Jo Coburn presents the latest political news, interviews and debate.
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On today's show -
Theresa May considers more
sanctions against Russia.
Fishermen aren't happy
with the latest Brexit plans.
And should new dads get
more paternity leave?
With me today Anand Menon,
Professor of Foreign Affairs,
who runs the Brexit analysis unit,
the UK in a Changing Europe.
Welcome to the programme.
Pleasure to be here.
First, Theresa May has been chairing
a meeting of the Government's
National Security Council this
morning, discussing what further
measures, if any, should be taken
against Russia for the nerve agent
attack on Sergei Skripal
and his daughter.
Our diplomatic editor,
James Landale, joins us.
James, tell us about some of the
measures she could use?
lots of tools the Prime Minister
could deploy to exert the pressure
on Moscow. See could expel more
diplomats. She could be more
explicit about the economic pressure
that is going to be employed on
wealthy Russians who have links to
the Kremlin, based in the UK. There
is a whole palette of things she
could do. But the impression I get
is that there is a live debate
within government about how
strongly, if at all, the government
should respond to the latest
retaliation. Essentially what has
happened so far is there has been
the ritual exchange of diplomats.
The Russian diplomats are leaving
today. We have seen some pictures of
the coaches. There is a debate
within government that says yes, we
should continue to respond to the
Russians and look at the next phase
of this process. Others say, no, it
is more in our strategic interest to
keep this debate an international
one. Maintain the international
pressure rather than get sucked into
a bilateral tit-for-tat row with the
Russians. Interesting to see which
way they go.
It does look as if the
government, particularly Boris
Johnson, want cover from EU partners
and from Nato, who have certainly
shown solidarity, although there was
some quibbling over the wording
yesterday from the EU. Will these
other organisations actually exert
any sanctions and measures
themselves against Russia?
assessment is it would be very hard
to get specific new unanimous EU
support for something like EU
sanctions. There is not the appetite
for it. Even before this crisis,
there was an appetite among some
European countries, saying they want
to try to weaken EU sanctions
against Russia anyway. I don't think
that is what the British are asking
for. What they are saying is, look,
this incident in Salisbury, that is
just version of Russia's aggression
affecting the United Kingdom. Look
at this as a pattern of behaviour by
Russia. Look at the threats to your
own countries. What do you think you
could do to put more pressure on
Russia individually, unilaterally?
We are not talking about agreeing to
anything collectively, but just
getting other nations, saying,
Russia has stepped over a line and
this is what we must do in terms of
putting pressure on economically and
in terms of cyber. In every
international forum Russia feels
more uncomfortable, more under
pressure. In a few months, they may
think they have overreached and gone
When might we hear about
any new measures?
There is a meeting
this morning. What normally happens
is we get a readout from the lobby
correspondence. We also may get an
update on where the investigation
is. Quite often the NAC -- NEC is
briefed on that. Also what is going
on in terms of the process of
keeping some samples to the chemical
weapons inspectors, who began their
Thank you. Do you think Theresa May
should exert further sanctions bear
in mind the rhetoric has been quite
strong on Russia?
I agree with
James. I think the danger with
tit-for-tat is Putin is not the sort
of guy who lets the other guy have
the last word. There is a danger in
ratcheting at up. We have plenty of
backing within the European Union,
at least from a diplomatic position.
There will be no more new sanctions.
The EU has done all it can. There
has been an impressive show of
Western unity. We have to fight to
keep that. That is when the Russians
start to feel the heat. If we keep
doing small measures at commonly
Russians retaliate, we are in danger
of being outgunned. And it may not
achieve that much.
Theresa May and
Jeremy Corbyn said we need to engage
with Russia. Expel the diplomats,
what form or that engagement take?
We haven't expelled all the
diplomats. Back in the Cold War
there was a channel of communication
with Russia. There are all sorts of
issues. We are still, I hope,
talking about Syria behind the
scenes. There are also divisions we
need to talk to Russia about. We
should not be cutting them off.
Let's move on.
Time for our daily quiz.
The cash-strapped Parliamentary
authorities have got into hot water
for spending nearly £10,000.
So our question for today
is, what on?
a) A home cinema for
John Bercow's appartment.
b) Money to stop the trees
in Parliament's atrium from
c) A relaxation room
for stressed MPs.
Or d) Training for MPs
on how to use Instagram.
At the end of the show
Anand will give us
the correct answer.
You may have heard the words
"Facebook" and "elections" this
morning and wondered
what that's all about.
Well, we'll try our best to explain.
Cambridge Analytica is a political
consultancy firm which is accused
of using the data of 50 million
Facebook members to influence the US
presidential election in 2016.
Last night Channel 4 News aired
a film showing an undercover
reporter posing as a potential
client from Sri Lanka.
Let's take a look what was said
in the meeting between the reporter
and Cambridge Analytica
CEO Alexander Nix.
Joining me now is the BBC's
technology reporter, Zoe Kleinman,
and Labour's Shadow Digital
Minister, Liam Byrne.
