Jo Coburn is joined by Rachel Shabi and Iain Martin to look at allegations of harassment in Westminster and to discuss a bill giving 16 and 17-year-olds the vote.
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Hello and welcome to
the Daily Politics.
Former Shadow Cabinet Minister
Kelvin Hopkins is suspended
from the Labour Party
following allegations that he
behaved inappropriately with one
of the party's student activists.
How much did Jeremy Corbyn know
about these allegations when he
appointed him to the Shadow Cabinet?
emerge about the conduct
of the Defence Secretary,
But has the choice of
Gavin Williamson as his replacement
just exacerbated concerns
about Theresa May's handling
of sexual harassment claims?
It's the anniversary of the 1917
Russian Revolution -
a seismic historical event -
but is it one that should be
celebrated or just marked?
And 2017 has been a pretty big year
in British politics.
We'll look at how cartoonists
have chronicled it.
All that in the next hour, and with
us throughout are Iain Martin -
he edits a website called Reaction -
and the left wing
commentator Rachel Shabi.
Welcome to both of you.
We'll talk about the latest
revelations concerning Labour MP
Kelvin Hopkins in a moment,
but first new allegations have
emerged about former
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.
According to the Sun and the Mail,
Mr Fallon made lewd
comments to Andrea Leadsom,
the Leader of the House
of Commons, six years ago.
He is also said to have made
derogatory comments about other MPs
and members of the public.
The papers claim Mrs Leadsom went
to the Prime Minister and her Chief
of Staff Gavin Barwell
with the information
after Downing Street refused
to investigate Sir Michael
for inappropriate behaviour.
A source close to Michael Fallon
"categorically denies" the claims,
and Andrea Leadsom has
declined to comment.
In the last few minutes Downing
Street has issued a statement saying
the Leader of the How's Andrea
Leadsom did not and has not asked
the Prime Minister to
position of Sir Michael Fallon when
he was Defence Secretary. Iain
Martin, let's try to undertake some
of this, if we can.
If we take Michael Fallon, who
resigned over allegations of
impropriety, do you think Andrea
Leadsom's comments were the tipping
point in that resignation?
situation is extremely murky but
that seems to be the case, and if it
now imagines the Defence Secretary
Michael Fallon was removed on the
say-so of operations coming from the
Chief Whip and not directly from
Andrea Leadsom to the Prime Minister
we are in extremely strange
territory. That is why Conservative
MPs asking fundamental questions
about the role of the Chief Whip and
remember one of his chief jobs is to
collect intelligence on the
Is the Prime
Minister, Theresa May, responsible
for installing party discipline, and
in that role, she knows things about
MPs and senior members of the
Government, and would have been in
possession, one would assume, of
those comments alleged against
Michael Fallon. It does mean
questions are going to be asked,
Gavin Williamson is being someone
with very little experience is now
running a key department in the
There are lots of questions
to answer and people keep mentioning
house of Cards, the drama, and it
seems that Gavin Williamson regarded
it not so much as fiction but as an
Do you think
apart from resigning that Michael
Fallon may be forced to, you know,
I think that is
possible. There is even talk of a
by-election. Things are moving so
fast, and there are so many
allegations about other people that
it is difficult to say, but I don't
think by-elections can be ruled out.
Rachel Shabi, the word witch hunt
has been used. Do you think that is
fair when it comes to investigating
complaints made about sexual conduct
no, it is not remotely fair
and also an extraordinarily
inappropriate word to use given the
origins of the word witchhunt, and
this has been horrifying, this
couple of weeks. And, you know,
there are people who are going to
feel anxious about it, but fine. You
should feel anxious about it. There
are going to be allegations about
abuses of power, and that will make
people in power feel uncomfortable,
but that is not to say that those
allegations shouldn't be made and
should not be taken seriously. Of
course they should. Something has
gone fundamentally wrong for a long
time. There has been not only an
abuse of power, with the sex abuse
and harassment in itself, but as we
are now ceiling, there has been an
abuse -- as we are now seeing there
has been an abuse of keeping and
attaining power and that will come
to light in the next few weeks, who
knew what and when and what did they
cover up in the pursuit retention of
It is these allegations of
power and perhaps -- allegations is
90 but both parties that these
things were not properly
investigated. How much do you think
political loyalty has trumped proper
investigation of sexual misconduct?
That is the real thing and we are
seeing it and I would emphasise it
is a cross-party thing. We cannot
single any party out for it, but the
IDR, what we saw with the
revelations over the weekend that
Theresa May was briefed about
people's various abuses and
instances of harassment, so the
extent to which these issues were
known about. And that is the thing.
It is not only the abuse and
harassment which obviously is
excruciating enough, but the idea
that you know about it but don't do
anything about it. You are sending
out into society and message of
acceptability, that not only is it
OK but people might actually be
rewarded for it. That is the bit
that is really toxic and dangerous
in our society.
