Jo Coburn with the latest political news, interviews and debate. Jo is joined by former cabinet minister Theresa Villiers to discuss the latest news from Westminster.
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Hello and welcome to
the Daily Politics.
As police investigate the possible
poisoning of a former Russian spy,
one MP says it "bears
all the hallmarks
of a Russian attack".
We'll bring you the latest
on this developing story.
There are already statues
of Margaret Thatcher in Westminster,
but none in prime position
in Parliament Square -
is it because, as one MP
claims, she was a woman?
Should schools have separate
uniforms for boys and girls?
We'll be debating
And as the Chinese President says
he wants to stay in office for,
well, as long as possible,
we'll be looking at how other
leaders have managed
to have hang on to power.
All that in the next hour and,
and hanging on for the whole
of the programme today,
it's the Conservative MP
and former Northern Ireland
secretary Theresa Villiers.
At least I hope so.
Welcome to the show.
First today, police
the collapse of Sergei Skripal,
a former Russian agent convicted
of spying for Britain,
who was found unconscious on a bench
at a shopping centre on Sunday.
Investigators are trying to identify
what substance left the Russian,
who was granted refuge in the UK
in 2010 under a "spy swap",
and a woman understood
to be his daughter, critically
ill in hospital.
The pair had no visible injuries,
and a number of locations
in the city centre were cordoned
off, while teams in protective
gear have used hoses
to decontaminate the street.
The possibility of an
being involved has drawn comparisons
with the 2006 poisoning
of the Russian dissident
Well, to find out more, let's speak
to our correspondent Leila Nathoo,
she's in Salisbury.
What's the latest that we know about
Sergei Skripal and the woman that
was with him?
We now understand that the woman who
was with Sergei Skripal when they
collapsed just behind me on that
bench that is currently covered by a
tent is in fact his daughter, Yulia
bench that is currently covered by a
tent is in fact his daughter, Yulia.
Police have so far refused to
confirm the identities of the two,
describing them and me as a
66-year-old man and 33-year-old
woman. We now know it is Sergei
Skripal and his daughter who are
still in a critical condition in
hospital. Some background on Yulia
she moved to the UK with Sergei
Skripal in 2010 when he was brought
over to the UK in that swap. She
then moved back to Moscow but it is
understood she visited her father
regularly in Salisbury in recent
years and she had recently left
Moscow as well to come here to visit
him. She also had a brother who it
is understood died in Saint
Petersburg last year. The family now
believe that that is suspicious. The
family are at pains to say they do
not believe Sergei Skripal was a spy
for MI6 as the Russians alleged and
will be charges he was imprisoned on
in 2006. Police are so far not
entertaining any of those strands of
enquiry, they are not engaging with
that at all, they are simply saying
they are investigating what happened
here. They are looking into how the
two became unconscious. We
understand they are examining some
CCTV footage that was retrieved from
nearby that shows a man and a woman
walking just where I am now. They
are trying to piece together the
lead up, really, to the couple being
Have you any sense from the police
or doctors when we can expect the
results of what the substance was
that killed them?
No, not as yet. They are still
describing the substance as unknown.
They are at pains to say there
is no risk to the public now. They
do not believe there is any risk. We
have confirmation that a couple of
police officers had been admitted to
hospital with minor symptoms. They
have now been discharged and it's
understood only one emergency
service personnel is now still in
hospital. But with minor symptoms.
Some reported to be itchy eyes or
queasiness. No wider risk to the
public. The results of the
toxicologist test will be key to the
inquiry to ascertain exactly what
they took and how it might have been
ingested or inhaled. An Italian
chain restaurant on the high street
view 100 metres away has been
cordoned off and a nearby pub has
too. They are trying to piece
together the last movements before
the couple was found slumped and
almost comatose according to
eyewitnesses, just a few metres
Thank you. I must correct
the mistake I just made, they are
critically ill at the moment, they
haven't... They are not yet dead.
We're joined now by BBC
Newsnight's Diplomatic Editor Mark
Urban, and the Labour MP Chris
Welcome. What is your sense of what
has happened, Mark?
It is hard to go beyond those
sketchy outlines. Of course, I think
one should always hesitate to rush
to judgment in a case like this
until clearly there is some clear
evidence from the hospital about
what substance may have bought those
two people to this state. One thing
we can know quite clearly is that
there is form. We know about
Alexander Litvinenko and we know
about a case that we exposed on
Newsnight more than ten years ago
when MI5 SSA hit team was sent to
the UK to kill Boris borrows ski.
The Russian millionaire was dead. We
also know about the mysterious
poisoning about a man in Weybridge.
There is a lot of circumstantial
evidence. There is some kind of
policy practice of attacking and
poisoning people in ex-aisle in
order to send a message.
think people are rushing to judgment
in terms of talking about hostile
intent, as the Defence Secretary,
Gavin Williamson, has said, before
we actually know what has happened?
I don't know he said that in
relation to this, he said that in
relation to other...
He said that
In relation to this? I
think he was referring to something
He said that more
Mark is right to say we
need to look at the wider picture of
Russian engagement. It is true that
Vladimir Putin's personal record is
to regularly resort to excessive
violence, think of Aslan, the Moscow
theatre siege, Georgia, Ukraine, chi
Crimea. And large numbers of
journalists. Working for a British
bank, he was murdered in Russia. It
is a long list. You are absolutely
right, we shouldn't judge -- jump to
conclusions but when we do
investigate, we investigate
thoroughly. My anxiety is that over
the last few years, Theresa May and
David Cameron, both as Prime
Minister, were culpable in not
allowing sufficient investigation.
