21/03/2014 Daily Politics


21/03/2014

Andrew Neil is joined by Sam Coates and Beth Rigby to look back over the Budget, as well as events in Ukraine and all the other political news, interviews and debate.


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Transcript


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

:00:36.:00:42.

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

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

:00:46.:00:48.

Brussels, there are still differences over how to respond to

:00:49.:00:54.

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

:00:55.:01:00.

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

:01:01.:01:03.

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

:01:04.:01:09.

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

:01:10.:01:12.

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

:01:13.:01:18.

Miliband says a vote for independence in Scotland and a

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

:01:22.:01:25.

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

:01:26.:01:28.

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

:01:29.:01:31.

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

:01:32.:01:35.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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#bbcdp. Let's start with the Budget again

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

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

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

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

:02:31.:02:36.

The IFS is particularly concerned that Mr Osborne is making permanent

:02:37.:02:40.

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

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

:02:46.:02:53.

for some permanent tax cuts and permanent spending increases by one

:02:54.:02:57.

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

:02:58.:03:00.

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

:03:01.:03:05.

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

:03:06.:03:13.

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

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independent analysis of budget figures. There was criticism is Tom

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

:03:27.:03:32.

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

:03:33.:03:43.

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

:03:44.:03:48.

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

:03:49.:03:53.

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

:03:54.:03:57.

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

:03:58.:04:05.

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

:04:06.:04:10.

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

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

:04:16.:04:21.

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

:04:22.:04:28.

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

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

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

:04:41.:04:45.

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

:04:46.:04:50.

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

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

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

:05:00.:05:05.

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

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the pension changes favourably. There are big questions about

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whether it will discourage people from saving and start people dipping

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

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George Osborne was onto something when he suggested the reform.

:05:21.:05:24.

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

:05:25.:05:30.

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

:05:31.:05:36.

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

:05:37.:05:40.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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living crisis narrative that Ed Miliband this stock with in his

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

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

:06:28.:06:35.

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

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

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

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

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

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

:07:01.:07:05.

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

:07:06.:07:09.

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

:07:10.:07:14.

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

:07:15.:07:20.

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

:07:21.:07:23.

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

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

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

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

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left penniless. These are the unanswered questions. Yesterday it

:07:52.:07:54.

was pointed out that although pensions or the state pension,

:07:55.:08:04.

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

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pensioners who have spent their pensions, what happens to the

:08:09.:08:13.

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

:08:14.:08:17.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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upper house of the Russian Parliament - the Duma - unanimously

:08:59.:09:01.

approved the treaty on Crimea joining the Russian Federation. The

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EU this morning announced sanctions on another 12 Russian individuals

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and warned that further destabilisation in Ukraine would

:09:10.:09:11.

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

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

:09:26.:09:29.

Hague vowed to fight for the strongest sanctions available,

:09:30.:09:31.

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

:09:32.:09:39.

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

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

:09:43.:09:45.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the Crimean invasion as

:09:46.:09:48.

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

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

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energy. But it's Poland who seem most

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determined to impose harsh sanctions, despite their dependence

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

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

:10:20.:10:27.

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

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

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

:10:38.:10:40.

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

:10:41.:10:44.

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

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

:10:50.:10:52.

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

:10:53.:10:57.

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

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strutting around and endorsing the annexation of Crimea. What we

:11:02.:11:06.

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

:11:07.:11:12.

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

:11:13.:11:16.

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

:11:17.:11:23.

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

:11:24.:11:27.

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

:11:28.:11:31.

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

:11:32.:11:35.

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

:11:36.:11:44.

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

:11:45.:11:51.

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

:11:52.:11:55.

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

:11:56.:12:00.

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

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

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

:12:10.:12:14.

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

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destabilisation mean? Does that mean Russian tanks going to eastern

:12:19.:12:23.

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

:12:24.:12:32.

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

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preparing military exercises in Poland involving the Czech Republic,

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

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

:12:45.:12:52.