And people feel
public servants should be above, be
expected to behave in a way that is
sending out a message, whether
criminal or moral behaviour we are
talking about. If we look at the
Government, though, and the impact
it is having on whether Theresa May
is really getting a grip of this
situation, and we will talk about
Labour in a moment, comparisons are
being made between this Government
and John Major's. Tweets have been
going out from within Westminster,
fin de siecle, back to basics. Is
There are certainly
echoes and parallels. What concerns
me, while I agree with much of what
you see, and there are really
serious allegations and something
really wrong with the culture around
Westminster for decades, I think my
colleague on the Times, Philip
Collins, put it rather well this
morning, saying that the term
witchhunt is completely
inappropriate, if you go back to
where that comes from. Arthur
Miller, the Crucible, the Salem
witch trials, an extraordinary play.
The point is there were no which is
and this time there are.
but the difficulty is, and I think
this is why the due process matters,
in among those allegations which are
very serious, on these lists
circulating or stories which are
really the currency of Westminster
rumour, some of them denied by both
parties, some of them involving
consensual behaviour between single
adults, and to lump Paul of that
together and to rely on the tyranny
of the list, it is not a witchhunt
but it does take us into Isaac
extremely dangerous territory --
lump all of that together.
people's lives could be rude over
this and allegations vowed to be
absolutely false. Careers, rather.
You are absolutely right. There has
been a conflation of things that are
harassment and things that are
consensual and frankly none of
anybody's business, but I think we
really need to be wary, when we are
talking about a backlash, already we
are seeing a backlash against women
who have speaking out. Imagine the
extraordinary degree of bravery and
courage you would need.
And young men, then they are
just berated and face this Barrett
of abuse including from some of our
national papers for doing so, so
there is this culture of blaming
women, even when they are the
victims -- this barrage of abuse.
Moving on, on Gavin Williamson,
former Chief Whip, now the new
Defence Secretary, why such a fierce
backlash from his own side?
I don't think
so. There is some snobbery involved.
He is a conference of educated boy,
certainly not the case as far as I
am concerned. -- he is a state
school educated boy. Has alienating
some of his colleagues, which I
don't think his friends realised.
Part of this was to do with the
following Lee McCulloch to the
general election, which he was
closely involved with, he went off
back to Belfast to handle the
discussions with the DUP which were
really quite badly botched
initially. A lot of questions were
asked about the way in which he
handled that. He has also not really
made a secret of his ambition, which
is quicker dangerous thing to do in
politics. He made a speech at the
Conservative Party conference where
most Tory watchers would say that is
highly unusual for a Chief Whip, to
put himself out front and centre,
presenting the brilliant new Tory
intake and almost presenting
himself, some people thought, as a
potential leader, so he has made a
lot of enemies and I think it's
probably discovering that and
probably rather surprised, I would
As is Theresa May, in
Yes, and as you
mentioned at the beginning of the
programme, it is all unscrambled and
I think it will get even more.
So, as we've been discussing, there
are more allegations concerning MPs
published this morning.
Labour are facing criticism
that they failed to act over
an allegation of sexual harassment.
So what are the details?
The Daily Telegraph has published
claims that the MP for Luton North,
Kelvin Hopkins, acted
inappropriately to university
activist Ava Etemadzadeh in 2015.
She says she complained
to the Whips' Office
after the incident.
But was told she "couldn't
take anonymous action."
It's thought Mr Hopkins
was reprimanded at that point
for the alleged incident.
But six months later
Kelvin Hopkins was was asked
to join the Shadow Cabinet,
as a promotion, as Culture
Secretary, after dozens of Labour
frontbenchers quit in the wake
of the EU referendum.
Ava Etemadzadeh got in touch
with the Labour Party again,
this time with the Leader's Office,
but no action was taken.
Last night Kelvin Hopkins
was suspended from the Labour Party,
pending an investigation.
He hasn't made any comment
on the allegations, despite repeated
attempts by the BBC to contact him.
Ms Etemadzadeh told the BBC:
"I'm disillusioned by the party not
just not doing anything,
but then promoting him afterward.
They ignored it."
This morning our cameras
caught up with the Labour
leader, Jeremy Corbyn -
he didn't have much to say...
Good morning, Mr Corbyn.
Nice to see you.
Did you know about Kelvin Hopkins...
Good morning, nice to see you.
Thank you for coming to my road.
Did you know about Mr
Hopkins' behaviour before
you promoted him, Sir?
Were you aware of
allegations against him, Mr
Corbyn, before you promoted him
to the Shadow Cabinet?
Were you aware of the allegations
against Mr Hopkins, Sir?
Well, reporters following Jeremy
Corbyn given short shrift by the
Labour leader when asked about these
allegations of sexual impropriety.
I'm joined now from Central Lobby
by the Labour MP, Stella Creasy.
Stella Creasy, welcome to the
programme. Do you think Jeremy
Corbyn and the Leader's Offers where
we about these complaints about
I have no idea, I
wasn't aware of it, but I think it
is a fair question people are asking
and I hope the leadership will come
forward to respond to that concern.
