strengthening of the bilateral ties


with the USA. We have been talking with the Ministry of Defence, and


NATO countries, and we are preparing for the summit to talk about in --


many things including Afghanistan and strengthening defences there.


This is in the context of what is going on in Eastern Europe of


course, but it is not only a response to the crisis, this is


another symptom of our stronger relationships with NATO members. And


that includes the UK. Do you think that the member states of the


European Union have the stomach for tougher sanctions against Russia? I


do. We have a lot of unity at the moment. It's not easy. You have 28


members of the European Union, and it it's different from the USA where


you have decisions taken from the top. Of course, it was mentioned in


your report that when it comes to oligarchs, for example, we have


different legal regulations. But we have a lot of unity with the USA.


The deputy president has just visited Poland and Lithuania. The


Americans are taking tougher sanctions than the EU. Because it is


easier. Yes, and it is easier to take decisions, and we do not have


to think about the other 28. How tough and United would Europe remain


if and when Mr Putin retaliates, which he almost certainly will? I


think a lot of people get it wrong, that this is just about economic


matters. It's about values and red lines and the world order. I have a


symbol of a Polish group that fought during the Battle of Britain and it


is symbolic. It is about values. We can do anything that is in


accordance with international law but we cannot allow things happening


at the peril of Russian guns. I understand that. I would suggest


that most people in Europe, although they don't like what the Russians


have been doing in Crimea, don't actually think it's a huge deal.


They think it's a done deal. They regret it but it's not something


they want to have a fight over, even in sanctions. And the Kremlin is


able, in the short run, to withstand a lot more pain of any sanctions we


impose than the West is prepared to do the moment they start cutting the


gas supplies to countries like yours. It's two-way traffic. They


need to earn money and they need to have profits and I think it's also


important that we should think about the implications. What about


countries like Iran and North Korea? If we think about the memorandum


from Budapest, it was a kind of guarantee for Ukraine, for a country


that got rid of nuclear weapons, that those who signed the memorandum


- including Russia - guaranteed the sovereignty of the country. What


about the applications around the world? Richard Ottaway, we


understand that but what I'm trying to establish is, what is the


appropriate EU response and if it is to be a tough one, do we have the


stomach for it? You have to remember that the EU has to work with what we


can agree. Some countries want to go further, some don't want to go so


far. Some countries are impacted more by the behaviour. Including


Poland. There is no such thing as cost free sanctions. They're


knock-on consequences and I think the measured and calibrated


diplomatic response is the right way to go. A very firm statement that if


this gets any worse, it will get worse from our point of view. Are we


right to be taking sanctions against what has happened in Crimea? Does


that make sense? They are fairly limited at the moment. There has to


be a Western response. This is a breach of international law and the


agreement in Budapest. You can't just ignore it. It is relatively


token at the moment. The big issue will be if there is further


intervention in eastern Ukraine. What would we do them? I think the


only way is economic and financial measures. What's changed now is that


Russia is now more integrated into the world economy. Their companies


rely on capital provided here in the city of. We actually do have quite a


lot of financial leverage. -- the city of London. Germany has


Volkswagen operating in Russia, we have BP operating in Russia, and Mr


Putin, being an autocrat, will not hesitate, I would suggest, to move


against them if we move against his people and his assets. You are right


to bring up BP. Don't forget, there are millions of British pensioners


with their money in BP at the moment so this isn't just a City problem.


It affects my constituents and everybody. I think the Russian


economy is in fairly bad shape. Take away their oil and gas exports,


they're in a poor position and I think this call sanctions will


really hit their much harder. -- fiscal sanctions. That may be true


in the long run at in the short run - I put this to the Ambassador - if


the EU toughens up the sanctions, what happens to Poland if Mr Putin


says he's turning off the gas? It isn't just gas. Just stick with


that. We're going to suffer and we're going to sacrifice for this.


