22/11/2016 Daily Politics


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Hello and welcome to the Daily Politics.


Donald Trump says Nigel Farage would make a great British Ambassador


to the US, just a week after the UKIP leader met


Downing Street says there is no vacancy.


After the former UKIP leader Diane James announces


she's leaving the party, we'll ask one current candidate


for the leadership how he plans to stop the infighting.


Rail passengers face more disruption as the RMT union stages another


Union leaders are calling on the government to intervene.


The Shadow Transport Secretary joins us live.


And should it be illegal for people to wear military medals


We'll ask the Armed Forces Minister whether the government now backs one


And with us for the whole of the programme today


the Conservative MP and former Rail Minister Claire Perry.


So, Donald Trump has caused a bit of a kerfuffle


He tweeted last night: Many people would like to see Nigel Farage


represent Great Britain as their Ambassador


This morning Downing Street issued a response, saying


We have an excellent ambassador to the US."


Fairly pointed. In the last half hour that message was repeated by


the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in the House of commons. As the


House knows full well we have a first rate ambassador in Washington


doing a very good job of relating both to the present administration


and the administration to be, and there is no vacancy for that


position. Clare, why not? This is the US President elect. He has


requested it, it would be a direct line to Donald Trump. Many people,


including me, think Nigel Farage should have no role in this. Donald


Trump will say all sorts of interesting things and come up with


his philosophies and we can write this one off as just another


utterance. We have a great ambassador and there is no vacancy.


The Ambassador's team work hard with both camps to make sure we have good


relationships going for it and we have got conversations about state


visits with Donald Trump and Theresa May going over there. We should


focus on the serious questions that these relationships need to deliver,


not the sort of bloke -ish politics that Nigel Farage indulges in. Even


though politics has changed. Donald Trump's election has set a different


tone and style and it would be the first time a US president elect had


requested an individual anti-was the first politician to visit him. As


somebody said, we are in a post-truth world and just like the


negotiations we need to have about coming out of the EU, which need to


be done carefully and need to focus on the facts, and we will deal with


some of that tomorrow, but Donald Trump will have to deal with some


realities. He has rolled back on Obamacare, there will not be a wall.


All those things he shouted on about during the campaign will be very


difficult. As you said, we need to see what he will do in practice and


Donald Trump has released a video in which he sets out his plans for his


first day in the White House. I will ask my transition team


to develop a list of executive actions we can take on day one


to restore our laws On trade I am going to issue


a notification of intent to withdraw It is a potential


disaster for our country. Instead we will negotiate fair,


bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back


on American shores. As you say, no mention of Obamacare,


although that was not the full statement, and no mention of


building that wall. It will be a big one. What is your response? My


response is we have got to respect their decision. I do not think he is


fit for office in Word, thought or deed, but I am not in America and we


have to make sure that whatever happens we get the right thing for


Britain out of this relationship. I will not be Foreign Secretary any


time soon with comments like that. He will roll back on many things he


said, things that were disingenuous and which were said purely for


political mileage and which did not have a hope of being delivered. When


we talk about post-truth politics, it is sad


because Donald Trump can get up and lined with impunity about promises


he cannot possibly hope to deliver. Do you think Theresa May will be


able to build strong links with him? We have a great ambassador and a


great team and they are building those links with understanding. For


as it is about security and making sure that whatever happens with Nato


and whether bilateral trade deal that it can work for us. The reality


is dawning for Mr Trump about what the job entails.


The question for today is, what object in the Government Chief


Whip's office is said to strike fear into the hearts


(D) A signed photograph of Ann Widdecombe.


What a good advert for the job of Chief Whip.


And a little later Claire, we hope, will give us the correct answer.


Tomorrow the Chancellor Philip Hammond will present


his Autumn Statement in the House of Commons.


It's not quite a full-blown Budget, but it will contain plenty


The government says it will help families who are "just


So what could Mr Hammond be cooking up?


Philip Hammond said at the weekend that his first Autumn Statement


will be about making the economy "match-fit" for the opportunities


It's thought that Mr Hammond will loosen the purse strings


a little, but he's said there will be no "fiscal splurge".


He does have a bit more leeway though after the government


abandoned the plan to eliminate the deficit by the end


So, the Chancellor is expected to announce a boost for the nation's


roads and railways, with an infrastructure stimulus


package that could be as much as ?5 billion pounds.


And we'll hear more from the Chancellor about a ?3 billion


fund to help small house builders create 25,000 new homes by 2020.


We'll see an extra ?2 billion going towards research


and development - that was confirmed by the Prime Minister yesterday.