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

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

:12:55.:13:01.

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

:13:02.:13:08.

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

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

:13:13.:13:18.

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

:13:19.:13:24.

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

:13:25.:13:34.

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

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

:13:38.:13:44.

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

:13:45.:13:46.

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

:13:47.:13:50.

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

:13:51.:13:56.

many things including Afghanistan and strengthening defences there.

:13:57.:14:00.

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

:14:01.:14:03.

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

:14:04.:14:12.

another symptom of our stronger relationships with NATO members. And

:14:13.:14:19.

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

:14:20.:14:23.

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

:14:24.:14:30.

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

:14:31.:14:35.

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

:14:36.:14:39.

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

:14:40.:14:46.

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

:14:47.:14:49.

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

:14:50.:14:55.

The deputy president has just visited Poland and Lithuania. The

:14:56.:15:00.

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

:15:01.:15:06.

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

:15:07.:15:15.

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

:15:16.:15:21.

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

:15:22.:15:27.

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

:15:28.:15:31.

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

:15:32.:15:41.

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

:15:42.:15:46.

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

:15:47.:15:48.

accordance with international law but we cannot allow things happening

:15:49.:15:54.

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

:15:55.:15:59.

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

:16:00.:16:03.

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

:16:04.:16:07.

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

:16:08.:16:10.

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

:16:11.:16:18.

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

:16:19.:16:23.

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

:16:24.:16:26.

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

:16:27.:16:32.

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

:16:33.:16:36.

important that we should think about the implications. What about

:16:37.:16:43.

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

:16:44.:16:47.

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

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

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

:16:59.:17:02.

about the applications around the world? Richard Ottaway, we

:17:03.:17:07.

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

:17:08.:17:12.

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

:17:13.:17:18.

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

:17:19.:17:24.

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

:17:25.:17:28.

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

:17:29.:17:36.

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

:17:37.:17:40.

knock-on consequences and I think the measured and calibrated

:17:41.:17:43.

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

:17:44.:17:49.

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

:17:50.:17:54.

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

:17:55.:18:00.

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

:18:01.:18:05.

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

:18:06.:18:08.

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

:18:09.:18:16.

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

:18:17.:18:20.

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

:18:21.:18:28.

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

:18:29.:18:33.

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

:18:34.:18:38.

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

:18:39.:18:43.

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

:18:44.:18:49.

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

:18:50.:18:55.

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

:18:56.:18:59.

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

:19:00.:19:05.

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

:19:06.:19:10.

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

:19:11.:19:14.

It affects my constituents and everybody. I think the Russian

:19:15.:19:20.

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

:19:21.:19:25.

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

:19:26.:19:29.

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

:19:30.:19:35.

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

:19:36.:19:41.

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

:19:42.:19:49.

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

:19:50.:19:54.

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

:19:55.:20:00.

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

:20:01.:20:04.

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

:20:05.:20:08.

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

:20:09.:20:16.

situation. I would rather concentrate on things like

:20:17.:20:20.

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

:20:21.:20:25.

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

:20:26.:20:37.

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

:20:38.:20:43.

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

:20:44.:20:49.

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

:20:50.:20:58.

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

:20:59.:21:01.

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

:21:02.:21:09.

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

:21:10.:21:13.

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

:21:14.:21:19.

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

:21:20.:21:22.

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

:21:23.:21:31.

right to go on talking about an association agreement because it

:21:32.:21:37.

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

:21:38.:21:40.

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

:21:41.:21:47.

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

:21:48.:21:53.

sensitivities about this. The important point is what Ian Watson

:21:54.:21:57.

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

:21:58.:22:02.

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

:22:03.:22:09.

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

:22:10.:22:15.

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

:22:16.:22:17.

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

:22:18.:22:24.

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

:22:25.:22:27.

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

:22:28.:22:32.

There are companies now looking quite actively at building those

:22:33.:22:36.

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

:22:37.:22:40.

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

:22:41.:22:48.

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

:22:49.:22:52.