What would be the consequences? You one of the countries that most


dependent on Russia. What would be the consequences if gas was turned


off or, at least, severely restricted? We can cope with this


situation. I would rather concentrate on things like


agriculture. Our exports to Russia - beef, pork, apples, pears - because


this is a huge loss for Polish producers. Oil is easier. We can get


oil from anywhere. Gas wouldn't be so easy. No, but we can cope with


this. We have some Polish gas. Are you up for some hardship on this? We


can buy gas from other sources so we can cope. You are building an energy


terminal. Richard, is it wise for the EU at the moment, when we don't


know what the Kremlin's next move will be now that it has voted that


Crimea is part of the Russian Federation... Is it wise to talk


about a trade agreement with Ukraine, still trying to be lowering


there? Haven't we overreached ourselves in the past in the


European Union and NATO and angered Putin? Personally, I think we are


right to go on talking about an association agreement because it


isn't an either or. If Ukraine signs and Association agreement it does


not protrude it from trading openly with Russia. -- preclude it. We've


fallen out with the Kremlin so let's not worry too much about their


sensitivities about this. The important point is what Ian Watson


alluded to, which is that we have to look much more into the long-term.


Let's remove our dependency on Russian oil and gas. More emphasis


on shale gas in Poland? Why has it taken the Ukraine crisis for


Europe's leaders to confront the bleeding obvious, which is that


they're far too dependent on Russian gas? Well, when they went into


Georgia... The Russians are still occupying 20% of Georgia. That


should have been the wake-up call and nothing seems to have happened.


There are companies now looking quite actively at building those


pipelines across Ukraine and further south, which are going to be very


important. Beth, what are your thoughts? I wonder, given that it is


so hard to get agreement within the European Union - 28 countries - how


much would Europe like the US to lead this in terms of the economic


and financial tensions? And not be involved themselves? Yes, that's


what interests me. The fact that the Americans put those sanctions in


yesterday, the Russian stock market fell today. They targeted the


plutocracy around Mr Putin. That would be my question. Would it be


easier if the US just did this? Let that hang in the air and bring Sam


in. He wants to look like he is at the most hawkish end of the European


market but within the foreign office there are elements in the foreign


office but want to slow our response and the business department are


concerned about the economic impacts so there is the dead weight of the


machine holding Cameron back. Richard Ottaway, if you can address


that, then a final word from the Ambassador. I think the prime


minister has produced a balanced response but I think, in answer to


Beth, this is going to be a wake-up call for Europe. This is not


Georgia. This has got right into the political system. There's a meeting


going on in Brussels today and that illustrates that we now have to work


out the alternatives and it's going produce long-term strategies with


Europe in the lead. Ambassador, final question. What will happen


next? It seems to me that Crimea is a done deal, is now part of the


Russian Federation and that will not be reversed by the Ukrainians or by


Europe. How at risk, either from an intervention or from simply becoming


a sphere of influence, to the Kremlin, is the east of Ukraine? We


are watching it with caution and that is why, in the European Union,


we are preferring for the third stage of sanctions. -- preparing


for. We are thinking of what we can do in the future if it happens. We


hope it will never happen but then we will have new economic sanctions


and financial sanctions. Tougher sanctions? Yes, the third energy


package and some exemptions. We have Gazprom and other things. We hope


it's not going to happen. It could, though, could it not? We must be


prepared for anything. The red line is NATO countries. In your view, has


NATO and the United States made it clear enough to the Kremlin that


NATO countries, the Baltic states included, are a different ball game?


I think so, yes. There is Article five of the Washington Treaty and I


think it's pretty clear. That is the common defence. Yes, the common


defence. Thank you both for being with us.


