30/04/2014 Daily Politics


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Good morning. This is the Daily Politics.


Westminster loves the prospect of a juicy by-election.


But Nigel Farage has said he won't stand in the seat vacated


by former Tory MP Patrick Mercer, and you can hear the sighs of


So can the Conservatives win their first by-election


Once again UKIP is dominating national politics.


The polls say they're on course to clean up at the European elections,


but can they seriously threaten the major parties when it comes to


It's the first PMQs since MPs have been off on their Easter holidays.


We'll bring you all of the action live at noon.


And now that gay couples can get married, why can't straight couples


We'll speak to the campaigner who wants equal opportunities to bloom.


And with us for the next 90 minutes, two MPs who haven't let a little


thing like a tube strike keep them from our studio here in Westminster.


It's the International Development Minister Alan Duncan.


He was once described as the closest thing the Conservatives


And by Shadow International Development Secretary Jim Murphy.


As a leading Blairite he was just close to Peter Mandelson.


Let's start with the story that's had Westminster


buzzing this morning, it's the by-election caused by


The former Conservative Shadow Minister was filmed last year


apparently offering to ask questions in Parliament for cash.


The Westminster committee that rules on this sort of thing had, it seems,


decided to suspend him for six months.


Mr Mercer, who resigned the Tory whip last


year, has decided it's time to go. Here he is.


What has happened has happened. I am ashamed of it. Therefore, I am going


to do what I can to put it right for the constituency of Newark. I am


going to resign my seat, in God's County of Nottinghamshire, in the


town of Newark. I hope that my successor, who has been well and


carefully chosen, will be the Conservative candidate.


His resignation means a by-election in his seat of Newark


in Nottinghamshire, which sparked immediate speculation that one


Nigel Farage might be tempted to throw his hat into the ring.


It's a solid Tory seat but if one thing could strike fear


into Conservative hearts, it a challenge from the UKIP leader.


Well they can breathe a sigh of relief at Number 10,


because he's not doing it. Here he is speaking this morning.


It was only 12 hours ago that Patrick Mercer stood down. I haven't


had long to think about it, but I have thought about it. We are three


weeks away from the European election, at which I think UKIP


could cause an earthquake in politics. And from that we could go


on and win quite a lot of parliamentary seats. I don't want to


do anything that deflects from the European election campaign. I am not


understand in this by-election. So Nigel Farage isn't standing


in the by-election in Newark. Was he right to go immediately? I


think so. It was actually an opportunity for him to put a stamp


of some decency on the mistakes he made earlier. On a personal level, I


think what he has done he has done well, clearly, good for him. You


don't think it was motivated by bitterness, revenge on his own


party, the Conservatives? Not at all. I think the tone of the


statement you played just now shows that it was done in the spirit of


decency and the rest that the report was so damning that it would have


suspended him for six months. So he just thought, I'm out. Are you


relieved Nigel Farage is stunning? I think the voters of Newark are


relieved. It would have become a bit of a circus. The purpose is to elect


a member of Parliament to represent the constituency. I don't think he


would have won, I don't think he will win any seats at the next


election. Are you going to win the by-election? I think we will. We


will find it hard, the candidate has been in place for a number of


months. He's increasingly well-known in Newark. I think we have a head


start in that sense, so I think we will hold it. I think it will remain


a good, solid Conservative seat. It is a big Tory majority, by-elections


are predictable. Is this the generation? The seat has changed


since we last held it. The boundaries were changed. It is a


different seat, with the same name. It's a different constituency so it


would be very tough for Labour to win this. They will put up a good


effort, but it's tough for us to win it. It is probably good for the


voters that Nigel Farage hasn't brought the caravan and the circus


to Newark? I think they need to find a new member parliament, debate the


big issues, free from the scandal on over recent months. We're going to


continue talking about UKIP. He's not standing in that by-election.


But they're still expected to do well in next month's European


elections, the party itself likes to predict it'll top the polls.


So are they, as the big parties may hope, a one-hit


UKIP have consistently doing well in the polls ahead of the European


actions. The latest TNS survey has


the party nine points ahead of Labour, most pollsters put them


in front of the Tories. But until now


the party hasn't made a breakthrough at Westminster, managing second


place in a number of by-elections. Greater scrutiny has seen


a series of local candidates expelled from the party over


allegations of racism. Yesterday, council candidate


William Henwood agreed to leave UKIP after remarks he made on twitter


saying comedian Lenny Henry should But Nigel Farage has insisted these


views aren't welcome in the party and says it would be a disastrous


mistake for other political parties He's promising


a political earthquake in May, but the real test for the party will be


if they can sustain their support They think they can do it by taking


votes off the three established parties, the Conservatives,


Labour and the Lib Dems. So, is UKIP just a flash in the pan,


or are they here to stay? Let's speak now to


the academic Matthew Goodwin, Farage's decision not to stand in


Newark. Was that a mistake? I -- I don't think it was. A lot of voters


there have been to university, they have financial security, and UKIP


doesn't have the impressive record there that it does in places like


Eastleigh. He will stand in a seat where he had a chance of getting


elected. He will have a reputation for bottling it now, in Eastleigh


and Newark? Would Ed Miliband stand in a seat that he wasn't sure of


having a good shot of winning? Nigel Farage has been running private


polling in seats along the East Coast, Boston, Skegness, these are


the seeds he's looking at, not Newark. What about local elections?


Is this where he's going to put their efforts in terms of picking up


council seats? In many respects, the really interesting elections are the


local elections, the European elections. A lot of them are going


to come in European elections, Dudley, Bolton, is this going for


Labour strategy that he has locked onto, is it working? Are UKIP doing


damage in these areas? It's going to be interesting, particularly given


that UKIP are going to use those elections to decide where to throw


their resources in 2015. What do you think? How successful will they be


in those Labour heartlands? Well, we have just wrote a book on UKIP. We


have analysed 6000 UKIP supporters and tracked them since 2004. This


narrative that UKIP support is just coming from ex-Conservatives, it is


to simply stick. Prior to 2010, more UKIP support was coming from Labour


voters. They are well-placed to do some damage in Labour areas. Not


perhaps in 2015 but over the longer term. My feeling about 2015, the


prospect of UKIP winning seats is going to be difficult, but it's not


outside the realm of possibility. Do you really think there is any chance


of them winning a Westminster seat? Is that more likely to be up against


a Conservative challenger than a Labour one? Possibly. That is


likely. But UKIP need the seats where the boat is spread across the


three parties, ideally, where there is a split. But they need seats


where they are working locally. Look at Eastleigh. UKIP would be throwing


candidate into there. I have run the numbers on some of the seats, some


of the local councils they are contesting in London. They are


throwing lots of candidates at the local elections. They are trying to


get the message across to voters that they are here, in British


politics, they are campaigning and knocking on doors. To that extent,


we have not seen an insurgency of this significance for a generation.


