Andrew Neil with the latest political news and debate, including the decision to scrap an inquiry into banking culture and a new party hoping to represent unionists in Scotland.
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The Government has denied exaggerating a warning
from the medical director of NHS England about the impact
of a possible strike by junior doctors.
We'll hear from the former health minister Norman Lamb.
After the City watchdog drops an investigation into the culture
and practices of banks, have we moved beyond
The United States claims 2,500 Islamic State fighter were killed
in December by coalition air-strikes.
We'll discuss the campaign against IS in Iraq and Syria.
And in the first of a new series of films, we talk to former Home
I always felt as Home Secretary there was some person who worked in
the department whose name you did not know, whose responsibilities you
had no idea of, who was going to destroy your career.
All that in the next hour and with us for the whole
of the programme today I'm joined by the Times columnist
Rachel Sylvester, and the Independent's Middle East
First, let's talk about a report in this morning's Independent that
officials working for Jeremy Hunt intervened in the writing
of a warning from NHS England's medical director Bruce Keogh
to the British Medical Association about the risks to patient care
in the event of a major terrorist attack during
Staff from the Department of Health urged Bruce Keogh
to make his warning as "hard-edged" as possible.
"Given it is the Government's ultimate responsibility to do
everything it can to ensure public safety, it is completely right
that the Department expressed a view on communication with the BMA".
Let's talk now to the former health minister, the Liberal Democrat
Norman Lamb, he's in our Norwich studio.
What is wrong with the medical director and the government wanting
to make sure that we'd be covered jawing a strike in the event of a
terrorist attack? I don't have any difficulty with liaison, discussion.
Indeed, when I was in the department there was constant discussion with
NHS England. But one of the principles of the Andrew Lansley
reforms was to create this independent body. And I suspect
you'd probably agree that it does look rather as if an independent
official within NHS England is being leaned on by the government on
something that ultimately very politically sensitive. But he
doesn't say that, he says it was entirely appropriate that the NHS
should coordinate the operational response to the strike threat. Well,
as I say, I have no difficulty with discussion between the department
and NHS England. But what concerns me most about all of this is that it
will probably damage trust further between the government and the
junior doctors. And what's in the interest of everyone is that
actually we get this dispute settled and settled very quickly. That's a
different matter. I understand that but it is a different matter.
There's been a brouhaha about this letter and trying to work out
exactly what's with it. Let me quote the letter, because the relevant
part is the following: "Will the BMA NCO that members will be available
to respond to a major incident whether this is declared because of
a single event or an unprecedented surge in activity? Will junior
doctors who would otherwise have been rostered for duty make
themselves available to respond in a timely way within an hour of a major
incident being declared?" What timely way within an hour of a major
wrong with the medical director request in that information? So if
you remember back to when this was released, it caused an enormous
furore among young doctors, they made clear at that time that of
course they would respond, it is part of their duty as doctors to
respond in the event of an emergency of that sort. And I suppose the
critical thing, Andrew, and you will understand this absolutely, is was
this politics getting involved? Was it actually to just six it up a bit
in order to put pressure on the BMA at a moment of intense pressure in
this dispute? What I'm interested in is finding ways of ratcheting down
the battle tween government and junior doctors to find a settlement
to this dispute rather than making it more difficult. All right, Norman
Lamb, thanks for joining us. Rachel, is there a story in this? We've been
there before with sexed up dossiers and the problem for the government
is that if it looks like they are playing politics with the NHS. It
looked as though they were exploiting the Paris terror attacks.
Surely it is the duty of the government, if it faces a junior
doctors strike, not talking about the ROMs or rights of that, but
facing a strike, is not the of the government to establish that these
junior doctors will, as they almost certainly would, make themselves
available in the event of a terrorist attack? Absolutely, but
the point was whether the letter was really written to be leaked. I think
it is about the politics, playing politics with the NHS, which applies
equally to the BMA. Patients and voters will not forgive politicians
or doctors who look as though they are playing politics. The government
could, or the Department of Health, could just have left Bruce Keogh to
write the letter in his own words in his own way? Yes, I mean this is
presented as being independent and it obviously isn't independent. It
also seems to be exploiting the massacre in Paris in a way, you
know, people were criticised for exploiting 9/11. But if you were the
government you exploiting 9/11. But if you were the
sure that these junior doctors were available in the event of a
terrorist attack given the atmosphere of the time, all talk was
Britain could just as easily be under threat, it was the duty of the
government to make sure that the doctors will turn up. I have no
reason to believe that they wouldn't. My guess is they would
break their strike and they would of course come into the hospitals, but
the government had to establish that. But that does not seem to have
been the purpose of this letter and the publicity given to this letter.
This was to put pressure on the junior doctors. It does not seem to
have been a perfectly reasonable administrative instruction. It seems
to have had a very direct political intent. Just to ratchet things up?