Now you lot probably think Parliament has its fair share of


berks, but one MP is certain there's rarely been a smarter one than


Edmund Burke. The 18th-century MP, philosopher and political thinker


created the blueprint for what an MP should be. And when we say blue, he


was also arguably the founder of modern Conservatism. And he was an


Irishman. In another of our Great Political Thinkers series, Giles has


been looking into the life and thoughts of a Burke who was far from


stupid. It's fair to say the 18th-century


political philosopher Edmund Burke, who lived in this street, wouldn't


recognise it today. It is the heart of London's Chinatown. But he would


recognise the British Glasgow system as it is today because, according to


a Conservative MP and his biographer, he's the man who shaped


it. Edmund Burke didn't start out in politics but studied law at the


Middle Temple, mainly to please his father. How are you? Good to see


you. We are here in this magnificent Middle Temple Hall, which is where


Edmund Burke arrives in London studying law. Why do you like him? I


love him because he's an extraordinary writer and political


thinker and a terrific campaign against social injustice. In short,


he writes a textbook for what a good MP should be. He's also, of course,


first Conservative, if you like. Yes, the first man who mulls


conservatism into a body of thought. He studies law like lots of MPs but


doesn't really like it. No, he loves the law but isn't keen at all on the


Middle Temple and seems to have found it a try, narrow Temple. He


has a lovely simile. He that lives in a college after his mind is


sufficiently stocked with learning is like having a man who, built,


rigged and bejewelled ship, is locked in a dry dock. And he's very


keen to get out into London and explore and expand but he finds some


influential friends. Yes, London is going through a sexual and artistic


revolution and he's keen to get out and explore.


So, we're talking about Burke. Why have you brought me here? Well,


doctor Johnson and Burke are two of the great beasts of 18th-century


London so I thought we should see Dr John Simm's house. The man who says


that when a man is tired of London he is tired of life lives are just


of Fleet get inside. What has Johnson got to do with Berg? Johnson


is Burke's ticket to the centre of London and it's an amazing moment


when Britain is exploding with talent and thought. You've got Adam


Smith recognising and revolutionising economic. Burke is


determined to leave his own imprint. He comes up with the first


theory of representative government and of party politics and the duties


of an MP and what is extraordinary is, he doesn't just talk about it


but really puts it into practice himself. There's a great moment


where he says to his constituents, " I'm not going to kiss your boots.


What really matters is that I act on your behalf according to my best


judgement and not simple it on your instructions" . That's become the


great doctrine of the way an MP thinks today. A reader in politics


at Oxford University says that Burke runs into trouble with two very


different revolutions. At the time, he was horribly criticised by people


who felt very let down by him because he had a reputation of being


a reformer, of being progressive, and his reaction to the French


Revolution was simply reactionary. Very, very extreme. He went from one


extreme to the other and people were shocked. So we've come to this club


just in the heart of Saint James's. Burke becomes a member here. We are


not allowed to film inside. But Burke is in favour of the American


Revolution but not the French Revolution. You don't see a contrary


action? -- contradiction. He's but from the wrong side of the tracks so


he's thrilled by the social acceptance. What is fascinating is


that this is the home of the reformers and Burke really believes


in reform and not Revolution and the reason why he's supported the


Americans is that he thinks their way of life needs to be observed


against crown imperial power. The reason he's against the French


Revolution is because he thinks it is being overturned by a violent


upheaval and that's what he opposes. Reform is important because we don't


have a revolution. No, we come close to one in the 1820s but we never


have it. We have the great reform act in 1832 and then the second


reform act in 1867 and those are the two great steps towards modern


Parliamentary democracy. Let's go to the heart of modern Parliamentary


democracy and find out what his relevance is today.


So we started in a magnificent hall and we are ending in one. Why have


you brought us to Westminster great Hall? And why in relation to Burke?


It is in this building he drags back the Governor general of India in the


mid-1780s, they have been filling their boots in the company and he's


determined to put them on trial for public accountability. What


relevance does Burke have what happens in chamber today? He drives


the line between state intervention we can't afford and cutting loose


markets that damage society. It's through him we understand social


renewal and without and we cannot understand modern politics at all.


And we can speak now to Jesse Norman, who's in Worcester for us.


Welcome to the Daily Politics. One man described Burke as the most


eloquent and rational madman I've ever known. He right? There is a


grain of truth. As Burke, who spends most of his life in opposition,


continues, he does become more extreme and more intemperate at


times. There are moments when he does start to sound a little crazy.