It's also being reported that the Chancellor


That would be a measure aimed at helping families


And Mr Hammond could also raise the tax-free personal


It's currently ?11,000 but the Conservative manifesto


promised to make it ?12,500 by the end of the parliament.


We are joined by Labour's petered out, the shadow Treasury Minister.


First of all, Claire Perry, back in 2010, the driving mission of the new


coalition government was to eliminate the deficit. This morning


we learned the government has already borrowed nearly ?50 billion


since April. On the key issue, as it was George Osborne's mantra to


eliminate the deficit, he failed. We have to look at where we came in in


2010. We had a deficit as a percent of national income that was


approaching Greek levels and it was right to say this coalition


government as it was would establish a level of fiscal credibility for


the country that when the bad times hit again, because they always do,


we are better prepared. But the thing about the financial shock of


2008 was that we had nothing in the coppers to deal with the crisis. It


was absolutely right to set out that fiscal credibility and to try and


deliver it. We are going back in history here, but still


conservatives like to blame Labour, if not for the crash because Labour


did not cause it, but for the fact there were not enough reserves to


deal with the recession. What do you say to that? The bottom line is the


Tories pushed on the issue of Labour's record and labour could


have done more at the town, no doubt about that, but the idea that...


Sunken to some conservatives do say that. But they have not sorted at


the government's finances and they have miserably failed in most of


their attempts to put infrastructure spending into the economy. Let's


stick to the issue of the deficit because as you have conceded that


was the central mantra and George Osborne wanted to do it and he


wanted to repair the roof even though the sun was not shining by


2010. But that failed and you did not eliminate the deficit and you


still have not eliminated it because the surplus has been abandoned. We


had the financial crisis, we had the Brexit conversation, we had in


Britain, because we had a plan, because we were able to establish a


reputation for financial credibility, we were able to grow


and the deficit was down by two thirds. It will not be eliminated by


2020. Now we have a completely different issue and what is


fascinating about this statement tomorrow is it is the first time


that the Chancellor is going to be talking on Brexit turf. I hope he


will be straight with us about the difficulties we face. How difficult


will they be? We will face difficult times over the next few years and


that is why I was remain campaigner. But we have to have a Chancellor who


acknowledges the fact of what the world will apply and says what the


government can do around infrastructure spending to improve


that and also recognise that while there may be many challenges posed


Brexit, there are opportunities for Britain as well. Do you accept now


that if, in your view, we have got challenging times ahead, the fact


that your government and the Coalition Government failed to


eliminate the deficit has left us in a more difficult situation. We got


the deficit down by two thirds by the time of the last election. We


were on the way and we restored the situation for fiscal confidence in


this country. I have great respect for Peter, but the worst thing we


can do is go down the policy of the magic money tree and crash the


economy over again by borrowing. In a way that is the question that will


be put to Labour. Having said it was not your fault that the global


recession happened in 2008, you are now putting forward eye watering


sums of money, ?5 billion of infrastructure spending, which will


lead to politicians like Clare saying, you are spending money that


is not there. Labour has a strong, clear, fiscal credibility rule which


means we will have a balanced budget over a rolling five-year period. We


will invest capital in infrastructure, and in skills,


roads, rail, it has been costed out and it is there. When you say it is


there, how will you pay for the ?500 billion? What the government is


doing is there is an element of borrowing, but we can borrow at low


interest rates historically. We have got a capacity to do that. At the


end of the day we are not going to spend any more than we can cope


with. But that is a matter of judgment. When you say it is there


because of low interest rates, they have been there for quite some time,


so is it justifiable to increase borrowing at that rate? Let's deal


with investment. When you invest in something, you want to get a rate of


return so there is growth in economy, so that pays for the


borrowing. At the end of the day Labour is identifying is to get us


out of the situation we are in, you have to have investment. All the


capital spending was pretty well cut during the coalition and now Labour


is reversing that. The capital spending was pulled in because


George Osborne said the country could not afford it and it is easier


to cut capital spending than it is to make cuts to day-to-day spending.


I hate to disagree, but as a rail minister we are investing ?38


billion in railways over the next five years. That is now. That was


promised in 2012, it is the biggest amount of money since Victorian


times. Tomorrow we will hear more good news about spending on fibre


broadband. Would you like to spend the sort of amount that Labour is


proposing? I agree, cross-party agree on increased infrastructure


spending. But we had 13 years of a Labour government, and I am sorry to


harp back... That was a long time ago, there has to be some


responsibility from the Coalition Government and the Conservatives. We


have to cut the deficit. Let's put the deficit to one side, yes, it has


been cut, but how much is the nation's debt? George Osborne made


big promises about reducing it as a proportion of GDP. And it is going


down. In every year if we run a deficit, we add to the stock of the


debt and that is why these things are linked. Interest rates have


started to train upwards now, so the era of really cheap borrowing is


potentially coming to an end. The point is this, how can we want to go


into troubled times with the economy with our fiscal credibility shot to


pieces? This is why we have attracted inward investment because


we have now an economic competence that was missing for so many years.


