16/11/2012 Newsnight


Louise Mensch explains why she quit her seat, handing it to Labour. Gaza and Israel. Turnout collapses in the Police Commissioner elections. With Eddie Mair.

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Labour's first by-election gain from the Conservatives in 15 years.


Is it a straw in the wind? Labour's just won in Corby, and the Labour


leader, Ed Miliband, is about to turn up in this village, Middleton.


Middle town, Middle England, you can see what message they are


trying to ram home. Or was it down to one person? Louise Mensch


triggered the election when she fled Westminster for New York. We


will ask if she blames herself. Reports tonight that Israel will


call up 75,000 army reservists, is a ground war in Gaza inevitable.


Particularly as Jerusalem seems to be the latest target for Hamas. A


peace maker, who has been down this road before, gives his verdict. As


Police Commissioner fever hits England, we will look at the case


of the empty ballot box. We will speak to a woman who knows


how it works in Gotham. There were two recounts in the


Corby by-election today, but not cause the Labour victory was in any


doubt, the flurry of extra activity was caused by the Liberal Democrats,


who thought they were in with a chance of saving their deposit.


They weren't. They were a fourth, behind a resurgent UKIP, and a


Conservative candidate who was drafted in after the high-profile,


sitting Conservative, went to spend more time with her family. The


Labour candidate will be seeing a lot less of his. He won with a


swing of more than 12%. Allegra Stratton spent the day in the


constituency. A by-election is pretty standard


fare. In fact, maybe without you noticing it t around this country,


there have been at least half-a- dozen since this Government changed


hands. There are a couple more later this month. Ballots, licked,


posted and flicked, in Britain these bite-sized referendums have


been more frequent than hot weather. What on earth was all the fuss


about today? Or what on Mars? Let me introduce you to the Corby


crater, this isn't really it, we couldn't afford it, it will do. The


real Corby create certificate a great big hole on Mars. But the


departure of Louise Mensch for New York, leaves a Tory-shaped hole in


Corby. It threatens to scar David Cameron's tenure, it will be the


first his party has lost since joining Government. Here we are in


Corby at the scene of the destruction wrought by Louise


Mensch T looks like a huge hole have been driven through David


Cameron's leadership. It wasn't meant to be like this.


SuperThursday was supposed to see a Conservative and Liberal Democrat


uprise, voters were to flock to the polls to vote for the Prime


Minister's new idea, police chiefs. It appears they haven't, and the


by-election doesn't look good either. Is this a new low for David


Cameron. You lot are feeling it in Corby? I have a lot of friend out


of work. I'm out of work. I haven't worked in a long time. You know. I


have tried to get a job, you know, but it is so hard out there, you


know. One study described Corby as the


UK's hot spot for youth unemployment. People in Cameron


Court voted on this, on the possibility of a hospital service


closure, and on immigration. the people that came round about


the Conservatives and the other parties, didn't seem interested in


local issues. About the hospital, and what's going on, and what was


happening. To just generally, and I just thought, well, this time I'm


voting, I know who I'm going to vote for, the people that were


anxious to talk to me and listen to me. Hilda told me about her fears


of immigration, her son had had managed a team of foreign workers


before losing his work while they stayed on. Ed Miliband devoteds of


his conference speech to curbing the once uncurbable, EU immigration.


You clearly like the local candidate, what about the national


candidate, Ed Miliband? Well, some things are good, I don't understand


him sometimes. What don't you understand? Well, he seems a bit,


which he was, when he came here, he didn't even come into the town, he


went to one of the of the villages. Moments later, Labour would be


declared the winner. And I do here by declare that Andrew Sawford is


duly elected as member of parliament. The first victory for


the newly-coined One Nation Labour Party. Labour's just won in Corby,


that is why Ed Miliband is just turning up in this village,


Middleton, middle town, Middle England, you can see what message


they are trying to ram home here. Cheers here in Middleton, but


elsewhere in the country, Labour had had failed to win the mayoral


election in Bristol. Last month the Tory peer, Lord Ashcroft, had


published polling showing that, while many Tories were switching to


Labour in Corby, not as many could see Milliband as Prime Minister.