He's saying things that are so far ahead of their time that they do


sound a little mad. He denounces the French Revolution while everyone


else's massa rating themselves in self regard with joy at the


possibility of constitutional change -- massa rating. That made him look


to some a little mad but he turned out to be right all along. In his


day, as these French revolution -- the French Revolution took a wrong


turn or two, was it recognised he was right on the cheerleaders were


wrong? -- and the cheerleaders. Yes, there was a way that public


opinion adjusts itself to the way that Burke was right all along. He


was so early and extremely strong in his condemnation that that process


takes time. But the effect is to split politics because Whigs split,


and then became ardent supporters of William Pitt. I think your professor


is quite wrong. Burke is not a reactionary but is intensely


concerned about the overturning of a society. He said that the French


Revolution would ending bloodshed, international war and tyranny, and


all those things taking place, the last of them happened after he died.


Let me give you this quote. " Society is indeed a contract, a


partnership between those who are living, those who are dead and those


who are to be born" . Do you think modern conservatism has taken that


on board? Not enough, in my view. All politics has become a little too


dominated by what you might call utilitarianism and neoliberalism. We


need to recover a proper conservative understanding. In the


view of Burke, an individual is not a compendium of wants. The function


of politics is not to satisfy those once, it is to create a social order


in which generations past present and future can live freely and


well. So I think the longer term perspective is something that people


are desperately crying out for in politics, and the mechanisms that


put it in place are to be welcomed and supported. You said in the film


that the role of a constituency MP is to act on your behalf, according


to your best judgement. Do you believe that MPs today following


that? Or are they largely doing what the whips tell them. It's always a


delicate balance. That was a delicate answer. Good MPs should be


respectful of their loyalty to the party as well as to the issues


involved. A good MP will strike a balance. The interesting thing about


Burke is that he does not do any enormously effective working his


constituency. He barely goes there having been elected to Bristol,


which was the number two constituency in the country, so that


is one aspect of what a good MP should be doing that Burke doesn't


do, but nearly everything else good comes out of Burke. Beth, what do


you think? The point made about society is prescient in that the


whole big society idea from David Cameron was tapping into that, but


unfortunately all of the polling suggests that we're becoming more


individualistic. One thing that made Burke potent and remains so is that


he was a really good writer. He wrote very clearly, didn't he? Yes,


and you don't get that kind of clarity of speech in much of modern


politics. I think the whole question of political philosophy is really


interesting. In the last Parliament, Jessye Norman was the writer of some


of the capacitive conservative ideas for David Cameron. I wonder if he


thinks those kind of guiding principles are the ones that David


Cameron follows today? We assume you would have put some of the


principles of Burke into the road map you made for Mr Cameron? It is


not really my road map, it is an attempt to backfill some of the


story of what I think the party leader and now Prime Minister was


trying to do. This is a thoroughly unpopular view, but I think the big


society as a concept is alive and well. People don't care for the


words but the idea is vital. If you think of the thing clearly, you will


see the idea of empowering individuals and institutions and


taking the state out of certain areas and, at the same time,


allowing institutions to develop is something that is a great linking


theme behind the government policy. Can we say that the Chancellor's


pension reforms are Burkian? In some ways they are. They are giving you


the safety net of the basic state pension but that is the limit of the


state's willingness to underwrite you and you need to save more if


you're going to do better than that. We will give you the autonomy to


decide how to spend your pension, knowing that you have that fallback,


but no more than that. That is a brave thing to do and a small sea


conservative and Burkian thing to do as well. Now, Labour have been


consistently ahead in the polls for some time now, the party's lead


fluctuating anywhere from one point to 12 points. But does that mean Ed


Miliband is a shoo-in for Number Ten? Well, not so fast. One expert


has come up with a new method for predicting the outcome of the next


General Election. We'll speak to him in just a moment. But, first, what


do the bookmakers think will happen in 2015? Alex Donohue is from


Ladbrokes, and he's on College Green with his blackboard. We actually


have been doing predictions of our own and we make the Tory overall


majority one of the outsiders. Tory most seats is 11/8. We do really