To ratchet things up, and rather naive, knowing that if this got out
they would get a lot of egg on their face, which is what has happened.
The question for today is all about radio phone-ins.
Who is the latest politician to decide to join the likes
of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson and host a regular show on LBC
Is it a) William Hague, b) Alex Salmond,
I guess he wouldn't have to come to the country coming he could do it
down the line. and Patrick will give us
the correct answer. It's pretty easy this week, isn't
it? I'm giving nothing away. That's what we like.
Are the Government and the regulators going soft on banks?
That's the fear among some MPs after the City watchdog announced
that it was shelving a review into banking culture.
The culture many people thought helped create the crisis in 2008.
MPs on the Treasury Select Committee have summoned the bosses
of the Financial Conduct Authority to give evidence later this month
George Osborne says he had no prior knowledge of the decision.
But, more broadly, is the Government shifting its tone
In June shortly after the general election George Osborne made
a speech to top bankers at the Mansion house in London.
In July, in his emergency budget, the Chancellor took further action
by reducing the bank levy and replacing it with a less onerous
Before the election HSBC declared that the bank levy was a factor
in its ongoing deliberation over whether to move its headquarters out
Later that month Martin Wheatley, the chief executive of the City
watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority -
Mr Wheatley was unpopular with city bosses.
For example, in 2014-15, the watchdog raised ?1.4 billion
in fines on banks and other financial companies,
more than in the previous four years combined.
And just last month the FCA revealed that it had shelved plans
for an inquiry into the culture, pay and behaviour of staff in banking.
The chairman of the Commons Treasury Select Committee,
Andrew Tyrie, said recent decisions by the FCA were giving
the impression of a "weakening of resolve".
George Osborne was asked about that yesterday on the BBC.
That was a completely independent decision that I had no foreknowledge
of. What did you think of it? It's got to be an independent decision
for our banking regulator. But you are the Chancellor and you must have
a view as to whether there should be that sort of investigation into the
way the banks have been behaving? I would say that we did have that
investigation, it was a cross-party parliamentary commission that
included people like the Archbishop of Canterbury on the.
We've been joined from Sheffield by the Labour MP John Mann,
who is a member of the Treasury Select Committee.
And in the studio is the stock broker and market commentator,
And I should just say that we did ask the Treasury for an interview
with a government minister on this, but none was available.
David Buik, is the government changing its attitude to the banking
industry? I don't think so. We have come a long way since John McFall's
committee after the financial crisis. He was the labour on Peter
chaired it under the last Labour government. Yes, keep late a leading
Andrew Svoboda versus role -- he played a leading and
it was a shambles and the government did not seem to know what was going
on. An awful lot of water has passed under the bridge, a lot of changing
personalities. I believe the situation now that Andrew Bailey is
responsible for Prudential banking, he has the great response of the
entire industry, he is a very good communicator. The regulations have
changed. We will not know if they are the right regulations until we
hit the next crisis, we never do. But are we really sure that the
culture has changed all that much? Are we really sure that a lot of the
kind of culture that created the crisis in 2007 and 2008 is still not
there? I absolutely think the changes have been implemented.
Because a lot of this stuff that has come up, the PPI stuff, you will see
a lot of court cases with people serving long prison sentences which
they deserve. Every time I'm told that by somebody in the city,
another scandal erupts. Yes but many of them, with great respect, our
historical, and it takes a long time to bring these people to book. As
far as I'm concerned Tracy McDermott has done a fantastic job. And she
is? She is basically the temporary head of the FCA until somebody is
appointed. She won't mind me saying this, she is around five, and she is
a brilliant Rottweilers. So why doesn't the government give her the
job? She doesn't want it. Maybe she knows something we don't. John Mann,
the Treasury Select Committee is going to bring in the bosses of the
FCA to find out why this enquiry was shelved. What do you think, at the
moment, is going on? Well we know what is going on. In August the FCA
had a huge amount of work ongoing into culture within banks and how to
ensure that the culture was appropriate. In September Martin
Wheatley left and instantly all that work was changed. Not just one piece
of work, but lots of pieces of work that have been going on for some
years. Every single bit of it dropped. In essence the FCA will
have no point for existing. But since the FCA is, we are told, in
independent regular tree authority, why would it dropped this enquiry
into culture, even if the government wanted it? The government has no
part in stopping it. It is my belief the government has interfered. I
think the enquiry will prove that, and hopefully prove precisely how
they have interfered. The FCA has not reached its own conclusions. Its
been told what to do. It's been told by the Treasury. And it's a bit
weaselly for George Osborne to say "I had no prior knowledge". We can
define that as saying, I personally wasn't informed, because the way I
