27/11/2015 Daily Politics


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Jeremy Corbyn says he's not keen on war but today he's locked in battle


The Labour leader says he won't back David Cameron's plan to bomb


At least half the Shadow Cabinet and many Labour MPs are now in open


Two have even suggested, on the record,


We'll have the latest in this developing row.


Whatever Labour formally decides, there is likely a majority of MPs


in favour of extending RAF airstrikes from Iraq to Syria.


I'm against the air strikes generally simply


because I think it will encourage more terrorism in this country.


It only takes a few of them to get in and


Turns out there was an extra 27 billion quid


down the back of a Treasury sofa, allowing George Osborne to U-turn


We speak to the independent number cruncher who found the money.


A slightly curtailed programme today due to the Davis Cup tennis.


But with us today is the columnist and broadcaster Jenni Russell.


Jeremy Corbyn is fighting to contain a Shadow Cabinet rebellion today


after he said he told MPs he could not support RAF airstrikes


Yesterday, the Shadow Cabinet tried to come up


with an agreed response to David Cameron's plan to deal with IS.


They failed but agreed to meet again on Monday


But divisions within Labour's top team spilled out in to the open


when Mr Corbyn wrote to all his MPs saying he would not back the


The Labour leader had omitted to tell the Shadow Cabinet he


Several Labour frontbenchers are muttering about resigning


if the leader orders his Shadow Cabinet to fall in line.


This morning two Labour MPs even suggested Mr Corbyn should resign


A free vote would seem the only way out of the mess.


But Shadow Development Secretary Diane Abbott, says MPs need to get


It's not for me to say whether there will be a free vote.


Jeremy has made his position clear, as is appropriate as leader


of the party and I think, in the end, party members will want


MPs to unite behind the leader, because what Jeremy is saying


about Syrian bombing is what party members are saying.


Joining me now is the Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick.


He was a minister under Gordon Brown.


And James Schneider is spokesman for Momentum, the campaign group closely


They are urging their members to lobby Labour MPs to oppose British


Welcome to you both. You listen to the Prime Minister yesterday. What


broad conclusion did you come to? Do you broadly support him? I think I'm


inclined to support the government depending on the motion. I want to


see what the Shadow Cabinet recommend and the parliamentary


Labour Party discussion overnight will say, but the Prime Minister


clearly indicated he had listened to the previous defeat, had learned a


lesson post-Iraq and set out a 7-point plan which tended to respond


to the concerns that people have been racing about extending the


action from that in Iraq across the border into Syria. What do you say


to that, James? I don't think the case has been made, I don't think


the case has been made, there were four conditions which needed to be


met which was passed in the most recent Labour Party conference and I


think the membership is overwhelmingly opposed to bombing


and I think Jeremy Corbyn are showing very strong leadership on


this by saying quite clearly what he thinks. Is there anything the Prime


Minister could have said? To convince you? I can't see how things


David Cameron would've said, given what he said in the past about


Syria, I think, ways in which we could be acting more robustly in


Syria, but that would require certain preconditions which are very


much not been met, so we did a conference plan deal with the


refugees, the only military action needs to be subordinated to regional


diplomatic efforts to come up with some kind of... But these already


underway. Military action is not underway. It has not been


subordinated to that process. No, but diplomatic action is already


underway and everything we know, although they have not fallen apart,


it would take a long time for this diplomatic action to bear fruit.


Meanwhile, we know the intelligence services who met the Shadow Cabinet


on Wednesday night, ISR planning terrorist attacks in the West


including in terrorist attacks in the West


will we do in the interim as a terrorist attacks in the West


for diplomatic progress? But the case for additional bombing in


Syria, that will prevent Isis attacks and


Syria, that will prevent Isis what should we do in the interim


given that we what should we do in the interim


security services to avoid attacks here. With Paris, they were planned


and organised. here. With Paris, they were planned


want to abolish that? No, he does not. He signed a petition in April.