The economy continued to grow in the three months after the Brexit Ark


Futura, despite warnings from people like Claire Perry and on the Labour


side, the employment rate is at a record high, consumer confidence is


strong from the last set of retell figures, so it's not the chaos


Labour politicians are talking about. It's June 23 when the vote


took place, less than six months away from the referendum now, I


don't thing anybody expected that on the 24th of June we would fall off


the cliff. A lot of the rhetoric would was that they would be an


immediate economic downturn and we would feel the after-shocks


immediately. Pound is down 15%, that is go to feed into inflation. It's


going to feed into rising prices, and feed into taking money out of


people's pockets. You have to admit those warnings have become a


realistic, apart from the pound, people will argue with that was good


or bad... We have the fastest growing economy in the G7, the


economy was in a really strong position and therefore can survive


this Brexit shock, if we continue to behave responsibly. The Tories have


done nothing about predictable, we're still one of the most


inefficient in the OECD group. Why do you think this is? Because of


this issue about lack of investment. Because we have high levels of


employment? The matter people now in zero hours contracts, who are in the


system, is quite significant -- the amount of people. The amount of


people who are also in small hours work is quite considerable as well.


So those figures, yes, everyone welcomes and implement going down...


That could be the argument for lower productivity, compared to a country


like France. 30% lower. Jeremy Corbyn spoke to the CBI, the annual


conference yesterday and talked about his industrial strategy and


was giving his views on business and the economy. I think we can show a


quote from his speech. He said: what is that about? I think it's


about a different approach in terms of the economy. What does that


actually mean? The economy, it's a different approach to investment in


the economy, different industries, a whole new technological age, as he


says, another industrial revolution. I think we will hear good news


tomorrow, because what we all agree in is ramping up the investment in


infrastructure, and also we lead the world in a lot of this area, in


terms of how to transform our industries, by investment in smart


technologies, I think we will continue to hear about the


government investing and I'm sure Peter will agree with this, in


industry, in research and science and R A final word. We are


getting less put back then the government took out over the past


six years in research and develop and so we aren't even catching up.


Thank you very much. We can expect a slight whiff


of sulphur in Strasbourg today as the Brexit Secretary meets


the European Parliament's chief David Davies is reported to have


quoted the bible in reference to the Liberal MEP, saying


"get thee behind me, In response Mr Verhofstadt tweeted


yesterday that he was looking forward to "a hell


of a conversation". Our correspondent Damian Gammaticas


is in Strasbourg. So they are great friends,


obviously! Well, when they actually met, an hour or two ago, they


addressed that point straightaway, there was a lot of backslapping and


chuckling going on. David Davies immediately said, look, I wasn't


talking about you, I was addressing that point to the questioner in that


committee in Parliament, I was saying, don't tempt me down a route


where might say something I might regret. The two of them laughed and


chuckled and went into the talks. When they came out, David Davies


said they had had a good session and Mr Verhofstadt is an Anglophile, he


likes driving British sports car, and had had a good chat. Mr


Verhofstadt was more pointed. He said he made very clear several


things, they would be no compromise on freedom of movement, and delayed


that out, and also said that the timetable, interestingly, for Brexit


talks, is very tight, 14 to 15 months is all they will have to


complete things wants Article 50 is triggered, because he says things


have to be done by the next European parliamentary elections, beginning


of 2019, otherwise it would be farcical for the UK to be voting


MEPs. When they had discussions, and some of the lines coming out of


press conferences over the single market, whether they be Davies is


coming retained membership, is there some confusion about what was asked


for and what Guy Verhofstadt and another EU politician actually


thought he was asking for? I think I can clear this up, because I was in


there, in that press conference. There was confusion, Manfred Webber,


who David Davies also met, he is the leader of the best grouping in the


Parliament, a German MEP, he said he was deeply frustrated because he


heard nothing new at all from David Davies, he said, we don't know what


the British government position is, we need clarity, and he went on to


say, I've heard they want to be in the single market. There was some


confusion as to whether he heard that from David Davies, but I asked


him to clarify in the press conference, and he made clear then


that he hadn't heard, and he was clear as well that there will be no


compromise, again, on those four Freedoms that the EU side sees as


absolutely crucial. He then went on to have some very critical word


about Boris Johnson, saying that in the referendum campaign he had


stoked fears about migration from Turkey, now as Foreign Secretary he


has been to Turkey, promising them support in their EU membership.


