Jo Coburn presents the latest political news, interviews and debate. She is joined by former Scotland secretary Lord Forsyth and the SNP's Angus Robertson.
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Afternoon, welcome to the Daily Politics.
The Iraqi government asks the United States for air strikes
Reports this morning say parts of the city of Baquba,
just 40 miles from Baghdad, have been taken over by the rebels.
In a sign of thawing relations with Iran, the Foreign Secretary,
William Hague, announces the UK will re-open its embassy in Tehran.
The Government needs to spend more on flood defences -
We'll hear from the MP whose report on the winter floods says ministers
have got their priorities wrong, as well as the Floods Minister himself.
And we hear from a political legend - Baroness Trumpington - who tells
me about life in the Lords, Margaret Thatcher, and that V sign.
All that in the next hour. And with us for the whole programme
today I'm joined by two big beasts from the Scottish political jungle.
The former Scottish Secretary, Michael Forsyth,
from the Scottish political jungle. The former Scottish Welcome to you
both. Michael Forsyth,
Let's start with breaking news this morning - the Foreign Secretary,
William Hague, has announced that the UK will start to restore
diplomatic relations with Iran. How good a decision is this? I think
it is a good reason. Any influence that can bring the different warring
parties back from the briming and a potential civil war between sunny
and Shi'ite is to be welcomed. But also for the other reason, which is
trying to get Iran's nuclear weapons programme sorted out and I think
having full diplomatic relations is conducive to that being more rather
than less likely. Do you agree with that? I mean there has been a
thawing of relations we have been told for sometime and it has been
under discussion what the relationship should be between
Britain and Iran. Do you think, first of all, that Iran is the key
to trying to stabilise the region with events unfolding in Iraq? I
think it is unfortunate that things have been so bad between us and
Iran. I think quite a will the of the credit - while we are all
agreeing - goes to Kathy Ashdown who has done a fantastic job at a
European level, trying to restore diplomatic relations and trying to
persuade Iran they might have a civil nuclear programme but them
having nuclear weapons would be a very destabilising thing. So this is
part of a process - of course there is the current problem in Iraq,
which is very serious indeed, and if we can get the Iranians to help to
deal with the instability that's obviously important. But this, of
course, a country that has been blamed for exporting terrorism. Its
ties with Hezbollah and of course the issue of whether it is
developing a sinister nuclear programme, is this really who we
want to have having warm relations with? The lessons from the Middle
East is there are many things one can take exception to in many places
but the lesson from Iraq and the instability that was caused by the
UK's intervention together with the United States, lifted a lid on the
pressure cooker. And has helped unleash forces which are very, very
difficult to control. We need to look at every possible avenue to try
and get countries that have influence on the different sides to
use their good offices to try to get people to come back from the brink.
So, by maintaining a embassy in different countries and one has
embassies in one countries with all kinds of regimes, whether one likes
them or not, it is the right thing to do, to try to get things on to a
diplomatic route as opposed to the potential for all-out war in Iraq.
This has been a turn around. Painted by many people, when you think of
the axis of evil, arch enemy, Iran, certainly of the United States, if
not of the West as a whole and here we are moving into a different
phase. There is nothing new in that. You only have tolike at which side
we were backing in the Iran/Iraq war. If you think back a few months
ago, people were arguing we should be supporting the opposition
militarily in Syria. Of course, they are the same people who are now
threatening the stability of Iraq. So, I think what we have to
recognise is what is going on here is, there is an age-long war between
the sunnies and the Shi'ites and it is very important -- sunnies and
sheitis and it is important to establish responsibility and I'm
afraid past interventions have made things worse rather than better. We
will come on to that later. This morning we learn that
Michael Gove has decided to get tough on school meals,
so our question for today is: What does the Education Secretary
intend to ban Is it A, ketchup, B, salt, C,
French food or D, deep fried food? At the end
of the show our guests will try to What makes someone British?
This morning the latest British Attitudes Survey was
released and it shows that our views have changed in the last few years.
The survey asked people what makes someone truly British.
95% of people believe you must be able to speak English.
that's gone up from 86% in 2003. Over three-quarters said you must
have lived in Britain all your life. In 2003, that figure was 69%.
Just under three-quarters of those polled said it's important to be
born in Britain to be considered British and around half said it's
important to have British ancestry. That's up from 46% in 2003.
The survey also found a tougher stance on immigration.
Just over 60% of those questioned said immigrants
should wait three years or more before they claim welfare benefits.
More than 40% of people think immigrants increase crime rates,
that's up from 37% in 2003. We've been joined by Penny Young
from NatCen Social Research, which compiled this report.