Remember from earlier, our interviewee Hilda, who lived in


Cameron Court. REPORTER: Can we ask you a quick question, we have


spoken to Labour voters who liked Andy Sawford a lot, they voted for


them, but said you were in their words, wishy washy. Do you have


have more work to do? We always have more work to do. Do you


personally have more work to do? always have more work to do, they


shows people are turning to the Labour, and listening to our


message. We will take the message across the country. On the eve of


his victory, in 197, Tony Blair won in the Wirral South by-election w a


swing of 17%. Today, Ed Miliband saw a swing of nearly 13%, that's


more than the 8% swing to his party when it last captured the seat from


the Conservatives in 1997. But the Tories today pointed out that in


the Crewe and nat witch by-election, there was a 17.6 % swing for them,


that was just before they formed part of a Government. Back to the


here and now, today there was euphoria for UKIP, they knocked the


Liberal Democrats into fourth place. With UKIP doing so well, the Prime


Minister comes under greater pressure to act tough on Europe.


For the people of Cameron Court, is it all over for their prime


ministerial name sake? Most people we spoke to here actually voted


Labour. Elsewhere in public opinion, there may be a bit more hope for


the Prime Minister. Last week when he was accosted on national


television with a list of supposed paedophiles, that may have been a


defining moment for him. The Prime Minister's own pollsters show that


the public thought he handled it rather well. So this period in the


parliament may not actually be too much of a low point for David


Cameron. If true, Corby has not yet noticed.


David Cameron will have to work to ensure he remembers Louise Mensch


for her time in parliament, rather than her departure.


Louise Mensch, who was the Conservative MP for Corby, is in


New York. Was this defeat your fault? Yes, it was. Absolutely. I


had to resign to be with my family. Not because I couldn't take the


pressure, the Prime Minister was very good about allowing me to work


my schedule around my children. But because my husband lived in America,


and we were facing a possible 13- year separation from each other.


That doesn't make it any easier for the party on the ground, and I know


this was really difficult for them. Under those circumstances, I think


a swing of 12% in Crewe and Natwitch, it was a good result


really. I think they will be quietly pleased by it. Thank you


for that, this is pretty bad for the Conservatives, you are in a


worse position in Corby than you were at the height of Tony Blair's


powers in 1997, your share of the vote significantly down? With


respect, it is a by-election. I don't think the governing party has


won a marginal by-election in something like 20 years. We have


seen over and over again, even safe seats change hands against the


governing party, in a by-election. That is when they didn't have to


contend with a sitting MP leaving for family reasons. Now, under


those circumstance, to get 12% swing is pretty run of the mill, if


that. So I don't think that it's anything that we can draw wider


lessons from. And indeed, we saw in Labour's failure to take Bristol


that the message hasn't gone out across the country. It is a by-


election situation and by-election result. What about all your former


constituents, telling Allegra it was about unemployment, immigration


and hospitals, not about you? of them were saying that. But of


course these are vox pop, it depend where is you go. The anecdotal


evidence on the ground was people didn't really understand why I had


left, and they were understandably disappointed. I can very much see


that, an MP should see out the term if they possibly can. I couldn't do


that, I always will regret having put the party in that position.