So we can you bring us up to date
with the story? We have seen an
excerpt there about some of the
practices of Cambridge Analytica.
They say it was exaggerated. What
has been going on?
They denied all
wrongdoing. What they have been
accused of is twofold. Number one,
getting hold of an enormous amount
of Facebook data, 50 million users.
Using that data to target messages
supporting Donald Trump in the
run-up to the US presidential
election. Number two, they have been
filmed saying they are able to
influence the elections by
discrediting rivals, by setting up
stayings, where they might be
caught. It is against the law.
Sending girls to politicians'
houses. That sort of thing. They say
they were taken out of context. They
were playing along with the
undercover reporters because they
thought they may be clients. It has
opened up enormous questions about
what these companies are doing and
how much influence they have.
Byrne, let's talk about harvesting
data. Surely all political parties
do this when they hire a consultants
and they have election campaigns,
they go aggressively after voters.
Is this any different?
Yes, it is
different because they collected the
data for one purpose and reused for
something else. The reason we are
all very concerned is because we
know it is not just bad companies,
there are bad countries as well. We
know Russia intervened in the
American elections, we know they
intervened in France and Germany.
There is a suspicion that could have
been up to no good in the Brexit
referendum. We need to make sure
there is not an unholy alliance
between bad companies and bad
countries. We need to get the bottom
of this. What we have learned is the
information minister doesn't have
the speed to get search warrants as
she needs them. We were promised
more laws on this last night. We
have just heard this morning in the
House of Commons the minister
slightly backtracking from this and
saying, no, we didn't guarantee
Chilcot the information Commissioner
with new laws. We will come back to
You don't think they are going
to do that?
I thought last night
there were but now I'm pretty
alarmed they want.
alarmed they want.
At the time when
this happened it was quite common
practice. A man who is a Cambridge
academic made a personality quiz
that people could take on Facebook.
Facebook has a set of instructions
which it gives to all developers saw
their stuff will work on the
Facebook platform. At the time it
was established as a default. If
anybody use that, not only their
data but the date of their friends
would be collectable by the
developer. This was common practice.
This was guess your personality
type, a fun game. It was played by
about 270,000 people. But in the
playing of that, and their friends
networks etc, possibly reached up to
50 million users in terms of the
data the app was able to harvest.
The developer sold that data to
Cambridge Analytica. Not only do we
have a situation where Facebook's
data should not have been sold on,
but a situation where it is not
transparent. Obama has an app which
he used to get himself re-elected.
It was very obvious what you're
doing. Planning a personality game
it was not obvious you are
supporting Donald Trump.
should the boundaries be, Liam
Byrne? We all know when we complete
quizzes or go shopping on the
Internet, there is a box that asks
if you are happy for the company to
share your information. You hope if
you do not take that box your
information will not be shared.
Presumably there are millions of
people who tick the box, and perhaps
they don't really care. Is that
where the problem lies?
is twofold. Data was used in a way
that it was not collected for.
People were misled when they offered
their data. The second real concern
though is that Facebook say that
they received assurances that the
data was destroyed. Now it turns out
that perhaps it wasn't. A real
question about who provides the
oversight and the guarantees that
data is actually being used in the
correct manner. And frankly, even
the Secretary of State describes
this as a wild West where there are
no rules. That is why we are saying,
isn't it time to give the sheriff a
bit more power to bring some order?
We asked Cambridge Analytica for an
interview but nobody was available.
One of the slightly shadowy things
that has developed is when the DC MS
Minister Damian Collins tweeted that
Facebook were in the offices of
Cambridge Analytica last night until
they were told to stand down by the
information Commissioner. What do
you make of that?
It is unusual and
strains that the two had not been in
touch. It is good that Facebook is
deferring to the UK authorities. It
is happening on UK soil.
happen now, Liam Byrne? You would
like new legislation and more powers
for the information Commissioner.
Would that do it? Three things need
to change. The information
Commissioner needs more power.
Second, we are proposing an
amendment called the honest ads act,
which means the Commissioner has the
power to find out who is paying for
what ads. At the moment dark ads are
very possible. The big changes that
we to bring the legislation for
these social media firms up to date.
They are regulated by a law brought
in in 2000, before they grew to the
size and scale they are today. We
will also propose an amendment that
said said deadline for when the
government needs to bring in that
Do you think there
has been widespread interference in
the way it has been interfering in
It is hard to say. The
digital minister has talked about
these company having a duty of care
towards their companies. I would
imagine that includes our data not
being used for things we were not
told about initially, particularly
when it comes to shaping political
views. The best thing about this
story is that at one point the Dr
changed his name to Dr Spectre.
It is surreal.
This time yesterday,
the Brexit Secretary, David Davis,
was holding a press conference
in Brussels, to announce agreement
on a transition deal with the EU
which covers the "implementation
period" from next March
until the end of 2020.
Mr Davis said it was a "decisive
step" in the Brexit process.