Theresa May, after Alexander
Litvinenko, wrote saying she refused
to have an inquiry because she said
she thought the Kremlin might
misunderstand that. I think we have
been allowing the Russians to get
away with murder on our soil too
frequently recently. We need to put
a stop to it.
It's in our national
security interests. What do you say
to that, has there been a lack of
grip on behalf of the British to
Absolutely not. All of
these cases have been investigated
by the police. They haven't. As you
acknowledge, there was a full-scale
enquiry into the death of Alexander
It was way too late and
what did we do?
Nothing. It is right
not to rush to judgment, the police
will be approaching this with an
open mind. If it turns out there is
a connection with the Russian state,
obviously, that would be wholly
unacceptable and would have a major,
damaging effect on the relations
between UK and Russia.
they have no information about this
and that the Kremlin is willing to
cooperate. But on the basis of you
accusing previous governments of not
quite doing enough, let's have a
listen to the Shadow Home Secretary,
I will be writing to Amber Rudd
to say that if it does prove to be
the case that the Russian state
is involved in this latest death,
what assurances can she give,
both about the rigour
of the investigation
and where we go from here?
I don't like defaulting
to a Red Menace analysis
but we can't allow London
and the Home Counties to become
a kind of killing field.
That's Diane Abbott. Mark, what do
you make of the Russian response?
It's self-evident, if they had any
involvement, they are not going to
admit it. The key thing here that we
can see from the government is that
this is a fiendishly difficult issue
for them. We know, in the past, that
both in the case of Alexander
Litvinenko and in the case I
mentioned before this attempt to
kill Boris Berezovsky, the official
assessment in the security service
just a couple of buildings down
Millbank here was that this was
Russian state action. That kind of
assessment remains highly
classified, people in Whitehall were
very annoyed with us when we
publicised it in the case of the
Boris Berezovsky thing. The reason,
of course, once you bring them out
into the open, it demands action and
a response. That is an extremely
difficult thing to do. By their
nature, except when you something as
esoteric as polonium, where you can
then give a forensic line, a
forensic chain back to a Russian
government establishment, they are
deniable. It is self-evident that
nobody is going to claim such an
attack if indeed that's what's
happened in Salisbury because the
purpose of it is to send a message.
What action could the British
government take? How do you
intensify pressure on Russia, which,
arguably, has led to the Russian
response being tougher? They have
stiffened their resolve. Claims of
being humiliated by Britain.
would you suggest? I will go back
one step and then answer your
question. It's not just the private
security view, it was also the
came to the conclusion that it was
state sanctioned and personally
sanctioned by President Putin. What
did we do? Theresa May -- Theresa
May shrugged her shoulders. People
like Vladimir Putin learned that
impunity, we can do what we want.
What would you do?
One of the things
we could have done and I argue for a
long time, we should have the same
laws which applies in the United
States of America and Canada and the
Netherlands and various other
countries. By simply don't
understand why Cameron and Theresa
May repeatedly have refused to
intimate that in the UK. They have
another chance coming up in the next
few weeks -- initiate that in the
UK. We need a full public inquiry as
to what happened in this particular
circumstance. The reason I spoke
over you, Theresa
circumstance. The reason I spoke
over you, Theresa, there haven't
been full investigations in some
cases. I simply don't believe that
all of these 13 Russians who are
opponents of Putin who died in this
country have personally decided to
commit suicide, I just don't believe
Are you saying the police are
under pressure not to investigate
deaths on our streets?
I cannot believe that for
a moment, that is the stuff of
conspiracy theories. We have some of
the most effective policing the
world. They will investigate every
case, including today's shopping
events. I cannot believe that wider
international considerations is ever
going to get in the wake of the
police doing their job thoroughly --
today's shocking events.
information I have from security
staff is that quite often what
happens in some of these cases is
that the first view is taken very,
very quickly. Suicide is thought as
a convenient means of avoiding...
The dangers of imperilling the
now in terms of the investigation?
You work a case like this from
numerous angles, don't you? If, as
we believe, his daughter came over,
there were family reasons for her to
come over to be with her dad last
week. You analyse things like CCTV,
her travel plans, is there any
evidence she was followed? If the
assumption now is shifting towards,
was some kind of poison administered
in a restaurant or nearby in the
park where they fell ill, CCTV
analysis once again, who is visible?
Does somebody arouse suspicion as
somebody who approach them or very
close to them? There are so many
different lines of enquiry.
Underlying it all, the fight to save
their lives in hospital and
establish what it is that has made
them so ill.
You won't be surprised
by the fact that the Russians are
criticising the coverage here in the
UK. I presume they will pretty much
stick to those lines?
Inevitably. In a sense, the moment,
you can say why not? There is no
evidence of a state attempt to
poison Sergei Skripal and his
daughter, as yet. The problem is,
from a Russian point of view and a
messaging point of view, is that
they've got form.
It's just worth,
you know, if somebody was
you know, if somebody was involved,
we won't be able to... He got back
to Russia very quickly, the murder
of Alexander Litvinenko. The Russian
law refuses to allow extradition of
Russian citizens. Russian state law
says that there is impunity for any
Russian operative murdering somebody
in another country considered to be
a traitor to Russia -- the alleged
murder of. It is clear. It is a
publicly declared intent to do this.
If you look around the world it is a
very long list at the moment.
President Putin wanted to press the
reset button with Putin... It didn't
work, he got nothing out of it.