operate is that they don't inform us of those, with a nod and a wink. His
officials knew what was going on and I predict that he wants one of his
senior officials to in fact run the FCA to complete the job for him,
which is to neuter it. So you believe that contrary to what
Mr Osborne told the BBC this week that the government was involved on,
if I put it this way, Leeming, pressuring, the FCA not to proceed
with this inquiry? Directly and specifically, not just generally but
specifically. I think that the Treasury committee inquiry will
uncover how that happened and it is a huge scandal in terms of the
approach of the government, not least because they're saying one
thing publicly, as Osborne did, but doing something else privately. But
also the motives for doing it. And in my view, George Osborne's motive
is to maximise the income he gets back in from selling of shares in
RBS and Lloyds bank. That's what this is about because the economy
isn't going as well as he wants and his projections, which he gets
independently from the OBR, are not going to be that good in his March
budget and later this year. He wants to compensate for that. It is
obviously a very important and serious accusation, that you are
saying the government did lean on this, and it would be fascinating to
see the evidence because the Treasury are saying that isn't what
happened. I'm saying it very specifically. Let me ask you this
question. Given that your inquiry hasn't yet started, your inquiry
into the lack of an inquiry, which is a what you're about to do, how do
you know all this? Because when we've had the FCA in front of us
before we are aware of what their work programme has been and their
priorities and it is not just this one inquiry that they were doing
into culture and the work on that, it's a series of things that they've
dropped. Some things have been announced. I believe there are other
pieces of work that have been dropped that were very important
internally in the FCA that have disappeared, stopped, ended. This is
a huge change in regulation and in essence, what has happened is that
the Prudential RideLondon to, the PR eight, and Mr Bailey, which looks at
the grand picture, is continuing its work but the precise regulation of
individual banks and individual bankers has come to an end. It is
self-regulation now for individual banks. That is a huge approach that
has not been agreed by Parliament and I don't believe there's a
consensus in the that it is right to do that. Let me put that. What is
your response? Obviously, he is privileged information but I don't
get but I think Andrew baby at the Prudential banking authority has a
very close relationship with the FCA and banks have transgressed. Nobody
is trying to get away from that. But they have been rubbished to a degree
where it is care to productive to recovery and I think Andrew Bailey
and his meetings with the FCA have probably decided that the work in
terms of dealing with the behavioural factor should be done
individually by each bank. John Mann can summon whoever he likes, or the
chairman, to ask an investigation and they are highly entitled to do
so but I believe that you deal with one individual bank, each one in
this country, on an individual basis and you will get a much better
result in the long term. Would it not be fair to surmise that the
government has taken fright at the prospect of HSBC moving its
headquarters from London? It is by far the biggest bank even though
most of its operations are not in this country. And indeed we learn
that the FCA is shelving, is not pursuing, action against HSBC over
its Swiss private banking arm, which was such a scandal last year. Again,
that was HSBC. You could put together a case to say that the
Government is kind of in retreat from the banks. You could and it
doesn't look terribly good but what I'm saying to you is that I believe
that within the importance of the Bank of England and all the
regulatory authorities, they have a duty of care to make sure that the
banking fraternity works as well as it possibly can. It is a matter of
wholesale indifference to Douglas and to Stuart Gulliver, the chairman
to the Executive of HSBC, whether they have their head office in
London or not because they can go pretty much anywhere. But it would
be huge reputational damage to the government if it was to lose HSBC.
It is more than that. It would be huge rotation or damage to the city
and on and the City of London Police financial sector contributes about
50% of GDP. I believe this is a pragmatic approach. John Mann and
his Treasury select committee have every right to have the drains up to
see why they've come around to these decisions but I haven't think it has
been done with the best interests of everybody, in the full knowledge
that the FCA will bring transgressors to book in a very
serious manner and we will find this out in the next three to six months
when loads of people are going to go to jail. Unless you are in HSBC's
Swiss banking arm. John Mann, I will give you the final word. David was
exactly right that watch it happen is that each bank is properly
regulated individually. That is exactly the change that is taking
place. That is the regulation that is not going to happen. It is all
going to be generalised - risks to the whole system. Mr Bailey's role
in it and the PRA. The regulator will in essence have no effective
role whatsoever in the future. This is a huge change. We need to expose
that and have a proper debate about whether that decision, inspired by
Osborne and the Treasury, is the right one. Obviously, I don't make
it is. I understand. Very briefly, Wendy you expect to have the FCA in
front of the select committee? It is this month. I also hope and think we
will have Mr Osborne and perhaps other Treasury officials as well.