Manfred Webber called that unbelievable, and arrogant


provocation from the Foreign Secretary. But he was clearly hadn't


heard from David Davies about wanting to be part of the single


market. He said the British government has no idea what it wants


at the moment. Note that you will be following all the subsequent


meetings, let's hope lots is not more lost in translation!


Let's talk about UKIP now - and yesterday's announcement


from Diane James that she'd decided to leave the party.


You'll remember that Diane was UKIP leader for just eighteen days


earlier this autumn, before she stood down -


blaming a lack of support from the party's executive.


Ms James released a statement yesterday,


One of the three candidates to be UKIP's next leader -


So, Suzanne Evans, who is also standing, says Diana James should


stand down as an MEP, do you agree? I would first is that on a personal


level, I have a lot of sympathy for Diana James, because I can see what


she has come up against, I am up against similar things. Essentially,


there is a clique... Expressed similar to Europe,... A clique


within Ukip that simply doesn't want reform, people want to hold on to


their jobs, people who have worked very hard, ingratiating themselves,


who don't want to link was that control. Who are they? The easiest


way is to look at the Twitter feed, the people who are attacking me, the


people who attacked Nathan, Diane... Are they the ruling executive? They


are apparatchiks plus certain MEPs. But should she stand down as an MEP?


In spite of my simply, she was elected on the basis of representing


Ukip so unfortunately her position is untenable -- my sympathy. I


believe that I stand a chance of persuading her to come back if I am


leader. What about looking at some of the other personalities in the


party, you mentioned Steven Woolfe, the ex-leadership candidate, Nathan


Gill now sits as an independent in the Welsh assembly because


apparently he couldn't stand the Ukip infighting. It does look like


the beginning of the end for Ukip. Or alternatively, it looks like a


kind of crisis which is sometimes necessary in order for people to


identify the need for radical change, which is what I'm proposing.


What would you do to sort out the party? Firstly, the problems we have


at the moment is because people in positions of power and influence are


all pulling in different directions, just link to determine which


direction they want the party to go, that's what you have disunity at the


moment. I would bring unity by shifting decision-making powers from


the leadership, to the membership, so the whole party is pointing in


the same direction and everyone understands it is their sole


responsibility to elicit the role of the membership and drive for that.


Do you think you would have to sack people before that happens? I think


a lot of people would rebel against my leadership, because these people,


who have worked themselves into positions of power, would want to


relinquish that quickly. If they don't cooperate with the will of the


membership, there is no room for them in the party stop what is your


message for other MEPs who might be thinking of leaving? They need to


think carefully about whether they truly believe in the concept of


democracy or simply want to gain their commitment to democracy to


attain a position of power from which they might explode their


opportunity to determine the future position of the party on the basis


of their own agenda? Currently, there are four Ukip MEPs who are now


former Ukip MEPs because they sit as independents, if we take Steven


Woolfe, he was alleged to have had talks with the Tories, would you


like to see them join the Tories? No. In a row, Ukip has succeeded,


the campaign mission of this party was to have a referendum and have


written about to leave the EU, that has been done, I think terminal


spasms of a political party which is only going to get uglier. I Nigel


Farage, rather than sipping cocktails with Donald Trump, should


be working with the party for whom they did so much to try and sort it


out, if he believes in it. It's a terrible shame for those who have


voted for Ukip but in a row they have succeeded in their core


mission, apart from that, I have seen nothing they had ever


contributed to the national debate and perhaps Jonathan should think


about joining another party! Thank you very much for that but all you


have seen is phase one nearing its completion. Phase two is going to


get more exciting, that is the revolution in British politics. You


are going to see a direct democracy movement, if I am elected leader,


which will haemorrhage support from parties like yours and labour. We're


not talking about a referendum, we're talking about internal, direct


democracy within a political party in Britain, about giving the


ordinary members about. We elect our leaders in a fairly orderly way and


we... Are you frightened of this sort of thing? Direct democracy? It


always seems to translate into lots and lots of abuse on social media,


as he has said, I'm pretty happy that my party has a pretty into


consistent democratic process for electing leaders and it was my party


that gave the British people the biggest democratic exercise we have


ever had, with the referendum. You were forced to buy Ukip and your


party is blocking the process. Parliamentary democracy has produced


at the moment, you have a clear majority to no longer be under the


power of anti-democratic, unelected representation abroad, and you have


your party, trying to block it. Look, I am not sure what he...