The United Kingdom will be able to
step out, sign and ratify new deals,
new trade deals with old friends,
and new allies, around the globe.
For the first time in more than 40
These will come into force when the
implementation period is over.
Providing new opportunities for
businesses across the United
Kingdom, and seizing one of Brexit's
That was the Brexit secretary David
Davis yesterday. How big a moment
was this, do you think? David Davis
seems to think it was, was it?
was a big moment for a lot of
companies in this country who had
been crying out for this agreement
so they didn't have to trigger
contingency plans, so it was a step
forward. To site the old saying
nothing is agrees until everything
is agreed and Jacob Rees-Mogg said
yesterday, so there is a long want
to go before this is wrapped up. Is
How much did the Government give way
in your mind?
There are some areas
on the transition deal where they
gave away, so the rights of EU
citizens who arrived during
transition, are initially the Prime
Minister said they won't have the
same rights who arrived before
Brexit day, now they will. And we
will have to abide by new EU laws so
the Government gave way on most of
the points the EU was insisting on.
Did the EU give way as well?
have given way on some the
withdrawal points so on the rights
of EU citizens they backed off their
original demand but they seem to
have got what they wanted.
surprised by the storm created over
Yes and no. I mean
there are lots of different
constituencies involved in the
Brexit vote and fishing was
something where the government said
early on and Brexiters said we will
reclaim our fishing water, this is a
direct contradiction so it was
Well, with us
here is Nigel Evans and Alison
Take back control, have the
fishermen and people who wanted to
take back control of British waters
and fishing rights have they been
No look I am looking for
Jacob Rees-Mogg on within of those
trawlers, no the reality is we will
be in no worse off position during
the transition period, it could be
better, because it is open to
negotiation, at the end of the
period, after the transitional
period, then we will have taken back
control of our waters, one area I
find odd, though, is Nicola Sturgeon
saying this has let down the
Scottish fishermen because frankly,
if we stuck with what Nicola
Sturgeon wants we would be stuck in
the European Union for eternity and
wouldn't have any control in 2020.
It is not just Nicola Sturgeon. It
is Scottish Tories who met with the
Chief Whip and were told to stop
whining because it is not like they
are going to vote Labour, is that
the way with your colleagues?
they are meeting with the Prime
Minister today, that is how
important they are being taken. They
have met with Michael Gove and we
want to make certain in the whole
mix we do, when we finally do leave
the European Union after the
transitional period, that we have
got total control of our water, we
are leaving the Common Fisheries
Policy and we will be able to get
the best deal for our fish American.
Do you accept Alison McGovern. You
are still behind the idea of
remaining within the EU, do you
accept that this was a moment that
some success and progress has been
Think there are is two problems
with what has happened over
transition, the first of those is
that many of the big decisions are
still being kicked down the road,
whether that is the position of
Ireland or what our eventual
relationship will be, we still don't
know, so, a lot of us talked about
and the importance of a transition,
when the first, vote first happened
for the reason Anand Menon
mentioned, which is businesses would
need a long lead in to deal with the
circumstances if that long lead is
is still real really a road to know
where, what are we talking about? We
don't know what our relationship is
going to be, and the second problem,
is to be honest, people like Nigel,
wept round in 2016 telling people,
when we leaf the EU, we will take
back control, we will have control
of fishery, and the borders, and
now, they are being told sorry, but
that is not really what is on offer
any more, and, I don't think that is
good enough, really, for people in
Britain, whether they voted leave or
remain. I think people were told
they could have something and they
are being told we are going to have
open borders, it is not really fair
on people. That is a huge problem.
thought it was bizarre to see Michel
Barnier and David Davis standing
behind that board full of sheets
with green ink over it, to o show
where agreements were made and some
where agreements are are still to
happen. I agree with Alison, if it
is is a road to know where I would
be opposed to it. It's a red to
leaving the European Union, so that
at the end of 2020, after the
transitional arrangement, both
Alison and and I can have a drink of
champagne in the strainers bar.
Somehow I don't think I will.
No thanks. That was clear.
issue of Northern Ireland, we are no
further on than we were before, in
order to not have an effective
border we need to be in the single
market. The Government is not
dealing with that issue. Is
Alison is saying unless we
say in the single market, even
Jeremy Corbyn isn't looking at. They
are looking at fudged customs union.
O do you make it would make it
easier to solve the problem?
are got going to do it. We are said
Theresa May has said there will be
no hard border between Northern
Ireland and Ireland.
Do you agree
with Alison on this point, about
that border, that that hasn't been
resolved. Itself is being kicked
further down the road and by doing
so, does it increase the chances of
a solution being found.
I agree on
the fact if you are not in the
single market or the customs union
it is almost impossible. The
government has talked about
technology, the agreement doesn't
just say no border, it says no
physical infrastructure, now
technology means cameras which is
physical infrastructure, no-one has
come up with a way of removing that
border short of single market and
customs union membership yet. That
is open to discussion, I suspect
what they want to do, is play chick
within the Irish in a sense, they
want to drag this out for as long as
possible. The Irish have two
problem, they don't want a border
and they want to continue trading
with us and the Government wants to
push the border issue...