Come back and taught was after you have these meetings? Will do. --
come back and talk to us. Thank you very much. A developing story that
we will be continuing to cover. The UK continues to fly intensive
armed reconnaissance missions across Syria and Iraq,
but missions in the last few days over northern Iraq, attacking
targets in Mosul and Ramadi. On the 30th of December,
Tornados returned to Ramadi, bombing two machine-gun positions
and assisting coalition aircraft in strikes on IS militants,
as Typhoons assisted the Peshmerga with an attack on a terrorist rocket
launcher team near Sinjar Typhoons and Tornados
continued to patrol the Sinjar area on the last day
of 2015, using Paveways against machine-gun positions
and a group of militants. On New Year's Day, an RAF Reaper
drone supported coalition air strikes in Ramadi,
and on the following day another Reaper used Hellfire missile
near the city of Fallujah. A city of certain iconic status in
whole story. At the beginning of this year,
Typhoons delivered a number of successful attacks in Ramadi
and Tornados and a Reaper drone attacked nine other targets
across northern Iraq. While the RAF continue to fly
surveillance missions over Syria, the last time a British aircraft
struck the country when an RAF Reaper hit a checkpoint
south of IS stronghold We can speak to the BBC's
defence correspondent Before we come onto the British, how
much credence is the defence community giving the American claims
that IS is now suffering real casualties from the air war? I think
there is credence and I think there is also evidence that IS are losing
ground. For example, Ron Mahdi is now in the hands of Iraqi security
forces, albeit there are pockets of resistance. The town has been
booby-trapped and is still difficult to move around but there is no doubt
that the territory it has has shrunk by 40% in Iraq, Tampa sent in Syria.
But on that point of casualties, it is interesting. In December, the
Coalition, the Pentagon essentially, said that 2500 IS fighters had been
killed. Overall, 5000 have been killed in the past year plus a few
months yet they still say that there are still about 30,000 IS fighters
so there are lots of people who aren't sure that this strategy of
killing them is going to work because other people pop up, as
we've seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. You take out high-value targets and
mid-level targets and the resort was somebody else who takes their place.
And on the British contribution, in Syria itself, are we right to be
quizzical about what would seem to be the lack of activity of the dish
forces over Syria? I don't think you'd be right to say the RAF has
been doing nothing because they have been very busy carrying out strikes
six days out of seven in Iraq, pretty much every day for the past
month. They have been supporting that operation and fast jets like
tornadoes and typhoons are like the cavalry, helping troops to the
ground. They are helping in a way they are not in Syria. You can ask
the question legitimately when the Prime Minister said ahead of that
quote, just over a month ago, that Britain would make a meaningful
difference, has Britain made a meaningful difference in Syria, and
the answer at the moment does not appear to be yes. I understand that
RAF Reaper is - and we saw an RAF Reaper doing a strike on Christmas
Day - have been looking out for high-value targets. They have seen
high-value targets, I'm told, but they haven't carried out attacks,
they haven't carried a out a Hellfire Missiles fire because there
hasn't been the right time. They do not want to cause a billion
casualties. There has to be the right time when they get those
individuals. -- cause civilian casualties. I think you can say that
reapers have been doing surveillance missions over Iraq. They are looking
out for individuals but they haven't made a difference yet. Thank you
very much for that. Let's discuss this campaign against
Islamic State with my two guests. You have a new book out called Chaos
and Caliphate. You briefed Labour MPs on air strikes in Syria before
the vote in parliament. What did you tell them? Well, I said that I was
all in favour of Islamic State being weakened or eliminated but what was
proposed really wouldn't have much effect. Already, before Britain
became involved, there were far more American air emissions than there
are actual attacks. In other words, there are more aircraft in the sky
looking for targets and they can find targets, so this was never
going to have much military impact. There are successes, like Ramadi, in
a sense. The Iraqi army moves in. But first of all, Ramadi is now in
ruins so we used to have a population of 600000 and these
people are now internally displaced. Some of them will be refugees
abroad. But as inevitable as part of a wall. But particularly this type
of war. It is presented as a victory for the Iraqi army but they have
been, in many cases, a mopping up force after the other side has been
eliminated or weakened by heavy air attack. So air attacks in Iraq have
played a role? Yes, but in very specific circumstances. Also in
Syria. If so-called Islamic State fighters, and they are very well
trained, dig in and fight to the last bullet in fixed positions that
you can identify with ground forces, they are going to suffer heavy
losses. They did this in the siege of Kobane which went on for four
months. And they did lose in the end. But in Ramadi, they haven't
really done that again. They leave 250 350 men behind, they don't fight
the last bullet. They are sort of reverting to being a gorilla force
so it becomes more difficult to target them. Let me ask you this.
Unlike a year ago, or even less, Islamic State is losing ground in
Iraq now. It has lost several cities or towns. The Pentagon, though I
would put a big question mark over their 25,000 figure - I remember the
Vietnam figures, which were fantastical as well do- but even so
we know they have been suffering casualties. There are also
increasing reports that they're suffering increasing defections as
well. Would it not be possible to argue, or at least consider, but
Islamic State is now passed its peak?