Welcome to the programme. Just tell us, how do you do the research? We
do a survey each year. We interview about 3,000 people across Great
Britain. It is a very high-quality sample. We make great efforts to get
people to participate. How do you do that? What sort of people are you
getting to take part? We make sure it is representative sample. We
don't interview people on the street. We pre-select addresses.
They go to the addresses and they try really hard to get the right
person to take part. So we have a high response rate on it. As Britain
becomes more diverse, you might expect people to become more relaxed
about what it means to be British. Is that the case? Well, not quite.
We were really interested particularly, you know, with
so-called Trojan Horse and the rise of Euro-scepticism and so on to
really look at Britishness and what makes you truly British. In
particular, is it something you can acquire or is it something you were
born with? acquire or is it something you were
born One of the key findings in changes, compared with ten years ago
s now pretty much everybody thinks you must be able to speak English
s now pretty much everybody thinks you must be able to to be considered
truly British. It was high ten years ago, it was 86%. So that's a real
shift. It is now a unanimous view. What about the impact of
immigration? What does the survey tell us about that, apart that
broadly people's views seems to have hardened? It is a mixed picture in a
sense in terms of immigration. On some things it has definitely
hardened. People are much less relaxed, for example about high
grants having the same legal rights as settled citizens. That's
toughened. There are small rises in terms of the percentage who think
that the impact of immigration is positive on the economy and on our
cultural life but nevertheless, what we see - these figures object cure a
lot of differences within the population and there are different
views. One of the most striking views is if you have a degree, you
are very positive about the impact of immigration on the economy and on
the cultural lifetime nation. Everybody else, it is a negative
effect. So, in a sense, there are two sections within the British
public, with very different views. In terms of the responses, where
people live, was there a big difference between people who lived
in England or English and Scottish participants, towards immigration?
The key finding we found is actually the big differences between London
and the rest of Great Britain. It is a very striking finding. People in
London are really about twice as positive as the rest of the UK. It's
a very different finding. Now that's partly explained because it is
younger, more mobile population, clearly more migrants. People have
more contact with migrants, better educated and so on. But it is a
striking finding. Again, one of the key themes in the report is one of
polarisation, we find that again on what makes you British. There is a
significant minority of about one-third who are relaxed who think
you can acquire British identity but everybody else thinks you have to be
born, three-quarters says you have to be born. Does that worry you, the
changes in statistics, now that so many people think that in order to
be British you have to be born here and certainly to speak English. I
thought it was a very interesting report. What it seems to me is it
shows what happens if you lose control of your borders and you have
substantial immigration, which is what happened under the last Labour
Government. I think it is quite important that we recognise that the
experience which people who are not graduates, who are struggling to be
find work, living in perhaps deprived areas, struggling to find
housing, then it is much more of an issue for them. I'm not surprised by
the numbers. On the business of having to speak English,ing I mean I
think that should be absolutely the law. I don't think you should be
allowed to come into Britain unless you can speak English. It has become
more of an issue now, I think, because there are so many people in
our country who do not speak English. Annous combha what about
your response. You are saying there is a more mixed Piccadilly tour,
people are more positive about the economics -- more picked picture.
That would be the case in my part of the world in the north of Scotland
where people who have come from other European countries are now a
vital part of our local economy. It is not part of the Social Attitude
Survey so, it is not a criticism but I would draw attention tote fact
that at the time of the last survey when it was taken, last year s about
the beginning of the time when an unprecedented amount of media
coverage was given to an anti-immigration party using
anti-immigration rhetoric, a political party which I'm very
disappointed did so well particularly down south. In Scotland
UKIP only polled fourth. Something I'm pleased about. Indeed, nobody
should downplay the risks of anti-immigration rhetoric on public
opinion and I think that some of that is being reflected in some of
the findings that have been published today. You are shaking
your head. Let me bring to you something else, Michael Forsyth.
Research shows people in England and Wales are not necessarily as hostile
to the idea of Scotland continuing to use the pound in the convenient
of a "yes" vote. What do you say to that. I would be very interested -
if they have asked people - would you like to guarantee the savings
deposits of people in a foreign country like Scotland, whether you
would have got the same answer. I think it is a question - not being
patronising at all, but it is a question that most people don't
understand theism gaugeses or the difference between a money union or
a dollarisation. How was the question posed? I must admit we
didn't ask it quite like that. Quite in the leading way that Lord Forsyth
mentioneds. Nonetheless it is important to understand where people
are coming from. There are interesting findings south of the
border in terms of how people would feel. What we were interesting in,
is what would happen if Scotland does votele. On some things, for
example, the English and Welsh have firm views. They say - actually we
thinks the Scots should face up to whether they should choose a British
or Scottish passport. Actually we think they should face up to try
department and we would take them up to. But on other thing, the BBC and
the Queen, people south of the border are relaxed for the Scots to
carry on. So the interesting thing, post a "yes" vote we would still be
interested in the Queen, the about BBC and Stlictly. This is debated in
a Scottish context, the social union, the things we would share and
would continue to after a "yes" vote. This is the first detailed
examination of views in England and Wales on this subject I'm delighted
there is a such a positive view across all of the subjects when it
comes to those things that we plan and wish to continue sharing because
we value the social union rather than reacting to the smears and
fears we have had from the "no" side. We will leave it there.