European Union wanted to put the
cart before the horse, when hen you
do that it is amazing the cart
doesn't go all that far, what we
need to do is deal with the UK EU
border and if we get that right, now
we can get on with that, the whole
problem between Northern Ireland and
It doesn't. The
idea a trade deal gets rid of these
issues is wrong, we would need to
have full regulatory convergence and
the only way do that is a single
market. For people who think this is
a non-issue, put yourself in the
shoes of my age, who is Northern
Irish, who has identity that looks
both ways who has grown up with
peace and imagine how this
discussion feels to them of people
dismissing concerns about the
border. That is unfair.
going to join Jacob Rees-Mogg when
he goes on that boat to discard the
I am not sure my sea legs are
that good. No, it is not jubilati
for Jacob Rees-Mogg but it is semi.
And for more reporting
and analysis of Brexit,
check out the BBC News website.
For the last couple of years
new dads have been entitled to take
more time off work when their baby
is born, sharing parental
leave with their partner.
But a report out today from
the Equalities Select Committee says
very few men are actually taking it.
It argues the government should be
doing much more to encourage fathers
to stay at home, including
increasing paternity pay.
Elizabeth Glinka has been to meet
one dad who has chosen to take time
off with his young children.
Shared parental leave is something
that has been available to dads here
in the UK since 2015 but the latest
figures show that only between two
and 8% of fathers are likely to take
that up. We have come here to south
London, to see Michael, and his two
daughters. Hello. Hello. And Michael
is a stay at home dad. Michael, what
do you make of these figure, why do
you think so few dads are taking up
the opportunity of having time off
with their children?
Think it is a
difficult decision to make, there
are still a lot of barriers cultural
and economic to deciding to really
take time off for your kids.
What difference has it made to you
having time off with the children?
think it has been great for me h it
has brought out a lot of different
aspects of my personality, I have
learned to be more patient and more
caring, as a person, and for the
kids, I think I have managed to
develop a much closer relationship
When you tell people you
are a stay at home dad, how do they
react to that?
I get different types
of reaction, a lot of times people
commend me but I think that is
strange because you would never
commend a mother for staying home
and taking care of their children.
Other times people just are a little
surprised I have decided to take a
year off of my professional activity
to watch my children.
So what do you
think would make a difference, in
terms of encouraging more men to
actually do what you are doing?
think that if we are really as a
society looking for pay equality,
and for equality gender equality, in
general, we need to start at home,
as well. So I think that the
Government could make some efforts,
to ensure that all fathers are paid
and enjoy longer paternity leave,
but I also think it's a question
that should be addressed, in the
family, and in the home.
you very much. And thank you girls
shall we baefc to the studio? Can we
They were very well behaved there.
They were very well behaved there.
Maria Miller chairs
the Equalities Select Committee,
and joins us now from central
lobby inside parliament.
Welcome to the programme, take up of
the Government shared parental leave
policy is as low as 2%, does that
Well, it does on one
level when you look at the fact that
more than half of new dads want to
be able to spend more time with
their children, and are talking
about down trading their jobs to be
able do that, so the low take up of
share is aed parental leave showses
that you know, family have
modernised more quickly than the
Does it mean it is a
failure the policy?
It is a policy
that needs review, and the Select
Committee report we have published
today tells the Government how they
should review that, by firstly,
giving dads 90% of pay for their
parental leave they give the pattern
the I leave they have for two weeks
but having 12 weeks protected time
for dads during the first week,
first year of a child's life to make
sure that dads take that. It is a
use it or lose it which we know
works to change the culture and get
dads to take this leave rather than
have to say just continuing in the
Right and just to clarify
would they get paid the 90% of their
earnings during that time?
moment we haven't got a full costing
for that, we want Government to look
at it as part of their review of
their policies is on Shahhed
parental leave but we have to
believe they get paid more because
as your interviewer has said that is
one of the reasons dads are not
taking up this important part of
their children's lives.
No doubt the
take up would be high perthe
policies is as you explained them
get put into force but are companies
signed up to this idea of losing
members of staff, key members of
staff for that length of time?
we are hearing now from larger
companies, who perhaps are looking
at this in more detail is they are
equalising the support, to allow
dads to have more paid leave, but I
am not sure the company, the country
can afford to ignore this, because
we have got so many new dads who are
saying they could down trade their
jobs, leave the labour market and if
the government wants to tackle the
gender pay gap, they won't really
tackle that until they have tackled
the issue of dads taking up more of
those caring responsibilities,
particularly in the first year.
you think if Government is committed
enough to closing the gender pay gap
and helping dads stay at home who
have newborn kids, because although
the proposals are better on the face
of it, are they really radical
enough to reverse the sort of gender
roles in the way they are set?
think they are radical enough to get
dads to really think again about
their role in their children's lives
and ability to take time off,
particularly if they are low paid,
but you know, the most important
thing the Prime Minister said
recently in this topic she is
supporting flexible working from day
one and wants to see businesses take
that and that, of course, would
really benefit not only dads but
mums who often fail to get the good
quality jobs to get back into the
labour market and get rid of this
dreadful gender pay gap. I think
there are positive noises coming
from the Government and I hope this
Select Committee report today will
give them further food for thought.