Yes, they are being attacked by different forces at different
points. But losing ground? One thing to bear in mind is that the
battlefield is about the size of Great Britain and a lot of this
ground is desert or semi desert. 40% of Syria is step land or does it.
All of this stuff that comes out of the Pentagon, saying 14% lost to
Islamic State territory, it is pretty meaningless. The population
is very concentrated along the rivers and in the cities. So yes,
they are under pressure, yes, they have suffered losses, but all these
very precise figures like 2500 dead, obviously amiss. Take with a big
inch of salt. They have tunnels underground, they do not appear
outside, they do not publish casualties figures. They are an
attempt to produce finite figures that Isis, Islamic State, is not
only passed its peak, but going down, and there really isn't any
evidence for that at the moment. But less than a year ago Islamic State
looked like it was unstoppable. There were even stories it was going
to get to Baghdad at one stage. It doesn't have that situation now,
does it? No. Well there are two things, aren't there? Islamic State
the military force and Islamic State the ideology. The more thing is that
the ideologies shows no signs of being defeated and that seems to be
spreading around the world. So this isn't just about troops on the
ground, winning or who's losing a ground war in or Syria, it's also
about the spread of an awful and dreadful, wicked ideology to Britain
and other countries. And it's being exported and spreading. And you are
seeing young girls being radicalised in their bedrooms in the east of
London. The chief henchman wielding his sword is a British man. And
that's the battle. It is a battle of ideas. At least, if not more than a
battle of guns, I'd say. Rachel talks about the ideology of Islamic
State spreading into other parts of the world, into the Maghreb. How
significant is the Islamic State presents now in Libya? Well, it's
pretty significant. You have seen that they blew up a police academy
yesterday with a vehicle packed with explosives. They killed 65, 100
people. They have spread along the coast from the city of Sirte. That
is now one of their strongholds. They have tried to take over two of
the big oil ports, there. So they have taken over a huge chunk of
territory. Just a slightly different view from Rachel, it is important to
Islamic State that they actually have a functioning state. It may be
under pressure. Because they want the caliphate. And that was not a
name of Al-Qaeda, they did not run a state. They also have an
administration, they conscript locals for soldiers. I do not
believe this 30,000 figure, I think it is far more. From the Western
European point of view, these are terrorist attacks, but what makes
them so different from the old al-Qaeda, this is backed by a state
with money, with resources. Revenue raising powers and so on. If it
fails five times it can try another five times. That is what it is
trying to do in Libya and Yemen, set up ministates. You cover all this in
your book? I do. In good book shops now. Good and bad.
Here at the Daily Politics, we like to spoil our loyal viewers
So sit back, get comfy, and enjoy the first of a new series
where Giles Dilnot has been talking to former home secretaries
about leading one of the great offices of state.
Whitehall, the heart of government.
But do you think you could handle the police, the security services,
counterterrorism and, once upon a time, prisons?
Very little good news crosses the Home Secretary's
Not many people come out of the Home Office with their
It's extremely hard work, which isn't often
You go to bed at night thinking everything is calm
You're woken up at two in the morning and some
It has nothing to do with you but in the
morning, everyone is going to be out for your blood, saying
Jill Rutter was a senior civil servant and is now at the Institute
for Government, and of all Whitehall jobs she thinks this one's
The Home Office used to be a real political graveyard.
That was particularly when it had responsibility for prisons,
which it's lost, but it's still in charge
of things - counterterrorism, police, immigration -
where the big question is, what will go wrong?
So the Home Secretary knows that something will go wrong somewhere
They don't know what and they don't know when.
So one of the key attributes of being Home
Secretary is to be able to manage those risks,
react calmly and not be panicked by headlines into bad
That level of responsibility can be daunting when offered the job.
Even the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, when he asked me to do
the job, started the conversation by saying, "Jacqui, I expect this
And I managed to avoid the F word that Margaret Beckett
used when asked to be Foreign Secretary but I think
something unguarded came out of my mouth at that particular moment.
I'd actually asked him, if at all possible,
It's surprising that one of the things that makes the job
a challenge is the department itself.
Kenneth Baker, who was one of my predecessors and a friend,
he said to me, shortly before the 1997
election, "Listen, Jack,", he said, "Good luck as Home Secretary.
One always felt as Home Secretary there was some
person who worked under a discreet department,
whose name you didn't know, whose responsibilities you had
no idea of, and as you put your head on your pillow at night,
And I think that's probably pretty accurate because in any big
organisation, things go wrong and you don't necessarily know
about them until they go wrong and then
the buck stops with the Secretary of State.
This personal responsibility combines with the seriousness
of the issue into quite a bruising mix.
If you're in another department, there's quite a reasonable chance
that the mistake you make will be in some dark,
hidden corner, where no-one's looking.