It's going to be an exciting year in British politics. We are joined now


by Tim Aker, UKIP head of policy. Alan Duncan, the second poll now


this morning putting UKIP ahead in the European elections on 36%. You


are down at 18%. How worried are you buy that? I think everybody would


admit that UKIP are expected to do very well in the European elections.


Twice as well as you? That is the main issue. In addition from drawing


from all parties, they have become a repository for general discontent,


which happens in the middle of any Parliament. We are not in the


middle, we are four fifth away through it? This is the point, I


think this will be their peak and I don't think there will win any seats


at the general election. You would think that the Labour Party would be


making the weather in it is politics in this stage of Parliament and they


are not. People have turned to UKIP for displeasure. In the European


elections. Exactly, but in the general I think we are back to


largely a two party fight. I think we have every prospect of winning


the next election with an outright Conservative majority. What is clear


is that Ed Miliband is not making political weather and is facing


difficulty within his own party. Says a man on 18% in European polls!


But even Labour are nine points behind UKIP? Out of politeness, I


was not going to laugh at that analysis. The idea it is Ed


Miliband's fault that you are getting 18%... It's a silly point


from a serious person. There was a poll at the weekend that but UKIP


about three points ahead. This one puts them nine points ahead of you.


If this poll turned out to be true, and we don't know, it's from months


ago, if it did, that would be a poor second for Labour? These polls are


all over the place, the trend is clear, UKIP at the European


elections are in a strong position, for various reasons. Partly they are


drawing support from all parties, mostly from the right, the


Conservative Party. The Conservative Party are going down to 18%. They


are also feeding into a sense of the political system... Sort of


anti-politics? The system is broken, you are all the same. Unfortunately,


perhaps inevitably, European elections have been seen as a way of


sending a message to the political class. I not complacent about that,


I wish it was not the case. It doesn't seem to matter what you


throw at them, it is not sticking. I don't think it is a matter of


throwing things at them. Here is my view, you can call them all of the


names that they want, you can expose the undoubted racist is inside their


party, they know there are racists inside their party, dreadful people


with horrible ideas. But Nigel Farage seems to be applying for a


different job from that which Ed Miliband and David Cameron are


applying for, judged by a separate standard. A more mature,


analytical, grown-up analysis. No matter what problems the country is


facing, UKIP are not the solution. The party leadership consistently


denies it is racist. And yet, consistently, somebody pops up. It


is like what -- wack-a-mole. Having to resign for saying that Lenny


Henry should emigrate to a Black Country. Another man in your


manifesto appears to be Islamophobic. You seem to harbour


quite a few? And they are dealt with. How did they get there? We are


talking about two people out of over 200 candidates. We take a firm line,


you can't be a former member of the BNP and stand for UKIP. Labour take


former BNP councillors and now they are Labour councillors. It should be


applied evenly. You spoke about the Bates, why did Nigel Farage not get


a debate from David Cameron? Why did he not have the courage of his


convictions to stand in there and get into the debate? My point is


about how you have a mature conversation about the problems


facing the country, beyond slogans, beyond cliches. In a world where


change is the one constant, the idea that you can sentimentally appeal to


an old sense of British Empire, the cultural conceit of the past, it's


true massively subsisted. I think we have to have a conversation about


the genuine solutions to the problems the country faces. Does it


matter how you can do in the elections? It matters. Most people


in the UK feel the European Union makes too much of our law. This in


the lands that is needs to be redressed. That is why David Cameron


wants to negotiate and have a referendum. UKIP just goes further


ahead in the polls. You will only get a referendum, which is the core


of the UKIP message, by voting Conservative. If you do not, nobody


will offer the British people a referendum. You talk about


renegotiation and reform, today we are being told that are challenged


on the financial transaction tax has failed. Every time we have raised an


objection, we have been beaten back. People are coming to us because we


want a flexible relationship. We can only do that outside the treaties


and outside the European Union. I agree with you that things need to


change. I also agree that it would be despicable if the challenge we


have had on the financial transaction tax is turned down.


Deciding that tax is something for Westminster. David Cameron believes


in new membership and he has said he will vote to remain a member. You


say you will give us a referendum. But you referendum is going to come


out and say we are staying in the European Union. Are you interviewing


them or refereeing it! Do you agree with Maurice Glass man, recently


regarded as one of Ed Miliband's policy gurus, that the rise of UKIP


will hit Labour in the heartlands? I don't agree with him. I think there


will be Labour voters in what people sometimes call Labour heartlands.


But I don't think it will hit Labour. John Cruddas has said the


UKIP thing is not some sort of shooting star. This is the point I


was making any. Holiday sets changed all sorts of reasons. There has been


a demise of deference in Britain. That is not a bad thing. The


deference the BBC was held in, the NHS, various churches, bankers...


Perhaps the Armed Forces and the Royal family are the only two


institutions to retain some deference from the people. In


Britain, politicians generally have a bad name. If you do as badly as


the polls suggest, and finish second, is there a possibility that


you will reopen your party's consideration on Arab membership of


Europe -- a referendum on our membership? No I'm not going to


speculate. Our policy is pretty clear. If there is a change in the


balance of treaties... Are you going to come first? The trends are going


very well. Postal votes go out soon and things are looking very good.


Now, in case you hadn't noticed, it's election season.


And today it's turn of the English Democrats to have


They're launching their campaign for the European elections


from the village of Fobbing in Essex, the site where the


Peasants Revolt started in 1381. Why, I hear you ask?


Well, they say they are leading an English Revolt against the


And they've even got a catchy campaign song.