Sadly Scotland didn't qualify for the World Cup but that's OK because
there's another major news event to get Scots arguing down the pub.
The independence referendum on 18th September.
There's a different story to cover every day, so here's
Adam to bring us up to date. A busy time in the referendum campaign. The
pro union campaign revealed its plans. Nicola Sturgeon unveiled an
interim god Egyptian. JK Rowling donated ?1 million to the no
campaign. Alex campaign Ruslan Tuchin Alex Salmond was accused of
smearing and activist. Before Christmas, the polls were
pointing consistently towards a 3-2 majority for the no vote, just over
60%, under 40% saying they would vote yes. Look at the same picture
now, it is only 56% for the no campaign. The polls are showing
this. What about the campaign on the ground? First stop, on Glasgow South
Side. What struck me is how the campaign has tweaked its message so
there is a leaflet that appeals to everyone.
We have the official Yes Scotland is that, green leaflets, labour for
independence leaflets, bicycle independence, all the information
for the different parts of the campaign. The grandma shopping
bags, are they freebies for older voters or for campaigners?
They could be either. They reckon their secret weapon isn't free bags
but mums like Anna, apolitical but passion for independence.
When I am with friends who know I am campaigning, asking my opinions,
asking how the campaign is going. It has created a sense of enthusiasm. I
have not seen that before. Now to Edinburgh and the no campaign who
preferred to be called the Better Together campaign and who want to
talk about the facts. The leaflets don't give the
information, so here are the facts about the currency which is a big
issue in this campaign. Jobs, shipyards. But the campaign has been
criticised for being too negative so they have unveiled a new slogan, No
Thanks. The activists have been told to be patriotic and personal.
I grew up in London. Do you have issues with explaining you spend a
bit of your life down south? Not at all. I feel this campaign is about
keeping together. The fact I grew up in England, I was 11 when I moved
back, I feel that strength is our message. They are running a phone
campaign called Blather Together, a joke will get only if you have lived
here. It's not just the big boys of your
Scotland and better together involved in this referendum. There
are loads of other players. For example, all the main political
parties are each allowed to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on
campaigning, and then there are the associated groups in the worlds of
religion, creative arts and business. I just found one on
Twitter called Grannies For The report would be complete without
an obligatory time reference, there are just 92 days to go.
And my two guests throughout the programme today, Michael Forsyth and
Angus Robertson, are on opposing sides in the referendum debate.
Michael, we saw both campaigns. Have you been impressed with the Better
Together campaign? It got off to a slow start. There
was some complacency but they are winning the argument is hands down.
Whenever anyone comes out in support of the Better Together campaign, the
Secretary-General of the NATO alliance, or the Pope who indicated
he was worried about division, this is published by the other side. On
the big issues, the currency, membership of Europe, the natural
services, we are accused of scaremongering and being negative.
People are beginning to realise the importance. I spoke at a meeting on
Sunday night at five pm., and 500 people turned up, in a debate where
I have never known so much interest in a political issue. It is good we
are having that. On the campaign, has Alistair
Darling done a good job, was he the right figurehead?
He has done a good job. It is great Gordon Brown and others have become
involved. A bit late? It is a bit late. I would have liked to have
seen every household getting a leaflet setting out the positive
case for our continued membership of the UK. The SNP have been using
Government resources to put across their propaganda which is another
issue. You have been using Government
resources for propaganda? The UK government is spending
?700,000 on giving information to every household. The debate is
happening in every community in every village and town. There is
unprecedented turnout at these meetings. A tremendously healthy
thing. The debate is overwhelmingly positive. It is one that is
respectful, one that people listen to. In the darker recesses of the
Internet, there are those who use language which every side would
deprecate. Alistair Darling describing the First Minister,
comparing him with Kim Donald John. I want to concentrate on the
positive. -- Kim il-Jong. I condemn anybody who uses intemperate
language. He makes accusations about people's motives. This is a
democratic debate about how we should be governed. It is not about
where people come from, it is not impugning people's motives.