There are no dark, hidden corners in the Home Office.
When I was told that I had to release a prisoner
because he was convicted of an offence which didn't exist,
because I had failed to have that offence renewed in the Prevention
of Terrorism Temporary Provisions Order, and what had happened
was an official had left off a little D
from the list, and so of course I go to the House of Commons and explain
that Chummy, who is plainly guilty, is going to be
It is complete incompetence by J Straw.
You just have to accept these things.
Managing the internal structure and culture of the Home Office
There were obvious times when what I wanted to do was a shock
to the system within the department, which
was used to saying, "I don't think, Home Secretary, we really can do
This is outside the purview or the scope of what is possible".
And I never accepted that for a minute.
There were occasions when press officers would phone...
When journalists would phone the press office to ask
what the Home Office line was on whatever
it was and they would be told, "Well, the Home Office line is A,
And on top of trying to push your own agenda,
there is the constant intrusion of crises.
The day I arrived, it was a beautiful, clear,
sunlit day and the permanent secretary, Richard Wilson,
said to me, "Jack, what can you see out in the sky?"
At any moment an Exocet, which you can't see,
will come through the sky and it will land right there and it
will explode unless you're very careful".
Jacqui Smith had to handle a terrorist attack on Glasgow
Airport and be judged on how she coped.
There was a certain element of that which was, "Good grief,
she didn't come running screaming out of Downing Street -
Well, I always knew I was going to hold it together
because I was a well-briefed, confident,
experienced politician at that point.
But that probably did some good in overcoming people's
apprehensions at whether I was going to be able to manage it.
For me, I suppose the thing that came out of the blue
was the advisory council on the misuse of drugs
If anyone remembers anything about my time in office,
they remember that, and I still get not exactly fan mail -
the opposite of fan mail - about that.
But that came out of a clear blue sky.
But Charles Clarke didn't believe in the department
I thought that just about all crises - perhaps not the intruder
in the Queen's bedroom but just about every other crisis -
is, broadly speaking, predictable in general,
And so the job of the Home Office, I thought, was to be
able to predict what might happen, to understand what the risks
were and put preventative strategies in place,
Trying to focus on your political agenda on the one hand and fend off
If you were to describe it graphically,
it's like being in a ship, knowing your destination and having
it vaguely in sight but in the middle of
a tempest, in a storm, and winds which are buffeting
you one way and the other every day, and trying to deal with
them while at the same time reaching your destination.
The only caveat I would put on that is that the destination
Being such an all-consuming job is perhaps
why so few Home Secretaries go on to be Prime Minister.
You ignore the skills and nuances you'd need
You ignore the skills and nuances you'd need to move upwards.
Probably obsessed is not far off the mark with changing things
that I probably didn't devote enough time and energy to the presentation.
It is often a frustration at Number Ten that they feel
the people who are the departmental heads in their words "go native"
and stop thinking about the broader politics and start
thinking about the actual job itself.
And I think that was probably a criticism that could be
And certainly that aspect of what I had to do
as Home Secretary was always with me.
The politics of the moment not always and in some ways,
Isn't it an irony of one of Whitehall's toughest jobs that
for the sake of keeping us all safe, the Home Secretary is worst
Giles Dilnot, with the first instalment of his new series,
So You Want To Be A Secretary Of State.
Rachel, when you listen to all these former Home Secretary 's talking
about the difficulties of the dangers, you go to sleep at night,
who knows what is going to happen when you wake up? Isn't it all the
more remarkable, at least in terms of longevity, that Mrs May,
appointed in 2010, is still Home Secretary in 2015? And still
considered a potential leader of the Tory party. It hasn't destroyed her
career. Absolutely. It is the Department for things that go wrong.
Crime, Law and order, drugs. Things that matter directly to voters, too.
And also safety and security. John Reid one said it is a bit like a
five-year-old football match, everybody chasing after the ball and
everybody forgets another disaster is unfolding on the other side of
the pitch. Everything going wrong on all sides. It is extraordinary that
she has not only survived but is still considered a potential future
prime ministers. What the Home Office covers, it is less than it
used to, it used to include justice as well, there is now a separate
department. It has domestic security, police, security services,
counterterrorism, prisons... I think they come under justice now. But is
the Home Office right to have one department for all of this, do you
think, Patrick, in this sophisticated age? Yes, why not? I
thought they were all looking for a sympathy vote that wasn't quite as
deserved as they imagine. And people do not blame people long term for
any of these disasters, they know that whoever is Home Secretary is
not responsible for them. At the time, yes, there is a great sort of
media coverage, who is to blame and so on. But I don't think that lasts
which is why so many of these people, they've might not become a
Prime Minister, but then most people don't. But long-term there are not
people that live in the imagination of British people as being demonic
or appalling, because I think people are more sensible than that.