We've been joined by John Adams,
who runs Dad Blog UK,
and by Kate Andrews
from the Institute for
Welcome. What do you think of the
proposals and the way Maria Miller
I am in favour of
the majority of the proposals. The
one about parental leave is a bit
confusing. I'm not sure if the
committee is proposing we do away
with shared parental leave.
implication seems to be a few
overhaul the system, that you would
somehow abandon shared parental
leave. Would you be in favour of
No, I think it is a bit too
soon to abandon shared parental
leave. Where other nations have
introduced it, Sweden, Iceland, for
example, where they have introduced
ring-fenced leave for a father 's,
stand-alone leave, what you've got
is a much greater male participation
domestically, greater female
participation in the workforce and
greater gender equality all round.
It does come at a cost to business,
it has to be said.
But a price worth
paying because of the benefits to
The policy should not be to
get an equal split between men and
women doing the same thing. It
should be to give partners the
freedom to choose what is right for
them in their own home, whether that
is the woman staying at home, the
man will stop regardless, it should
be a free choice. It should be as
flexible as possible. In terms of
paternity pay, I support the
decision to increase it. Small
businesses can reclaim most of the
costs from the government. It is a
cost to the taxpayer but it may be
something we want to prioritise and
Lagarde in a separate discussion. I
am more concerned about essentially
required badly. This is the
government saying if you don't make
the decision, we will threaten Terry
-- to use it might lose it, threaten
your benefits or your time off if
you don't do what we want. In
countries like Sweden they have had
problems getting men to take it up.
They still do not have a 50-50
Do men actually want this? Would it
I think Kate is right. We are
not getting to 50-50. We shouldn't
really be looking at having a great
world where childcare is shared, or
moment that work part-time. It has
to be what is right for each
individual family. These proposals
will create flexibility so families
can choose what is right for them.
There are barriers in place at the
minute would stop them from showing
their abilities as carers for
children within the family unit.
This policy has worked. It may sound
heavy-handed, but it is a case of
changing work and culture.
do that, do you think? Isn't Eddie
Kidd until the working culture
changes, you will not get the
The key is changing
culture. That is why they are
adopting this sort of approach. In
the workplace at the moment it is
still considered a bit odd that the
dad is going to do this. Introducing
the system as a way of bringing
about a cultural shift. You don't
have three choices.
have so much of a problem. Hopefully
the future generations will move in
that direction. I agree completely.
They haven't done it so far. Is it
because the law is not favouring
them and the culture is not changing
You do not bring in
heavy-handed policies to force
people to do something that may not
be right in their individual
circumstances. Increasing paternity
pay, making it easier for men to
take time off work, that is one
thing. But saying everybody has to
do it this way is what I am not
What are the
challenges you face being a stay at
home dad at the beginning? When I
was on paternity leave, you didn't
see many men at all. Is it
It is. The biggest issue
is social isolation. The issue you
have is that women will be
socialised from before their child
is born. It carries on into nursery.
You do not always become a stay at
home dad from day one because mum is
breast-feeding. Very often you
become one through redundancy or
other things. There are tightly knit
social groups already formed among
women. You have to make your way
into them. What is really sad, my
own daughters get socially
instituted, but you're stoned.
is a shame. From any would like to
stay at home and they hear these
stories, which are true, from
personal experience, it will put men
off, never mind the cultural
practices at work?
Of course. It
starts in the home. Men and women
need to have some serious
conversations about how they want to
raise their kids. Mum and dad are
illegal. We want to see them do
similar roles at home or at work.
Women need to be stronger about this
and have serious and frank
conversations with every male
partner, to say, it is not just on
me to do the housework. Men are
becoming more receptive to that,
which is positive.
On the gender pay
gap that Maria Miller talked about,
she said some of these moves will
have to deal with the gender pay gap
that she says blight the lives of so
many women over 35. Do you agree?
Queue equalised between the genders
in terms of who looks after the
kids, absolutely. One of the reasons
for the gender pay gap was that
women disproportionately looked the
kids. So yes, I would imagine it
The main reason for gender
pay gap is a mother pay gap. Many
figures are distorted. If you're
going to tackle it you have to have
more women pursuing the same career
trajectories as men.
Later today, Labour will confirm
who will be taking over
as the party's
new General Secretary.
Iain Watson is across the story.
Why should we care about who the new
general secretary is?
There are two
reasons. This is hugely symbolic
because we are having two female
candidates competing for this role.
Christine Blower, who used to be in
charge of the annuity, and Jennie
Formby from the Unite union.