Sometimes, unfortunately, we ascribe far too much importance to the
darker recesses of Facebook or Twitter, and it is beyond me. Any
time anyone is intemperate, I will condemn it. Michael, you said in the
past there are Conservative MPs in England who want Scotland to vote
for independence because it would electorally be better for the
Conservative Party. Who are you referring to?
There have always been a few people who have taken the view if we didn't
have Scotland, we wouldn't have 49 Labour MPs coming down. It is what
Labour bought when they set up a Scottish Parliament, they thought
they would dominate. But we have ended up with a nationalist
Government. Things don't always work out. We United Kingdom. We want
proper representation from Scotland. It is important to maintain that
union. The Scottish Conservatives are behind more devolution for
Scotland, is that something you support?
That is not an issue for now. The issue for now is whether Scotland is
going to be part of the United Kingdom.
If we are going to talk about more powers for the Scottish Parliament,
then that is not just a matter for Scotland but for the UK as a whole.
Are you against more devolution for Scotland? If you are going to give
more powers, we have two address the West Lothian Scotland -- question.
That is about what are the walls of the club? We are deciding whether
Scotland remains in the club. And this, on key issues like the pound,
monarchy, why would anyone risk to go back to the beginning of the
Better Together campaign? The reason I am
Better Together campaign? The smiling is in that report, the
no vote claiming to be in support of more powers, they were demonstrating
their support for this on top of Carlton Hill at a monument better
known as Edinburgh's folly. An apt choice where they chose to
demonstrate their support for further devolution. The leader of
the Scottish Conservative Party was elected on a platform of a line in
the sand. How credible is that? We were told in the 1970s to vote no,
then had 18 years of Tory Government with no further devolution. He is
not answering the question. Alex Salmond was opposed to devolution.
One thing we have in common. He was against devolution because they
thought it would spike their guns. I was against because I thought it
would give the SNP a platform to break up the UK. The idea of going
back and looking at what they said in the past, the issue for now is
whether we want to destroy the UK. As people in Scotland are aware, the
offer was on the table when we knew there was a referendum for the no
side to state exactly what they wanted. They weren't prepared to
come up with detail. We are supposed to believe that they are going to
deliver a fantastically improved package of governance when they
can't provide details. Have you provided detail on things like the
pound, membership of the EU. A good question, I have before me
what a yes vote will mean, the most detailed proposal provided. I have
glimpsed that, does it answered those questions? Scotland's future,
an anagram is fraudulent cost. It does not have any answers to the key
questions. It does say we would have an entry into the Eurovision Song
contest, but does not deal with our position and able to join the EU, or
how we would defend ourselves against a nuclear deterrent. Do you
both agree, though, watching that film, that actually in these closing
few weeks, is it more about Hearts and minds? Yes, heart and head. I
think it is about Hearts, history and heritage. Paul says, why can't
Scots who are born in Scotland vote, because they happen to live in
England, Wales and Northern Ireland? The voting rules which have been
agreed to follow the president of past referenda. -- precedent. I can
understand why they would wish to take part but there isn't a
tradition of extraterritorial voting in the UK. The way the system has
been organised is exactly the same as it has been for previous
referenda. Colin says, who qualifies for a
Scottish passport in the event of a yes?
Really that is a question for the people who want to break up the UK.
There are 800,000 Scots in England. In Scotland, if they vote yes to
separatism, they will become foreigners in their own country,
that is a huge step and will cause resentment on both sides of the
border. 40,000 English people live in Scotland who will be turned into
foreigners and who will have to choose their citizenship. It is a
nonsense, citizens of the Irish Republic are not considered
foreigners in the UK. We are in favour of a grown up relationship
between the nations. The elements of the social union we value, a shared
head of state, shared TV programmes, but of course there will be a
Scottish passport. For those who haven't taken the opportunity to
read about this, page 222 of the White Paper, on citizenship and
passports, is very detailed. I look forward to having a Scottish
passport. PJ says what happened to the big UK
civil service officers in Scotland, do they close?
Not at all, we require Government ministries in Scotland. The vast
majority of 77 deal with the administration of reserved powers in
London. -- majority of civil servants.
This morning a committee of MPs has published its report
on the winter storms during which over 7,000 homes were flooded.
Eleanor Garnier is outside the Palace of Westminster,
Last winter was the wettest in more than 200 years in England and the
way. There were record levels of water which meant widespread
flooding and widespread misery. There were more than 150 severe
weather warnings. Parts of Somerset remained underwater for three
months. Joining me to discuss the report today is Anne McIntosh, and
the Floods Minister. You said the Government has got its spending
priorities wrong. We would like to return to more
money being spent on dredging and maintenance to clear the backlog.