What we have with the Home Office now, it is like a ministry of the
interior on continental Europe now. It used to be overarching. Yes, and
the more liberal aspects of law and order, whether it is prisons and
rehabilitation or legal, have gone to the Ministry of Justice so it is
a much more crime, Law and order apartment. Giles will be back with
another report shortly. In five months, people in Scotland will vote
in fresh elections to the Scottish Parliament. The SNP leader and First
Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has pledged she won't make
the campaign all about independence for Scotland. The new party launched
this week is determined to make the relationship between Scotland and
the rest of the UK a central issue in this election. It is called A
Better Britain Unionist Party and one of its founding members is
Stephen Gordon, who joins us from Glasgow. There are already three
Unionists parties in Scotland, the Labour party, the Liberal Democrats,
among them, why do you need another one? I would consider there to be no
particularly Unionist party in Scotland at the moment. We believe
the other parties are nominally Unionist because they purport to
support the union but what we have seen is a development of a range of
policies through the Smith commission and in the latest interim
report, which showed that a lot of concessions have been made in as
much as what we are heading for is devolution max, for which there is
no mandate from the people of Scotland to develop these policies
and we believe that these policies ultimately lead to what has been
called independence light and do not benefit Scotland or the United
Kingdom and, indeed, are further danger to the UK. So none of these
existing Unionist parties, we believe, actually do want to forward
the union. They seem to be courting the SNP agenda. They are part of a
5-part group that developed these policies and the reason we want to
get into politics in Hollywood now is that we don't see anybody
following web of filling that gap and providing a truly Unionist
perspective. Am I right in thinking that you would like to see some
powers that Edinburgh, Holyrood, currently has, returned to
Westminster? No, that is not the case at all. When they had the
initial vote on whether we should have a Scottish Parliament, whether
it should have tax-raising powers, almost a third of the electorate in
Scotland voted against those tax-raising powers. Almost a quarter
voted not to have a Scottish Parliament at all. Since these
things have come in, we've seen that the Scottish Parliament can do great
things and introduce good policies that are good for the people of
Scotland. We would like to see it using what is essentially a budget
surplus to be able to introduce policies in Scotland that I believe
could be leading to good practice across the UK. It could provide
synergies for the UK and to date we have been able to do that. The
problem is that what we have from the Smith commission, based on...
Ultimately, to tell you how the party started, we were all working
for the better together campaign and we could see that the way that the
politicians were heading was actually to take us further down the
road to independence without actually winning the vote and that
is a thing that we had a particular concern about because we didn't
believe that the existing so-called Unionist parties were promoting the
policies that would help us be better together that were actually
promoting policies which actually almost amounted to independence,
which is something that the Scottish people... Can I just clarify,
because I'm not exactly sure what it is you stand for. I know you stand
for the union but I'm not sure... Is it your position that the status
quo, the current division of power between Westminster and Holyrood,
should remain? That, I believe, can deliver the kind of synergies, best
practice and benefits for Scotland that we have currently seen. What we
believe is that the further powers outlined in the Smith commission
report, which is in development, will lead to something that is far
greater than that and could lead to problems within the United Kingdom
because of the lack of uniformity in the way of doing things. We have
seen some powers, we believe, abused by the current Scottish Government
in terms of setting things up like Police Scotland in a way that is
different from the rest of the UK and using those powerless to do
things that take us out of step with the UK in as much as it facilitates
independence. How many seats are you going to win? We have been very
realistic for stock we would be very happy with one list MSP. Ultimately
that would be under the proportional representation system. One is
modest. It is modest but then again... Yes. Thank you.
We've had talk of cauliflowers in the corridors of power -
and warnings of dangerous economic cocktails.
Here's Ellie with the political week in just 60 seconds.
The PM's new year's resolution got off to a flying start with trips
He still wants to ban EU workers from
claiming benefits for four years but says he is open to suggestions.
He also gave his Euro-sceptic Cabinet
They will be allowed to campaign to vote to leave.
Jeremy Corbyn had a January detox with a reshuffle
It took days but in the end he sacked two
frontbenchers, prompting another three to walk out in protest.
By Wednesday, he wanted to talk about
something else, like flood defences, but at PMQs, David Cameron
was determined to have his pound of flesh.
It was a revenge reshuffle so it was going to be
Speaking at PMQs, Jeremy Corbyn revealed why
he's so good at that geography teacher side-eye thing.
It's because he used to be a geography teacher.