No he didn't. He may have signed. I don't read the details. He may have


signed a manifesto which don't read the details. He may have


one line out of very many lines. don't read the details. He may have


Politicians, you sign manifestos but you don't agree with every single


line on it. He held this document up in front of a camera. I can't


respond to John McDonald. I'm sorry. You voted against air strikes in


2013. I did because the proposition was to bomb President Assad and I


felt the experience of Iraq, we took out Saddam Hussein, there was no


felt the experience of Iraq, we took post-conflict plan, we crated a


vacuum and extremists moved into that vacuum. I think it is certainly


vacuum and extremists moved into part of the strategy which it wasn't


in 2013 and had we taken out President Assad, IS would've filled


it in. Now the world has moved on, we have peace talks in Vienna, the


recent atrocities in Paris and Tunisia, Iran and Russia and Saudi


Arabia and around the table in Vienna for the first time. There's a


different set of circumstances. ISR still growing, subjugating the


Muslim community in the territory they held, throwing gay people off


the roofs of tall buildings, beheading people, and we have 5


million Syrian refugees as a result. We have to do something to contain


IS and address this issue. Let me look at the Labour Party 's response


to this. There was a long Shadow Cabinet discussion yesterday. It


didn't come to an agreement. The agreement would be that they would


meet again on Monday and mull things over. Why did Jeremy Corbyn without


telling the Shadow Cabinet right to MPs pre-empting discussions by


saying he's against it. He's entirely entitled to lead his


position as leader of the party in the same way as other members of the


Shadow Cabinet. But why didn't you tell a Shadow Cabinet? Until they


discovered Jeremy Corbyn in this letter, they could not express their


own opinions. Why did he not tell a Shadow Cabinet that that is what he


was doing at the Shadow Cabinet meeting? No shadow minister knew


that was what was going to do. As Hilary Benn said this morning,


Jeremy is elected as leader on overwhelming majority. He is


entitled to make his opinion very clear. But why did you not tell a


Shadow Cabinet? I don't know what goes on in Shadow Cabinet. You seem


quite well-informed. I don't know what goes on in Shadow Cabinet at


all. But he is entirely right to show leadership and shows the


position is going to take. I'm not arguing with you about that. Do you


expect to be heavily lobbied by momentum this weekend to vote


against the government? Yes. How would you respond? As I have been


doing so, by individually e-mailing my constituents and expressing an


opinion to them, to be honest, but I'm inclined to support the


government, the game plan yesterday was a Shadow Cabinet was most to me


to consult over the weekend their constituencies and reflect on the


prime ministers statement and the evidence and come back on Monday to


make a decision and a recommendation. Jeremy clearly, I


think when they arrive in the chamber, body language indicated he


is opposed and was not going to support it. He tested the Shadow


Cabinet and the majority are opposed to him so therefore he's going above


their heads to use his momentum to put pressure on MPs and Shadow


Cabinet members so when he recalls the saddle Cabinet on Monday, maybe


some of them will have changed their mind. If they don't, the only place


you can go is a free vote. If momentum members discover the


majority in the parliament to Labour Party constituents are against


bombing, they are faced with a member like this, who is going to


vote with the government and abstain on the issue at least, what should


happen to these MPs? Exactly as Jim said, they should respond to each


position, and there's a normal debatable for the snow threat


implied by Google writing to an MP to express an interest. You don't


think it MPs defy Mr Corbyn on this issue, they should face calls for


deselection? No I do not think so. They should vote on their


conscience? Yes, there should be no deselection. There will be no


deselection of MPs on this issue. You are smiling. There's always a


minority in any constituency party disagree with their candidate and


who will want to deselect him. I think there's a real chance now they


will be an orchestrated attempt to deselect MPs and with a boundary


changes the government are proposing for the next Parliament, there will


be a lot of contests created as a result of geographical changes so a


number of MPs I think will face a challenge. I don't see any way out


of this for Labour. Except a free vote. Do you? I think every thing


else is impossible, there's no possibility members of the Shadow


Cabinet to our prepared to support air strikes are going to change


their minds over the weekend. The problem for Jeremy Corbyn is the


British public thinks there is no circumstance whatsoever he would


ever back any kind of military action. We know he would ever back


any kind of military action. We know his opposed military action over 30


years and has already said he's against it in this situation, which


may well be the right thing to believe, but the problem is he does


not look like the leader who would ever agree in any circumstance. He's


not going to change his mind and a Shadow Cabinet about change theirs.