Ava Etemadzadeh who is the
university activist he said she
first complained about him in 2015,
Kelvin Hopkins, yet he was promoted
to shadow culture secretary six
months later. Should he have been
I was not involved in how
they managed this, but I don't think
of the young men or women involved
in these cases should have to go to
the media for people to look at it
and ask, is this the appropriate
response? That is why a lot of us
are calling for an independent
third-party system to be able to
properly investigate these instances
and make sure the victims are able
to be confident if they come forward
that they will be believed, until
there is any evidence to the
contrary, and that the appropriate
action will be taken.
Was she dealt
with properly in this case?
tell you, Jo, because I was not
involved in this particular incident
but I understand why people are
concerned, and I can hear Ava's
concern and she is incredibly brave
to have come forward and be in the
public domain to what I am
frustrated by is that at the moment
this is what seems to be happening
without a proper system to
investigate these things, and that
anybody, whether a member of staff
or a volunteer, can feel confident
it will be taken as easily.
it was not taken seriously enough in
her mind, and that she couldn't make
an anonymous complaint, why not?
don't have, as I say, an independent
third-party system, but...
couldn't you make an anonymous
complaint to the Labour Party at the
We don't have a system in
place with these complaints can be
investigated independently of people
who may know... As Bex Bailey said
when she came forward, she was
offered career's advice, and clearly
the situation has to change and the
question is what is the right
change. For me and all of us we are
saying we need an independent system
so there is no question of anybody's
friendship with anybody or career
will come into it and it is all
When you look at
it, as you say, these are the
questions being asked. Rosie
Winterton was Chief Whip at the
time, and surely the Chief Whip, the
head manager of the party, and its
activities, would have called the
Leader's Offers about the
allegations against one of its MPs?
I was not involved directly in the
management of it and my
understanding from what Ava said is
she was unhappy with how rosy manage
the situation, but you would have to
ask the leadership. What I am
saying, rather than having
individual show trials and
particular examples, we need to get
this right. We can't keep waiting
until we have a proper process to
investigate these things properly,
and yes, there are sanctions, and
you might have heard me already say
there is a good case location for
bringing back recall. I voted for it
before. I think there are cases
where members of Parliament can
bring Parliament into disrepute.
are doing interviews, but why isn't
the leadership? Why is Jeremy Corbyn
running away from reporters when
Labour is claiming it is being open
and transparent on this, and yet he
was very brusque with a reporter
just asking about sexual propriety
within the party?
From what I do
know Jeremy and his team have taken
this incredibly seriously this week.
Those of us coming forward asking to
change this, there have definitely
been a lot of meetings. You will
need to as Jeremy and his team...
tried, that is the point.
I am a
backbench Labour MP who is
determined there needs to be change
coming out of this.
This is something men and women have
to learn to cope with. It is
damaging to everyone.
Would you like
Jeremy Corbyn or one of the senior
team to be doing interviews and to
say that Labour is taking this
Are you trying to give me
a job in the Labour Party press
It sounds like they needed.
We have to show as a party of
equality that we take these matters
seriously, but I also recognise that
this is being taken seriously by the
Labour Party. As someone who has
been involved in conversations about
what change looks like, I'm
confident that people recognise that
the status quo cannot continue. It
cannot appear that anybody is
treated with favours.
If we look at
the allegations that have been made
against the MP Jared O'Mara, making
historical sexist and offensive
remarks, Bex Bailey, who you
mentioned, allegations that she was
raped and then discouraged from
reporting it by a Labour official,
James greenhouse, who was an intern,
was sexually assaulted by Labour MP.
And he said he couldn't make an
anonymous complaint. Now these
allegations with Kevin Hopkins. Are
you embarrassed by your party?
feel we have let these young people
down. I was working with Bex Bailey,
try to raise concerns about how we
got a process in place, not knowing
of her personal experience. So I am
heartbroken when I hear these
stories. That is why this has to
change. That conversation is taking
place. Many of us will push to make
sure we get the best independent
third-party report in process, so
there are proper sanctions and
everybody can be confident that when
an allegation is made, it is treated
You say you will
guarantee that this will be
A lot of us recognise
how serious this is and we are
determined to see it change. We are
trying to come up with the
processes. Show trials in the media
will not change the process so that
people can come forward. We need a
proper and independent process.
people have had to come to the media
to get these things brought to light
in the first place. The Labour
leadership are not willing to answer
basic questions on an issue that
they say they are addressing.
Yesterday, I had Dawn Butler, your
colleague, the shadow women and
equalities minister, saying we had
put robust policies in place, but
couldn't tell me what they were. Who
do you go to in the Labour Party if
there is a new system to complain?
Who is the third-party personal?
That is not there at the moment.
there are not robust procedures?
That is what we are pushing for. A
hotline staffed by people who know
those you want to complain about
probably isn't good enough. We need
somebody independent who can deal
with anonymous concerns and can
support somebody. Someone with an
independent sexual violence advice
Was it right that these
people could not make complaints
anonymously at Labour Party and is
it credible that the leader's office
could not have known about this
complaint against Kelvin Hopkins.
the first point, I agree with
Stella. It is absolutely not right.