David Cameron wanted to do the same,
wanted more trade with Russia and it
didn't work. We need to walk into
this with our eyes wide open.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will
answer an urgent question on this in
the comments. Thank you.
Don't worry - if you were panicking
because you thought we'd forgotten
about Brexit, or perhaps
were breathing a sigh of relief,
it's all still rumbling on,
And today one of Brexit's biggest
critics - the MEP Guy Verhofstadt,
who is EU Parliament's chief Brexit
negotiator - is meeting
David Davis in Downing Street.
Last week Mr Verhofstadt said
a new EU-UK relationship couldn't be
achieved by "putting a few extra
cherries on the Brexit cake".
After her Mansion House speech
he said he hoped that Theresa May
had put "serious proposals
in the post".
No doubt David Davis will be
enjoying playing host.
Let's talk now to our
editor John Pienaar.
Guy Verhofstadt was not impressed
with the speech but we haven't had
amazing amount of reaction.
the first out of the race. He has
been quite dismissive about what she
had to say, about picking and
choosing cherries and all a strict.
I doubt it is going to be much more
accommodating in this meeting in
Downing Street. We will be hearing
from him and David Davis, the Brexit
secretary, this afternoon, who I
imagine we'll be doing what he does,
which is to argue that the lights
are going to, and soon, don't take
the negativism from Brussels to
Should we be surprised by
the response from someone like Guy
Verhofstadt from the European
Parliament, an arch federalist and
very against Brexit. Is he ever
going to be persuaded?
Idea that we
should be surprised by his response
at all. We haven't truly begun
negotiations on future relationship
with Britain in the EU so it is not
a time for cracks to appear on the
wall, you could argue. Taking
Theresa May is's speech at the end
of last week, it was received
reasonably well across her party. It
was more like an equilibrium than
any kind of unification because
those opposing wings are not to be
united. At either end of the seesaw
they were sitting reasonably still
for a moment, which is about as much
of a triumph as Theresa May can
expect at this stage.
Do you agree?
Are you sitting quiet at the moment
to see what happens? Le Roux I think
the idea of an equilibrium is quite
a good idea.
Balancing the two
sites. That is not just an issue of
the Conservative Party, it has
divided the country and I think the
Prime Minister's speech actually did
a pretty good job of listening to
both sides of the debate and coming
up with a pragmatic set of proposals
for a new relationship with Europe.
It is not surprising that a hardline
federalist like Guy Verhofstadt is
not much of a fan. He has a lifetime
in promoting political integration
of the EU and is not likely to be
sympathetic to a country which has
decided to be that project.
has been no indication from any
other quarter that Theresa May has
significantly moved the dial. We
stood with her position as it was
with a few more words but still
essentially asking for a pick and
mix Brexit deal, the very deal that
Brussels in all its forms the same
cannot be achieved.
As a former
Northern Ireland Secretary of State
you surprised that the Northern
Ireland border issue is proven to be
important that we got this right.
The government's proposals over
Somerset at two perfectly credible
options as to how we deal with this.
This doesn't have to be a big
problem. We can, with common sense
and goodwill on both sides, come up
with a technology-based solution
which keeps the board are pretty
much as open and free flowing as it
Although that has been
rejected by parts of the EU. Are you
happy with the binding commitments
that Theresa May has promised to
binding state aid, that Britain will
pay into some EU funds for
associated membership of some
systems and the legal system will
remain in some way related to the
I can accept a deal which is
broadly along those lines. Depends
on the detail and, frankly, those
kind of compromises do make me
uncomfortable. Anything that looks
as if we would be a rule taker,
subject to EU rules without being
able to vote on change them, is
something that I find difficult, but
it is possible to respect the result
of the referendum whilst aligning to
certain aspects of EU rules and
institutions. It all depends on the
detail of the outcome of the
Do you really think
the Prime Minister's heart is in
I think it is. She was very
clear in Parliament yesterday,
someone asked, is Brexit whether?
Chalobah simple answer, yes to drop
She didn't the first time she was
asked, of course, in the press
She is determined to
deliver any partnership with Europe.
She wants to deliver something with
which the majority of people in this
country can be comfortable whether
they voted Leave Remain, a close
relationship but one which sees us
respect the referendum resulted
the tone changed?
It was more
fulsome on Friday. There will be
losses, hits taken, as well as the
games and there will be some loss of
access to markets and we had not
heard that said in words of one
syllable in quite that way before.
Some would say it is just a question
of common logic and political
reality and as for Theresa May, she
is never going to be an ideological
committed Brexiteer like Theresa
Villiers and she campaigned, not
over enthusiastically, but campaigns
to remain and this is not ideal
place to be but she as a pragmatist.
She is at the top of the pyramid and
has to make it work if it can be
made to work.
Pienaar, thank you.
There are already statues
of Margaret Thatcher
at Westminster - here's
the statue of Britain's first
female Prime Minister in
the members' lobby just by the House
of Commons chamber.
But should there be one
outside the building,
in Parliament Square,
alongside Churchill, Disraeli,
Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Ghandi?
Well, the Scottish Lib Dem MP
Jo Swinson, who says she's no
fan of Mrs Thatcher,
has argued it's time for her to be
recognised and says there's a hint
of misogyny in the vitriol
aimed against her.
But not everyone agrees.
The First Minister of Scotland,
Nicola Sturgeon, was asked
about it at the weekend
and replied "steady on".
So should she be recognised,
and if not why not?
The SNP MP Alison
Thewliss joins us now.
Should there be a statue of her in
It is a matter
for Westminster council but from my
point of view and lots of other
women, they could be on before
Margaret Thatcher. There is a statue
in Parliament and we need to look at
the broad spectrum of woman who
could be honoured.