you think they couldn't understand because your version of events was


flatly contradicted publicly by your husband? That was on the


doorstep before I came out. These the perils of not talking politics


with my very left-wing husband. This isn't about talking politic,


this is talking family, you said you went to New York to keep family


together. He said she thought she would get killed at the next


election? That wasn't a reason. Early on in my term as an MP, I


would worry about the polls and confide that to Peter. Once I had


made the decision to step down any way, which I might say was a front


page story in my local paper in October 2011, it is a matter of


public record. When you decide to step down at the next election, you


stop worrying about the polls. If you are not running, they don't


matter. Worries about elections are a reason not to stand again, not a


reason to leave mid-term. Your husband also says you were worried


about not being promoted, perhaps you weren't Conservative Party


enough, that have another reason? That's Peter's view, not mine. With


apologies to the Labour MP, Austin Mitchell who said I shouldn't


contradict my master in public. Peter, who loves me very much, was


much more worried about it than I was. Contrary to public view, I


never wanted to be a minister. I remember asking the Chief Whip if I


one day might make PPS. I had small children to look after, two days in


my constituencies, I never could have done it in the first place and


I never wanted to. If you are taking all the blame for this, as


you have so candidly done, and if this defeat does turn out to be the


beginning of the end for David Cameron, that is quite something to


hang around your neck, isn't it? Well, the one doesn't follow from


the other. I do have to take the blame for this defeat, whilst at


the same time knowing there was genuinely no other choice for my


family. It was nothing something I would have done frivolously. But as


I said, a by-election with a modest, historic swing, is not going to


mean anything to David Cameron's leadership. The same polling that


exactly predicted the margin of victory in Corby, showed that


voters in the constituency prefer the economic team of David Cameron


and George Osborne to Milliband and Balls, I don't think this has any


wider conotations whatsoever. Thank you. The conflict in the


Middle East has escalated further. For the first time, a rocket was


aimed at Jerusalem itself. Tonight there are reports that the Israeli


cabinet has approved 75,000 reservists to be called up, earlier


the President of Egypt visited Gaza to show solidarity. Not far away,


across the border, Israeli tanks lined up, amid widespread


speculation that Israel would launch a ground invasion.


As missiles arc across the skies of Israel and Gaza, it is a conflict


apparently shooting out of control. New terrors sent Israelis


scrambling for shelter. Destruction is raining down again on Gaza. In a


Middle East, transformed by the Arab uprisings, can hostilities


still be contained? For Israel, the shock today was that citizens,


living in the sent of the country, around Tel Aviv and -- centre of


the country, around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, were forced into


shelters, by rockets from Gaza, that normally only reach southern


towns near the border. In many respects the state of Israel is


more locked together in a common fate with the poor people in


southern Ashkelon who have been absorbing the rocket attacks for


years. The big cities, without casualties, is a major blow for


Hamas militant groups, it is achieved, partly with the longer


range missiles, manufactured by Israel's worst enemy, Iran. When


you have air raid signals going off for the first time since 19 1.


Today it is Iranian manufactured weapons, but it means Iranian


ballistic missiles, can they also get through Israel's missile


defences, can they also strike Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and other cities.


Today Israeli tanks moved towards Gaza's border, as tens of thousands


more reservists were called up. Israel's escalated the conflict in


recent days. Assassinating Hamas's military chief, in response to


increasing missile attacks from Gaza. But also against the


background of an up coming election in which the Prime Minister,


Binyamin Nethanyahu, needs it appear strong. The calculation for


Israel now, in the face of further Hamas provocation, is whether it is


safe or wise to go further down the road towards all-out war.


Crucially, will it avoid repeating its invasion of Gaza, nearly four


years ago. That left more than 1100 Palestinians dead, according to the


Israeli army, more than 1400 according to the Gaza authority.


There a huge difference you have to keep in mind. The Israel defence


forces have learned this from the previous round in 2009. The Israeli


Defence Force, and Israel itself, are targeting military targets.


There are preparations for a ground invasion, but perhaps no appetite


for it. The same factor that has pushed Israel into this, the up


coming elections and the Likud party's need to appear robust in


the rocket attacks. That same electoral constraints would mean


they wouldn't wish to commit large Israeli groups to a casualty-


intensive, prolonged battle in Gaza. In Gaza, it seems, the battle is


getting messy. Casualties of Israeli strike, including civilians,


were brought into hospital today. The Israeli bombing over the past


48 hours, again in Gaza, is turning our lives here into a nightmare.


The Palestinians here in Gaza do not want to live with the memories


of the last Israeli war. Though Israel's main target now is Hamas.


Other militants here have also been responsible for cross-border


attacks. Hamas has no interest in the firing, but it is the other


Palestinian groups who are pushing Hamas towards escalation, and


continuation of the cycle of violence with Israel. Hamas, which


hosted the Emir recently. And received backing from Turkey


diplomatically, felt increasingly confident. Hamas felt it had to


respond to the killing of its main commander. It has been emboldened


by new support in the region. Now it has to work out if those


political friend, and the exhausted political population it rules,


wants a further escalation of the conflict. Egypt, Gaza's neighbour,


now ruled, like Gaza, by Islamists, will play a key role. Today it sent


the Prime Minister to Gaza, in a gesture of support for Hamas, that


would have been unthinkable before the Egyptian revolution. But the


visit didn't stop the firing. And it's not clear how far beyond


diplomatic and humanitarian help Egypt's support will go.