He's never supported the action against the IRA, the Falklands,


Kosovo, he was against that. It's a default position. I don't understand


why it's a great show of strong, courageous leadership to stick to


your guns and go, yes, we're going to have a war, it's somehow a


failure bishop not stepping up to it. If you just say clearly, watch


opposition is... That wasn't Jenny 's point. There's no point having a


debate with Mr Corbyn because he's always opposed any kind of military


action which involves the West. At Labour Party conference, it was


voted through by the delegates at conference, the conditions that


would need to be met and those conditions have not been met. All


right. Are you in favour of a free vote? Momentum does not have a


position on it and it's not for me to say full setup to Jeremy and the


Shadow Cabinet. I don't want to second-guess it. Does the cabinet


take place before the Shadow MP? Yes. He would have to say of the PLP


what he agreed position as or they would be an agreement? Jeremy will


be reporting to them at 6pm on Monday and telling as the


recommendation which will then be discussed among the PLP but, yes,


Shadow Cabinet will come to one imagines a conclusion before the


PLP. You had better order in the popcorn. Gentlemen, thank you very


much. So, the Prime Minister laid out


his comprehensive plan yesterday to take the fight to so-called


Islamic State in Syria. The Prime Minister might have


convinced MPs We've been watching in the House


of Commons whose decision it is, mood-changing possible


mind-changing, on whether we should But what do people


outside think about it? I'm against


the air strikes generally simply because I think it will encourage


more terrorism in this country. Isil is an enormous problem but I


don't believe this is I think we should, to be honest,


yeah. I really do because of everything


that's going on at the moment. It only takes a few


of them to get in and So I agree with it, yeah, I really


do. I'd want to know for


a start precisely what the objective was of these strikes, who they were


aimed at, and what the endgame was. They've got to be stopped but then


there's the civilian casualties as well to take into consideration,


so it's a very difficult call. I wouldn't like to be voting


on that myself. We're watching other people do it,


and obviously our allies are doing it, so maybe we


should get involved as well. At the same time,


they're really bad people. And I think, in order


for the bad people to succeed, it's You should be involved


because they are troubling The whole world has been troubled


by them. I think it's


a very unclear situation. I think there's a lot of countries


that are already involved and it's very difficult to understand


the impact that we would have in Peter Kellner is the President


of the polling organisation YouGov. Welcome back to the programme,


Peter. Let's begin with the changing mood of public opinion in the round.


What is now the majority British view in extending our bombing to


Syria? It is exactly the opposite to what it was two years ago before the


Government's defeat. Then we found at YouGov, 2-to-1, the public were


opposed to air strikes against President Assad, now it is two to


one in favour of air strikes against Isil in Syria. And I assume that is


Tunisia, Paris, Jihadi John, the rise of Islamic State beheadings and


so on? That is right. I think what happened two years ago, it blew up


suddenly, if you remember the stories of chemical weapons, it


happened in the summer, MPs were on a break and Parliament was recalled


and there wasn't the time, either at Westminster or the general public,


for the Government to prepare the ground and this time it is well


prepared. And do we have data on the attitude of the Labour membership,


such as it is in a largely expanded form in the course of Mr Corbyn's


leadership election and subsequently? Yes, because we polled


in September, when we called Corbyn's victory more or less spot


on, and ask them what we think and the Labour Party membership now is


strongly against, 2-to-1 against bombing, but Labour voters are two


to one in favour of bombing, so you have got out there, in the Labour


Party out in the world, this contrast


Party out in the world, this has, and remember, it doesn't have


enough to form a Government, it will need to win over more people but the


Labour membership, they back the need to win over more people but the


party leader. So if you are like Jim Fitzpatrick, the MP who we have just


had on who is minded to vote with the Government


had on who is minded to vote with would argue there is a disconnect by


those people who are now Labour activists and the wider


those people who are now Labour community, in the sense of people


who vote Labour and the country at community, in the sense of people


large. There is a clear disconnect and it is not only on this issue, it


large. There is a clear disconnect is a whole range of other issues.