She was the first
female Prime Minister in Britain.
Isn't that a big deal?
It is that
you have to look at the wider
context and if you were to put the
structure in Glasgow it is not
something like constituents would
like, given the impact she had on
the economy of Scotland.
This is to
stand alongside Churchill in
Parliament Square. Would that not be
I think it is fine to
say that we honour the first female
Prime Minister. That is absolutely
fine but there was a statue already
in Parliament about lots of other
woman who also need to be honoured
for their part in public life.
are you suggesting?
There are lots
of women who could be honoured. We
are seeing a statue unveiled for
Lady Barber who was a rights
campaigner and campaigned and was
one of Glasgow's first female
councillors. Glasgow is addressing
the issue of not many women being
honoured and they publicly funded
that statute it was crowd funded.
Why are you against the idea of the
first woman Prime Minister who broke
the glass ceiling, made it to the
top in politics, whatever you may
think about what she did or didn't
do for women. Should that not just
the honoured in its own right?
was no reason why that can't be
honoured and it is the decision for
the council whether they want to go
ahead and allow for that statue to
be raised. The argument but there is
not enough room in Parliament Square
seems daft it obvious is a big
the reason there is not a statue in
Parliament Square is less to do with
gender and more to do with the fact
that those statues only tend to be
erected sometime after an individual
has died and certainly many years
after they have left politics but I
think it is a good idea to
commemorate our first woman Prime
Minister with a statue in Parliament
Square, not least because whilst her
premiership was polarising aspects
of it are controversial, she did
transform the economy of this
country. She turned the country
around from what looked like
terminal decline and we are all far
better off as a result of that, so
that is one of the reasons why she
should be considered as a candidate
for a statue in Parliament Square.
But to be honoured as a woman as the
first female Prime Minister, surely
she had to do something for women
and Dawn Butler, the shadow wounded
equalities minister, said that
female Tory prime ministers have
done absolutely nothing for women.
Should politicians really that if
they haven't done anything for the
rights of women, why should they be
honoured in that way?
enabled millions of women to start
their own business, to get jobs they
wouldn't otherwise have got, to buy
their own council house. There are a
whole range of things she did for
women in this country, so I think
she is deserving of a statue.
I would disagree with most
of those points, given the impact on
Scotland, the long-term impact on
women in Scotland more when you see
the impact of ill-health and
inequality still lagging behind in
Scotland as a result of the
devastation that was wreaked in
Scotland's industries, and I grew up
in Lanarkshire. Many women were put
on the poverty line as a result of
closures. There is a long-standing
post-industrial legacy in Scotland.
Our party politics getting in the
way here? Is it that female
politicians on the left do not want
to honour a woman politician on the
right, particularly someone like
Margaret Thatcher, who many will
argue was very, very divisive? Do
you think ideology is getting in the
way? Harriet Harman, former deputy
leader of the Labour Party, said
that Margaret Thatcher was not a
There are plenty of women
you could go about honouring,
through the suffragette Warren,
What is the answer
to the question? Do you think there
is a problem with women on the left
trying to honour somebody like
Margaret Thatcher on the right?
think there is a question fallen on
the right, about women that they
would honour. It shouldn't be
divisive. It should be about who we
want to honoured. In Glasgow women
are recognised across the board.
talked about her legacy in terms of
women voters, or some women voters,
but in terms of what she did for
women in politics, would you accept
that it fell short of what she could
have done in terms of the ladder for
women underneath her?
made more progress in recent years
but that has been a slow process in
many democracies around the world.
It is... Certainly the dramatic
increase in the numbers of women in
She had the power to
do something much more, didn't she?
I certainly would have very much
wanted the remedy of the imbalance
to have started more quickly in
politics than it did but that
shouldn't attract from the fact of
Mrs Thatcher's huge achievements. --
should not detract.
promoted one other woman to the
Cabinet. That is a pretty good
record. Leave I think the problem
was there was not enough effort to
made to get more women to stand for
Parliament so the reality is they
were very few women MPs to promote.
I would certainly acknowledge that
it took the whole political class
too long to wake up to water problem
that was and I'm glad that dramatic
progress has been made since.
about a of Nicola Sturgeon?
that would be fine.
is Scotland's first female First
Is Margaret Thatcher was
the first Prime Minister who was a
woman did not
And she has a statue
already. Donald Dewar was the first
First Minister of Scotland. Nicola
Sturgeon is still serving at the
moment and you don't usually put up
statues of serving politician so
that maybe for the future.
When you go to vote,
you don't have to take anything
with you to the polling station.
You don't need identification,
or your voter registration card,
and they even lay on the pencils.
But that won't be the case
in some parts of England
at local elections in May,
when voters in several pilot areas
will be asked to provide photo ID.
Here's our reporter
Greg Dawson, with more.
You might not think Bromley looks
like a place in the grip of election
fever and you would probably be
right with two months to go, the
council is already preparing people
here for something different this
made. Ordinarily, turning up to vote
at your polling station Ilbo is
little more than giving your name
and address. You don't even need a
polling card. But in me here in
Bromley, that changes. You will need
that polling card and quite likely
some photo ID, whether it is a
passport or driving licence. As well
as Bromley, four other areas,
Woking, Gosport, Oxford and Swindon
are also taking part in the pilot.
In 2040 and the integrity of
election practice was called into
question during the election of this
man as mayor of Tower Hamlets.