The idea of someone like Bex Bailey,
bad enough that she was raped, but
then to be told not to talk about it
is appalling and should not happen
in any party. The idea that if
something like that happens to you,
you have to talk about it to someone
who is potentially your superior or
a colleague who knows the people
involved is so transparently
ludicrous that obviously, that has
to go, for all the parties. You
can't have a situation where that is
the procedure. It is not a robust
procedure and I hope all the parties
introduce some kind of independent
system whereby people who are facing
any kind of abuse or harassment are
able to talk about it.
Hopkins have been promoted when this
allegation had been raised with the
clearly not, but I don't know how
that situation arose. Obviously, the
leadership is not going to talk
about it now because there is an
But shouldn't they be
answering questions about these
allegations and what they are doing
I don't think they can
answer the question of the
allegation while there is an
investigation in place. But
definitely, the entire party should
address the issue of getting robust
procedures in place urgently.
go back to Stella Creasy. There was
another report by Jo town on the
Conservative side, talking about an
experience she had in one of the
bars, with drinks being spiked. Is
this what is going on? Do you know
of other people who have had their
drink spiked in bars in the Houses
I know of countless
women who have had their drink
spiked in society.
But in the Houses
I don't know of
another example. What Jo has
reported is horrific. That is why
this has to change and we have to
take it seriously. Frankly, people
who say they will deal with it
internally, that is not good enough.
And that is a cross all political
parties and across society. The only
thing that is different in
Parliament is that it is behaviour
which if you did in other
workplaces, there would be a proper
HR function and it would be a
disciplinary offence, rightly. That
is not in place and that has to
Stella Creasy, thank you. We
hope to be a interview with Ava
Etemadzadeh, the victim of Kelvin
Hopkins' alleged behaviour, later in
The October revolution ushered in 70
years of Communist rule in Russia
and across vast swathes
of Eastern Europe and Asia.
Those events have shaped
politics across the globe
and are still used to define
political allegiances and dogma.
There were no cameras there to film
the moment the Bolsheviks stormed
the Winter Palace in St Petersburg
100 years ago, but this
is how the great Soviet
film-maker and propagandist,
Sergei Eisenstein, chose to portray
the events in his film
Ten Days That Shook the World.
And we can talk to Rob Griffiths
from the Communist Party of Britain.
He is in St Petersburg. There were
two revolutions in Russia in 1917,
the one in February, a popular
uprising which brought to power a
socialist government, and the
second, which was a clue, the
Bolsheviks, which was achieved by
armed force and consolidated through
terror. Should that be celebrated?
Yes, it should, because the
revolution transformed the lives of
millions of people for the better
over the following 60 or 70 years.
In what way did it improve it for
Provided education and
health services for entire
populations that had not previously
received them. It gave them low-cost
housing, public transport. It gave
them great advances in every field
Bet against a backdrop of
fear and punishment. The secret
police were set up. Elections were
all but abolished. Everything was
done by force, wasn't it? They
basically said it was their way or
Can you still see me?
You have just disappeared. Did you
pull the plug? Can you hear me? No.
I think we have lost Mr Griffiths
temporarily in St Petersburg.
and the Kremlin do not want to
celebrate the Russian Revolution, so
it is mysterious that it has
Not just a power cut!
Should be celebrated or just marked,
To have a one note
response to the Russian Revolution
would be wrong. It was so many
things. I am not about to celebrate
the violent, authoritarian murderous
and of Stalin. But because of
Stalin, I am not going to discount
the hope and the cause and the
popular uprising in which the
October revolution began. It is
complicated. It has significance in
lots of different ways and it would
be nice if we could explore all of
those instead of just asking to be
put in one category or another.
it was a regime of terror to a large
extent. In the end, did the means
justify the ends?
Of course not, but
that doesn't detract from how it
began and what the sentiment that
began it was, and the defiance and
audacity of what they pulled off in
the early days. I don't think there
was an inevitability to it, although
that is something historians are
But began with
Marxism, which is one of the worst
ideas in human history and has
failed everywhere it has been tried.
The cry of the far left is always,
well, it has never been tried
properly. But it has been tried and
is responsible for the deaths of 100
million people, potentially. It
should not be commemorated. It
should not be seen interims of being
marked. It should be lamented in the
same way we lament the Holocaust is
one of the great catastrophes of
human history. It unlocked the door
to tyranny, to the Gulag, to an
extraordinary degree of repression,
and the price was paid across the
world by the victims of the
Do you think the victims
of the camps and the purges, in some
ways and the play because of the
horrors of the Second World War and
the Holocaust? What happened once
the Iron Curtain had fun than
before, do you think there has been
underplayed in history?
I am not
about to start comparing the October
revolution to the systematic
extermination of 6 million people.
Has it been underplayed? I think all
sorts of things have now re-emerged
and been we discussed. --
re-discussed. But I would not want
to compare the predetermination of a
historical event with an ideology.