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

:22:53.:22:58.

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

:22:59.:23:03.

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

:23:04.:23:08.

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

:23:09.:23:15.

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

:23:16.:23:19.

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

:23:20.:23:26.

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

:23:27.:23:30.

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

:23:31.:23:35.

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

:23:36.:23:37.

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

:23:38.:23:44.

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

:23:45.:23:49.

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

:23:50.:23:51.

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

:23:52.:23:55.

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

:23:56.:24:00.

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

:24:01.:24:06.

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

:24:07.:24:10.

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

:24:11.:24:15.

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

:24:16.:24:20.

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

:24:21.:24:24.

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

:24:25.:24:31.

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

:24:32.:24:37.

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

:24:38.:24:44.

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

:24:45.:24:48.

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

:24:49.:24:55.

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

:24:56.:25:00.

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

:25:01.:25:05.

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

:25:06.:25:10.

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

:25:11.:25:16.

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

:25:17.:25:22.

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

:25:23.:25:28.

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

:25:29.:25:32.

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

:25:33.:25:40.

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

:25:41.:25:44.

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

:25:45.:25:51.

defence. Thank you both for being with us.

:25:52.:25:59.

Now you lot probably think Parliament has its fair share of

:26:00.:26:02.

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

:26:03.:26:05.

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

:26:06.:26:08.

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

:26:09.:26:12.

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

:26:13.:26:17.

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

:26:18.:26:20.

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

:26:21.:26:22.

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

:26:23.:26:45.

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

:26:46.:26:50.

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

:26:51.:26:54.

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

:26:55.:26:58.

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

:26:59.:27:04.

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

:27:05.:27:09.

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

:27:10.:27:15.

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

:27:16.:27:20.

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

:27:21.:27:26.

love him because he's an extraordinary writer and political

:27:27.:27:29.

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

:27:30.:27:34.

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

:27:35.:27:40.

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

:27:41.:27:45.

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

:27:46.:27:50.

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

:27:51.:27:54.

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

:27:55.:27:59.

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

:28:00.:28:02.

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

:28:03.:28:07.

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

:28:08.:28:13.

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

:28:14.:28:19.

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

:28:20.:28:24.

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

:28:25.:28:31.

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

:28:32.:28:39.

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

:28:40.:28:43.

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

:28:44.:28:50.

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

:28:51.:28:58.

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

:28:59.:29:05.

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

:29:06.:29:09.

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

:29:10.:29:12.

Smith recognising and revolutionising economic. Burke is

:29:13.:29:18.

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

:29:19.:29:24.

theory of representative government and of party politics and the duties

:29:25.:29:28.

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

:29:29.:29:31.

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

:29:32.:29:35.

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

:29:36.:29:40.

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

:29:41.:29:44.

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

:29:45.:29:47.

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

:29:48.:29:56.

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

:29:57.:30:01.

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

:30:02.:30:04.

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

:30:05.:30:09.

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

:30:10.:30:14.

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

:30:15.:30:18.

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

:30:19.:30:24.

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

:30:25.:30:30.

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

:30:31.:30:33.

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

:30:34.:30:41.

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

:30:42.:30:44.

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

:30:45.:30:52.

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

:30:53.:30:55.

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

:30:56.:30:59.

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

:31:00.:31:03.

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

:31:04.:31:07.

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

:31:08.:31:12.

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

:31:13.:31:16.

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

:31:17.:31:21.

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

:31:22.:31:26.

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

:31:27.:31:31.

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

:31:32.:31:34.

democracy and find out what his relevance is today.

:31:35.:31:42.

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

:31:43.:31:49.

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

:31:50.:31:57.

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

:31:58.:32:01.

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

:32:02.:32:06.

determined to put them on trial for public accountability. What

:32:07.:32:09.

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

:32:10.:32:14.

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

:32:15.:32:20.

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

:32:21.:32:22.

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

:32:23.:32:28.

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

:32:29.:32:40.

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

:32:41.:32:44.