Lutfur Rahman was eventually found
guilty of corrupt and illegal
practices, including voter
intimidation. EPROM did a review of
electoral fraud and the Government's
idea of ID checks to stop vote
It is just a way of
identifying who you are so I can't
see it being a problem.
If it stops
fraud, it is a good thing, I would
It would deter me from voting
and you want to get more people
voting. You don't want to make it
more difficult. I am wondering about
my mother, who is 91. She would not
have photo ID to take to the polling
That is one of many
concerns flagged by the Labour
When you go to vote Labour
this may, take photo ID...
has come along to warn people they
will need more than a ballot paper
and a pencil.
This measure is a
sledgehammer to crack a nut. Needing
to take ID to the polling station
risks disenfranchising far more
people. This is not about party
politics but about ensuring everyone
who is entitled to vote in this
country does not have a barrier put
up to run from voting.
The number of
cases impersonating someone else at
the polling station is vanishingly
small. The Electoral Commission
reports that in last year's election
there were just 28 cases of alleged
in-person voter fraud. But the
Government is pressing ahead.
a very important granted top it is
not a victimless crime, either. That
is the stealing of somebody's vote,
their right to speak, so the
Electoral Commission are fully
behind these pilots because they
think it is the right thing to do to
test out the integrity of the poll
can be improved. We use it when we
might rent a house, for benefits,
Warren Weir go abroad and
travelling, all sorts of things that
all sorts of people use ID for.
five local authorities will do all
they can to accommodate voters
without photo IDs so providing your
proof of address with a utility bill
may be accepted. A similar pilot is
planned for 2019 before a national
roll-out will be considered.
And Cat Smith, Labour's shadow
minister for voter engagement,
you saw her in the film,
joins us now.
They vanishingly small number,
hardly a problem?
We can't be
certain about the actual level of
this kind of voter fraud but even if
it's a small number, that is still
wrong, we need to do something about
it. Voter ID is asked for in many
democracies in the world. We have an
example in the United Kingdom, and
in Northern Ireland people are asked
for ID before they vote.
anything intrinsically wrong with
asking for people to come with photo
I think what this highlights is
just what is a serious problem but a
very small problem, voter fraud in
terms of impersonation at polling
stations. Last year, almost 45
million votes cast, 28 allegations
made that somebody had impersonated
somebody at a polling station, of
that, one conviction has resulted.
That is serious and police should be
given the resources to investigate
every single allegation of voter
fraud. But to risk disenfranchising
legitimate voters who have a right
to vote is a sledgehammer to crack a
If people are given enough time
to prepare, to get hold of some sort
of photo ID, would that be the
I think it's very clear that
people haven't had time to prepare
and when I was out speaking to
voters yesterday in one of the
polling areas, it was very clear
that people were very surprised, on
the doorstep, they had to take IDE.
The government and councils have
been very slow in communicating,
that change electoral law. For many
people, they know they can turn up
at the polling station, give their
name and get their ballot paper and
cast their vote for their preferred
candidate. That will change. That
does risk disenfranchised voters who
don't have IDE, roughly speaking
that is going to be around 7.5% of
the electorate -- don't have IDE.
Perhaps people don't know it is
coming, maybe they will vote on the
way home from Jim, will they go back
and vote? Will it be so late that
they won't have time -- home from
the gymnasium. Far more people will
be disenfranchised compared to the
committed fraudsters who will find
their way round this.
traditional to rock up at the
polling station at any time, take
the pencil lead but the cross beside
the name you want to vote for.
People don't adapt that is a need to
change or that quickly. It will
disenfranchise an awful lot of
I don't believe it will. One
of the reasons these pilot schemes
is being run is to iron out
potential problems. I know that the
Cabinet Office is working very
closely with the Electoral
Commission. They believe, the
electrical machine, that a
requirement to produce voter ID is
It's only reasonable if you have to
produce voter ID, if you have to
produce ID for all sorts of purposes
in this country. Whether it is to
travel abroad, get a mortgage, it is
not unreasonable when you take the
very serious decision to exercise
your vote, to be asked to identify
What forms of photo ID are
there other than driving licence and
password? You may not have a
passport if you don't travel and you
don't drive. It is not that easy.
One option they use in Northern
Ireland, they have a specific voter
ID card that you can apply for. When
these pilots are completed, it will
be very important to ensure that if
we go ahead and do this on a
national basis, that people are able
to get access to low-cost readily
available photo IDs that they can
exercise their right to vote.
it drive down voter turnout?
think it will have two.
It is not unreasonable when
someone is taking part in democracy
in order to prevent ID fraud and
voter fraud that they produce photo
ID, as they do for so many other
things in life.
Do you think it will
disproportionately affects labour
Today we have seen a letter
go to the Cabinet Office to the
minister responsible from 40
charities and academics highlighting
which kind of groups are going to be
disenfranchised by this trial and
that includes older voters and we
had in that clip. The lady who said
her older mother would not have
photo IDs. It would disenfranchise
some younger voters, the British
youth Council and NUS has signed up.
You think it will affect some of
your voters more?
It will affect
voters from all political parties.
Although voters, it may affect the
Tory vote slightly more. With
younger voters it is more likely to
affect the Labour vote. This is not
about party politics, this is about
the disenfranchisement of legitimate
voters in this country. Theresa
mentioned in Northern Ireland that
there is a card you can take to the
polling station, the Mitchell
commission recommended that this was
rolled out as part of this trial --
the Electoral Commission. The
government has chosen not to do it.