Secondly, both are on the left of
the party. Symbolically this shows
how the party is shifting towards
those who support Jeremy Corbyn's
leadership and heavy party machine
will effectively be in the hands of
those around his leadership, whoever
wins. -- how the party machine.
Jennie Formby is the favourite. She
is a close personal and political
ally of Len McCluskey, who heads the
biggest union fonder of Labour. She
will be working in tune with the
leadership and the Labour leader's
office, perhaps a lot more so than
the previous incumbent, who was
elected under Ed Miliband. Some of
the areas she will be looking at is
how to change the Labour Party
campaigns, using some of the
techniques that got Jeremy Corbyn
elected and re-elected as Labour
leader, using them more widely in
terms of the Labour Party. More
grassroots campaigning as well. One
of the other reasons we should be
watching closely is she is also
going to be the person who
implements the party's democracy
review. It can change the way the
Labour Party operates. Again, giving
more power to the members, shifting
the balance of power away from some
of the MPs. She could be a highly
Explain why a
number of Labour staffers walked
Yes, some key staff left. Six
yesterday. Before that, the general
secretary. Before that the person in
charge of elections and campaigns.
Some big losses. Most of them
leaving in the next few months. And
certainly in some cases they felt
they were more in tune with the
previous regime than the likely
regime under somebody who is firmly
on the left of the party, closely
connected to the United macro trade
union. Some of those leaving felt
more comfortable under previous
Labour leaders. Some had worked for
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. This
also gives the person coming in,
likely to be Jennie Formby, room for
manoeuvre in reshaping the party
machine, reshaping the backroom role
of the party, more in the image of
those who have supported Jeremy
Corbyn's leadership all along.
I've been joined in the studio
by the Labour backbencher
and supporter of Jeremy Corbyn,
Chris Williamson, and
by Margaret Prosser,
a Labour peer and former President
of the TUC.
Welcome. Margaret Prosser, do you
have any reservations about the
outcome of this election?
I've got a
lot of reservations about the way
the whole thing has been organised.
In a way you could describe the
general secretary of the Labour
Party as being the civil servant of
the organisation. Obviously it is a
political party, obviously the
general secretary is good to be a
person with a political background,
political membership. But that
person has two slightly stand above
the fray. The way this has been
conducted, as soon as a vacancy was
announced, it was almost immediately
announced by senior people within
the party, senior members of
Parliament, that Jennie Formby would
be a really good candidate. Now
there should be, there is, a person
specification for this job. There is
an application form, and interview
process, other candidates. How is it
that the leadership of the party has
decided who they want before any
that process has been conducted?
They may say they have a preference.
They may say that. But this puts the
whole thing into some kind of a
shambles. It just is really not
Why has the leadership done
that for a post that is supposed to
be above the party political fray?
First of all it is not an election,
it is an appointment by the National
executive. The leadership doesn't
the point. It is the NEC that will
Should they have expressed
such a firm preference for Jennie
I'm not sure Jeremy has
expressed any preference one way or
the other. It is a matter for the
National Executive Committee. We
have two incredibly tandem with --
talented candidates who I think will
serve the party will be well. They
are effectively the civil service of
the Labour Party. The Labour Party
is a flourishing party now. It is
very much in tune with the British
people and we are going to have a
general secretary who will ensure
that we implement Labour's programme
throughout the membership of the
party, and helps to mobilise this
mass movement the Labour Party is
now, to carry Jeremy over the
threshold of Number 10 when the
general election comes and bring
more people into the party. It has
to be a good thing.
Do Jeremy Corbyn
not express a preference in the way
that you thought due Everybody
around him is expressed a
That is my point. The
whole view has been that Jennie
Formby is going to be the right
person for the job. I have known her
since the early 1980s. She is a very
capable woman. Whether or not she is
right for this position, would be a
matter for another discussion.
not think she is right?
The party is
split down the middle. I have to
remind everybody that just because I
am not a Corbyn fan does not make me
a right-winger. I have never in my
life been a right winger. I am on
the progressive left of the party.
Loads of people who express
themselves to be on the left are
actually quite reactionary in many
Do you feel you are being
described as a right winger?
are a Blairite, my goodness, you
might as well hide yourself away. It
is a pathetic way of describing what
is going on in the party, and we
need somebody in that general
secretary position who is going to
be able to bring people together.
you accept it is split? That is
Margaret Prosser's perception.
Margaret would show she is not a
right-winger -- would say. Do you
accept that is the current state of
the Labour Party?
Margaret says the
party is split down the middle. I
absolutely disagree with that. I
have been a member for 42 years and
I have never known to more united.
It is true, there are a handful of
people who don't like the direction
of travel. There are a few people in
the Parliamentary Labour Party. Hold
on a second, Margaret, the
Parliamentary Labour Party is not
the Labour Party. We are a party of
600,000 members. Overwhelming
support for it. The other important
thing is that Labour's programme is
very much in tune with the
overwhelming majority of the British
people. Let's just remember that. We
are incredibly moderate and
mainstream. That is the Labour Party
now. Plain common sense is what we
Do you welcome this
move to allow the members do have
more say? Do you agree the
Parliamentary Labour Party is not
the Labour Party?