fancy the Labour Party getting most seats, but will they convert it into


a majority? I couldn't resist it today, Boris Johnson in the news, we


have slashed the odds as he is the 5/1 favourite to be the next


Conservative leader. He won't become Tory leader before the next


election? With his popularity, with him in the party. I miss worded


that. You think Mr Johnson could be a game changer on this? If he was


confirmed as a runner at the next election in some shape or form, we


think the odds would change. His popularity is soaring, we think. I


notice you have the Liberal Democrats at 150/1 for the most


seats and I think you should widen those odds are little. What odds are


you giving on how many seats the Liberal Democrats will win next time


around? We know that they are going to be in for lower the last time and


we think the last count was between 20 or 30, and looking at those odds,


we think Japan maybe have a better chance of winning the World Cup. The


Liberal Democrats a -- 100 to get the most seats. The most likely


result then is labour that most seats. And then the next with Labour


having an overall majority? That is correct. Thank you for that.


Fascinating. That's what the bookies think but what about the experts?


Joining me from Oxford is Dr Stephen Fisher. He's a lecturer in political


sociology at Oxford University. How does your methodology work? My


methodology is all about comparing previous election results with polls


at the same distance from the general election. So we are about 14


months away from the general election in May 2015. If you look


back at previous elections we can say what happened in those final 14


months in each cycle. Typically what happens is that governments have


lost support since the previous general election or regain some of


their losses, and conversely, the opposition parties, who typically go


up after the election, we'll come back down again and they will lose


some of their games. -- gains. We see that in the first part of this


cycle, and the other thing that the model considers is how accurate the


polls have been on average. On average since 1974, the polls have


tended to underestimate the Conservative Party vote and


overestimate the Labour Party vote. So when we take into account all of


these different factors and we run those numbers, it looks like the


Conservative Party will actually emerge as the leaders both in terms


of votes and even in terms of seats in the May 2015 general election.


About 61% chance of being the largest party. The probability


depends very heavily on uncertainty. There's a lot of uncertainty in that


prediction because we are so far away from the general election. And


that uncertainty in the show of the vote, which can be up or down 8%.


You've given yourself a big margin of error. It is not me giving it, it


is the variant in the previous election cycles. The patterns I have


talked about our average patterns. They are not consistent and not


always the same size. To be clear, unlike the bookies, who think it


will be Labour largest or Labour overall, you think as it stands at


the moment, your prediction is the Conservative Party as the largest


party but not an overall majority? That's right. We agree with the


bookies. The chance of a hung parliament is about 40 or 45%, but


in terms of the probabilities of different parties being in the


lead, Labour or Conservative, the bookies odds at the minute are about


the opposite of the ones from this model. What would you say, and it is


a cheap debating point, so I'll use it, people will think that the


bookies have got a much better idea of what's going on than an Oxford


academic? I would disagree. As far as I understand it, the bookies odds


are driven heavily by what the punters think. The punters are not


always terribly well-informed. They are the ones with the votes. Mostly


the ones with the money and the interest. The other thing to bear in


mind is, I've been talking about a model based solely on past election


results. What about UKIP? Why do they fit into this? You don't tip --


UKIP doesn't have a long track record of running post-war election


campaigns, but I have got an estimate for the show and they are


currently running at about 12% in the opinion polls, and the model


suggests that they will get about 10%. Don't go away. Sam, what you


make of this? I'd be concerned about any model that relies on past


election results. We are in a different situation. I think that,


in past elections what we've seen is a swing towards the government as


polling day approaches. I'm just not sure that you can be confident that


will happen this time. My question is, would you put 100 quid of your


own money on your mod -- your own model. I'm worried about my family


and friends losing their money. But I would say that I would prefer my


model over the bookmakers'. Used by your model otherwise all that


researchers they waste of time. -- you stick by your model. He's thrown


it on its head for me. The conventional wisdom is that the


Tories have to poll 6% ahead of Labour to even be the biggest party.


OK, we have to be that there but I think we'll come back to you, Steven


Fisher, as the model develops and the election approaches. Great,


thank you very much. Thank you for joining us.