There is no indication this card
would be made available for
elections in England, Scotland and
Wales. It is a red herring to throw
Monroe Bergdorf, who was
appointed as an adviser to Labour's
women and equalities minister, Dawn
Butler, is now going to... Has
resigned. Is that the right
I think so, yes. Monroe
was not a paid adviser, she was part
of the voluntary panel of LGBT
voices that the Shadow Minister for
Women and Equalities pulled together
to advise the Labour Party on LGBT
issues. It was a very broad group
with lots of different backgrounds
and opinions but I don't endorse the
comments that Monroe made. I think
it is the right decision that she
Those views were quite
well known. Many of them from tweets
she had made. Was it right to
A lot of these tweets
were a long time ago. I was not
aware of them. I think it is right
that she has resigned.
was on our sister programme, stating
that white people are racist. That
was only a year ago. Should Labour
have thought twice before appointing
This wasn't a paid appointment,
this was a panel of...
She was still
going to be an adviser on
It is right she resigned
but I don't endorse the views that
she has put forward. When she
resigned she put out a statement and
how she said she found very hounded
by the press treatment she has had
over recent days.
Was it on fire,
the press treatment?
I think it is
unfair when press hound anybody.
When anyone is a
volunteer, to do that.
reporting the controversial comments
she had made.
It has resulted in
some very unpleasant and abuses
trolling, not necessarily from just
the press but social media
generally. It is a topic we have
discussed on this programme before.
It is deeply unpleasant. Thank you.
Should schools have separate
uniforms for boys and girls?
That's not the view
of the Liberal Democrats,
who are calling on the government
to encourage all schools to adopt
a gender neutral uniform policy.
Many schools have already
changed their rules
about school uniform.
This secondary school in Lewes,
East Sussex, has said
all pupils must wear trousers,
a change it said it made in response
to concerns over the length
of skirts and to cater for a handful
of transgender pupils.
Most schools haven't banned skirts,
but have removed references
to gender in their uniform policy,
meaning girls could choose to wear
the trousers and boys the skirts.
So why are some schools
making these changes?
Well, we're joined now
by Ashley Harrold, he's headteacher
at Blatchington Mill School in
Welcome. What is your policy on
Good afternoon. Thank you
for having me on. Our uniform
policy, we looked at it a year ago
and made some adjustments and
changes in order to make sure it was
accessible to all students. An
hourly, we took out references to
boys and girls on uniform. --
primarily we took out. We focused on
choice. The other factors, a general
equality approach to our uniform and
the cost, supporting families in
hardship you couldn't afford it. We
looked at having won price for all
sizes -- one price for all sizes of
How big an issue is this
for you and parents and pupils?
In reality, it actually probably
affects a relatively small number of
students. We removed the reference
to boys or girls in terms of skirts
and trousers and the uniform is the
same for students in terms of the
jumper, shirt and the tie. They
choose between shorts, a SCUD or
trousers on the bottom half. In
doing so, all students can identify
in the way they want to -- a skirt
or trousers. The vast majority of
students conform to a fairly
standard gender stereotype and they
would wear what you expect them to
have worn under the old policy.
But for any student who don't
feel that is the case, they don't
feel ostracised and the message we
are sending to them as a school,
they are still part of our community
and they are welcome.
The support from
parents has been absolutely strong.
Within Brighton and Hove, there is a
strong feeling that equality is a
strong issue and the students have a
choice, that has been widely
What would you
say about concerns that it might
lead to some confusion amongst the
pupils and the children at schools?
It's actually much less of a mass
issue then you would imagine. It's
an individual issue. As a school,
we're not taking a view on gender
and we're not trying to impose any
mindset or value system onto our
students. We are saying we recognise
young people actually don't always
identify with the gender they were
born. Within that context, we want
them to be able to express
themselves within our school system
and school processes. It comes back
to the principle of uniform. For us,
it is identifying our school and
community. We are hugely proud of
our school and we want students to
feel they are part of that. By
wearing the uniform, they are
engaged in everything we are about,
the values we support, rat
tolerance. Around academic
achievement and success as a young
person -- about tolerance. Mental
health with young people, it is not
a mass issue before a minority of
students, not being able to wear a
uniform they identify with could
have a detrimental impact about the
way they view themselves and how
they feel others view them.
As I said, the Liberal Democrats
want the Government
to back this policy.
Layla Moran speaks for the Lib Dems
on education and Ella Whelan writes
for the website Spiked.
You don't have a problem with boys
wearing trousers and girls wearing
Absolutely not, this is not
where it is about. The origin of a
campaign came from a goal in a
school who refused to let her wear
trousers and she was a bit of a
tomboy and she didn't see it was
fair that she couldn't play football
with the boys. When she was wearing
her skirt it would fly everywhere.
That is where the campaign started.
It was passed at our Scottish
conference and backed by the
Scottish Government, that is great.
We think the same thing should
happen across the UK.
children just be allowed to wear
what they want?
