19/09/2011 Newsnight


19/09/2011

Live from the Liberal Democrat's annual conference in Birmingham, including an interview with Business Secretary Vince Cable. With Jeremy Paxman.


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and they were faced disaster at the balls.

:00:04.:00:08.

-- they will face disaster at the palls. On Newsnight Scotland

:00:08.:00:13.

tonight: We stay with the Liberal Democrats. The Secretary of State

:00:13.:00:16.

for Scotland gives his views on his party's prospects.

:00:16.:00:19.

Also tonight, we hear from the third and possibly final contender

:00:19.:00:22.

to lead the Scottish wing of that other coalition party, the

:00:22.:00:28.

Conservatives. Good evening. As the UK Liberal

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Democrats put on a brave face, and more or less unite in defence of

:00:32.:00:34.

their role in the coalition government, some of their prominent

:00:34.:00:39.

Scots seem less comfortable. The party's most senior Scots have been

:00:39.:00:42.

hitting out at the SNP government, and Scottish Leader Willie Rennie

:00:42.:00:48.

is floating ideas about yet more powers for Holyrood. But in the

:00:48.:00:50.

background, former leader Tavish Scott has been telling newspaper

:00:50.:00:53.

readers that his electoral disaster last year was inevitable after the

:00:53.:01:03.
:01:03.:01:11.

UK Lib Dems chose to join the Plenty to ponder, for a Lib Dems

:01:11.:01:14.

meeting in Birmingham. They are in government but still having to

:01:14.:01:19.

spend a lot of time looking over their shoulders. He then

:01:19.:01:23.

frontbenchers like Vince Cable are having to put effort into attacking

:01:23.:01:27.

the SNP. Some people may have noticed that one of the big media

:01:27.:01:32.

companies has recently had a spot of bother. The Labour Party, the

:01:32.:01:37.

Conservatives and even the Scottish nationalists spent years queuing up

:01:37.:01:43.

to pay them homage. What makes me proud of our party is that we never

:01:43.:01:48.

compromised our cells and that right. The Chief Secretary to the

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Treasury, Danny Alexander, is also getting in on the act. The Scottish

:01:55.:01:57.

National has made the same mistake, we will never frustrate the

:01:57.:02:04.

national interest, they are enemies of growth. The SNP's success in the

:02:04.:02:12.

Holyrood elections is promising up Hollis the rethink. -- promising a

:02:12.:02:17.

policy rethink. We're developing a blueprint so what we spend the

:02:17.:02:20.

Scottish Parliament is would be raised in Scotland, but we also

:02:20.:02:25.

want to look at local authorities, because increasingly, Scotland is

:02:25.:02:29.

grabbing power into the centre and as liberals, we are strongly in

:02:29.:02:32.

favour of communities to determining their own futures, just

:02:32.:02:35.

like Edinburgh having more control, we want councils to have more

:02:35.:02:41.

control. There is a lot of ground to make up. Remember in the

:02:41.:02:47.

election campaign, the outgoing veteran Lib Dem ms Peake backed

:02:47.:02:55.

Alex Salmond for her First Minister. -- Lib Dem MSP. Personal support, I

:02:55.:03:01.

think he has that there? And the courage to lead Scotland to a

:03:01.:03:07.

prosperous, sustainable future. Then there was the U-turn by Lib

:03:07.:03:11.

Dem MPs on tuition fees for English students. He need to ask them that,

:03:12.:03:16.

they decided to do that down there, I voted to get rid of tuition fees

:03:16.:03:22.

in Scotland and to keep funding, I have a reasonable record on that

:03:22.:03:28.

issue. Tavish Scott has been writing about that election and the

:03:28.:03:31.