And finally, George Osborne warned the UK faces a cocktail of serious
I think the Shadow Cabinet reshuffle is over. You can correct me if I'm
wrong. Where do we go from here with Mr Corbyn and his team? I just
thought watching that, each party has done its worst this week. The
Tories' Europe divisions are up there in lights and Labour is back
to questions on whether it can handle national security and be
trusted to protect the nation, and most basic fundamental issue that
voters care about. I thought the sacking of Pat McFadden was just an
extraordinary way of demonstrating, by Jeremy Corbyn, that he's not
going to win credibility on that. And we have Mr Livingstone on this
programme, slaps down quite quickly by Labour headquarters, but raising
the issue of whether we should remain members of native or stop in
the last election Labour work not trusted on leadership and stop they
have now added the economy and security into that mix. Where do you
see Mr Corbyn? It seems to me that he has strengthened his position in
the party. He sat some people. There were a lot of people I had never
heard of being replaced by a lot of other people I had not heard of. But
maybe that is my mistake. Maybe he has strengthened his position there.
Clearly it is a mess but I thought that the coverage of it, of "This is
a mess of messes", I don't think people really care how long it
takes. Did he set out to fire Hilary Benn? I'm sure he did and he wasn't
able to because he would have lost too many other members of the Shadow
Cabinet and I think Patrick is absolutely right - he may have
strengthened his position in his party, or asserted some kind of
authority, but he has weakened his position with the electorate, which
is, in the end, what matters with political parties and it was totemic
of whether or not Labour is really there to win power or as a protest
group and I think Jeremy Corbyn really is showing he's on the
protest group side of really is showing he's on the
rather than the potential government side. We shall take it from there.
If there are any more Shadow ministers or government ministers
who would like to resign, you know where we are.
Now it's time to find out the answer to our quiz.
The question was, which politician has decided to join the likes
of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson and host their own radio phone-in?
I think we can count at Donald Trump but who is it? It is Alex Salmond.
Absolutely right. Yes, the former first minister
of Scotland Alex Salmond is the latest politician
to willingly put himself in front of the microphone and take
on the callers at LBC. That is a London talk station but
can be heard throughout the country via satellite.
He says he's going to stop biting his tongue and start shooting
from the hip, which is a surprise to those of us who've been listening
Let's have a look at him promoting the new show, reading out some
Mr Paul Robinson says, "Alex Salmond has Fuzzy Felt eyebrows".
"Wish I had a device that instantly zaps all
sound from the radio whenever Alex Salmond's irritating
"If Alex Salmond was chocolate, it'd be dark and bitter".
I actually like plain chocolate Bounty, myself.
That was Alex Salmond promoting his new slot on LBC.
It'll be taking place during Iain Dale's drivetime show,
Do you have any idea what you have unleashed tear? I think we do,
actually. He is loving the commercials. I think is going to be
natural. He has done a lot of phone-ins. Boris Johnson and Nigel
Farage are doing at the moment. Nick Clegg was the first but probably is
the most famous. We are hoping to do for Alex Salmond what we did for
Nick Clegg, reduce the party from 57 to eight seats. But he's a natural
broadcaster. He is a natural broadcaster and he is going to have
a view on anything. He shoots from the hip and I think he is going to
be quite entertaining. He kind of gives the impression that he is now
off the leash. He is free of the reins. But he is actually the
party's foreign affairs spokesman in the House of Commons so he could
have a view hostages to fortune. He is but he also asks more questions
in the House of Commons than I think any other MP on a whole range of
issues so he is going to have an opinion on any thing. He says he is
going to take the caller Matt Busby is back to the House of Commons,
rather like Jeremy Corbyn does,. -- the callers' views.
Somebody said on Twitter the other day that LBC's Monica is leading
Briton's conversation because we are a national station now, not just
London. But I think we are going to change it for this half-hour and be
caught leaving Briton's conversation. You might confuse
people about the European Union. Are you going to tune in? Certainly. I
think it will be great fun. It is a really interesting way for
politicians to reach out to ordinary voters and somehow bypass all of us
mainstream media, as Jeremy Corbyn likes to call us. But I think it can
work quite well for them. I thought Nick Clegg and Boris Johnson had
both benefited from doing it. In the end, the so-called gaffes don't
matter if people look like human beings. We like to think we know
what questions should be asked of politicians but the general public
often have a much better view of what should be asked.
You going to find a few minutes? There's a sort of menacing gravitas
that he has. You always feel like he is about to lash out. When does it
start? Wednesday at 4pm on LBC. We will look forward to it.
Thanks to Rachel, Patrick and all my guests.
I'll be back on BBC One at 11am on Sunday with the Sunday Politics,
When I will be joined by the shadow education secretary, Lucy power.
Jo will be here on BBC Two on Monday with more
Andrew Neil with the latest political news and debate from Westminster, including the decision to scrap an inquiry into banking culture, a new party hoping to represent unionists in Scotland, and the first in a new series looking at the great offices of state beginning with that of home secretary. Andrew is joined by Rachel Sylvester of The Times and Patrick Cockburn of The Independent.