Perhaps he has been having the cocktails to! Because my party is


absolutely unified, unlike the Labour Party, behind the Prime


Minister on delivering Brexit... Not in how it should be delivered. In a


way that does not impoverish this country for the sake of some


ideology that should be chucked into the annals of history. We need a


smart Brexit that works for the country.


You say you want to unleash a direct democracy revolution and you have


conceded there is a lot of abuse going on towards you and Diane


James. And bullying. And bullying, people are standing down because of


a lack of support for the party and alleged bullying. Even Suzanne Evans


has said she was bullied. This sounds like an impossible task to


deal with, even if you became leader. How would you do it? The


fact is not to get too personal here. My whole life I have been


committed to challenges where people have told me it was impossible. I


relish the opportunity of going up against some of these bullies. What


about the investigation on the financial front? Allegations that


they accepted unlawful donations during the Brexit referendum. What


have you got to say about the enquiry? I am not privy to what went


on, but on the basis of what I have learnt about certain people, these


things can be resolved at a later stage once we have been elected and


we can look properly at what has gone on in the past. On the basis of


what I have come to understand about the morality of some of the people


opposing me, it would not surprise me if certain abuses had happened.


You would not be surprised if there was financial impropriety. But is


the party broke? I am not privy to the financial details. The official


position is we are not, but I do not know what the answer is. You do not


know what you might be taking on. What do you think about Donald Trump


asking Nigel Farage to be Ambassador to Washington? We need to say thank


you to that, but we would prefer Nigel Farage to be the US ambassador


to the European Union. That would be a better role.


They call them Walter Mitty is, people who took the public by


wearing war medals that they have not earned. On Wednesday a Private


members Bill championed by the Tory MP Gareth Johnson will get its


second reading in the Commons. He wants to make it a crime punishable


with a prison sentence of up to three months. He has got some


But weighed down by 14 medals, rather than his own conscience,


Those 180 decibels silenced after someone found


out those medals on his chest had been awarded to someone else.


It is exactly the sort of thing Gareth Johnson


I think people need to have confidence that


when they see people wearing medals, that they have been


legitimately awarded, and I think the law as it


stands at the moment, because it doesn't ban people


wearing medals that they haven't earned, doesn't achieve that,


but what we need to ensure is it doesn't undermine the wonderful


custom we have got in this country of family members wearing medals


from loved ones who have fallen in previous wars, that's something


Just down the road in Greenhithe, the Royal British Legion, no less,


were duped by a member who pretended he had been in the Paris.


Totally embarrassed as far as the branch is concerned.


Because we respect and stand for the RBL, is what it is.


And he just brought shame on this branch.


But it turns out there are plenty of Walter Mitty


People who dupe others into thinking they have a life a bit more


So much so, there's even an online group who make it their business


And they are so secretive, they won't go on camera


The only way I can do an interview is on Facebook.


They say they're currently investigating around 70 cases.


Having outed over 300 and the last few years.


These Walter Mittys do it, they say, to con out of money


The group welcomes the proposed change in the law.


James Glancy was a captain in the Royal Marines and was awarded


one of the highest bravery medals for service in Afghanistan,


He now runs a risk management company and is


He is sceptical about change in the law.


I think it's going too far to suggest someone


I think it's really important to look at what's going


on with someone that is actually pretending that they


There may well be a serious mental health problem and actually


that person just has low self-esteem, they are not a threat


to the public and they actually need professional help.


His bill has the backing of senior ministers, including


the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.


It goes before the Commons on Friday.


And we've been joined in the studio by the chairman


And the Armed Forces Minister Mike Penning.


An offence should be created, but that is not existing legislation.


There is existing legislation for fraud, but what the legislation will


bring forward, and the whole government will back this on Friday.