I of course
welcome a move to engage more and
more people. What I don't welcome is
the way in which this has been
organised. We do have loads of
people engaged with Momentum, who
are also members of other parties.
That is not true.
It is true. We
know it is true.
I'm sorry, but it
is not true. You can't be a member
of Momentum unless you are a member
of the Labour Party. They did a
fantastic job in mobilising people
at the last election.
That was not
what I said.
what I said.
What I said was
there are many people in momentum
who are also members of other
parties. Well, research has shown
that is the case. Secondly, if the
vast majority of people in this
country agree with the current
position of the Labour Party, how
come we didn't win the election? I
absolutely accept that the manifesto
met the grievances and the upsets
and the awful situations, that many
people find themselves in, where I
kind of differ as we go along that
path, is who is going to deliver
that programme for us? I have no
faith that the current leadership
would be able to do that.
We had the
biggest increase in vote share since
But you didn't win.
is there was a view abroad and that
is true of the party head office,
that pause we were a long way behind
in the opinion polls so it is
understandable and they were
fighting a defensive campaign. If we
fought an offensive campaign.
thought they fought a defensive
No I think the party head
office were fighting a defensive
Let me ask one final
Given the opposition in
the election was the Conservative
Party, who fought the worst campaign
in living memory.
And we fought the
Leave that aside, the
fact of the matter is, that the
leadership of the administration of
the party needs to be a person to
bring everyone together and you may
take the view that the party is not
split down the middle. I think that
is utter tosh, Chris, frankly.
assure you in all the meetings I go
to, there is huge support for the
agenda that Jeremy is spearheading
We have to finish the
discussion, you won't agree on that
which is fair enough. We will find
out later or have that appointment
confirmed, the Labour Party are
saying that staff haven't walked
out, in the way I expressed it, they
are working their three month notice
period but they are leaving, as a
result of the way this is handled
and you may say that is what happens
when there is a change of the guard.
Thank you both for joining us.
Thank you both for joining us.
Later this afternoon, a mother
and her six-year-old son will be
heading to Downing Street to present
a petition calling for him to be
granted a special licence
to use medical cannabis.
Alfie Dingley has a rare form
of epilepsy and can suffer as many
as 30 seizures a day.
Our reporter Greg Dawson
is live at College Green
with Alfie and Hannah now...
Thank you 380,000 signatures on that
petition, which will be presented to
Number Ten this afternoon. It is all
about this boy, six-year-old Alfie,
he has enjoyed his day today, he has
been given a red bus which he has
loved rolling round here, his mother
Hannah is with us, Hannah, just tell
us a bit more about Alfie's
Alfie has a very
rare condition, there is only nine
boys in the world with PCHD19. It is
genetic, it is very rare, there is
no understanding about how to treat
it, and it is very aggressive and
we, he has had a very difficult time
since he was a baby.
You have taken
him to the Netherlands where he was
treated with cannabis oil. Talk to
me about the differences that you
Before we went to Holland
Alfie was in hospital every four to
ten days with a severe cluster of
seizures needing up to five doses of
steroids plus other medicines, he
had tonic chronic seizures where he
went purple. Very frightening. He
would always need a balance. We
lived like that for 18 months and it
is the most horrendous thing we have
had to endure, it was awful. Our
doctor said if we carry on Alfie
would become very sick, you know,
possibly get psychosis or his organs
would fail and he could die. We had
no choice, we took him to Holland
Add and you noticed a huge change.
He has one seizure a month. One dose
of steroids, he had a happy life. He
noticed his sister, he played with
her, we had family days together,
which were normal and we hadn't had
that for a long time. It was a
miracle for us and we wanted to
replicate that in the UK, with our
family and with our friends and with
our job, and you know try to get
back to some sort of normality.
the moment Alfie cannot have that
cannabis oil, he had a seizure last
week, naturally he becomes ago
sieve, and that is difficult for you
It is horrendous, I get
no help other than from family, he
has a seizure on Monday night. We
had to rush him into hospital and he
carried on having seizures on
Tuesday so he had two doses of
steroids, this is what he does to
me, if you look at my hands, this is
what he does, he is aggressive, he
is angry, he does, I am frightened,
I can't leave him alone with his
sister, it is horrendous, he
couldn't go to school because I
can't put him in a situation at
school where he might hurt other
children, it is no life and we have
gone from having a lovely life, in
another country, to having a
horrible life again where I am a
full-time carer, it is very
stressful, very upsetting is and it
is more upsetting because I know
none of it needs to happen.
Office said they couldn't let you
use licensed this medication in the
UK, subsequently they said they
would consider a three month trial,
but they could make no promise, you
haven't heard anything since that,
that was about three months ago,
what is your response to this delay?