The single change we would like to see which is what the Secretary Of
State asked for is to remove the artificial distinction between
capital spending and revenue spending, to have a total
expenditure budget. On the first point, do you agree to
maintenance, things like dredging, when neglected, and instead there
was an obsession with new flood defences?
I do not think you can choose between one or the other. We have
detected many more communities under this scheme. We need to work with
local partners to get the most out of
this scheme. We need to work with local partners to get the most money
invested. local partners to get the most money
That is something we are doing in Somerset.
Even if the revellers have been better maintained with board
dredging, it wouldn't have prevented the flooding.
No, it is like the health service, we will never have enough money to
spend on all of the projects the Government would like. We would like
to support the Government, labouring in new public sector and private
sector funding. Why not get pension funds to invest in these real
infrastructure projects. spending? We have to make sure it is
new money, not money being used to rob peater to pay Paul. Teet of the
floods, David Cameron said that money would be no object. But it
seemed to be taking a very long time for this help to get through. For
example, to farmers, whose land was destroyed. Certainly the money is
there. It is making sure that farm remembers able to apply for T we
simplified the o process and applications are going up. The key
question is how we spend the money we are investing. The coalition is
spending more in Norman Lamont. We want to get the best use of that,
use the local knowledge. It will be a combination of schemes, with
capital and working on the maintenance issues and looking at
the ways we can hold water back higher up catchments. Each catchment
is different. We have to manage it in a different way. Your committee
is saying invest in prevention, rather than spending on the clear-up
is obviously the priority. How are you going to convince Dan and his
colleagues that that is exactly what is going to happen? Well, I believe
that the single thing is to merge the budget and stop this the a fish
argument about whether it is capital or rev UN we support in my own area,
we've benefited from the upstream management scheme, retraining it and
stopping it going through into towns like ours, it could work in the
Somerset levels, and working more imagine in a #2i68. Having
infrastructure and flood defences where needed. Having softer flood
defences and regular drainage and maintenance but working, as Dan has
said, with the locals, which is vital. Can you guarantee that the
Somerset levels cannot flood again next year As a Government we cannot
stop it raining. You set out in your piece how much water fell. But we
can do things to help, we can use that local knowledge. The dredge
something under way and demunts across the country there will be
flood schemes -- under way and communities across the country,
there will be flood schemes under way and the money invested Where
drainage exists we ought to allow them to use more of their own
resources and own engineering skills and knowledge to hold back the water
more effectively. And finally, are you convinced, now your report and
its findings will be taken up and followed through? Well, Government
has two months in which to respond. We'll debate those issues when we
hear a response but we believe we are pushing at an open door.
Well, clearly those who hadhomes and businesses devastated by the floods
will be hoping the Government has got its priorities right. And one
final point from the report, the committee claims that because
climate change is so unpredictable, the risk of flooding will continue
to rise. ! Well, with that risk continuing and none of us left in
any doubt S it about more money being spent on flood defence. -- any
doubt. Is it about more money? No, that is important but where I live,
my village has been flooded many times seriously. I went to a public
meeting and there were experts who commissioned reports from
consultants and the locals said - there are two trees in the river and
we stopped cleaning out the river and there has been a change to the
road which has - people don't listen to local opinion. The local
authorities, in the old days, used to lack at the roads every year and
expect the culverts and make sure the drains were maintained. But that
costs and Yes and is easy to cut and that's why when we get the flash
floods and systems can't cope. The answer is, as the report says, we
need to put more money into minute tennance and maintaining our river
banks and drainage systems and that has been lost because as a
short-term measure with long-term and devastating consequences. But
also because central government has cut the amount of money going to
local authorities and as you say they make the decisions... In
England and Wales. Thank you. It has had an affect. And the freezing of
the council tax which means resources are limited. The truth of
the matter is you can't have good local Government if they haven't got
the resources to carry out long-term projects in the long-term interests
of the communities. Flooding is an example of that.
All right. Let's leave it there. Let's return to the crisis in Iraq.
Yesterday the Foreign Secretary William Hague made a statement to
the House of Commons about the ISIS insurgency there. Here's some of
what was said. Our national interest lies
in supporting a sovereign and democratic Iraq to resist these
threats, offering assistance, where necessary and working with others to
prevent the spread of terrorism in Iraq and throughout the region.
We are taking action in three areas: promoting political unity
among those who support a democratic Iraq, offering
assistance where possible and alleviating humanitarian suffering.
We have made it clear that this does not involve planning
a military intervention by the UK. For most British people,
including many of us who supported the action at
the time, the fears of those opposed to the intervention have been
vindicated by subsequent events. It is futile to deny that subsequent
history as surely as it would be folly to repeat it.
Yet it is also facile to suggest that the crisis affecting Iraq today
can be attributed solely to the consequences of intervention.