What about the MOD? The legislation was already on the statute book for


medals of valour. These are people who have been awarded Valerie


medals, the military Cross like that, and then wear them


inappropriately, and that is an insult to those who so bravely were


awarded them on behalf of the Queen. Fraud we can deal with, that these


are Valerie medals. We are bringing it back to the same criteria. Many


people will understand the hurt brought on by Walter Mitty type


people wearing them. But is it going too far by wanting to imprison


people for falsely wearing these medals? Is that not a bit too


severe? That would be the maximum sentence and that is the identical


centres that was there in 2006. Does it make it right? Yes, but the hurt,


the deceit. I am no hero, I served in the Armed Forces, but these are


different people we are talking about. These people have gone beyond


the call of duty and got a gallantry medal and somebody is impersonating


them. In the past the Ministry of Defence said it did not want to


discourage relatives wearing medals earned by a deceased relative of


theirs. It would be difficult to distinguish between what you might


call fantasists and relatives. As you know, I have British Army


members in my constituency and I was at a remembrance parade in Tidworth


in my garrison town. We are not talking about proud widows or sons


were in bed parents' or partners' medals, we are talking about people


who deliberately go out and impersonate people. I am surprised


it was ever removed from the statute book. Is it a big issue that there


are so many people doing it? It is a big issue. Loved ones have always


been entitled to wear medals. I wore my grandfather's. But it does not


matter to me whether it is one person, or a 1000 people. We will


take it into consideration if there is a mental health illness. In most


cases this is Walter Mitty territory, people claiming to have


gained gallantry medals, wearing them on parade which is an insult to


those who have served their country and been awarded those medals. We do


not know how wide it is and how big an issue it is. But we heard from a


former Royal Marine in the film effectively saying there are more


important things to be worrying about in terms of defence. It is


underfunded. Some people are likely to suffer from mental health issues,


but the issue of funding is more important than this? Of course, and


making sure the Armed Forces have the right kit and we have the right


numbers is imported. But you must not underestimate how difficult this


is for families of loved ones who have done the job and gone beyond


the call of duty and were issued medals. We are not stopping widows


or families, but we are stopping people impersonating heroes. If you


kill so strongly, why doesn't the government introduced legislation


itself? A Private member has brought that forward as a backbencher and we


should encourage that. Absolutely. What happens if it does not get


through? We will look at that again and it will have the full backing of


the government. I will sit on the committee to make sure the view is


there. I want to encourage backbenchers to engage in


legislation because that is what we are here for, to represent our


communities. It is still quite precarious going through the Private


members Bill system. Will the government bring forward


legislation? We will look at that an government time, but there is time


for this and that it is why it will be here on Friday and the government


encourages backbenchers to bring forward things that really matter to


Thousands of passengers on Southern railways faced fresh misery this


morning as another 48 hour strike hit the network.


Since April a series of stoppages has paralysed Southern rail services


across London and the home counties, with operator Govia Thameslink


and the RMT union locked in a disagreement about the role


In a sign that there is little hope of an end to the disruption,


the RMT says it's planning further strikes next month.


We can talk now to our Transport Correspondent,


Richard Westcott, who has been following the dispute.


Briefly, tell us the background to today's strike. Basically it comes


down to a sticking point these two sides have been Rowan about since


April and they have not resolved it. They are nowhere near resolving it


now. It is about the role of that second person on the train, the


conductor, also known as the guard. The parent company want to change


the role of that person so they do not have a safety critical job,


effectively it is not the person who is closing and opening the doors and


making sure everyone is clear of the doors. They want the driver to take


over that role. Sutherland says it frees up that second person on the


train to go up and down and make sure everybody is OK and to check


fares and make sure people are paying their fares. But critically


it also means they say that in an emergency if a conductor rings in


thick or there was a problem, the train can still go with just the


driver on board. They say a lot of their delays, and apart from the


strikes, they have the worst delay record in the country anyway, it is


down to the fact that the train cannot move unless there is this


safety critical second person on board at the moment and they say it


is causing all kinds of problems. A train might be in a station and the


conductor is not there and the train stays on the platform and the driver


cannot get onto their next job. It is all about the role of the second


person on board. The RMT are calling for the government to intervene. Is


that likely? Who knows what is going on beehive the scenes? The


government will always say it is down to a private company and a


union. But this is a different franchise. It is an management


franchise and GTR take a feed from the government and run the franchise


because it is difficult to run. It is the government that takes the


money from the fares. Why is that significant? It means when you get


disruption and strikes, it is the government that takes the financial


hit. The government has a long-term goal of making more trains driver


only operated on future franchises. Effectively behind the scenes the


accusation is the government is pulling the strings. They are saying


it is a battle they have to win so that in future franchises they have


this which is potentially more flexible and cheaper to run.


Meanwhile, the union have put their own line in the sand about driver


only operated trains as well. This is a test-bed for what goes on on


the railways all across the country the future.


We've been joined by the shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald.


Claire Perry, you have had a role in some of these in your previous job.