You find public like, for example, the


Government's public like, for example, the


like it, on the public like, for example, the


nationalisation. The people who voted the Jeremy Corbyn,


nationalisation. The people who Party electorate but if there was a


new leadership election today, the membership would vote


new leadership election today, the but people outside in the country


think very differently. But but people outside in the country


understand that Labour activists who are very much against the bombing in


Syria, they don't want, the data tells us, they don't want Mr Corbyn


to try do, to whip the Labour Party into line. They would be


to try do, to whip the Labour Party a free vote. He


to try do, to whip the Labour Party Dianne Abbott earlier, saying Labour


Party members Dianne Abbott earlier, saying Labour


Corbyn's position, that is right, but if you are going to


Corbyn's position, that is right, line of what Labour Party members


want, by an even bigger line of what Labour Party members


they oppose bombing, they want a free vote for all MPs to do what


they want, 70%. These figures really go to the heart of Labour's dilemma,


because we get told all the time by those who elected Mr Corbyn and that


he won by 60%, let him get those who elected Mr Corbyn and that


it, and there is huge Democratic those who elected Mr Corbyn and that


logic in that. The problem is the people who elected Mr Corbyn would


seem not to be that representative not only of the country


seem not to be that representative but of the 9 million people who


voted Labour at the last election. That is right, that is why Labour is


in so much difficulty, and polling 27%. The Tories have a 15 point


lead. 27%. The Tories have a 15 point


legitimately got a feeling they are responsible to the people who


elected them in May, they have a personal mandate from their voters


and four Corbyn to say my mandate from this very small number of


people, 300 - 400,000 people there in the Labour Party trumps your


responsibility to the 9 million people who voted Labour just doesn't


wash. If it responds entirely to fit a lectureship -- it electorate


should, it will be a small party, it needs to respond to the people who


voted for it. The Conservatives may well find themselves in the same


position over Europe, where the party membership is in a very


different place to Conservative voters. It is across the western


world, with, on the whole, declining party memberships. Labour's is up on


the last few months but way down from what it was 30 or 40 years ago.


Increasingly, you get the obsessives, look at the tea party


Republicans in the States. It is a problem with parties across the


Western world, a disconnection with the activists and the wider


electorate in all countries. The answer would be that if everybody


who was concerned about the future of the Labour Party now joined it in


order to swamp the is, but people would rather stay home and watch TV


-- the Corbyn followers. And what is wrong about? It is a wider


phenomenon and all the more interesting than that.


In his Autumn Statement and Spending Review delivered on Wednesday,


not just to pull a rabbit out of the hat, but a rabbit worth ?27 billion.


He announced that the Office for Budget Responsibility's forecasts


for the public finances showed a significant improvement


compared to their previous assessment in July.


The surprise extra money comes from a combination


and lower interest payments on the nation's debt.


Because interest rates are going to stay low for the foreseeable future.


VAT is now expected to magic up an extra ?11.5 billion by 2020-21


after the OBR decided its previous forecasts were too pessimistic.


The Government also expects to get more money


from National Insurance Contributions and Corporation Tax.


So the Chancellor is set to borrow ?8 billion less


over the next five years than he planned to in July,


over the next five years than he planned to in July.