Such an account denies the truth that the slide towards
crisis in Iraq has been exacerbated by the civil war in Syria.
Mr Speaker, it's Foreign Secretary today and in his statements over
recent days, confirmed that British military intervention in Iraq,
is not being contemplated. I welcome this assurance.
The Foreign Secretary was a minister in John Major's government.
A government which did use military intervention to impose
a no-fly zone to protect the Kurds. That policy was continued under
the Tony Blair government and enhanced under that government.
Therefore, is it not the case, that if there is a request
from the Kurdish regional government for assistance, we should give it
sympathetic consideration? Tony Blair took the UK to war
in Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction, which never existing.
Never existed. And he was then rewarded remarkably
with the post of a Middle East peace envoy.
Given his dangerous and ill-judged comments in
the last days, described by his own colleague, the Mayor of London as
"unhinged", does he not agree that Tony Blair should not continue in
post, as a Middle East peace envoy? No, I don't agree with that.
Nor do I think that recent events in Iraq should be turned
into a proxy debate about Tony Blair and everything that he has ever said
or done. In any case,
we have set up an inquiry in this House, into the Iraq war, and that
inquiry will report in due course. Defence Select Committee, Rory
Stewart. Welcome to the programme. We will
come back to the issue of history and context and the 2003 invasion
but can we concentrate for the moment on what is happening right
now N your mind how much of a threat does Isis pose to the Middle East
and in general, the world? Very considerable. It is great nightmare
scenario. When people were talking about Iraq in 2007/8. They said a
jihadist controlled failed state was what the entire operation was
supposed to avoid and it is what we now have. Would it have happened if
Sunnis in Iraq... That is that's a very good point. There is a lot of
re-Septemberment against the Shia government. Malaki has been
resistant to reaching out. In a hypothetical world you could imagine
that happening but realistically there hasn't been much sign of that
or much evidence that's the way things will go in the future. How
well-funded and well-armed is ISIS. They now seem to be well-funded they
have helped themselves to over $1 billion of cash. Even when they were
operating on more of a shoe string, getting money from individual
businessmen funneled through Kuwait or coming from Europe, they were
proving effective and they must be much larger than some of the
intelligence agencies were suggesting or they wouldn't be able
to take a city of 2 million people. What about the state of the Iraqi
Army? Very worrying again. We have been pumping an enormous amount of
training and energy into making this Iraqi Army. $14 billion a year is
spent on the Iraqi Army. It is one of the large armies per capital is
it is not doing its job if we are talking about a collapsing army and
are talking about ISIS forces coming closer, although it is reported they
were held back outside of Baghdad. What exactly is the prospect of bag
saying as a country or is it on the verge of collapse? It is difficult
to predict. I don't think anyone saw this - predicted this four weeks
ago. Why not? Western intelligence agencies criticised for failing to
predict what might have happened. Why wasn't it seen We haven't been
concentrating on Iraq, I think. That's all of us. Politicians, the
media, think-tanks, we have been focussed on Syria and recently on
Ukraine. We can now see over the last 12 months Isis has been
developing in Iraq. And in Syria too But Mosul, almost 10% of the
population there, if you'd suggested a group we had been told was 2,000,
to 3,000 fighters would be able to do that, I don't think anyone would
believe T where do we go in the future? You are right it'll increase
the demand for an autonomous Sunni region. You back the idea of no
intervention. That seems to be agreed across parties. What should
be the British Government do? Firstly, understand the situations.
I think your point is a really good one. We clearly have been taken
aback by the speed of this. We need it get diplomats on the ground, more
diplomats, more zwraunding more focus. And above all, we need to
work out what we can do rather than saying what we ought to do. You are
nodding Angus, the antiwar stance you and your party have taken, let's
return to the comments made by Tony Blair. Is it really the right time
to be going over recriminations that are made about what happened and
uted reasons for the invasion in 2003 when we have a very serious
situation here right now? Well, unless we get to the bottom of the
stakes mistakes that have been made, there is possibility that we may
repeat them. I'm glad there seems to be all-party consensus that military
intervention is not the right thing but we have to learn the lessons. We
don't have the conclusions of the Chilcot Inquiry. I think it is
possible to do both things. I think we have to make sure we learn the
lessons of what happened in the past. I endorse what Rory said on
where we are now, we must understand what is going on. The forces behind
the conflict and the potential for a full-on civil war between Sunni and
Shi'ite and then not just in Iraq bus this goes across all kinds of
borders, is absolutely calamitous and the ability of anybody of good
faith, wherever in the international community, of having any impact is
going to be very, very small. We have to invest what we can down the
diplomatic rout. We have to make sure we are doing everything down
the humanitarian route and it is only when we fully understand what
is actually happening and how one could make a positive impact,
increasingly through proximityies and neighbours that can exercise
influence, that one can try to pull people back from the brink but it is
important to understand potentially how calamitous. It is bad enough for
those who have lost their lives and the hundreds of thousands of people
who have had to leave Mosul and elsewhere, it is awful but it can
get much worse and in pretty short order. What about Nouri Al-Maliki
call for air strikes? Would you back that intersfrenges Washington?