Scots and pointing out that despite having an impeccable record on

:03:31.:03:35.

tuition fees in Scotland, the party was dragged into the political

:03:35.:03:39.

gutter by the decision in London. This is the document the Lib Dems

:03:39.:03:43.

hoped would put them on the road to recovery. The election review looks

:03:43.:03:49.

not just that the election results from this year, but also the

:03:49.:03:53.

referendum. The party blames the Labour Party and they blame their

:03:53.:03:57.

own activists for not getting involved enough. For the leadership,

:03:57.:04:03.

there is a lot of work did done. A fight has broken out over what the

:04:03.:04:07.

SNP call a threatening letter from dally Alexander to the Scottish

:04:07.:04:14.

government. -- Danny Alexander. saw the First Minister's toxic mix

:04:14.:04:18.

of prejudice and nationalism. that description was applied to

:04:18.:04:23.

anything, I think the public sector workers watching this broadcaster

:04:23.:04:27.

Jake might apply it to the letter from Danny Alexander and find that

:04:27.:04:32.

entire attitude of huge importance and consign his political party to

:04:32.:04:38.

even lower support than it has just now, if that were possible. In the

:04:38.:04:43.

end, to govern is to choose, and we took the decision about public

:04:43.:04:46.

sector pensions money there was more money for public services

:04:46.:04:50.

including more money in Scotland. To be clear, John Swinney and Alex

:04:51.:04:54.

Salmond are free to do something on public sector pensions, but they

:04:54.:04:58.

will have to pay the price for doing that in terms of their own

:04:58.:05:03.

budget. That is a choice they are free to make. As this Lib Dem

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conference continues, delegates have a lot to think about. They say

:05:07.:05:10.

they are in government and underside, but clearly, there is

:05:10.:05:15.

work to be done if that message is to be accepted across the country.

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A short while ago I spoke to the Liberal Democrats Secretary of

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State of Scotland, Michael Moore MP, who's at the Birmingham Conference.

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I asked him first if he accepted the Tavish Scott view that the

:05:25.:05:28.

tuition fees decision had dropped his party into the gutter ahead of

:05:28.:05:35.

the Scottish election. We had a very difficult year, there

:05:35.:05:38.

were a number of difficult political choices in front of us,

:05:38.:05:44.

certainly tuition fees was one of them. That was one that we fail to

:05:44.:05:48.

convey properly in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK. It was also,

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frankly, and Tallis has spoken about this, about the difficult

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decisions on the deficit, tackling the deficit to get us out of the

:05:57.:06:01.

hole that we were left by the previous government. And any party

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trying to get elected against that backdrop was facing difficulties

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and we suffer the consequences and Scotland. I wonder if MPs... I

:06:14.:06:18.

wonder if Lib Dem MPs like you will suffer the same fate that the next

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to the UK general election throws up of the economy has not recovered

:06:22.:06:28.

by then? We're certainly putting key emphasis on the economy. The

:06:28.:06:33.

first part of this is to get the deficit under control. The Devils

:06:33.:06:38.

at reduction plan has got to work and we have got to see growth. --

:06:38.:06:42.

deficit reduction plan. We have focused on that in the last year.

:06:42.:06:46.

At the conference here, we heard from Danny Alexander and Nick Clegg

:06:46.:06:50.

so far about the priority and making sure we do everything we can

:06:50.:06:53.

to get investment and infrastructure and to make sure

:06:53.:06:56.

that we are teasing out the different parts of the economy to

:06:57.:07:01.

get people employed in to get bank's lending and to make sure

:07:01.:07:04.

businesses have what they need to create the future sustainable

:07:04.:07:11.

growth that has been sadly lacking in the past decade. It is

:07:11.:07:14.

interesting the policies you have set out, because one of your

:07:14.:07:18.

colleagues said tonight that a party will be slaughtered at the

:07:18.:07:22.

elections if there isn't economic recovery and he said that what you

:07:22.:07:28.

need to do in order to drive the recovery is to invest more in

:07:28.:07:34.

infrastructure and capital investment. I hope that he has been

:07:34.:07:38.

listening carefully to what Danny Alexander said yesterday about

:07:38.:07:41.

their half-a- billion pounds of additional funding that will be

:07:41.:07:47.

focused on the infrastructure or investment that we need. We're

:07:47.:07:52.

investing in science, we are looking at the state of the

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infrastructure and at broadband roll-out, and everywhere the

:07:54.:07:59.