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

:32:45.:32:54.

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

:32:55.:32:58.

continues, he does become more extreme and more intemperate at

:32:59.:33:03.

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

:33:04.:33:08.

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

:33:09.:33:12.

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

:33:13.:33:15.

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

:33:16.:33:21.

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

:33:22.:33:27.

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

:33:28.:33:35.

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

:33:36.:33:38.

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

:33:39.:33:44.

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

:33:45.:33:49.

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

:33:50.:33:54.

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

:33:55.:33:57.

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

:33:58.:34:04.

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

:34:05.:34:12.

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

:34:13.:34:14.

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

:34:15.:34:20.

Revolution would ending bloodshed, international war and tyranny, and

:34:21.:34:24.

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

:34:25.:34:30.

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

:34:31.:34:34.

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

:34:35.:34:41.

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

:34:42.:34:50.

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

:34:51.:34:55.

dominated by what you might call utilitarianism and neoliberalism. We

:34:56.:34:58.

need to recover a proper conservative understanding. In the

:34:59.:35:03.

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

:35:04.:35:08.

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

:35:09.:35:12.

in which generations past present and future can live freely and

:35:13.:35:18.

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

:35:19.:35:21.

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

:35:22.:35:24.

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

:35:25.:35:30.

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

:35:31.:35:35.

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

:35:36.:35:40.

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

:35:41.:35:47.

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

:35:48.:35:54.

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

:35:55.:35:57.

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

:35:58.:36:03.

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

:36:04.:36:06.

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

:36:07.:36:09.

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

:36:10.:36:15.

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

:36:16.:36:17.

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

:36:18.:36:26.

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

:36:27.:36:31.

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

:36:32.:36:35.

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

:36:36.:36:43.

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

:36:44.:36:46.

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

:36:47.:36:52.

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

:36:53.:36:56.

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

:36:57.:37:01.

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

:37:02.:37:08.

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

:37:09.:37:12.

thinks those kind of guiding principles are the ones that David

:37:13.:37:17.

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

:37:18.:37:20.

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

:37:21.:37:28.

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

:37:29.:37:32.

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

:37:33.:37:37.

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

:37:38.:37:41.

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

:37:42.:37:45.

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

:37:46.:37:48.

see the idea of empowering individuals and institutions and

:37:49.:37:53.

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

:37:54.:37:56.

allowing institutions to develop is something that is a great linking

:37:57.:38:02.

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

:38:03.:38:12.

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

:38:13.:38:16.

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

:38:17.:38:19.

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

:38:20.:38:23.

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

:38:24.:38:26.

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

:38:27.:38:30.

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

:38:31.:38:38.

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

:38:39.:38:44.

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

:38:45.:38:47.

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

:38:48.:38:54.

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

:38:55.:39:00.

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

:39:01.:39:03.

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

:39:04.:39:07.

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

:39:08.:39:10.

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

:39:11.:39:19.

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

:39:20.:39:25.

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

:39:26.:39:32.

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

:39:33.:39:36.

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

:39:37.:39:40.

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

:39:41.:39:46.

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

:39:47.:39:52.

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

:39:53.:39:57.

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

:39:58.:40:02.

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

:40:03.:40:06.

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

:40:07.:40:11.

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

:40:12.:40:15.

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

:40:16.:40:20.

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

:40:21.:40:25.

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

:40:26.:40:29.

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

:40:30.:40:33.

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

:40:34.:40:42.

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

:40:43.:40:47.

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

:40:48.:40:51.

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

:40:52.:40:56.

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

:40:57.:41:00.

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

:41:01.:41:02.

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

:41:03.:41:20.

methodology is all about comparing previous election results with polls

:41:21.:41:24.

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

:41:25.:41:27.

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

:41:28.:41:33.

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

:41:34.:41:36.

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

:41:37.:41:41.

lost support since the previous general election or regain some of

:41:42.:41:45.

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

:41:46.:41:52.

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

:41:53.:41:58.