Absolutely not. It seems extraordinary to be advocating that
in what is a civil war between two peating groups who have been
competing for more than a Millennium. It is a complicated
situation. It is Gilbert and Sullivan who warns statesmen not to
interfere in matters that they do not understand. It is perfectly
clear that people do not understand what happened is going on in
#24r50es countries. One thing I would say, these appalling
atrocities, the ordinary people who are in fear and now refugees,
putting countries under pressure, which are already end prusure
because of Syria, the most important thing we need to do is provide
humanitarian aid and support to the countries. But it is also about
bolstering some sort of Iraqi force to try to deal with it themselves?
Yes, without underunderestimating how difficult it is going to be, it
is a different situation than in 2007/8. We had over 00,000 soldiers
t wasn't just done by air strikes. It didn't achieve a lasting
solution, so we have to be realistic about what we can do. We need to be
focussed on the fact that players like Russia Ian Iraq will try to
exploited. But you sport idea of thawing relation was Iran and
reopening the embassy in Tehran.. Don't get into the mindset that Iran
is going to solve the situation. The Sunnis are angry about the Shias in
Baghdad. Given Iran a big hand will not make the Sunni insurgents happy.
In the end we will be taking sides to some extent if we are seen to
boll stert Nouri Al-Maliki government, seen to be talking to
Iran in more friendly terms than B as you said earlier, the sectarian
rift that will only intensify. It is a matter which affects a number of
countries in the Middle East and a number of our key allies. It is not
something that can be solved by launching drones or engaging in
military action. The consequences, the humanitarian consequences, will
be awful. Even those people who have been subject to invasion now by
these forces must be worrying about the counter offensive. And the
brutality is unbelievable. We can't do very much, but what we
can do in terms of what you are blind, we must do fairly quickly.
In terms of the invasion in 2003, do you think that is now cladding our
judgement? No, I think it is very useful to
look at the lessons of that. It is not a very different situation now,
to them. Similar players, similar insurgents. It would be foolish not
to look at what we did. And to learn some humility from that.
You were against the invasion in 2003, and like your party?
I thought it would radicalise people in the Middle East and cause trouble
on our own streets. You are in the Government of John
Major during the first Gulf war. It was a different matter, the
invasion of Kuwait. There is a doctrine of bringing democracy. You
cannot democratise countries of the night. It was naive. Tony Blair's
intervention has been unhelpful. He is in denial. Rory is right, there
are lessons to be learned, for goodness sake, let us learn them.
One reason to be anxious is we are relying on the Afghan National Army,
saying if we train it properly, it will be fine. We said that about the
Iraqi army four years ago. That is a reason to be concerned.
Baroness Trumpington is one of the most adored characters in politics.
And, at the age of 91, she's still going strong, regularly
attending debates in the House of Lords, giving interviews to the
Her book, Coming Up Trumps, tells the story of her fascinating life.
Fom being a land girl during the Second World War,
An advertising executive, a headmaster's wife.
All that before a long career in politics, even serving as a minister
Two years ago, she became
Two years ago, a household name when, during a
debate in the House of Lords, she stuck two fingers up at her
remarks about her age! after he made some ill-advised
Well, the clip was seen around the world, and won her a new army of
fans. I went to her home to meet her, and I began by asking if she
Oh, yes, very much so. He got what he deserved at the time. Did he see
the joke? None of us knew that was going to happen.
I thought I was doing it privately. I think he thought I was doing it
privately. But, his relations in Australia said messages, how could
you be so nasty to the lovely lady. Silly got told off by his own
family. Did you regret swearing at him?
No, he said people of my age were starting to look very old. Wouldn't
you do that? What about you as a person? You seem
to have a great sense of fun. Is that what has got you through?
Something has got me through, I don't know what it is. I think I am
terribly lucky. You see, I didn't owe anybody
anything for having got where I got. So I think I was incredibly lucky.
Did you love it in the House of Lords?
Oh, yes, such a privilege, you know. And you learn so much about this
country. One way or the other, there is always somebody who really knows
what they are talking about. Really knows the situation. You always have
somebody who has had practical experience. And you are a fall if
you argue ignorantly against them, as some do.
Did you ever fancy becoming an MP? Yes, I tried.