For all its ideolgical affinity with Hamas, the new Egyptian


Government also needs, partly for economic reasons, to retain the


country's alliance with the west. And, to maintain the relative


stability of the region. It has to work with Israel, in the Sinai


Peninsula, where a collapse in security since the revolution,


threatens both countries. Crucially, the Egyptian Government has lost


control of the Sinai Peninsula. The Sinai, which of course abutts Gaza,


is awash with arms and militant, and Israel is deeply concerned


about weapons moving in from North Africa, through Sinai into Gaza.


Tonight, Gaza was bracing itself for a third night of Israeli


bombardment. While Israeli cities prepared for further possible


rocket attacks. Both sides agree it is Egypt that is in the best


position to try to mediate an end to the conflict. But for now, both


seem intent on raising the stakes. George Mitchell was a US Special


Envoy to the Middle East until just last year, I asked him how worried


he was about a ground war? I think everyone in the region and beyond


should be concerned about a continuation and an escalation of


this conflict. Israel, of course, has the right to defend itself, as


do all nations. And it will do so vigorously, as they demonstrated.


But at the same time, this is a new and turbulent region in the wake of


the Arab Spring, and you have got packically a civil war going on in


Sir -- practically a civil war going on in Syria. You have a


recent change in Government in Egypt, particularly difficult for


the Egyptian Government with their close relationship with Hamas, and


yet their obvious concern that they want to maintain the treaty with


Israel, which Israel itself wants to maintain. And so, there is a


real challenge for all concerned, each party is balancing political


and security interests, as though a group of them were on a high wire


and have to decide how far to go. I think the United States, the UK,


and all of our other allies, are, and should be, actively working to


persuade both parties to stand down. You have negotiated with these


parties in the past. At the moment, how would you persuade them to stop


fighting? Obviously it is very difficult in the heat of the moment.


As we see in the Middle East and in other places, it is a lot easier to


start conflicts than it is to end them. And with each passing day,


and each death, and each bit of destruction, it becomes even harder,


as public attitudes harden. Political leaders feel the need to


continue a conflict. But I think both have to recognise that their


long-term, strategic interests, may be adversely affected. If they go


too far. And is it specifically more difficult now for the United


States, because of the Arab Spring, because politically it might just


have been easier to deal with a friendly dictator? Of course,


that's true for everyone. For everyone involved, including the


Israelis themselves. But, the fact is, that when we say we believe in


the right of self-governance, we believe it. And we mean it. And


even if it comes with the consequence of sometimes you get


more difficult decisions and sometimes you get freely chosen


Governments who take positions that are, at least in the immediate case,


adverse to our wishes, and our interests. Given the high-wire act


you see many of these countries participating in, what are your


greatest and specific concerns about this conflict widening?


of course, you have the added dimension of Iran. And Iran's


efforts to extend its influence into the Persian Gulf region. And,


of course, its publicly stated hostility to Israel. The Hamas


rockets are relatively crude. They have about 8,000-10,000 of them. On


the northern border, Hezbollah has many more, public estimates in


Israel have ranged from 30,000- 50,000. They are some what more


effective. But the most serious threat is that Iran has now made


technological leap from liquid rocket fuel to solid fuel, and they


can reach anywhere in Israel when launched from Iran itself. It is a


complicating factor, because there has been a long historic emknitity,


hostility between Persians and Arab, and there is the continuing


simmering and erupting conflict between Sunni and Shia. All of


these factors complicate an already complex situation, and make it very


difficult to manage. I think both the gulf Arab states and Israel


recognise that the principal threat to their security comes from a


powerful Iran seek to rule over the region.


Two years ago, here is what the Conservative election manifesto had


to say about police and crime commissioners. Giving people


democratic control over policing priorities is a huge step forward


in the empowerment of local communities. Yesterday, people in


local communities, across most of England and Wales, had the chance


to feel empowered, and take democratic control over policing.


How can we best illustrate the turnout? If this pen is the


electorate, this men top is the proportion who wanted to feel


empowered. Actually that is a little bit generous. Around 40


million people had the chance to the vote. Turnout is estimated at


15%. In the west Midland, Merseyside, Thames Valley and he is


specks, 12% made it to the polls. - - Essex, 12% made it to the polls.