# This is the land of the free


# Where the white cliffs meet the sea


# A thousand years of kings and queens


# Oxford and Cambridge, English law, Charles Dickens and Bobby Moore


# Drake and Nelson sailing the seven seas


We are joined by Robin Tilbrook. We have been talking about UKIP. You


once had talks with UKIP. And you, I think, were offered the job of


deputy leader. Do you ever regret not joining? No, I don't. UKIP is


about Britain and Britishness rather than about England. That is the


important thing. Of course, Nigel Farage claims their manifesto was


drivel and nonsense. The recent thing we have had about whether he


is going to stand and get rid of their candidate in Newark, shows


that actually their party is all about Nigel Farage rather than about


the politics and serious politics and so on. Really the only thing


that they are dealing with is the fact that people are increasingly


sceptical about the merits of being in the EU. I agree with that aspect


of their policy. The formula seems to be working, certainly. Do you


agree that UKIP, whichever way you look at it, has stolen your thunder?


No, I don't think so. What has happened is that people in England


are waking up to the idea of being English. If the Scots feel Scottish


and Welsh feel Welsh, how can the English be British all on their own?


In the 2011 census we had 32 million people, over 60%, say they were


English only. In the year of the Scottish Independence Referendum,


clearly we have got something to say that UKIP is not interested in


saying. They are, as one of your earlier commentators mentioned,


rather nostalgic for the old days of empire and so on. And we are simply


not that sort of party. We are the English nationalist party. If


Scotland votes for independence, will you disband your party? No. We


still think England needs to be properly represented in the


political process. Part of the reason why we do not have the fair


treatment by the British establishment is because the English


have not been fighting their corner. That is why we have a situation


where there are a prescription charges for free in Scotland and


Wales, but we pay for them. We have to pay for residential care for the


elderly. That is why our students have to pay ?9,000 a year when


Scottish students go for free. We have not been arguing our corner as


English people effectively and we need a political party to do so. You


are launching your party's campaign. With 1.8% of people voting


for you at the last elections, are you ironic? Will No. I don't think


we are. We are saying left the English role begin. We had a


campaign spend of under ?25,000 in the last elections. If you were to


compare that with any other political party, our results of just


short of 300,000 votes shows that we were actually achieving far more


volts per pound than any other political party. -- votes. We are


better prepared this time. It is an interesting way of putting it. Thank


you. Well, it's not just the English


Democrats launching their European The SNP have also been making


their pitch to the voters We haven't been able to speak to


anyone from the party this morning. But luckily for us, and for you,


the SNP's expected to have a second campaign launch, this time


for its manifest, and we'll bring Now,


Andrew here has been a busy boy over the Easter recess, clocking up some


air miles with a trip to Australia. Yes, he's such an avid fan of the


Royals, he just couldn't stay away! I'm very pleased to say, though,


that he found time to send There they all are having


a wonderful time! Anyway,


while he was away he was showered This is Prince George


we're talking about. A giant cuddly bilby, His first


bike And a customised surfboard. But there's one special gift


the third in line to And there's no chance


of one turning up at Kensington Palace unless they enter


our Guess the Year competition. We'll remind you how to enter


in a minute, but let's see if you


can remember when this happened. This is the magnificent first


birthday present for the social Democratic party.


To be in with a chance of winning a Daily Politics mug, send your


answer to our special quiz email address, that's [email protected]


And you can see the full terms and conditions for Guess The Year on our


There was another famous by-election in that clip. That is one of the


clues. It is coming up to midday. Glorious day in London. That can


only mean one thing. Prime Minister's Questions on its way. If


you would like to comment on proceedings, try to be polite! You


can e-mail. We will read some out later. Nick Robinson is here. They


have been away for a while. What does Ed Miliband go on? What does he


pick from a cornucopia of subjects? We cannot talk about Nigel Farage


and UKIP. There is no UKIP representative. The last thing


either militant or Cameron will want is give more publicity to UKIP. Can


he do zero hours? He could do that. Care homes. Could he do what is on


the front page of today's Independent, which is about the


Royal Mail float scandal, alleged? The suggestion there was a behind


the scenes deal in which the mate of the Government, in particular George


Osborne's brother-in-law, somehow got preferential treatment in the


floating of Royal Mail. Ed Miliband had quite a successful Prime


Minister's Questions on that? Heeded. I know that the


Conservatives deal with UKIP by not talking about UKIP. The Royal Mail


is really interesting. That has really been working. They are only


at 36% in the latest poll! I was involved in a little run-in with


Nigel Farage. The times tried to have a go. So far he has turned all


that publicity to his own benefit. But as the cliche goes, a week


is... Is politics much different after the Easter break now than it


was before? The polls are roughly Labour several percentage points


ahead. It is a solid lead. It is not a big lead. The important thing is


the long-term trend. It is lower than it used to be. The polls have


closed. I think what has really changed is journalists on wasps...


These tragic deaths reminders of the continued commitment and sacrifice


of our Armed Forces. I know that our deepest sympathies are with their


families at this time. I'm sure the whole house will want to join me in


paying tribute to Anne McGuire who was stabbed to death in her Leeds


classroom on Monday. He was a much loved teacher who worked at the


school for 40 years. She cared so much about her pupils that she came


in on her day off to prepare them for exams. Our thoughts are with her


family, and her pupils in Leeds who have been devastated by this


tragedy. A criminal investigation is underway and anything that can be


done to get to the bottom of it will be done. In addition to my duties in


this house, I will have further meetings later today. I associate


myself with the tribute to the service men who lost their lives


last week. And to Anne McGuire, who lost her life in the classroom


situation he spoke about. The Government decision to travel


tuition fees will cost taxpayers more. Is this a symbol of the


long-term plan? Is enabled another expansion of higher education. Fewer


people would apply to university, they said, those forecasts were


wrong. Unlike other countries, we put in place a system for tuition


fees that means we can't expand universities and go on winning in


the global race. I would like to thank the Prime Minister and the


whole house for paying tributes to the five men who recently died in


Afghanistan. The loss bears heavily on his parents and family. I'm sure


the Prime Minister would like to join me in praising all of our


reservists and sometimes, sadly, pay the ultimate price.


that we have born in Afghanistan. This looks like it was a tragic


accident and we will get to the bottom of what happened. He is


absolutely right to mention how reservists serve alongside their


regular colleagues. As we go forward and expand our reserves, I hope


everybody, particularly businesses, the public sector, local councils


and others, including the civil service will do everything they can


to make sure reservists are supported.


I would like to associate myself with the Prime Minister's comments.