Marxism was bad, therefore
everything was bad about the
revolution? I don't think that is a
The root of the
Marxist analysis is essentially the
abolition of the basic means of
exchange, the junking of the market
system. In every case where this is
tried, those who then object to that
economic analysis must be contained
and ultimately cracked down on. This
is what happens every time, to
varying degrees, because it has at
its root if false historical
economic analysis, which is a
catastrophe and has never worked
There is a rejection of an economic
system, capitalism, that doesn't
necessarily lead to
authoritarianism, which is what you
are implying. I think that is very
That is why what is
happening now in the Labour Party is
so significant. The Democratic
Socialists and the mainstream left,
who have always controlled the
Labour Party and took the decision,
in the 1920s, to make Labour a
parliamentary force rather than a
revolutionary force, did something
so important and patriotic, which is
why the Labour Party has throughout
its history until now been a
mainstream bulwark against the far
Just to be clear...
first time in its history the Labour
Party is now being controlled by the
far left and people...
saying, just to be
clear, the people
now in the Labour readership, they
are pretending to support the NHS
and, you know, free tuition fees,
but actually they want to get into
government so they can overthrow
government, ie themselves? They want
to overthrow themselves, that is
what you're saying? It doesn't make
It is how the Bolsheviks
operated, if you look at the
democratic socialist, I think the
clue is in the the parliamentary
system. They are not? Just in your
Based on evidence the
people of their association, the
Communist Party of Great Britain,
their writings in defence of Stalin,
their defence of the October 1917
revolution, there is a very smart
group around Jeremy Corbyn, much
smarter than the Labour leader, who
have taken control of the Labour
Party. It is a historically
significant event. I think what the
danger then is, and what worries
mainstream Labour people and
mainstream Labour voters, if they
get in, what then follows is the
Government can do quite a lot
without legislation, quite a lot...
Why have so many people bought it --
why are so many people voting for
-- Jeremy Corbyn.
Said a small group have taken
You agree with that,
Rachel, that there is a small
revolution being planned around
Jeremy Corbyn, that he is surrounded
by people who would like to see
something much more extreme than
I think that is
conspiratorial to the point of
hysteria. We are not even talking
about state ownership. This is a
party that clearly supports a mixed
market, they support an increase in
taxation for the very highest level
of earners in society, they support
some renationalisation of utilities,
they support investment in the
welfare state, none of these things
are a revolutionary! By definition,
none of any of these things are
there is a run on the country...
Don't answer the question with
When wealth leaves
the country and essentially
everything that is not nailed down
please, do you think John McDonnell
as Chancellor will have to introduce
capital control to stop money
leaving the country -- nailed down
Do you think getting the
levels of corporate tax to the
levels that currently exist in the
rest of Europe would cause
businesses to flee the UK, and if
so, to where?
I think the cleverness
of the manifesto, McDonnell is a
very smart guy, and that is a really
rather brilliant document, to con
people in that way, when you just
have to look at what he has said
before he was Shadow Chancellor.
Asked who his greatest influences
were, he said Marx, Lenin and
Just briefly, fascinating
though this discussion is from an
ideological point of view, Rachel,
can you name a successful Marxist
Communist regime that exists today?
No! And not talking about... I'm not
even saying this is support for
Communism. We started by saying what
can we take away from the Russian
Revolution? One of the things you
can take away from that is that, you
know, people who believe in
supporting workers' struggles might
choose to do that through
parliamentary means, through
on that, do you think by using your
critique of the October Revolution,
which you say should be lamented, it
is actually unfairly staining the
credible cause of socialism in many
I don't think it
has. I'm just really old-fashioned.
I just want the proper old stream
Democratic Labour Party back, Gordon
Brown, Tony Blair, and for once the
far left has managed to steal the
You support of the
Labour Party then, did you, Iain?
was raised in a Labour household!
Now, should peers in the House
of Lords be restricted to a 15-year
term, rather than being given a seat
for life as is currently the case?
That was the proposal
from the Lord Speaker's
Committee on Tuesday.
This latest bout of introspection
has been prompted in part by claims
from the former Lord Speaker,
Baroness D'Souza, that many peers
were abusing this system -
she made her comments
in a documentary broadcast
earlier this year.
There is a core of peers who work
incredibly hard, who do that work.
And there are, sad to say,
many, many, many peers
who contribute absolutely nothing,
but who claim the full allowance.
I can remember one occasion
when I was leaving the House quite
late, and there was a peer,
who shall be utterly nameless,
who jumped out of a taxi just
outside the peers' entrance and left
the engine running.
He ran in, presumably to show
that he had attended,
and then ran out again
while the taxi was still running.
I mean, that's not normal.
But it is something that does
happen, and I think that we have
lost the sense of honour that used
and that is
a great, great shame.
And the current Lord Speaker,
Lord Fowler, is here now.