I was much too difficult for them. On the Isle of Ely. And it ended up,
they called me Mrs Baker all the way through, and I was too frightened to
say I was Mrs Barker. They asked what I think. I've said, I think you
are not going to make your MP, and I burst into tears.
What about working with Margaret Thatcher? What was that like?
Well, I took the view if she was going to sack me, she was going to
sack me, so I had better be true to myself and set exactly what I
thought. And if she sacked me, so what.
Did you say what you thought to have?
Exactly. And I think it was useful for her. She was terribly kind to
me. I loved her dearly. I think she used me, because she
knew I would not just say yes to something she had said. And that I
would argue the matter. And it gave her ammunition on how to deal with
other people. There was a poor man who sat between us at a dinner. And
I started off by saying the Daily Mail is perfectly all right about
mentally handicapped. Margaret barked, the Daily Mail is never
right. Whereupon that started a verbal fisticuffs. This poor man
thought we were going to hit each other. He had to sit in the middle
of us, getting smaller and smaller. But that was the kind of thing that
happened. That was the relationship you had.
But you were friends? We work, to the last time I saw her.
What about the current Prime Minister, do you like David Cameron?
Let me put it this way. I don't think you know it Prime Minister
terribly well, but I certainly knew his father very well, and I loved
his father. And his mother. Heavenly people.
How do you know them? We lived near each other. We were
also very keen racing people, horse racing.
Right, so you knew the family. And are you proud of him as a
Conservative Prime Minister? Yes, of course. Do you think the
Conservatives will still win the next election?
I hope so, I hope so. We have got some jolly strong people, you know.
And I am pro-Europe. I do think it is terribly important that we don't
have a lot of people who haven't worked, who don't know Europe,
worked with Europe, and are entirely island minded which I think is a
mistake. So, the 20 17th issue, if the
Conservatives are still in power, is that a good idea having a
referendum? It is going to clear the air, I
think. I instantly think that the Scots, if your name is Cameron, it
must be difficult with the Scottish situation. And I think the Scots are
really led by a madman, it is absolutely crazy what they are
trying to do and I hope that their leader goes down, down, down.
Politics, do you think it is changing for the better, how has it
changed? Is it still a good thing? I don't know. I think it is hard. I
am too near the, near what goes on in politics, to be able to judge
that really, I think. What would I say? I think it has always been one
party struggling against another, it always has been, taking the best
advantage you can in a situation. And I do think, in this difficult
time, we have got some pretty wonderful ministers are a wonderful
Foreign Secretary, a wonderful Home Secretary. Those are pretty
important jobs these days. I do think it is terribly difficult in
this country, particularly with people coming in to an already
crowded island. But you are still going to enjoy
it, and life. And life. I get a hell of a kick out of
talking to people I have never met before. And the police outside the
house of lords are all my best friends. I probably shouldn't say
that, probably get them all sacked. But I love them dearly. And they are
nice to me. I like people who are nice to me, let us face it.
Don't we all? Baroness Trumpington speaking to me
earlier. Scotland being led by a madman?
I thought, what an amazing person. What an amazing life she has led.
Her views on Scottish politics are out of step with the realities and I
am not sure the name-calling behoves anybody. But I think the interview
was very nice, and you know her a lot better than I do. There are
people there who have made a contribution in the House of Lords.
Although their presence in a Chamber that is not elected doesn't seem to
me to be the best way to do democracy. A very interesting
person. Has she stuck two fingers up to you?
I sat beside her on that bench and she made her views quite clear. She
is in favour of legalising brothels, for example, in order to protect
women. She has some radical views. She was talking about speaking her
mind. She was a famous -- at a famous dinner where John Major fell
at with Margaret Thatcher, and the attempt to call the atmosphere, she
said, this is that chap, what you said if you minutes ago was
brilliant. Margaret said, what did I say? She said, to be perfectly
honest, I can't remember. Everyone fell about laughing. She has this
honesty. A journalist rang her up about her book. They said, we would
like you to comment. She said, I am not going to comment because I
haven't read it and I didn't write it. Another teaser for you, what is
Angela Merkel celebrating in this photo? Is it the prospect of John
Paul Junker becoming president? It is Germany winning in the World Cup.
There she is. With the whole team. Can you imagine any of the party
leaders do that? Let us do the quiz now.
What does the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, intend to ban
Thanks to Michael Forsyth, Angus Robertson and all my guests today.
to the cutting-edge science that's driving it,
Horizon investigates one of the biggest mysteries
Jo Coburn presents the latest political news, interviews and debate. She is joined by former Scotland secretary Lord Forsyth and the SNP's Angus Robertson. As well as debating Scottish independence, they look at the new social attitudes survey on Britishness.