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

:41:59.:42:01.

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

:42:02.:42:08.

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

:42:09.:42:13.

tended to underestimate the Conservative Party vote and

:42:14.:42:16.

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

:42:17.:42:21.

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

:42:22.:42:24.

Conservative Party will actually emerge as the leaders both in terms

:42:25.:42:30.

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

:42:31.:42:35.

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

:42:36.:42:40.

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

:42:41.:42:45.

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

:42:46.:42:49.

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

:42:50.:42:56.

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

:42:57.:43:02.

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

:43:03.:43:06.

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

:43:07.:43:11.

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

:43:12.:43:14.

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

:43:15.:43:20.

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

:43:21.:43:25.

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

:43:26.:43:31.

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

:43:32.:43:35.

in terms of the probabilities of different parties being in the

:43:36.:43:40.

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

:43:41.:43:43.

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

:43:44.:43:50.

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

:43:51.:43:54.

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

:43:55.:44:01.

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

:44:02.:44:04.

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

:44:05.:44:10.

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

:44:11.:44:15.

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

:44:16.:44:22.

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

:44:23.:44:27.

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

:44:28.:44:35.

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

:44:36.:44:37.

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

:44:38.:44:41.

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

:44:42.:44:44.

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

:44:45.:44:54.

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

:44:55.:44:57.

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

:44:58.:45:09.

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

:45:10.:45:14.

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

:45:15.:45:17.

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

:45:18.:45:38.

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

:45:39.:45:47.

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

:45:48.:45:54.

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

:45:55.:45:58.

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

:45:59.:46:03.

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

:46:04.:46:08.

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

:46:09.:46:15.

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

:46:16.:46:19.

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

:46:20.:46:24.

thank you very much. Thank you for joining us.

:46:25.:46:32.

The Labour leader addresses his Scottish conference today, where he

:46:33.:46:35.

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

:46:36.:46:39.

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

:46:40.:46:42.

devolution commission reported back on proposals for further devolution

:46:43.:46:45.

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

:46:46.:46:48.

income tax and housing benefit. Joining me to discuss these

:46:49.:46:50.

proposals is Margaret Curran, the Shadow Secretary of State for

:46:51.:46:54.

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

:46:55.:46:59.

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

:47:00.:47:06.

have done in the devolution commission is look extensively at

:47:07.:47:09.

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

:47:10.:47:15.

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

:47:16.:47:19.

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

:47:20.:47:23.

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

:47:24.:47:27.

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

:47:28.:47:33.

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

:47:34.:47:38.

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

:47:39.:47:42.

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

:47:43.:47:44.

and the proposals have just been given unanimous support by the

:47:45.:47:50.

delegates. The proposals to devolve three quarters of income tax

:47:51.:47:57.

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

:47:58.:48:05.

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

:48:06.:48:09.

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

:48:10.:48:14.

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

:48:15.:48:18.

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

:48:19.:48:25.

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

:48:26.:48:28.

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

:48:29.:48:32.

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

:48:33.:48:37.

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

:48:38.:48:45.

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

:48:46.:48:51.

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

:48:52.:48:53.

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

:48:54.:48:57.

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

:48:58.:49:04.

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

:49:05.:49:07.

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

:49:08.:49:14.

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

:49:15.:49:18.

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

:49:19.:49:21.

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

:49:22.:49:25.

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

:49:26.:49:31.

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

:49:32.:49:34.

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

:49:35.:49:41.

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

:49:42.:49:45.

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

:49:46.:49:49.

balance. A strong Scottish Parliament working together. You

:49:50.:49:54.

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

:49:55.:49:58.

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

:49:59.:50:06.

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

:50:07.:50:10.

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

:50:11.:50:16.

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

:50:17.:50:21.

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

:50:22.:50:29.

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

:50:30.:50:33.

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

:50:34.:50:36.

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

:50:37.:50:42.

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

:50:43.:50:47.

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

:50:48.:50:52.

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

:50:53.:50:55.