That is a
fascinating question in relation to
schools, children should not be
allowed to do what they want at
school. No matter what people say
about uniform, used to work in a
school in most teachers tell you
that in the form is quite
fundamental for discipline. It's a
way of telling kids that they not
only have to fit in and conform and
respect authority, which is a dirty
word today but quite important in
relation to education. It's also a
way of saying we are all the same,
no one stands out. If you will
advocate for individuals to be able
to fetishise their individuality in
a school system, that will give
scope for the abuse of authority
Baston uniform should be uniform?
have worked in schools that have
teaching backgrounds, I have worked
in schools with uniforms and
without. I don't think there much
evidence to suggest what she said is
true. The point of this was about
actually allowing students to be
able to be comfortable in what they
are in. The quality of education
only improves if people can truly
feel that they are comfortable in
what they are wearing. What we heard
from Ashley and his policy is
probably my ideal policy. No
specific reference in the uniform to
this is what girls we had this is
what boys wear, you just have a list
and from that list pick what you
Is it really about allowing
children to wear what they want? It
is just saying you can wear what you
want within a strict uniform code,
be that trousers or skirts.
think many people will be utterly
disgusted to the point of protest
about the fact that boys might wear
skirts and girls might wear
trousers. This is such a storm in a
teacup, it is adults budding adult
concerns on to children. The gender
of session in schools is crazy. This
is a minority of students, it's not
a big issue. Schools in Bristol who
had put up this gender neutral
issue, no boys have worn skirts.
point is they have the choice.
a storm in a teacup.
Because it is
two or three students in a school
doesn't mean it is important.
There is good evidence to show
there are some transgender children
who, partly because of these kind of
issues, don't come out until much
later on and usually at university.
When they are able to throw off the
shackles of this kind of thing.
might not be a bad thing. You talked
about confusion. We are telling
children from a young age, they have
to fetishise and focus on and worry
about their gender.
Can I just
pushed... No. Kids in their own
homes wear what they like, they
It is a
different environment at school.
there is a child who is actively
questioning their gender at school,
are we saying they shouldn't be
allowed to do that in a school
environment? That is entirely
unfair. A lot of these arguments
used to be deployed against gay
people. But if you allow people to
talk about it, somehow it is
catching. That they will be
confused. I'm really worried about
the way this narrative has gone
Are you putting ideas into
Ideas about what?
To think about gender in a certain
What is wrong about that? Is
there anything wrong with allowing
them to think about it?
fine. What do you think?
Schools should be allowed to make
their decisions on these issues. And
they want to go down this path by
don't have a big issue with it but I
do it is the most important issue in
education. There are far more
important things even in terms of
school uniform did I think a far
more important issue is what it
costs, rather than the nature of it
in terms of gender separation.
have talked about uniform. Would you
take on a stage further in terms of
toilets, for example?
I was going to
bring that up. We have our spring
conference this weekend and I
believe we may be talking about
extending it to toilets. I would be
up for that. I was working for a
school that was about to have that
policy as a result of changing the
school building and there were some
transgender students in the school
and they used it as an opportunity
to modernise in that way. The most
interesting thing I found was the
number of boys who were in favour of
it who said they actually felt quite
uncomfortable at your riddles and
they said this would not have to be
a way that they would have to do
this any more. -- uncomfortable at
your rivals. I think having a
conversation about gender neutral
pronouns is a good one and what I
would like to see in parliament too
in front of select committees.
can tell the Lib Dems have their
priorities in order. The whole
fascination with gender ends up in
this farcical situation in which you
are worrying children about their
gender. We are not worrying about
the fact that we should be Draconian
and stop individuals from expressing
themselves in their own personal
life. School is a completely
different area. I'm worried about
the fat, and a lot of people are,
that you would eradicate the notion
of gender, which is quite important
for some young people. I remember
sneaking off into the girls' toilets
and that being somewhere where my
social life happened at school and
similar things happened with boys.
If we're talking about bullying, if
you are going to institute a policy
in which you allow young people to
dress however they like, this is why
uniform is important. It stops
people from being bullied in one
You accept that children are
talking about these issues?
Particularly at secondary school?
These things openly being discussed
in the playground anyway so isn't it
really just an acceptance of what is
I would challenge that. I
don't think children are having
discussions about whether or not
they are transgender. They are very
free in expressing themselves. But
putting adult concerns I think is
I have been to schools in
You think come
back to daughter was after that. --
you can come back. To us after that.
Now, let's return to our top story
for today - the suspicious
collapse of former Russian spy
Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has
been discussing the case
in the House of Commons.
Police and partner agencies are now
investigating. Honourable members
will note the echoes of the death of
Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. And
while it would be wrong to prejudge
the investigation, I can reassure
the house that should evidence
emerge that implies a state
responsibility, Her Majesty's
government will respond
appropriately and robustly and I
hope honourable members on both
sides of the house will appreciate
it would not be right for me now to
give further details of the
investigation for fear of
prejudicing the outcome.
that we've got Boris Johnson in the
House of Commons, the Foreign
Secretary, answering an urgent
question - is that prejudging what
There is always a risk
with politicians commenting at all
about a police investigation or a
court case because sometimes that
can jeopardise eventual prosecution
but given the concerns around this
case and the Litvinenko precedent it
is not surprising, I suppose, that
the Foreign Secretary is at the
dispatch box but is no doubt... He
won't be able to comment in any kind
of detail for fear of damaging the
is concluded from the police
investigation, Boris Johnson
alluding to having a robust
response, what would that look like?
It is hard to say at this stage. I
think we can't jump to the rush to
judgment on that but, Beasley,
relations with Russia went into the
deep freeze after Litvinenko. They
subsequently thawed out to some
degree. Obviously it would be a
massive setback in terms of UK/
Russia relations if the conclusion
of this case is that the Russian
state had something to do with these
shocking events in Salisbury.
leave it there.
The National People's Congress
is taking place in Beijing today.
That's the annual sitting
of the Chinese Parliament -
yes, annual - and they'll be
considering a plan to allow
Xi Jinping to become ruler for life
by abolishing the limit on how long
someone can be president.
It sounds like US President Donald
Trump is a fan of the idea.
He is reported to have said,
"I think it's great.