Do you think there will be enough to
restore confidence in the House of
Lords, when they have a perception
it is full of old men who turn up to
speak, or not, and spend a lot on
I don't think that is a
true perception. I don't think that
clip you should from my predecessor
is the true position as far as the
House of Lords is concerned. We were
never given the opportunity of
actually replying, which I think is
the case with all the rules of the
What would you say in response
I would say there may be some
who do what she alleges, but most
actually work rather hard. We have
over 300, 330, who sit on the select
committees, who work, you know, each
week on select committees, and what
we are doing now is to try to bring
the numbers down, and for the first
time in history we are going to have
a cap on the numbers of peers in the
House of Lords. It has never been
done before in this country. I think
it is universal overseas, but never
been done before.
And the number is?
It will come down to under the House
of Commons and 600 from about 820,
so we are getting rid of the
quarter, and if I may say so, there
are not that number of organisations
who buy their own volition decide to
reduce themselves by almost a
You said yourself there
are a few passengers in the current
House. Will they be the first to go?
I think that is very likely. It is
what the process will be, that the
party groups will decide the process
by which, you know, existing members
go, and they know who the passengers
are. Much better than anybody else,
and I can't believe that someone who
has made next to no contribution
will act to survive.
some of those in defence say, well,
it is about people to take round the
Houses of Parliament, ambassadors,
do you believe that?
I believe we
should be ambassadors but I think
one of the troubles there have been,
and again we are tackling this,
peers when they are first appointed,
they are not actually told what is
expected of them. I think this is a
most extraordinary mission. And
Couldn't they find out
I can think of cases,
again, one case in particular, where
someone who had just been appointed
was having doubts, literally, within
days, you know, this is ridiculous.
What we are doing is to have the
commission saying to people, now,
look, this is what is expected of
you. If you don't want that then,
you know, don't...
There is the
In the past figures like Gordon
Brown have called for the Lords to
be replaced by an elected Senate
alongside a more federal UK
structure. What you think of that?
think the idea of a Sennett is
right. In other words, we are
looking and reviewing what the
Commons is doing. The Commons is the
elected chamber, and they have the
final say. Whether you want two
elected chambers, side by side, I
think is quite another matter. At
the moment we accept the elected
Commons is superior. If I go in as
an elected peer, my whole attitude
changes and I will say my vote is as
good as the man next.
They are doing
quite well at scrutinising what
legislation there is at the moment
in the House of Lords?
We are, but
we very rarely come to bunfight at
the OK Corral with us trying to
insist by our ways -- we very rarely
come to a gun fight at the OK
Corral. We accepted as the House of
Commons who have the final say, and
that is right, but I think we have
the constitutional duty of actually
checking what the Commons do.
talk about regeneration in terms of
the building itself. You are a fan
of that, broadly speaking. He
recently visited Ottawa were
Canadian MPs and senators have moved
out of the existing parliament
building to facilitate maintenance
work. I don't know if it is on the
same sort of scale we are speaking
about here in the Houses of
Parliament. Would you like to see
that happen here for the maintenance
Yes. They are moving
out, to be fair. By this time next
year in Ottawa.
Yes, we can see the
pictures I think being shown right
Both the Commons and the Senate
will have moved out, all the members
will have moved out of the main
parliament building, and the
contractors will go in, and that has
been decided, and they will be out
for some years, and I think that is
by far the most effective and
efficient way of doing the repairs,
and doing the reconstruction. The
situation in the House of Lords by
any stretch of the imagination is
not good. I mean, we have over 1000
asbestos sites, over 1000. We
actually don't know how many
precisely we have got. We have
electric fault all over the place.
We employ 24 full-time fire
inspectors, 24 hours a day, going
round checking for any fires, and
there are, and there have been, and
this is ridiculous. No other
organisation does that.
you still need agreement, don't you?
From the Prime Minister, and all the
From the House of Commons.
Do you think that is good to be
I very much hope so. I
think there was a pretty good
agreement in the Lords this should
be done. I think we will have a
debate, hopefully, before Christmas,
and presumably a motion will be put
on the table on this. The Government
is setting up a committee now to
look at the exact costs, and that is
Costs are potentially huge?
That is what they are looking at to
find out and I think it is very
difficult to tell. If you see the
costs are, for example, £4 billion,
no one will write that check. It is
over a period of a decade probably
If that doesn't
happen and the Commons don't agree,
and you don't move out, what are the
I suppose we would have to do
it some other way. We would be
building around, and there would be
the risk something would go wrong. A
fire, something fell down the other
There are dangers to members, the
staff, and actor to the people who
come. I don't think anyone is in any
doubt at all that something needs to
be done. It is not a question...
think they agree that but there does
not seem to be a way of finding
agreement, we have done so many
interviews about this, no one has
moved out and the one looks like
they are going to in the near
You know, one just hopes
common sense prevails on this. It is
much better and more effective to
have and allow the contractors and
all those people to come in and do
the whole thing, rather than doing
it, you know, there was one
suggestion we should do it over the
space of 20 years. It will also cost
about ten times as much! In politics
there are not too many issues you
see are no-brainers but this does
seem to be one of them.