In Newport, the people who voted in the 15 hours the polling station


was open was serious. In Humberside, Labour's Lord Prescott lost out to


a Conservative. All the results are now in. Apart from one constituency,


that is Devon and Cornwall, and Conservatives have been elected to


15 of the posts. Labour 13, independent 11, and the "zero


tolerance" candidate in Surrey 1. Let's talk about all of this with


Jessica de Grazia, former New York assistant District Attorney, and


newly elected Police Commissioner for greater man chester, Tony Lloyd.


Con-- Greater Manchester, Tony Lloyd. Is it embarrassing to win on


a turnout of 13.93%? It is not embarrassing for me. Because I have


a job to do. And I intend to do that job in the interests of the


people of Greater Manchester. It would be negligent of my duty were


I not to deliver on that promise. It hab embarrassing for the


Government. -- it has to be embarrassing for the Government.


Their level of incompetence on this is staggering, to create a new post


and not explain why they have done it. To give powers that they didn't


explain to the public. Presumably it is also your responsibility?


tried with the Government who were determined they didn't advertise


this post. A Government that wasn't allowed, that didn't let the use of


the free post, that is we see on general elections in much smaller


constituencies, to have a election on a very complicated balloting


system, which hadn't been used before in many parts of England and


Wales. It was a recipe for chaos. That is what the Government have


created. Embarrassment, it should be, but it should be when David


Cameron looks in the mirror in the morning. When you start to


implement your measures, we will talk about that in due course,


won't the people in your ar why be entitled to saying, you shouldn't


be -- area be entitled to saying, you shouldn't do that, we didn't


vote for him? I have been an elected politician for a third of a


century. Elections give a mandate, but that mandate has to be reearned


every single day, by getting out there, amongst the voters,


listening to them, representing them, vocalising for them, and


challenging those who don't deliver what the electorate expects. That


is my job for the next three-and-a- half years. I can't sit back and


say I will leave an empty chai, simply because the Government made


such a -- chair, simply because the Government made such a cock-up of


the process. What do you think about the democratic mandate the


new commissioners have got? Well, it's not a strong mandate,


obviously. It is a weak mandate. But, Tommy is right, if I was in


his shoes or the shoes of any of the other newly elected police and


crime commissioners, I would be saying this is my job, I have got


to do the job, to the best of my ability. It's a difficult job.


Prime Minister looked to New York as the template for what is


happening in most of England and Wales, what do you think of how


it's been played out here? actually don't think that the


American system was very well understood. I think there was a


superficial understanding, and this superficial understanding was


transposed over here, and that's, I think, created some of the problems


that police and crime commissioners are going to face. I think a major


problem is that the inadequacy of the system of checks and balances.


We have had a hundred years in America to mitigate some of the


damage that can be done when one person is in control of such a


powerful instrument of the state. There hasn't been any time over


here to develop those checks and balances. What about all the


politicians, these party politicians, who have been elected


today, is that good for us? I think it depends upon the person. I think


what's very interesting is that the electors have rejected a lot of the


party politicians and they have chosen independents. They have also


chosen a lot of PCCs who have a policing background. To me that's


interesting, because the public recognises that the person who


controls the police should understand policing. That's


something that does happen in America. The elected District


Attorney is a professional prosecutor who runs for office.


Likewise a elected Sheriff is a professional policeman who runs for


office. If people are confused about what Police Commissioners do,


let me ask you a direct question. If crime fall on your watch, should


you get the credit, and if it rises is it your fault? It is a bit more


complicated than that. You have to give more credit to the police. We


have seen crime dropping in Greater Manchester, nothing to do with me


being in post. The things that help crime reduce, and the things that


help crime, building strong communities, and that requires a


strong police force, it requires strong partnerships. It is building


those partnerships that I think is a job, yes, for the police, but


transcends the police themselves, and involves many other groups, the


local authorities, the communities, people in residents groups, all of


those who build the kind of community base that can challenge


the criminal s and crime. Are you confident you can get your


electorate more interested by next time, briefly? That has to be a


very real test for moo. As I said earlier on, -- for me, as I said


earlier on, the way the politician operates the mandate isn't simply


because of the election and says goodbye for the next three-and-a-


half years be it is by validating that mandate every day by getting


out there and listening to the community and vocalising what they


need to have for their own parts of the conubation. Thank you very much


very much. Review is next, Kirsty, what have


you got? In tonight's show, life, death and religion, in Paul Thomas


Anderson's film, The Master. The welcome collection, Death Makes a