Government is spending, we're making sure that it is really about

:07:59.:08:04.

the economy. We spend as a government something like �700

:08:04.:08:08.

billion every year and we need to make sure that this is as bogus as

:08:08.:08:13.

possible in getting people in jobs, rebalancing the economy, which has

:08:13.:08:17.

been skewed in the last few years. If you don't spend more in this

:08:17.:08:21.

area, does admit to an enemy of crows as a minister in his

:08:21.:08:27.

coalition government? -- does it make to an enemy. No, we need to

:08:27.:08:31.

get the deficit under control and make sensible decisions about how

:08:31.:08:34.

we spend money and we need to give confidence to the market that we

:08:34.:08:38.

can deliver cred debate on the economic plan and I believe in the

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last year, we have been establishing that. He cannot forget

:08:42.:08:46.

that the deficit was bigger than any of the other countries that

:08:46.:08:50.

struggled in the last year and we are currently enjoying some of the

:08:50.:08:54.

lowest interest rates if any body in Europe, which is vital to help

:08:54.:08:58.

businesses to invest. It is vital to get individuals back on their

:08:58.:09:03.

feet after what were very tough economic times. It also tells us

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how bad the economic position is. Let me ask about the coming days

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when we will hear from the Scottish government, their budget plans, no

:09:11.:09:16.

doubt they will say you should be spending more on capital investment

:09:16.:09:22.

like Lord or pshaw, but they will also no doubt be saying that the

:09:22.:09:27.

devolved administration needs more economic clout in order to drive

:09:27.:09:30.

economic growth in Scotland, more cloud then you're proposing in the

:09:30.:09:35.

Scotland Bill, do you support that agenda? Let's remember what is in

:09:35.:09:40.

the Scotland Bill. Substantial new powers on borrowing, Paris that we

:09:40.:09:45.

will be very access to so the Scottish government can get on with

:09:45.:09:53.

infrastructure projects. -- Paras that we will be accessing go to the

:09:53.:09:57.

Scottish government. We believe we have a broad range of support

:09:57.:10:03.

across political parties in Scotland and in civics society. The

:10:03.:10:06.

Scottish government has other proposals, corporation tax been one

:10:06.:10:12.

of those, had we have said that we need to make the case, listen to

:10:12.:10:15.

the points that we are making, answered those points and we will

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consider that in the round. Frankly we have lacked detail from the

:10:19.:10:23.

Scottish government. My colleague in the Treasury put key questions

:10:23.:10:28.

about the cost of corporation tax been transferred and about the

:10:28.:10:31.

behavioural impacts it would have and the huge cost of reducing

:10:31.:10:35.

Scottish tax to Irish levels which is the Scottish government's

:10:35.:10:39.

aspirations. That makes it sound like you're against, but at the

:10:39.:10:44.

same time, you're talking about Holyrood racing all of the money

:10:44.:10:49.

that it spends in setting up a commission to get exactly that.

:10:49.:10:54.

Surely be two positions and inconsistent? What we have said is

:10:54.:10:58.

the case for corporation tax has to be made with care, in detail and

:10:58.:11:03.

has to answer some pretty fundamental concerns. What we

:11:03.:11:06.

Rennie and I ate together are wanting colleagues in the Scottish

:11:06.:11:11.

party to do is to look at how home rule should be refashioned in the

:11:11.:11:20.

21st century. -- what really -- what Willie Rennie and I are doing.

:11:20.:11:26.