Picking up on Richard's point, is the government pulling the strings


behind the scenes? Have you got a clear agenda because when it comes


to future franchises the government wants to make sure they will be


driver only trains and they will not be a need for a conductor? There is


no untoward agenda. What has been clear for many years is that


technology on the railway is evolving and more than 40% of trains


run with the driver basically controlling the doors and with all


the safety critical cameras. The decision was made that new trains


would be bought for this franchise and those are the trains were the


driver operates the doors. One of the things I have found difficult


about this dispute, and Richard is right, this is a tough franchise


because there has been a tonne of investment were going on. One of the


reasons I resigned was because of this. People say it happened long


before you, but it happened on my watch. You said at the time your


resignation would not help the situation, so why did you resign? I


felt I should take some level of accountability because I had been


trying to sort it out and we still left people with delays and strikes.


The union has conceded that the second person on the train can be


used as a conductor. They do not have to operate the train. To


continue to strike like this and disrupt working people getting to


and from work is malicious in the extreme. The problem and he has got


is his party have taken enormous donations from the RMT and continues


to do so and it is difficult for the Labour Party to speak out for


customers. They have been speaking with the union voice.


Are you speaking with the union was because you are financially linked


to them and therefore cannot be independent? I am speaking on behalf


of passengers and focusing upon their safety. These are safety


critical roles we are talking about, and to compromise on safety on our


Railways is an abrogation of responsibility. These are hugely


important issues, people feel vulnerable, we had a derailment at


Watford not many weeks ago, it was safely to the back row safety


critically trained guide to evacuated those trains, and to


dismiss this, in this be brought in Parliament, to compromise on safety


is an outrage. But the second person on the train, as you know, has been


guaranteed a job for the duration of this franchise. They have been


guaranteed that they will still be the safety critical person, they


just weren't pressed the button to shut the doors. This has been a


sticking point. I have done a series of interviews about this issue and


just to be clear, you still want to see conductors, or guards, on


trains, who will operate the doors. I have also been on trains where the


doors have big problems, and this is with a guard there as well as a


driver. You want to see them remain, even though the technology is there


for them to be operated automatically. Despatching a train


from a platform is the most critical stage of a journey, clear


understands it, to put the onus of responsibility on a driver who has


to look at 12 screens the size of mobile phones, we have already seen


the safety board say that the driver only operation in the circumstances


makes an accident more likely to happen and be more severe. Why would


we ignore...? Every tube train, by the way, runs with the technology...


But they are different. The problem is we have been having this debate


for many months. Millions of people are trying to get to work on a very


tough franchise. And it's just beyond belief that the unions won't


come forward with a proposal. They have done that. They have accepted a


new role for the second staff member and they still want to strike over


Christmas, that is... What would Labour do, how would you resolve


this? If I was Secretary of State, I would be intervened, bringing the


RMT and the franchise holder round the table immediately. But what you


be suggesting? There is a proposal on the table whether a moratorium,


that the safety critical operations that this new role of on-board


supervisor, and then a further period of negotiation for the new


protocols. It was a gift by the RMT and they have deliberately turned


that down because you and I both know, Claire, there are people


working in your former Department who are determined to have a dustup.


Let clear answer that. We know who that is, Claire. It's Peter


Wilkinson. He said at the Aslef conference that he stood shoulder to


shoulder on this, here is the problem, we have brought trains,


ordered under the Labour government, brand-new trains, which provide 40%


more seats for these people who are being squeezed every day. Those


trains are engineered, so the driver opens the doors. So what Andy is


suggesting is that somehow those trains are retrofitted so the guard


opens them or we pay for somebody to be indifferent captive press the


doors, it's just madness. This is disrupting millions... What do you


think is happening to the franchise system as a whole, is a broken? Yes.