It is very upsetting, we are getting
a lot of platitudes, we are getting
people saying we understand your
situation, they don't, they don't
live my life every day, they don't
live my son's life, we want clear
clarity, we want to understand that
they are committed to helping Alfie,
committed to helping our family, we
want them to make that public and we
want them to help our doctor, to
prescribe this and get a licence.
Without their support and without
them driving this, this won't happen
and it needs to come from them. I am
a full-time care e my partner is
trying to keep a roof on our heads,
it is not my job to do this, it is
the Home Office's job to make this
happen and today, we want clarity
and we want their support publicly.
Thank you for joining me Hannah.
Hannah Deacon and Alfie who is over
there. A lot of supporters including
Sir Patrick Stewart. Just quickly,
we only have a few seconds but
outline the reasons you are
supporting the case?
Because it is
exceptional and it is urgent, and
the longer wider process of the uses
of medical marijuana in the UK will
have to be discussed. This case has
extreme urgency attacks to it and I
would hope -- attached to it, I hope
would the Home Office will come to a
conclusion in Alfie's favour very
Thank you to your guests
That case was very powerfully and
emotionally put to the Home Office,
do you think that should consider
it, they weren't available to do an
This is a total no
brainer, where it can can do good,
you regulate it and use it. Drugs
they press crane asking dangerous
and have side effects which is the
case with marijuana, but when it can
alleviate suffering, I don't see the
case for not.
What you to say when
they have stalled in terms of a
response to granting a pilot, even
for three months, to give some sort
of leaf to Anna and Alfie?
what processes go on within
departments. It is not unusual for
things to get stalled in the system.
With luck the publicity this case is
getting will do something to shift
the wheels of the Home Office, but I
don't understand why this can't just
And if the Home Office
would like to get in tough with the
programme and we would be delighted
to talk to anyone from the
department to find out if they will
make an exception, in the case of
Alfie. While we have been talking I
have two other bits of news to bring
you, first of all a letter that has
been sent by Jean-Claude Juncker,
and this is from the European
Commission head, congratulating
Vladimir Putin on his re-election,
in the letter Jean-Claude Juncker
says I have argued that positive
relations between the European Union
and the Russian Federation are
crucial to the security of our
continent and our common objective
should be to reestablish a
co-operative pan-European security
order. I hope you will use your
fourth term in office to pursue this
goal and I wish you every success in
carrying out your responsibilities.
Is that appropriate what we are
going through at the moment?
the phrase that comes to mind is
tone deaf. What is interesting it is
Sarah Wollaston who has confirmed
this. Who a lot of people would have
had down as a potential rebel so it
is interesting it will feed into how
Briefly we are talking
about Cambridge Analytica and how
data has been harvested and the DCMS
has confirmed it has request that
Mark Zuckerberg the CEO of Facebook
appear before the committee's fake
Time to find out the
answer to our quiz.
The question was, what has
Parliament just spend £10,000 on?
a) A home cinema for
John Bercow's appartment.
b) Money to stopt the trees
in Parliament's atrium
from falling over.
c) A relaxation room
for stressed MPs.
Or d) Training for MPs
on how to use Instagram.
what's the correct answer?
I think I know. I think it's B. Is
right. Pathetically excited or not.
You don't get to take
You don't get to take a tree home.
Believe it or not, the fig
trees are costing nearly
£10,000 to keep straight.
Even without this, the trees
cost £20,000 a year
as it is to maintain,
and this has led to calls for root
and branch reform.
The Commons has ordered a review
into how to keep costs down
leading to speculation
the trees could be axed.
However a spokesman has said:
We've been joined in the studio
by Freddie Blackett, who runs
an indoor gardening company.
What is the plant?
It is difficult
to remember the Latin name, we call
him big Ken.
That is better! Do you
think fig trees were the right trees
for lining the atrium?
In short, I
don't. I think these particular
types of figs are native to propical
-- tropical conditions.
had a lot that?
They are suited to
warm low light conditions can and as
you can see Portcullis House does
not provide at least those light
conditions, and you know, it is that
type of space is better suited to
plants like succulent, palms rather
than tropical plants like figs.
you surprised they are leaning, and,
there are attempts to straighten
As a result of that there are
two things you need to consider when
you are buying plants for a large
space like this or a small one like
a flat or home, and that is the
plant and the space, and if the
plants in this case a tropical one
is inappropriate for a consieve
triessentially it won't be growing
in the appropriate conditions.
it is, surely a lovely thing to have
in terms of the a working
environment. Portcullis Houses is
where all the politicians and the
staff in Parliament gather, and all
the services are there, they do add
something to the, woring
Absolutely. I read John
O'Connell said that politicians
should be spend Mogger on necessity,
plants plants will be very effective
at removing pollutants from the air
strike at reducing noise and
creating a greater sense of calm.
All of those things provide a
working environment that helps MPs
better serve their constituents.
can leave the plant here. Thank you
very much. Andrew will be here
tomorrow for live coverage of Prime
Minister minister's questions. Bye.