That is an important process that looks at devolution in the last two

:11:26.:11:30.

decades in building AND developing consensus and working through to

:11:30.:11:35.

implement its, but there is a lot of assertion but not a lot of

:11:35.:11:40.

detail. Might you're Lib Dem proposals for Holyrood to raise all

:11:40.:11:45.

of the money include corporation tax being devolved in some shape or

:11:45.:11:55.
:11:55.:11:56.

We're saying we will look again at work done in previous exercises by

:11:56.:11:59.

the party. We are proud and Scotland of what we have done over

:11:59.:12:06.

the years to make the case for devolution. More recently, we

:12:06.:12:10.

brought our ideas into it and persuaded others to come on board

:12:10.:12:14.

and join us, and we got consensus. Yet again, we are looking carefully

:12:14.:12:19.

at what is best suited for Scotland. We will look at it, build the case

:12:19.:12:24.

and seek to build consensus. Beyond that, we will look to see where

:12:24.:12:31.

Scotland wants to go. Corporation tax might be part of it, I guess or

:12:31.:12:39.

no? What I have said so far is that the Scottish government is going to

:12:39.:12:44.

make the case and have submitted a paper. We have asked fundamental

:12:44.:12:47.

questions and I look forward to the questions as I am sure you do as

:12:47.:12:50.

well. Now, to what's probably the last in

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our series of interviews with candidates for the Scottish Tory

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Leadership. Nominations close at the end of this week. Ruth Davidson

:12:55.:12:58.

wants to lead the party in its current form, having rejected as

:12:58.:13:03.

destabilising Murdo Fraser's ideas for a new brand altogether. So

:13:03.:13:13.
:13:13.:13:14.

what's her big idea for making the Tory brand a bit less toxic?

:13:14.:13:19.

What emerged that a campaign launch was what she called a lane in the

:13:19.:13:23.

sand over new powers for Holyrood and she promised that she would

:13:23.:13:29.

lead the party back to power in Scotland within a decade. Real

:13:29.:13:32.

change for the Scottish Conservatives will not come from a

:13:32.:13:36.

new name. Real progress will come when we start talking to people

:13:36.:13:41.

about the issues that really matter to them. Political office is new to

:13:41.:13:46.

Ruth Davidson. She registered barely 2000 votes in Glasgow Kelvin

:13:46.:13:51.

in May's election to the Scottish Parliament, getting in by way of

:13:51.:13:57.

the Glasgow last. At 32, she is the youngest candidate and enjoys those

:13:57.:14:01.

cliches of political journalism about youthfulness, fresh-faced and

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so on. Here is the irony. She is getting support from the more

:14:06.:14:14.

traditional wing of the party, establishment icons like Lord

:14:14.:14:17.

Forsyth and Lord Sanderson enthusiastically backing her

:14:17.:14:22.

candidacy. Combined with a cautious policy approach, many regard has

:14:22.:14:28.

the status quo option. Ruth Davidson is a former BBC presenter

:14:28.:14:33.

and has served in the Territorial Army. This is no doubt come in

:14:33.:14:41.

handy in what could be a bruising contest. Ruth Davidson joins me now.

:14:41.:14:46.

Let's start with fundamentals. What makes you a Conservative? I am a

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Conservative, I believe in strong families, support for the family. I

:14:52.:14:57.

believe in helping business and supporting entrepreneurs, I believe

:14:57.:15:00.

in it strong law and order policies. If these are conservative values I

:15:00.:15:04.

believe can resonate across Scotland. Let us test your

:15:04.:15:10.

instincts. Does prison work? think it can, yes. Should we be

:15:10.:15:14.

locking up more people convicted of crimes? I think we should have a

:15:14.:15:19.

punishment that fits the crime and one of the things I have proposed

:15:19.:15:24.

is that I think in Scotland we should have an effective life

:15:24.:15:29.

tariff for the worst crimes. There are some crimes so heinous in our

:15:29.:15:32.

society some people should not be allowed back out. Why should mean

:15:32.:15:38.

life? I believe so. What about the economy? The top rate of income tax

:15:38.:15:44.

is 50p, should it stay that way? the moment I think it should.