What should replace it? I know that Andy is a fan of nationalisation,


but to me it is not an issue over who owns the railways, it is an


issue that we have a fragmented system where the trains and track


and rolling stock and operator are not put together. And I'm afraid,


this is part of the reason I stepped down, that it is is time for a new


unified solution. The other thing we agree on is whether it is British


rail or privatised, the customer has always come last on the trains. In


my time in the department, the amount of time I spent trying to


make sure that we run the trains on time, we didn't have a fake measure,


that customers matter. Should Network Rail be disbanded? It is not


an art at about the unions, this issue... Stop demonising the


unions... I think the many of the unions who might have had five or


six franchise operators in the last 20 years, I can understand why they


feel no loyalty to the company they are working for. On that basis, is


renationalisation relief the answer? Because it is popular with some


sections of the voting public and in the Labour Party. But you have


colleagues who are not convinced. It is Labour Party policy that we bring


the railways back on the public ownership. Principally because there


are so much money leaking out of the system and we have an appalling


service, look at what we have on Sofyen, who run the most appalling


service. British rail was more efficient in the years ahead of


privatisation them since. If we had a fraction of the investment that


has gone into the railways since privatisation, it would be a gold


standard. We have to look at the future not the past. There are


successful cases of the state bidding for franchises, we had the


east that railway line, that was deemed a success, would you not


support that sort of role for the state? I think it's August almost a


false argument. We have a national railway asset, the issue is who


actually runs the trains and the track. Whether it is a public sector


operator, and the last thing I feel Andy Woodward is my former civil


servants running a franchise, which was what was happening, we know the


private sector could deliver... The private sector, are you saying no


private sector involvement at all in the railways? I'm saying bring the


franchise is back in public ownership, let's have the success


stories we had an East Coast, let's replicate that around the country,


focus on passengers and the taxpayer getting the best value for money.


The question was what object in the Government Chief Whip's


office is said to strike fear into the hearts


or d) a signed photograph of Ann Widdecombe?


So, Claire, what's the correct answer?


Well, it's actually see-macro. They signed photograph of and would come


in a bonnet is probably a scary prospect! I'm sure she speaks highly


of you! Yes, the Government's Chief Whip


Gavin Williamson has revealed that he keeps a one-year-old pet


tarantula on the desk in his office. The spider is named Cronus


after a Greek god who toppled his father by castrating him


with a sickle. Mr Williamson told the Telegraph


he's had Cronus since he was a spider-ling,


so he has a "very paternal He said, "It's very much the same


sort of love and care that I give He also said that Cronus


is "a perfect example of an incredibly clean,


ruthless killer". Sadly Gavin Williamson wasn't


available to join us today. Instead we're joined


by the playwright James Graham who has researched the dark arts


of the parliamentary whipping And we've also been joined by George


the tarantula and his professional This is a first for me. Please keep


Georgina in the confines of her box! First of all, James, you have


interviewed living works, you have done a play about the mid-1970s


government, what do you make of the current Chief Whip having a


tarantula... You don't need to bring any closer! And don't put her on the


desk! If you can concentrate... That's my first tarantula ever! I


spent my playwriting life imitating the different tactics whips have


used, in the 1970s, when the play is set, it was the famous age of safes


with secret in the, with the Prime Minister... Birthday as the code,


this was the age of bringing... And they will surely dying. All the


tactics, just to survive. The symbolism of a tarantula makes sense


to me. Don't you think it's taking it a little bit too far? It feels


like the sort of James Bond villains or something, here I am, stroking my


tarantula, if you don't vote the way I want you to! They make great pets,


think it's a great thing to have. In a small area, they do very well,


they live a long time, they are poisonous, like every spider, she


has a really big set of gangs, you have to have respect for them but


they make great pets. She obviously likes you, which is a relief. Have


you seen his tarantula? We no longer have these wonderful tours of


patronage and bullying, when I was there, the whip's office was a third


e-mail which change things. Did anyone have scary creatures? If it


is now growing our pet to work time, I will bring my rescue cats, my


office is full of mice so why not. I find the name rather interesting and


symbolic as a sort of match a statement. I know and Milton, the


DBD Chief Whip, will keep Cronus and the chief on the straight and


narrow. I think it's interesting because the people I have spoken to,


the whips in the last 510 years, there has been an attempt to lose


that mythology around the dark arts and make it more of a human resource


office, where you manage your members, but really... That's what


we say! The symbolism is interesting, I'm sure it is a bit


mischievous and knowing and playful, but of course Kevin Williamson is


called the baby faced assassin he's young and sweet looking. In his


defence, he did have Cronus long before he became Chief Whip. He was


made Chief Whip in the summer, I think this predates his assent. What


you think about a creature like a tarantula being used as perhaps


political pressure on MPs? Is better than a goldfish! I think spiders I


just don't, people hate spiders, if people take interest, why not? Do


you think it will persuade people to change their minds? I think it might


do, think they are gorgeous creatures, they need respect, he can


sit and look despite all day long. Would it change your mind if he


thought out Cronus and said... I can vote the way I would like to know


I'm on the backbenches. It does show that MPs have an interesting side to


them. I think Richard have a House of Commons, like we sometimes do in


the church... Maybe a bit library! I heard about that when I was in


Calcutta, a packed library possibly could take them home for the


weekend. Any other whips who have had animals in their offices? I


asked around and couldn't find any. There was a stuffed Aral. Obviously


many members have cats. And people bring their dogs in. What about


snakes? I knew you were going to say that. I considered vaguely see she's


cute. When they shed their skin, you have an exact replica and you can


put it on the shelf. Perhaps Georgina would like to go back into


her box, thank you for bringing her in.


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