These deaths are a tragic and poignant reminder of the sacrifices


made by our Armed Forces, including reservists, serving our country with


bravery and distinction. All of our thoughts go to the friends of those


who knew those that we lost, including the honourable member. We


share his loss. Our deepest sympathy goes to the families of those


killed. I would also like to pay tribute to the teacher Anne McGuire,


murdered in her classroom on Monday. This was an appalling tragedy. She


was an inspiration to those that she taught and our thoughts are with her


family, friends and the teachers and pupils of the school. Mr Speaker,


yesterday, for the first time, we got to know the names of some of the


16 investors, including hedge funds is, given preferential access to one


third of Royal Mail shares. How were these lucky few chosen? We had an


exercise in privatising the Royal mail that has been a success for our


country. A business that lost ?1 billion under Labour has paid money


back to the taxpayer and is making profits. The people we should be pro


-- praising the employees of Royal Mail. No answer to the question.


Only he would want congratulations for losing the taxpayer ?1 billion.


These investors were given 18 times more shares than other bidders on


the basis that the National Audit Office believed they would provide a


stable, long-term basis. What assurances were they given that they


will hold the shares for the long term?


there was some sort of agreement. A business that lost money, that he


tried to privatise and failed its now making money and employees are


shareholders. The reduction in the deficit, here's reduced to


complaining about a successful privatisation. I'm raising an issue


about the rip-off of the taxpayer that the richest people know when


they see it. The reason this matters is because... The orchestrated


barracking is very predictable and incredibly tedious, but it will not


stop us getting through. It will just take a bit longer. Take a


tablet if necessary. It matters because the scale was grossly


undervalued. The shares are now worth ?2.7 billion. Who cashed in?


12 of the 16 so-called long-term investors made a killing with


hundreds of millions of pounds within weeks. Yesterday, the


representative of the bank that sold the shares said there was an


understanding, and I quote, with those investors. He said there was


an understanding. That is what it says on the record, with those


investors, about their long-term commitment to Royal Mail. Why were


they allowed to make a fast buck? We are getting lectures on taxpayer


value from the people that sold our nation's gold at the bottom of the


market! He talks about ripping off the taxpayer, when it was here that


left an 11% budget deficit after the biggest banking bailout in


Britain's history. These are exactly the argument is that Michael foot


made about the privatisation of the National freight Corporation.


Exactly the same arguments as Neil Kinnock made about British Telecom


and British Airways. It pleases the backbenchers, excites the trade


unions, but it is utterly meaningless. Is he recommitting to


renationalise in the post office? No, of course not. It is just plain


to the gallery because he can't talk about the success of our economy. --


playing to the gallery. Mr Speaker, he should listen to members of his


own side, the member for Northampton South. What did he say yesterday?


This privatisation had let people down. The interest is of the


taxpayer were not taken into account. He called it unethical and


immoral and he is nodding his head. That is what his own side thinks of


it. Now, he talks about the postal workers. He talked a lot about the


postal workers. This is very interesting. There were no


conditions on the hedge funds, but there were conditions on other


groups like the postal workers. Can he explain why postal workers were


told they could not sell their shares for three years, but hedge


funds is were told they could cash in on day one? The post office


workers were given their shares and it is right there were given their


shares. Let's celebrate the popular capitalism, let's celebrate. I


believe in empowering workers. We now have 140,000 workers that got


those shares. In terms of the risk to the taxpayer, he ought to reflect


on... Order! There is far too much noise in the chamber. Mrs Taggart, I


would say to you that you are an illustrious product of the


Cheltenham ladies College! I cannot believe that they taught you to


behave like that! Prime Minister? You are right that there is a lot of


history in this shouting, because, of course, in the past, with these


privatisations, we have the shouting of Neil Kinnock, Prescott, Jack


Straw, over Easter I was looking at Labour's candidates. Son of Kinnock


is coming here. The son of Prescott wants to come here. It's the same


families, with the same message. It is literally the same old Labour.


That is what is happening. He asked about... He asked about taxpayer


value. This is what the National Audit Office found. The National


Audit Office said privatisation has reduced taxpayer risk to support the


universal Postal Service. This is a good deal for taxpayers because this


business was losing 1 billion. It is now paying money, paying taxes,


gaining in value, good for our country, bad for Labour. Mr Speaker,


the post office was actually making a profit when they privatised it.


What have we discovered today? One rule for postal workers and another


rule for hedge funds is. Who runs these hedge fundsthey have been very


coy about this, none these hedge fundsthey have been very


Chancellor's best man. It is one rule if you deliver the


Chancellor's best man speech, another rule if you deliver the


Chancellor's post! What this shows, he can't talk about the deficit


because it's falling. He can't talk about the economy because it is


growing. He can't talk about jobs because there are 1.5 million more


people in work. So, he is painting himself into the red corner by only


talking about issues that are actually successes for the


Government, but appeal to the trade unions, the left wing is behind him


and the people who want to play the politics of envy. That is what is


happening in British politics, everybody can say it. Nothing to say


about the long-term economic plan that shows that button is on the


rise and Labour is on the slide. Mr Speaker, what we know is that there


is a cost of living crisis in this country. Oh, you say, they don't


think there is a cost of living crisis? Why not? Because they stand


up for the wrong people. The more we know about this privatisation, the


bigger the fiasco it is. A national asset, so that -- sold at a


knock-down price. Everything about this privatisation stinks. Six


questions and not a mention of GDP. Not a mention of what happened while


we were away in terms of employment figures. Not a mention of the fact


the deficit is getting better. We know that he has got a new adviser


from America. Yes, he has. This is what he is being advised to say. Let


me share it with the house, I think this is excellent advice. He says


this, there is a better future ahead of us, but we must not go backwards


to the policies that put us in this mess in the first place.


that question, the prime minister has finished. And he can take it


from me that he is finished. Doctor Liam Fox. From the cyber attacks in


Estonia to the invasion of Georgia, to recent events in the Crimea, we


have seen a clear pattern of behaviour from the Kremlin. The West


has allowed itself to allow wishful thinking to take the place of


critical analysis. Given defence exports to Russia in recent years,


isn't it about time that these were targeted for EU sanctions? I think


my right honourable friend is absolutely right. We have set out a


clear set of sanctions in terms of Russia's behaviour towards Ukraine.