It is good
to know things move quickly in this
regard. But to go back to the
beginning on tapping the numbers, is
that a good thing?
I think so. I
would be bolder than that. I think
we need post Brexit a complete
rethink of the constitution and I
would rethink the role of the second
chamber and possibly even the
Commons becoming an English chamber.
There are all sorts of ways you
could do it without subdividing
England into lots of regions, as
Gordon Brown suggested, but the move
I think an opportunity is also
missed to go outside London, and I
think MPs and peers should be as
bold as possible.
Where would you
suggest they went
example. In light of the disrepute
in which the Commons is held and the
reputational problems parliament
has, I think Parliament has to
completely rethink its relationship
with the country.
What about going
to somewhere like Leeds?
If it was
going to go anywhere I would go to
Birmingham, but just to make the one
essential point about the proposals,
we are doing this without
legislation. Everything you are
talking about requires legislation.
I mean, we haven't got... The only
thing we can do is to actually
reduce numbers, basically. It is up
to the Government to introduce
legislation. I haven't regrettably
got that power.
Rachel Shabi, when
it comes to an elected second
chamber, this argument that the
primacy of the Commons would be
undermined, do you agree with that?
There is something about that, yes.
It would change the tone of the
second chamber, and there would be a
problem there, potentially. With the
perception of independence and
allegiance and so forth, but I'm...
I think this conversation is to be
I also think the conversation about
why the second chamber exists is one
that we need to have, because that
seems to have been lost or Brexit,
the function of the second chamber
and Wyatt is a necessary part of our
democracy -- why it is a necessary
part of our democracy seems to have
When Michael Fallon
resigned, he said that some of his
behaviour fell below standards that
are acceptable today, the
implication being that they might
have been acceptable 15 years ago.
Do you agree?
Not really. The case
with Michael Fallon is not entirely
clear, but I think the kind of
sexual harassment were talking about
was not acceptable 15 years ago and
certainly is not acceptable today.
What we have to do now is,
particularly with the people working
for members, we have to find a way
whereby complaints that they make
are taken seriously and are acted
upon. This is a much more serious
issue than some of the things we
have had in the past where someone
has been having an affair with
someone else. That is not what we
are talking about. This is
I suppose if there were
allegations of sexual impropriety,
someone might come to you. Have you
ever had anyone report it to you?
No. We have a good system in the
Lords for looking after staff and
staff complaints. As far as I know,
there have not been any in recent
years. But certainly, no one has
come to me. But you are right, if
John Bercow and myself can help in
this way of stamping the whole
process and being independent, we
would be happy to do so.
Fowler, thank you.
I know there are two months
until the end of the year,
but if you're a cartoonist, you've
already missed your chance to get
into this year's Compendium
of the best political cartoons.
Mind you, it's been a bumper year,
what with that snap general election
no one thought would happen,
the surprise result, and all the fun
of those drawn-out divorce
negotiations with the EU.
Here's Ellie with the top five
political cartoons of the year.
At five, Christian Adams pokes fun
at the three-week summer holiday
Theresa May took walking
in the Swiss Alps.
Critics say the fact
that she was away so long
without appointing a deputy
at a crucial moment in the Brexit
negotiations was a bit cuckoo
when the clock is ticking.
At four, Jeremy Corbyn was depicted
as being lost at sea when the Labour
election campaign launched,
attacked left, right and centre
by sharks in the guise
of Theresa May, Rupert Murdoch
and fat cat lobby groups,
or so it seemed.
Of course, he did manage to secure
that bigger vote from the jaws
of catastrophic defeat.
Who knows what could happen
if there were a sequel?
At three, the Observer's Chris
Riddell imagines Labour's 2017
manifesto as an irresistible sweetie
with the PM as Cruella de Vil.
If she doesn't scare you,
no evil thing will, or maybe that's
just the cartoonist's take
on her policies on immigration,
Brexit and foxhunting.
The runner-up at number
two, the powerful image
from Peter Brookes
of tower blocks portrayed
as tinderboxes in the wake of
the devastating Grenfell Tower fire.
The event caused a backlash
against Tory cuts amid accusations
that the Government didn't care
about residents' welfare.
And coming in at number one,
Ben Jennings' depiction
of the rather complex workings
of Boris Johnson's conscience.
When the Sunday Times published
the draft pro-EU article BoJo had
written before the referendum,
people began to wonder -
did he really support leaving
the EU, or had he backed Brexit
merely for his own political gain?
Angel or Machiavelli?
And just imagine the
of having two Borises
whispering in your ear.
Joining us now are Tim Benson,
editor of Britain's Best Political
Cartoons and Martha Richler,
a cartoonist who uses
the pseudonym "Marf".
What makes a great political
It should be
truthful and funny. In equal parts.
Some of the most powerful political
cartoons draw on some funny story
and some truth more all in one. I
don't think it would be possible to
draw a cartoon and then try and
think about caption. It comes all
together to the cartoonist's
Do you agree?