The Labour leader addresses his Scottish conference today, where he


will tell the party faithful they can fight for social justice better


if they stay together. In the run up to the conference the party's


devolution commission reported back on proposals for further devolution


in the event of a "no" vote. It includes a further devolution of


income tax and housing benefit. Joining me to discuss these


proposals is Margaret Curran, the Shadow Secretary of State for


Scotland. Welcome back to the Daily Politics. Isn't it true that these


proposals have been watered down a bit from the original? No, what we


have done in the devolution commission is look extensively at


what the argument is that we get the balance between a sharing union and


also a strong Scottish Parliament and powers to the Scottish people.


Its powers for a purpose and that's what we're trying to achieve. Ed


Miliband is coming here this afternoon. This is a very particular


conference for Scottish Labour. We are conscious of the magnitude of


the decision that we will make in September and we are thinking about


empowering the Scottish people but also making sure we get the benefits


of partnership within the union. The feelings are good and very positive


and the proposals have just been given unanimous support by the


delegates. The proposals to devolve three quarters of income tax


revenues to a Scottish parliament - why not go the whole hog? Why just


three quarters? As you will know, we have really passed more powers to


the Scottish Parliament more where a separate portion of income tax will


now be devolved. Since the parliament was set up, Scotland


having some share of its income tax... It's never used it income tax


powers. Why are you giving it more? When you look at the Cameron


proposals, they have to use that. They have to make decisions about


tax because the argument is, are we getting the balance between


accountability and also getting the benefits of the sharing union? The


whole message - and Mr Miliband is going to repeat it today - is that


for Labour's fight for what it believes to be social justice, the


country is better together because you have the whole might of the


British state to go behind your plans for social justice. That


includes a very strong tax base so why are you dividing the tax base up


in this way? It would seem that you are undermining the whole purpose of


being better together. On the contrary, that's exactly what we


looked at in great depth and it's an evidence led commission and we've


got a very strong set of appraisals. It is about getting that balance


right between accountability and the Scottish Parliament. -- very strong


set of proposals. That's where you get the 40% bracket you were


referring to earlier. It's also being part of the union. We do get


benefits out of our partnership, ?1200 better off Scots are because


of being part of the union. We think the commission doesn't strike that


balance. A strong Scottish Parliament working together. You


will be aware, more than I am, that a number of your Scottish colleagues


in Westminster are not that happy about this proposal and some of them


think that it undermines the case against independence. No, I would


have to correct you on that. That's not the case. I think some MPs were


perhaps concerned some time ago but they're very satisfied with the


proposals we've got now. Let me quote Michael McCann MP, your MP for


East Kilbride... Let me put directly to you I had to give you the quote


before you can reply. In the independence referendum, we are


better when we pool our resources together in the UK. By proposing to


devolve income tax we defeat our own argument. And he's the man that is


tipped to be new leader of the Labour Party's Scottish MPs in


Parliament. I can say directly to you I'm very close to Michael and


he's very satisfied with the proposals. Why did he say this? That


was the previous set of proposals, I think. Has he had the thumbscrews on


him? Not at all. I wouldn't dream of doing anything like that. He is


persuaded that we have got the balance right between powers for the


Scottish parliament, a strong Scottish parliament accountable for


the spending that it delivers, but also the benefits of the union. Did


you think it is conceivable that Scotland - save a Scottish


parliament controlled by the Labour Party or the Nationalists in


Scotland - could have a much higher top rate of tax than England? I


think, as you know, one of the proposals that is within the


commission is the progressive tax, as we've framed it, that will allow


Scotland... I know it will be allowed but do you think it is


practical? Do you think that if the top rate of tax in a Tory England


was 40%, do you think it's conceivable that Scotland could have


a top rate of tax of 50%? Well, as you know, Labour's position is that


we think there should be a top rate of 50%. With respect, that's not


what I'm asking. What's the answer to my question? Is it conceivable


that if England has a 40% top tax rate under a future Tory


government, you would give the Scottish Parliament more powers, but


is it practical politics to have a top rate of 50% when the top rate in


England is 40%? What the commission is doing is giving powers to the


Scottish Parliament about... We know that. About the taxes we've