We have taken a series of steps so far in terms of putting asset


freezes and travel bans on named individuals. We have taken


diplomatic and other steps. We have set out stage three sanctions we


should think should be taken if further incursions of Ukraine are


made. We believe restrictions on arms sales should be a part of that.


The Prime Minister promised by the end of this Parliament one third of


his women -- 's Cabinet will be women. We now have only three out of


22 of his department run by women. Does he agree with the new Culture


Secretary that this is because government appointments should


always be made on merit? What I said was that I wanted to see one third


of my front bench ministers being women at the end of a Conservative


government. We have made some important progress in terms of the


number of people on the front bench. I have to say, with respect to my


coalition partner, in terms of Camelon numbers, the Liberal


Democrats need to do a bit more to pull their weight on this particular


issue. I hope to make further progress.


Reverting to the subject of Royal Mail, as the leader of the


stockbroking firm which brought British Gas to the market, and as


the author of the praise -- phrase ask Sid, may I tell the prime


Minister that the criticisms of the way the Royal Mail launch was


handled by the party opposite, shows their total ignorance of city


markets. The fact is that when you are trying


to make an immense sale, you have to take infinite trouble to find people


who are to underwrite it. And they are not able to prophecy what stock


markets are going to be like one week ahead. And therefore, the


prudent way in which this was handled was very sensible,


because... Order! People should not gesticulate


at the right honourable gentleman. If your issue fails, those


institutions responsible for its launch our ruined.


The father of the house makes an important point, which is when you


are privatising state-owned industries, if you sell them for


less than the price set out, it is written off as a failure. If you


sell it for more, you're accused of undervaluing the business. That has


always been the way. That is what Labour said with respect to British


Airways, British Telecom, British Aerospace... They opposed every


single move to build a strong competitive private sector in our


country and that continues today. A constituent from Mitchum would


like to be a police man but is only working part time and cannot afford


the TACSEA needs to pay to join the Metropolitan police. His mum and dad


our foster carers and they would like to give it to him if they had


it. If my constituent is capable of passing the academic, fitness and


testing requirements of the police, why should his bank balance stop


him? When did becoming a Metropolitan police officer become


an aspiration for the few rather than the many? The honourable lady


has asked questions about what she calls the bobby tax. First, it is


not a tax. It is not a barrier to recruitment. And recruitment is


taking place in the Metropolitan police. That is what is happening.


We see people being recruited. As is happening, members who want to join


the Metropolitan police are able to get assistance with this


qualification they now require. Last week marked the Bard's birthday. And


here your apartments, last night, young Stratford scholars staged some


of Shakespeare's works. Mr Speaker, could this right honourable man, the


captain of our state, lend his help to make our national poet's breaths


a national day? And could he shared with the house what Shakespeare


means to him? Can I thank my honourable friend for that


beautifully crafted question about the anniversary of Shakespeare's


breaths. It is a moment for celebration all across the world,


where it Shakespeare's works are getting a wider understanding and


distribution. I will not attempt the court that he has brought out in his


question. But I would say to any politician, if you read Henry V's


speech at Agincourt, if that does not inspire you, I cannot think what


it does. Wembley publish the regulations to introduce standard


packaging for tobacco products, and ban smoking in cars with children


present? I cannot prejudge the Queen's speech, but we want to take


action and we will. Textile, engineering, food and drink


manufacturing our booming in Huddersfield. For example, one


fabrics company is producing the upholstery for Boris's Route Master


buses, which have been very busy this week. They are creating jobs


and apprenticeships. Willie prime Minister praised them the other


local firms that have agreed to attend my first ever jobs fair in


Holmfirth on Friday the 20th of June? First of all, let me pay


tribute to my honourable friend for holding these jobs face. -- fares.


There have been real benefits. Businesses pledge apprenticeships,


pledged to take people on. What we have seen since the recess is a


series of figures in our economy. Growth now running at over 3%. 1.5


billion of our fellow countrymen and women in work since this government


came to power. Installation at an all-time low. Business confidence at


its highest level since the early 1970s. There is more work to do.


There is absolutely no complacency. The long-term economic plan is well


on its way. Before he was elected the Prime Minister said that if


elected he would put a wind turbine on ten Downing St. Last week he


announced his party wants to end support for offshore wind, even


though the Government survey this week showed that 70% of the public


supported. What changed his mind? We have seen a massive increase in


offshore wind in our country. I think the question then is, is it


right to continue to overrule local planners and local people? Is it


right to continue to put taxpayers money in after you have built out


that onshore wind? I don't believe it is. The manifesto will make that


clear from local communities to say. Other parties will have to make


their own choices. In the last few weeks in Eastbourne, over a of


private investment has been announced. Unemployment is almost


20% down compared to this time last year. In short, in Eastbourne we are


coming through tremendously successfully from the difficult


economic downturn. Does the prime Minister agree that were Eastbourne


goes, the UK follows? I am glad to hear that Eastbourne is leading the


way, particularly on apprentices. Our target is for 2 million. We want


to see a particular expansion of the higher-level apprenticeship schemes.


It is a major part of delivering the long-term economic plan. I'm sure


the prime Minister has read the report by the all-party group on


ticket abuse, which set out how consumers are getting a raw deal


from the secondary market. The question is, whose side is the Prime


Minister on? This new Culture Secretary who placed ticket touts as


classic entrepreneur is -- praised... I have not seen the


report. I will have a look at it and discuss it with my right honourable


friend, whom I welcome to the cabinet. I noticed Labour seems to


criticise its appointment. I am not sure on what basis they were doing


that. I think he will do an excellent job for our country. Very


happy to study the report she mentions. The number of unemployed


job-seekers in Bristol has fallen by 25% in Bristol has fallen by 25% to


do. I am hosting a jobs fair this Friday. In the light of the


Chancellor's welcome commitment to full employment, what else is the


Government doing to make this aspiration a reality? We have seen


1.7 million private sector jobs created, far outstripping the loss


of public sector jobs. We have seen an increase in full-time work, which


I think is very welcome. People often want to work more hours than


they are currently able to. In terms of driving further employment


growth, I think the clear message is that businesses have the ?2000 of


their national insurance bill, which will help people to take on new


employees, there is a cut in business rates. And from next year,


anybody under 21 will not have to pay any national insurance


contributions. We want to see more people in work. And to raise even


further that less full of aspiration in our country. -- level. Nuclear


power is an important component of the UK energy mix because it


produces large amounts of electricity with little CO2. This


government calls itself the greenest government ever, but has ceded


control of the nuclear energy policy to foreign countries. What will his


government do to ensure that nuclear power stations such as Hinkley


Point, which is already five years behind schedule, are brought


online, on-time? I have two say to the honourable gentleman, I am sure


he has a constituency interest in this, the last Labour government was


in power for 13 years and never built a nuclear power station never


made any progress in moving towards doing it. Under this comment,


Hinkley Point is going ahead. Exciting developments in Anglesey. I


believe there is the opportunity of more. That is what we are doing.