Maybe we'll give that
a shot one day."
So if you're a world
leader and you just don't
fancy giving up the job,
here's our guide
to staying in power.
MUSIC: Never Gonna Give
You Up by Rick Astley
Well, hello, there.
And welcome to the Daily Politics
five-step guide to
how to hang onto power.
For a really long time, even though
everybody wants you to go, although
they may have stopped telling you
that because they are absolutely
First things first -
control the media.
Accusing them of fake news is one
thing but what you really want
is total control of the message.
North Korea is famous
for its pro-government broadcasts.
And don't forget the internet.
The great firewall of China
is thought to be the most extensive
system of censorship in the world.
There are even restrictions
on Winnie the Pooh -
that's because it's the nickname
of the Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Number two, change jobs.
If you can't rewrite
the constitution, like they're doing
in China, think about swapping jobs.
Russia's Vladimir Putin has gone
from Prime Minister to President,
back to Prime Minister
and then President again.
All you need is a faithful
pal to keep your seat
warm while you're away, but avoid
anyone who is too ambitious.
Number three, get a fancy title.
It's always worth making
yourself sound important.
Idi Amin was Uganda's dictator or,
as he preferred to be called,
His Excellency, President for Life,
Lord of all the Beasts of the Earth
and the Fishes of the Sea
and Conqueror of the British Empire
in Africa in General
and Uganda in Particular.
Number four, if you must have
elections, always win.
As Stalin said, it's not the people
who vote that count,
it's the people who count the votes.
Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-Un
both won elections with
a remarkable 100% of the vote.
In recent years, Raul Castro
in Cuba and Assad in Syria
were a little more understated.
They had between 97% and 99%.
And finally, number five,
image is everything.
President Amin leaves his
imprint on everything.
How you look, what you wear,
how many guns you have.
And make sure everybody
gets an eyeful.
Elisabeth Glinka reporting and I am
joined by the foreign correspondent
Martin Bell did talk have been many
dictators you have not met and
I have met a few. I
remember interviewing Idi Amin in
Kampala in 1975. I had to kneel in
front of this huge throwing.
He gave me some wonderful
sound bites but then when he started
filling up the room, I realised it
had turned into a wedding ceremony.
He was about to marry a
representative of the Army.
A buffoon, very dangerous.
He had total control of the security
apparatus. He was partly contained
by the British because he had been a
sergeant in the King's African air
force. If you suppress enough, cut
down on the free press, ran a
savage, oppressive regime, these
people can last almost a lifetime.
Why do you think they want to last a
lifetime and go on and on?
It is the
thirst for power, for being
somebody. A lot of them come from
humble origins and you'd get a sense
of entitlement. Even in my four
years in Parliament, I found I was
getting a sense of entitlement.
is interesting that you say that
because if, as has happened with
Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher,
you win elections time after time,
do you think in the end power
It does tend to corrupt,
as the man said, you've seen it time
and time again. I've found very few
humble politicians in senior
positions. An exception, actually,
was Ronald Reagan, who was generally
quite a humble, ordinary guy. But
mostly, power feeds its own
What you think is
happening in China with Xi Jinping?
I think we have a dictatorship
perpetuating itself, under cover of
an occasional meeting...
There is a pattern to
it, isn't there? I remember
attending President Somoza of
Nicaraguan. I was at his 60th
birthday party and they were all
seeing happy birthday to him and he
was there for life until he ran away
to Paraguay and was assassinated
five years later. Nearly all of them
come to a bad end
Yes, but some of
them do last a very long time.
But even he got removed
under special conditions. I would
regard him as the exception.
you think is key to these dictators
holding onto power?
I think total
ruthlessness, and ability project
themselves as the saviour of their
people. One of my first foreign
assignments was the overthrow of a
dictator in 1966 in Ghana. He was
also the Redeemer, the saviour, and
if people believe that you can have
a try long time.
You a marginal seat
now. Are you a bit jealous?
ever met any dictators, I'm afraid,
though I have met Vladimir Putin.
thought you were going to say you
had never met a dictator you liked!
What was Vladimir Putin like?
quiet. I met him as part of the G8
conference in County Fermanagh when
I was Secretary of State for
Northern Ireland. He was very polite
and laughable but quiet.
In terms of
people who are democratically
elected, you could think of
President Jacques Chirac to change
the law to ensure he would face
prosecution, it is not beyond the
realms of democratically elected
politicians to do things that people
might think land themselves to being
more dictator like.
Yes, but in most
of our democracy there are checks
and balances. Go back to Watergate,
Nixon didn't survive. As to what is
going on at the moment, I'm not
sure. This is a test of the checks
Do you think things
have changed very much? Are we
always going to have that churn of
dictators in the world?
doesn't change. They're always have
been wars, there always will be
wars. Politics attract the same
kinds of people and they're always
have been dictators and always will
be but there seems to be a bit of a
surge in dictatorships at the
Any that stood out to you?
You mentioned Idi Amin but any
others that stood out to you?
think Tito. Tito repressed his
people but it was almost a benign
repression and I remember a story
which indicates... Two prisoners on
his islands, one asks the other hand
Hughes in four aunties is ten years.
The prisoner asks what he did and he
says, I did nothing. The guy says,
the most you get for doing nothing
is eight years.
And on that note,
Martin Bell, thank you very much.
Thank you, Theresa, for being our
guest of the day. That is it. The
one o'clock news is starting on
Jo Coburn is joined by former Cabinet minister Theresa Villiers for the latest news from Westminster, including the campaign for a new statue of Margaret Thatcher.