discussed. But the policy around those tax powers will be a matter


for the administration that the Scottish people elect and it will be


the Scottish people who determine what is a popular tax rate for them


to pay. The fact is, if you are Scottish and left of centre and you


want higher rates of tax on the better off, the best way to secure


that is to have an independent Scotland controlled by a left of


centre Parliament. No, not at all because then we would lose all the


advantages of the sharing union we believe in so strongly and I know


from a Scottish Labour point of view that we would always work to


balance. We want people to give as much of their resources as they can


but we also want to contribute to the collective good of society and


distribute those resources for the benefit of us all and buyers are


balance to be struck. -- there is a balance. We will always seek to


strike that balance. Why did Mr Miliband, in his response to Mr


Osborne's budget - and it was quite a long response - fail to mention a


single Budget measure that had just been announced? I think what Ed


Miliband gave was a very enthusiastic response. It was


enthusiastically received by the Labour benches because I think he


really focused on some of the key issues of concern about the Tory


government. For example, how out of touch they are, that they seemed


more concerned... But he didn't comment on what the Chancellor just


announced. He'd said all that before. We know that's what he


thinks. Why not tell us what he thought about the Budget? Well,


Budget statement had just been announced and you need to look


through the detail. We need to look at what was announced in relation to


pensions. He should be able to think on his feet. I can tell you that it


wouldn't be the first Budget in history, particularly from Mr


Osborne, that has unravelled as soon as you look at the detail. I think


Mr Miliband was very wise to make sure he took his time to look at


that detail. But he was quite right too absolutely point out how out of


touch the Tories were and that they had failed to address the cost of


living crisis. We didn't hear what we needed to hear in the Budget and


that's what Ed Miliband pointed out. Thank you for joining us. Enjoy


yourself in Perth. I will. So the Budget was obviously the big


story in Westminster this week. But what else has happening in the world


of politics? Adam takes us through the week in just 60 seconds.


In the Crimean referendum, the process was not transparent,


according to Foreign Secretary William Hague. This is a referenda


which doesn't meet any international standards. The do nothing, not


really bothered Budget turned into quite a big deal, with reform of the


entire pensions industry. Two thirds of a million pensioners will be


helped. Critics of Ed Miliband's response asked what he was on about.


Come on. Come on. Just nod your head. The Tory twit advert celebrity


cuts to be attacks and bingo tax was dubbed patronising bite Labour. This


was how is Aida Waseem responded to comments about the government's old


attorney Cannes. And the comments celebrated the life


of Tony Benn with a particularly moving moment from his son Hilary.


His blood was never blue. It was the deepest red throughout his life.


Beth, the prime minister gives an interview to the Sun he wants Boris


back to fight an election in 2015. Will he? This is deja vu because we


had this conversation back at the Tory conference. This isn't actually


knew. The key thing is whether Boris does or doesn't have to be an MP to


stand for the leadership. But will he? Not stand for the leadership but


will he fight the election as an MP? I think we're getting to the point


where he probably will. David Cameron and George Osborne and


Michael Gove are desperate to get this idea up and running and I think


it's getting a bit of momentum behind it, in order to put Boris on


the spot. Now, I know you're counting down the


days to the European Parliamentary Elections. We are! That's right -


just 62 days to go! But to get you in the mood, the BBC will be hosting


a little pre-election debate. Here's a taster.


Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome leader of the Liberal Democrats and


Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Give a fantastic welcome to Nigel


Farage. I will challenge Nigel Farage to a public, open debate.


About whether we should be in or out of the EU. The answer is yes, I'll


do it for Nick Clegg. But the other two, I would like to see them go.


UKIP leaders don't turn up to vote in the European Parliament. I have


taken part in 45% votes of the European Parliament since 2009.


Nigel Farage hasn't tabled a single amendment since July 2009. Mr Clegg


has only taken part in 22% of the vote in the House of commons.


I bet the debate won't be as good as that Trail! It's at 7pm on the 2nd


of April here on BBC Two. Put it in your diary. What would you ask of


them? For your chance to be part of the studio audience on the night and


put your question to the two party leaders, email the question you


would like to ask to [email protected] or tweet it


using the #europedebate. That's it for today. Thanks to Sam


and Beth for keeping me on the straight and narrow. The news that


one is starting on BBC One and I'll be back on BBC One on Sunday.




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