Putting our money where our mouth is, making sure we have nuclear


power providing high-quality power which is...


The Peterborough effect is back. Business confidence is returning,


unemployment is falling and more new jobs are coming to my constituency.


Much of the new prosperity relies on infrastructure spending financed by


private pension funds. Does he share my regret that Labour's... Estimated


to have amounted to ?118 billion last week not only wrecked private


pensions, but hobbled vital private sector infrastructure investment in


our country for a generation? I am delighted to hear about the


Peterborough effect, employment rising, unemployment falling, more


people taking on apprentices and businesses expanding. That is what


we see around our country. 29 minutes into Prime Minister's


Questions, not a single Labour member has mentioned GDP, our


economic plan, growth in our country. They do not want to talk


about it because they conceive the economy is getting better under this


comment. Will the Prime Minister make representations in relation to


the cases of two princesses held under house arrest in Saudi Arabia


for more than ten years, who have been refused access to food for more


than 40 days as a result of speaking to the Western media? Would he agree


that human rights and women's rights should be the priority in our


relationship with Saudi Arabia? I read the report and I share her


concern. I will look into it further. In terms of our relations


with all countries, we do give proper priority to human rights and


the rule of law. We raise these issues with all countries will meet.


Could I gently tell the Prime Minister about -- that Liberal


Democrat women not only pull their weight, but are perfectly ready and


willing to punch above their weight. I recently hosted the premiere of a


hard-hitting film about the honour culture and what can be done to


girls and women in its name. I know that issues of female genital


mutilation and forced marriage are hugely important to my right


honourable friend, so would he please consider viewing the film and


showing it at the girls's summit he is hosting in July? I think the


honourable Lady... First of all, could I thank for the work she does,


particularly on women in enterprise? The point I was making


is that I know all parties in this house want to see greater gender


equality in terms of representation, present in


government etc. And all parties have made progress. My party has made


progress. There is more we want to do. Specifically on her concerns


about female genital mutilation. We are taking huge steps this year in


raising the profile of those issues. I pay tribute to the leadership


shown by the Foreign Secretary. Also, as a country that has met its


targets of aid going -- of GDP going in aid, we are able to push this


site up the agenda, which we will do over the course of this year.


Yesterday, Ukrainians and Scotland Road to Alex Salmond expressing


disgust and astonishment at the First Minister's statement that he


admired President Putin. Wildie the premise to of the Scottish Ukrainian


community and labour, in condemning those statements, which support a


regime which oppresses its own minority groups and silences


critics? I agree wholeheartedly with the honourable lady. I think that


what Alex Salmond said was a major error of judgement. I think all of


us in this house should be supporting the Ukrainian desire to


be a sovereign independent country, and to have the respect of the


international community and party leaders for that ambition. This


morning I met with a charity campaigning for defibrillators in


schools. Will my right honourable friend congratulate North


Lincolnshire Council, who worked with myself and the honourable


member for Cleethorpes, and this year committing money to a programme


of up to 50 community public access defibrillators that will save lives?


Towns like an excellent campaign. We have taken a lot of steps forward in


terms of making sure this sort of equipment is more readily available.


If you can find people who have suffered a heart attack, you can


save lives in that golden hour when it first strikes. It sounds an


excellent. I pay tribute. Over the last 12 months, the use of


food banks has increased by 93%. Social landlords report that rent


arrears have gone up by 8.4%. Wildie prime Minister accept that the


Government's own policies are driving up debt and poverty in


places like Knowsley? -- would the Prime Minister accept? Clearly the


best route out of poverty is work. We should welcome the fact there are


1.5 million extra people in work. Yes, food bank usage has increased.


Not least because food banks are advertised and from promoted, not


least by Jobcentre plus but also by local authorities. But if he wants


to deal in facts, the proportion of people struggling to buy food in the


UK has actually fallen since before the great Labour party recession. I


know that members opposite want to make this argument about poverty and


inequality in Britain. But the statistics do not back them.


Inequality has fallen, compared with when they were in office. There are


fewer people in relative poverty and fewer children. The picture they


want to paint, because they can't paint a picture of an economy that


has not grown, they cannot a picture of people not getting jobs, the


picture they are trying to paint is wholly false. With the service


sector, the manufacturing sector and the construction and manufacturing


sector all growing at 3% plus, would the prime Minister agree that the


economy is well on the road to recovery and rebalancing as well?


I'm grateful for the question. The recent figures did show that


manufacturing was one of the fastest-growing sectors of our


economy. I welcome that. What the Chancellor said so powerfully in his


budget is that we are not resting on our laurels and saying the job has


been done. There is more work. We need to manufacture more, we need to


export more, we need to save more and invest more. We have policies


that promote all those things. Fiona McTaggart. As the Prime


Minister 's seen the survey which shows that two thirds of local


councils are either dimming or cutting their street lights at


night? Does he think that women are feeling safe in their local


communities at night under his government? I have liked all


honourable members who take part in election campaigns, been lobbied on


this issue on both sides of the argument. I think it is an issue for


local determination. I want to see good street lighting. We should


listen to the arguments from the police and others. I congratulate my


right honourable friend and the Chancellor on the long-term


prosperity. In areas like Saint Albarn is barely one house is under


?250,000. Can we look at stamp duty threshold is to help young people


get on the housing ladder? We're very happy to look at the issues she


races. The weapon that we have used to try and help young people who do


not have rich parents but who can afford mortgage payments, is Help to


Buy. That helps them to get together that deposit. The Labour Party


should be welcoming this scheme. It is expanding aspiration and growth


in our country. That is what they should be promoting.