:15:44.:15:48.

the duration of this Westminster Parliament? I think that is a

:15:48.:15:51.

question for the Treasury and George Osborne, I am willing to

:15:51.:15:55.

follow his lead. I believe in smaller government and smaller tax

:15:55.:15:58.

generally but there are times when we need to set our tax

:15:58.:16:03.

proportionately. We need to set tax progressively. Would you like to

:16:03.:16:10.

get rid of the 50 pence rate? aspiration when we are on a server

:16:10.:16:15.

financial footing and have got rid of her debt. Do you support minimum

:16:15.:16:20.

pricing, minimum unit pricing for a call? I don't believe in blanket

:16:20.:16:23.

minimum unit pricing for alcohol because that is using a hammer to

:16:23.:16:28.

crack an egg. We need to look at where the problems are, problem

:16:28.:16:32.

drinks and problem drinkers. I think that pricing absolutely has a

:16:32.:16:36.

part to play in helping weans Scotland off its drink addiction.

:16:36.:16:41.

In terms of minimum unit price and I do not think that Mrs Sally it

:16:41.:16:44.

addresses the problems we see in our states. If what would you do

:16:44.:16:49.

instead? I think we need to go through the tax and duty system. I

:16:49.:16:55.

think we need to look at things like strong ciders and what we

:16:55.:16:58.

called tonic wines on the BBC but people across the central belt will

:16:58.:17:04.

know what I am referring to. You're referring to but fast. I was not

:17:04.:17:08.

sure if we were allowed to use brand-names. Talking about strong

:17:08.:17:14.

ciders and things like alcopops. If we are allowed to use brand-names,

:17:14.:17:18.

ones which encourage younger drinkers, things like Mad Dog

:17:18.:17:23.

Twenty20. He would put up tax but only on a UK basis. He only UN

:17:23.:17:28.

products which are a problem. Questions about what kind of Tory

:17:28.:17:33.

were, would you describe yourself as a traditionalist? Are you the

:17:33.:17:37.

status quo candidate? I don't think it is fair to describe me as a

:17:37.:17:41.

status quo candidate. I don't believe that changing the name of a

:17:41.:17:45.

party or dissolving it or reconstituting a new party that

:17:45.:17:48.

would sit in coalition with the Westminster Conservatives at is the

:17:48.:17:54.

auction. That is Murdo Fraser's big idea, what is years? I want to see

:17:54.:17:57.

real change that comes from a generational change, a change in

:17:57.:18:01.

leadership. What we have seen in political history both at

:18:01.:18:05.

Westminster where we saw a Labour Party that was told in the early

:18:05.:18:10.

1990s it could not won again and then Tony Blair came forward.

:18:11.:18:14.

have mentioned that you are younger and fresher perhaps in some ways

:18:14.:18:18.

than the other candidates in this contest, but that is not enough,

:18:18.:18:23.

surely? I think what I offer is a clear and positive vision for the

:18:23.:18:27.

future of the party and the country. I have the energy to drive that

:18:27.:18:30.

country and the will and the ability, I believe, to reconnect

:18:30.:18:34.

with people in Scotland to perhaps stop listening to the Conservatives.

:18:34.:18:37.

Some people were worried about a lack of experience given that you

:18:37.:18:42.

have just been elected to Holyrood. You rival, Murdo Fraser, says that

:18:42.:18:45.

anyone wanting to be a leader has to demonstrate they can win over

:18:45.:18:50.

the people they work with first of all. Why are both -- most MSPs

:18:50.:18:55.

backing him and not you? There are a number of MSPs who have not

:18:55.:18:58.

declared yet but what is very interesting is that for the first

:18:58.:19:03.

time in Scotland, this election is not for the leader of the Scottish

:19:03.:19:06.