And no, I
don't. I don't see how all cartoons
can be funny when they cover very
serious subjects on occasion. Can
you make terrorist attacks funny?
No. So they can be funny. They can
ridicule and satirise those who
deserve it. But again, political
comment doesn't always have to be
Let's pick a particular
favourite that you have, Tim.
are all my favourites.
But talk us
through one of the ones you like,
This is on the front cover
of the book. It encapsulates the
mess we are in over Brexit. I always
worried about putting a cartoon on
the front cover about whether it
would loses topicality by the time
it comes out.
But you are not
worried in this case! What do you
think, Martha? Do you like it?
and by the way, I don't think this
is a competition like a race. I
would not be cartooning if I didn't
think I could add something to the
mix, but if I can, I will look at
cartoons all day. I used to get
attention in school for doing that.
All I am ingested in is making sure
we are seen and heard. I think Tim
Benson's selection is immensely
valuable, but there will be a
companion volume and another. It is
a continuing story. I want to get
away a bit from the male-female
opposition if you don't mind. Part
of my issue with Tim Benson to do
with his lack of enthusiasm for
online publishing. A lot of women
are publishing online. I published a
serious political cartoon on sexual
harassment at Westminster, as you
are discussing earlier. And it is
very serious, but it has elements of
humour. Everyone has to laugh at
that detail in the mail online about
the minister with a proclivity for
boys wearing women's perfume.
this sort of thing one should laugh
at? Cartoons are supposed to trigger
thought. They are supposed to be
thought-provoking. Are these things
They can be, when done well,
like Peter Brooks or Christian
Adams. It depends on your political
viewpoint, of course. I am not a fan
of Steve Bell's work, but I do think
there is a great revival happening
with political cartoons.
If you went
back to ten years ago as a
journalist, one of my concerns was
that the art would die out because
newsprint was fading away. But
actually, things like the iPad have
given it a great boost because they
are backlit and they look fantastic.
Martha's point is that
we have to look broader than the
newspapers, because there has not
been a woman among the six full-time
political cartoonists working for
newspapers to stop isn't this
another way of bringing cartoonists
and cartoons to the national diet,
if you like, without having to rely
on the newspapers?
I don't think it
has anything to do with gender bias.
I think in political cartooning, if
you are good enough, you will get
there. The cream always gets to the
I disagree that this has
nothing to do with gender. The idea
that talent rises regardless of
gender is just absurd.
It does in political
There are all the
invisible obstacles and privileges
I see it that
newspapers are archaic and wonderful
in some ways. Traditionally, a
cartoonist who began drawing would
continue drawing and die in his
chair. Jack died in his chair 50
years after starting as a
cartoonist. And his successor
started the morning after. So there
is a kind of continuity that is
wonderful. It is not to replace the
Jacks of this world.
don't employ themselves.
We have to
leave it there, because I think we
are going to be able to bring you
part of the interview from the lady
we were talking about earlier who
made a complaint against the Labour
MP Kelvin Hopkins. And we can play
that to you now.
The first instance
happened on campus. He hugged me
very tightly and rubbed himself
against me. It made me feel
extremely uncomfortable, and it was
a revolting act. The second incident
was in Parliament, when I went to
have a conversation with him and he
told me, let's not talk about
politics, do you have a boyfriend?
And he also said that if nobody was
in his office, he would have taken
me there. I was shocked.
brought your phone. You have more
than one text message, tell me about
Yes. A few weeks after I
refuse to respond to his calls, he
left that message saying I am an
attractive, lovely young woman and a
man would be lucky to have me as a
lover and if he was young... But he
And how did you feel?
I was shocked. I was not really
expecting that. I think someone who
is representing the people in
Parliament should act like that. It
made me feel extremely
uncomfortable. This is why I decided
to do something about it.
Ava Etemadzadeh, who has made
complaints against the Labour MP
Kelvin Hopkins. He has declined to
comment, but he has been suspended
by the Labour Party. How does it
make you feel listening to this
young woman, Rachel?
excruciating to hear these stories
again and again. This woman is so
young. Nobody should be exposed to
what she is exposed to. Every time
you hear these stories, these women
are so brave for coming forward.
They have all my respect as well as
my sympathy for what they are going
through. But every time you hear
these stories, you realise how much
women are held back by these things.
There is another person whose
ambitions, hopes, energy and talents
may have been hindered by these
unwanted acts of harassment that
have a terrible and long-lasting
effect. If you think of all the
women who have been hampered in this
way, it is awful to think of all
that lost ambition as well as the
Rachel Shabi, thank
you. We have come to the end of our
programme. Thank you to both of you
for being my guests of the day.
The one o'clock news is starting
over on BBC One now.
We will be back on Sunday with the
Sunday Politics. Bye-bye.
Jo Coburn is joined by writer Rachel Shabi and Iain Martin from the Times. They look at the latest allegations of harassment in Westminster and discuss a bill currently being debated in parliament about giving 16 and 17-year-olds the vote, with Labour's Tulip Siddiq.