Despite waving his magic wand to increase capital spending,


reverse cuts to tax credits and protect the overall police budget,


Add to defence, almost everything that moved, he is able to spend


more. And I'm joined now by the man who


found all that extra cash Chairman of the Office for


Budget Responsiblity, Robert Chote. When did you discover that there was


more than we thought? Well, gradually over the period running up


to the forecast. The largest single contributor to this ?27 billion,


which we should remember is just a quarter of 1% of GDP, it doesn't go


as far as we used to -- it used to when we were young, is lower debt


interest. Because the bank said lower interest rates for the


foreseeable future, it doesn't cost much to service our debt? That is


part of it and simply, the rates on the financial market at which the


Government can borrow are lower than they were in July, so all you need


Reuters screen and an abacus to know that but it was apparent everybody


as we went along. The Bank of England thing would have been harder


for people to calculate in advance. But you have adjusted your model as


well, the model you use for forecasting tax revenues


underestimated what tax revenues would be? In a couple of areas. On


the VAT one, these are both situations in which the models were


being used before the OBR existed. The one for VAT in particular, as


the public spending cuts have mounted, that has started to show us


over estimating the amount that is deducted from VAT because of the


flows within Government, so that becomes apparent, so we flagged that


in October and said it was likely to improve the position by about ?3


billion at the end of the forecast. But did you adjust your projections


for tax revenues without knowing what was happening to tax revenues


in this financial year in particular? Because of weak tax


revenues, the deficit in October was the worst since 2009. Yes, we don't


get prerelease access to the actual release that comes out on the day,


but all of the raw material that goes into that from the HMRC, we


have most of that, so if we had that release, the forecast wouldn't have


looked... It wouldn't have changed, even though the most recent evidence


we have, it suggests that even as the economy grows by other two and a


half percent this year, the tax revenues have actually been weaker


than forecast, you have still adjusted the forecast to have


stronger tax revenues on the year is out. You are judging it is weaker on


the performance of the year-to-date extrapolating that. There are a


number of reasons why we would expect the deficit to four passed at


the end of the year than the beginning. For example, there have


been measures that will boost self-assessment for tax revenue that


will come in in January. There is a change in Stamp Duty which changes


the year on year profile which will look better because the Stamp Duty


policy came in in December, in the fourth quarter of the year. There


are numbers that the Office for National Statistics have said it is


going to put into the back data that we have put into the forecast, but


they will take time to put it into the back data. There are also the


Government announced spending cuts within this year in June which had


not yet shown up in the numbers, so for a whole set of those reasons, we


think the year-on-year comparison will look better in the fourth


quarter of the year than it does in the first three. That said, there is


always considerable uncertainty. The average error for forecasting the


budget in this part of the year is half a percent of GDP, twice the


size of the rabbits you referred to. When did you inform the Chancellor


that he had this unexpected windfall? Some of it would have been


obvious to anybody looking at the path of interest rates. But when did


he realise there would be ?27 billion more in the OBR projections


compared with July? As we say in the document, we hand the final


pre-measures forecast, ie what would happen if he sat on his hands and


did nothing, on November nine. So he had some advanced notice that the


fiscal position gave him a bit more wiggle room than he had beforehand?


That is right and then the moving parts stopped moving and he had a


clearer picture by mid-November. Although this is not a matter to


you, are you surprised that he spent most of this 27 billion? I mean, if


you were repairing the roof while the Sun was shining, wouldn't you


put some of this away for a rainy day? As you say, that is in my


judgment to make. He has a target to balance the budget in 2019-20 and on


the policies he has announced that the moment, we think he has a margin


of about ?10 billion. If you look at the average size and distribution of


forecasting errors over the last 25 years or so, that suggest about 55%


chance of forecasting errors over the last 25 years or so, that


suggest about 55% chance he has to decide how big a cushion he once


when setting out spending plans for a number of years. Assuming no


external shocks to the economy, which none of us can predict. Lucky,


Lucky Chancellor. He is also taking an immense gamble. Robert is a


brilliant economist but the one thing that trumps the OBR's


projection so far is they have all been optimistic and all been wrong,


so for the Chancellor to base all of his spending decisions today on the


assumption that in four years' time inflation, growth, jobs and economy


and taxation receipts will all be the same as the OBR expect now is


fantasy politics. But he will adjusted as he goes on. He will, but


he was able to jump out of this hole on the basis of hope. Forecast in


the economy is more complicated than forecasting what is -- less


complicated than forecasting what is going to happen in Syria, but it is


still difficult. Thank you. We will be back on Sunday with a Sunday


Politics as the countdown to that Syrian vote gathers pace, 11 o'clock


Sunday morning, the by. -- goodbye.


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