Order. Minister in mid-flow. That didn't


stop him from overrunning by seven minutes. Must be a record! The


leader of the opposition, a lot of reaction to the question of that


sale. Mr Cameron doesn't answer questions to the favouritism of his


wealthy buddies. Geoffrey says embarrassing to watch the Prime


Minister constantly avoiding answering questions. Raymond Hartley


says, how many of the Cabinet are involved in hedge funds is? Is there


any of finding out. Geoffrey Brooking from Hampshire says David


Cameron is yet again is spot on to point out the success of Royal Mail.


They have exposed how they have gone back to the old Labour that began


under Gordon Brown. David Axelrod, the man to advise Ed Miliband, he


sure has his work cut out to turn Ed Miliband into Barack Obama.


Questioning a successful privatisation is crazy. While we


work in during that production of Prime Minister's Questions, a new


opinion poll has come out on the European elections for ITV News. It


puts UKIP on 38%, up from the poll we were talking about this morning.


Labour still on 27. So, UKIP now has an 11 point lead over Labour. The


Tories are on 18. UKIP are 20 points ahead. As you watch premises


questions, arguing about this, you see this poll coming out, you feel


there is a disconnect between Parliament and what is happening to


opinion in the country? There is, be slightly wary about the polls. The


big argument among pollsters is whether you do certain to vote or


not. Some pollsters only go with people who say they are certain to


vote in European elections, other go for likely to vote. The difficulty


is that this is probably certain to vote. In other words, the people


most motivated to go out and vote are people that already know they


are UKIP supporters. If you only measure those people, you guessed --


get the highest figure. I think it's interesting to note that. When you


look at the trajectory of the polls, it is one way? Extraordinary,


in a sense I think it is the main political parties, they haven't


defined what the elections are about. In a way, if you know nothing


about the European elections, the system means that people almost


never know who their MEP is, you have a bunch from each region, Nigel


Farage has clearly said it is about sending a message about either


getting out of Europe or having a referendum. Try summing up in a


phrase, a sentence, what the main parties think European elections,


not the whole of politics, but European elections are about and you


will struggle. They have not have their launches yet. They are about


to start in the next couple of days. Let's come back into this Royal Mail


story. It resonates. There were 16 referred buyers of the Royal Mail


stock when it was floated. They were made preferred and they were given a


lot more shares than anybody else because they had agreed that they


would be long-term investors, that they would provide stability to the


ownership of the Royal Mail. Once they agreed that and got these


shares, a number of them sold their shares. Isn't that something of a


scandal? The issue is that they paid the full price. The Post Office sale


had been resolved for the best part of 25 years. When you are selling a


businesslike that, you don't know what the strike price should be. A


lot of people said this business, even though it is earning profits


now, it is going to crumble. Ditching the price was a difficult


banker judgement. So, there was a danger that people would not want


the shares at all and it was undersubscribed. I think in order to


get off the tranche... Preferred bidders had already been told they


could get the shares and they indicated they would buy them.


That's 16, they played a major role in determining the price. They were


the people that told the government that the price should be 300 and


30p. They got that on the basis that they would be long-term holders of


the stock. Large numbers of them dump the stock at a higher price


when it went up. That is not right? If it went the other way, you would


have been to sizing us for not having a successful flotation. Let's


consider the position. People say, yes, give us a turn on the stock and


we'll be long-term shareholders. By the way, we think the price should


be about 330. They get the shares and sell at a profit. They broke


their word to the Government. Why shouldn't the Government do


something about that? I'm not familiar with the terms and


conditions. I've just told you. You have told me things on this


programme in the past that don't turn out to be true, there is form.


Let's hope the National Audit Office, you can call them liars. 16


of the investors bought shares and were allocated larger percentages of


their orders and other investors, reflecting the expectation they


would form part of a stable, long-term and supportive shareholder


nest. Half of the shares were sold off within a few weeks of the


privatisation. That is the National Audit Office. Doesn't mean they have


to hold their shares indefinitely. Two weeks? There was a market that


did not previously exist, which would not happen if we did not have


the liquidity offered by these participants. They created a new


marketing Post Office shares, which is what happens when you have a new


company. These people were given allocations of a lot more shares


than anybody else because they indicated they were long-term


investors. Then the moment they saw a quick profit, they dumped the


shares and they were hedge funds is, sovereign funds were involved as


well. The Government let them get away with it? Because they made an


early commitment to take the shares, that is why they were granted them.


It was up the strike price, which everybody paid, 330 pence. I'm not


familiar with all the details, I'm not in the department, but that is


what I think happened. It was a successful flotation which had been


sitting around for 25 years and resolved. It is now a successful,


privatised business that had never happened over 20 years beforehand.


Is it that hedge funds get a preferential position because they


promise to hold onto shares, they then dump them in two weeks to get a


quick profit? I'm not in a position to know the details of the agreement


is reached. It's not for me to pass judgement on the way you are asking.


Would Labour consider renationalising the Royal Mail? We


would not have privatised it. This has been a public ownership since


the days of King Charles the first. You thought of privatising part of


it? Part of it, we said we would keep it in public ownership. It's


gone, you not bringing it back? We can't commit to that. Something


about this stinks. You have a system where the government said, we will


lock out speculators and spivs, and they seem to have opened the door to


them and given them privileged access. It doesn't seem to have been


a construction -- contractual understanding, it seems to be... Ida


know if they are social circles, friends, there seems to be a


gentleman 's agreement, where those that invested have not stuck to it


and walked away with millions of pounds. The problem is that there


seems to be one rule for the ordinary investor, the man and woman


in the street that invested ?750 of their hard earned money, and these


investors who have walked away in days with millions of pounds. The


Prime Minister did not want to engage in any part of any of the


questions. We had a mention of engage in any part of any of the


questions. We had a mention selling of gold and this and that. I thought


he was going to go back to Clement Attlee! He was desperate not to talk


about the detail. It was striking. His only defence is that he got rid


of it. He knows he is very vulnerable to the idea of what Ed


Miliband called a sweetheart deal. The idea of a golden ticket. One


rule for one and one for the others. The great question that hangs over


politics is that when Ed Miliband highlight something like that, do


voters say, yes, will vote Labour, or you are all the same as each


other? Thank you. What should happen to


civil partnerships? Peter Tatchell gives us his take on the future of


this relatively young institution. Flowers, chocolate and champagne.