Conservative group at Holyrood. pretty important part of the job.

:19:06.:19:16.
:19:16.:19:22.

All contenders are MSPs. This election is to win to be the leader

:19:22.:19:26.

of the entire party in Scotland for St do it. Speaking to a number of

:19:26.:19:30.

people who have come out for model, and if you few the up, it for me,

:19:30.:19:35.

they're not anti- one person they are another, they are pro Murdo

:19:35.:19:40.

Fraser and the absolutely would serve in a conservative group in

:19:40.:19:48.

Holyrood that I am the leader of. On that, would Murdo Fraser have a

:19:48.:19:52.

job in your team? I have been incredibly clear all through this

:19:52.:19:57.

that I want everybody elected in the Scottish Conservative and

:19:57.:20:01.

Unionist Party to serve and that party. That's not met Sally I yes,

:20:01.:20:09.

is it? It is absolutely yes. I will read it through the ranks. If it

:20:09.:20:12.

when the other way, we deserve under the leadership of either of

:20:12.:20:18.

your rivals? Absolutely. Going by some of Murdo Fraser's proposals,

:20:18.:20:22.

if he goes so far as to reconstitute a new party and it is

:20:23.:20:28.

more of a new change -- name change, then I think the party has to

:20:28.:20:31.

decide that is the route that is going to go down. Would he joined

:20:31.:20:36.

his new party? I would have to see what it involves and you would have

:20:36.:20:39.

to know a lot more details but these are really questions for

:20:39.:20:42.

Murdo Fraser. If he is proposing a whole new per 10 Scotland... What

:20:42.:20:47.

he's blue at the party in Scotland? These are questions he would have

:20:47.:20:52.

to ask him. I am asking for your view? It very much depends on him

:20:52.:20:55.

because we have not heard all that he is proposing. What we have to

:20:55.:20:59.

acknowledge is that the party has to be involved in any process down

:20:59.:21:04.

that route. We its stock about your progress. Has devolution work in

:21:04.:21:08.

your view? I think it is here to stay but it could work better. It

:21:08.:21:12.

has got very positive elements and one other thing is we have talked

:21:12.:21:17.

about during this campaign has been the Scotland Bill that is about to

:21:17.:21:23.

happen. Why should not Holyrood have more power? Why should the

:21:23.:21:27.

Scotland Bill be a line in the stand? As I was saying at the

:21:27.:21:32.

launch event, let us get it working first at and implement it. I am

:21:32.:21:36.

standing with the Prime Minister, with Annabel Goldie, with David

:21:36.:21:40.

McLetchie and others she had been talking about in Liberal Democrats

:21:40.:21:44.

like Danny Alexander, people like Tavish Scott. Are you saying you

:21:44.:21:48.

are not against more power but just not now? I am saying let us see

:21:48.:21:52.

this walking before looking to the next thing. Not a lane and Nissan

:21:52.:21:56.

then? I want to see a the Scotland Bill working on the ground. We may

:21:56.:22:02.

need to tweak things are in the future but if you're talking about

:22:02.:22:04.

things like reversing corporation tax I do not believe that is the

:22:04.:22:12.

right thing to do just now. Ruth Davidson, thank you. Let's take a

:22:12.:22:18.

quick look at tomorrow's papers. quick look at tomorrow's papers.

:22:18.:22:24.

Cable put a UK or more fitting. There's a picture of Andy Murray

:22:24.:22:29.

and his girlfriend on the front page there. A similar picture and

:22:29.:22:38.

the Daily Mail. The headline is a look ahead to the Scottish but it

:22:38.:22:42.

on Wednesday. The Times front page goes on at the

:22:43.:22:45.

payout in a packing case. That's payout in a packing case. That's

:22:45.:22:48.

Live from the Liberal Democrat's annual conference in Birmingham, including an interview with Business Secretary Vince Cable.


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