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

:50:56.:51:01.

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

:51:02.:51:08.

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

:51:09.:51:12.

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

:51:13.:51:15.

Scottish parliament, a strong Scottish parliament accountable for

:51:16.:51:19.

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

:51:20.:51:25.

you think it is conceivable that Scotland - save a Scottish

:51:26.:51:30.

parliament controlled by the Labour Party or the Nationalists in

:51:31.:51:34.

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

:51:35.:51:40.

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

:51:41.:51:43.

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

:51:44.:51:49.

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

:51:50.:51:53.

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

:51:54.:51:58.

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

:51:59.:52:04.

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

:52:05.:52:08.

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

:52:09.:52:13.

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

:52:14.:52:18.

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

:52:19.:52:22.

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

:52:23.:52:26.

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

:52:27.:52:32.

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

:52:33.:52:37.

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

:52:38.:52:41.

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

:52:42.:52:44.

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

:52:45.:52:48.

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

:52:49.:52:54.

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

:52:55.:52:58.

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

:52:59.:53:02.

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

:53:03.:53:07.

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

:53:08.:53:12.

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

:53:13.:53:15.

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

:53:16.:53:19.

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

:53:20.:53:23.

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

:53:24.:53:26.

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

:53:27.:53:30.

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

:53:31.:53:39.

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

:53:40.:53:44.

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

:53:45.:53:48.

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

:53:49.:53:56.

Miliband gave was a very enthusiastic response. It was

:53:57.:54:00.

enthusiastically received by the Labour benches because I think he

:54:01.:54:04.

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

:54:05.:54:08.

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

:54:09.:54:12.

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

:54:13.:54:16.

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

:54:17.:54:20.

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

:54:21.:54:24.

Budget statement had just been announced and you need to look

:54:25.:54:28.

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

:54:29.:54:32.

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

:54:33.:54:39.

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

:54:40.:54:42.

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

:54:43.:54:46.

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

:54:47.:54:50.

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

:54:51.:54:54.

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

:54:55.:54:58.

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

:54:59.:55:02.

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

:55:03.:55:14.

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

:55:15.:55:17.

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

:55:18.:55:21.

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

:55:22.:55:23.

In the Crimean referendum, the process was not transparent,

:55:24.:55:26.

according to Foreign Secretary William Hague. This is a referenda

:55:27.:55:30.

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

:55:31.:55:36.

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

:55:37.:55:40.

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

:55:41.:55:45.

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

:55:46.:55:51.

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

:55:52.:55:59.

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

:56:00.:56:04.

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

:56:05.:56:07.

attorney Cannes. And the comments celebrated the life

:56:08.:56:10.

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

:56:11.:56:16.

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

:56:17.:56:27.

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

:56:28.:56:30.

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

:56:31.:56:36.

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

:56:37.:56:44.

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

:56:45.:56:49.

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

:56:50.:56:54.

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

:56:55.:57:00.

where he probably will. David Cameron and George Osborne and

:57:01.:57:02.

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

:57:03.:57:05.

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

:57:06.:57:07.

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

:57:08.:57:10.

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

:57:11.:57:15.

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

:57:16.:57:18.

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

:57:19.:57:28.

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

:57:29.:57:33.

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

:57:34.:57:38.

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

:57:39.:57:44.

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

:57:45.:57:49.

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

:57:50.:57:55.

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

:57:56.:57:58.

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

:57:59.:58:04.

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

:58:05.:58:10.

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

:58:11.:58:19.

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

:58:20.:58:27.

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

:58:28.:58:34.

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

:58:35.:58:38.

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

:58:39.:58:40.

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

:58:41.:58:44.

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

:58:45.:58:48.

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

:58:49.:58:52.

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

:58:53.:58:53.

Goodbye.

:58:54.:58:57.

Andrew Neil is joined by Sam Coates of the Times and Beth Rigby of the Financial Times to look back over the Budget as well as events in Ukraine and all the other political news, interviews and debate.


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