The language of love, weddings and civil partnerships. Civil


partnerships, introduced in 2005, finally give legal recognition to


lesbian and gay couples. But it was not real equality. The ban on


same-sex marriage remained until this year. Today same-sex couples


have the option of two forms of official recognition. Marriage and


civil partnership. Opposite sex couples only have the option of


marriage. That discrimination is against heterosexuals. In its public


consultation, the Government said over three options for the future of


civil partnerships. Scrapping them and forcing existing civil partners


to convert to marriage. Stopping new civil partnerships being registered


but retaining existing ones. And keeping civil partnerships and


opening them to opposite sex couples. That is the option I have


been campaigning for a since 2005. Many same-sex and opposite sex


couples do not like the sexist and homophobic history of marriage. They


dislike the antiquated language of husband and wife. While marriage is


right for some, for others, a civil partnership is more egalitarian and


modern. Of the same-sex couples who have already had a civil


partnership, many entered into at precisely because it was not a


marriage. To forcibly convert their civil partnership into a marriage


would violate their wishes and the contract they agree. The evidence


from the Netherlands is that since civil partnerships have been open to


all, many opposite sex couples have taken advantage of the opportunity.


In fact, today, most Dutch civil partnerships are between opposite


sex couples. Rather than scrapping civil partnerships, we should


celebrate and extend them to all. It is simply a matter of equality.


And Peter Tatchell joins us now. The debate about this though was about


equality. Civil partnerships were a stepping stone to marriage. Why


would you want to go back to those? Now we have civil partnerships. Now


we have many thousands of couples in civil partnerships, I think it would


be wrong to force them to switch to marriage. That is not what they


agreed. Since same-sex couples have the right to civil partnerships, why


shouldn't heterosexuals as well? David Cameron supported same-sex


marriage because he believed inequality. If that is true, the


principle should also apply to civil partnerships. David Cameron said he


allows -- believes allowing civil servants -- civil partnerships for


opposite sex couples would undermine marriage? Civil partnerships and


marriage are very similar. Savour -- civil partnerships have the same


commitments. I do not see how they are undermining marriage. I think


they actually strengthen the principle of legal rights and


responsibilities because lots of heterosexual couples are not


married. They are cohabiting. If they do not want to get married,


they do not agree with the institution of marriage. If they're


given the option a civil partnership, many would take the


option. That would give them legal rights etc. Do you think this is a


major issue now after the battle for gay marriage? Is this a fight worth


having? Absolutely. It is an important fundamental democratic


principle that we should all be equal before the law. Any


discrimination is wrong. In the Government's on consultation, the


public were asked if civil partnerships should be opened up to


opposite sex couples. 61% said they should. Only 24% said no. Clearly


there is a majority public support for allowing heterosexual couples


the choice of a civil partnership. Alan Duncan, you are in a civil


partnership. Should straight couples be able to do the same? The


inequality, and hence the disadvantaged Peter is referring


to, as between a civil partnership and a heterosexual couple getting


married in a registry office, is so minuscule and immaterial, this is


really dancing on the head of a pin. I regarded as unnecessary


because it is not really doing anybody any harm. There is an


argument for saying that all marriages should be consummated, if


you like, on a civil basis and you can add your own religious bit on


top if you want. Then everybody is equal from the start and you can


stick your religious gloss on the quality of faith. It is not really


what you and I think. We know that a substantial number of heterosexual


couples would like a civil partnership. If you look at New


Zealand and the Netherlands, where civil partnerships are open to


everybody, today the majority of civil partnerships in the


Netherlands are between straight couples. 10% of straight couples


choose a civil partnership rather than marriage. It is only 10% but


why shouldn't a 10% minority have the right to choose? Isn't it an


anomaly? Isn't that an orchestrated policy in that sense? Would straight


couples go for it in reality? Would they be clamouring for it? I think a


sizeable minority would. Ten to 15%. The principle in democracy is that


we should all be equal before the law. We would not be having this


debate if the law was discriminated against black and Jewish people.


People think there is -- we can get away with it because it is among gay


people. We have got civil partnerships. Let's open them up.


The campaign was about equality. If civil partnerships are good enough


for same-sex couples, why shouldn't they be for opposite sex couples?


Lets have equality for everyone. You have convinced Jim Murphy.


Now it seems you're nothing at Westminster these days if you


haven't imported a highly-paid election guru from overseas to


The Lib Dems have one from South Africa.


And Labour's new one is from America.


The press likes to call them gurus because it makes them sound


a bit mysterious, and because it's a better fit for


Here's Adam's guide to the political guru.


If somebody owns the word kuru, it is the founder of seekers. A big


achievement for a former accountant. Rasputin was Russia's greatest love


machine and shadow we advise or to the sour. The Beatles turned to a


Maharishi for spiritual guidance. At Westminster, Keith joseph was the


very modern model of a major guru, providing the intellectual basis for


Thatcherism. Across the Atlantic, Karl rove did the same thing for


America. And now we have a triumvirate of foreign-born gurus


here. Lynton Crosby from Australia got Boris re-elected Mayor of


London. The Lib Dems imported a South African. And here is the


newest recruit. David Axelrod, borrowed from Barack Obama. Why do


they hire them? The gurus said that the true gurus shows you the way.


Jim Murphy, what is the point of paying a 6-figure sum to an American


to advise you had to win an election? He has hardly ever been to


this country and knows nothing about Britain. None of the parties have


got a monopoly on campaign initiative tactics. The Lib Dems got


their South African guy. These guys have got their Australian. Lynton


Crosby has fought an election here before and lives here for a great


part of the year. David Axelrod may struggle to find Britain on a map! I


don't think so. He understands elections. He has been brilliant for


Iraq Obama. That is the reason! Barack Obama and the politics of


optimism, I think this will be a welcome injection. You have hired


somebody called Jim Messina, another American. He is going to stay in the


United States throughout. He will have his finger on the pulse in


Scunthorpe, one T? We are so interconnected across the world. I


believe in the public meeting, the big speech, the intellectual and


ideological arguments. Now it is a consumer process. I am sure the guys


you hired will be able to watch it on Skype. Thanks to the speaker I


cannot continue this conversation! The year was 1982.


Stuart Badger from Kidderminster. Well done.


Thanks to all our guests, especially Alan and Jim.


The one o'clock news is starting over on BBC One now.


Jo will be back tomorrow at noon with all the big political stories.


It's shocking it'd happen in a public place.


I don't find it funny, but I don't find it offensive.


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