22/02/2013 Newsnight


Simon Hughes, MP and Peter Tatchell go face-to-face 30 years after the bitter Bermondsey by-election campaign. With Eddie Mair.

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In the past hour, Britain has lost its triple-A credit rating. Moody's


blames subdued growth prospects and a high and rising debt burden. What


will the Government do now? They have boasted about the rate before.


We will maintain Britain's triple-A credit rating. This credit rating


agency says that Britain's economic credibility will be on the line at


the general election. One of the things I'm very keen on


do is preserving Britain's international credit rating. Also


tonight, 30 years after the dirty by-election that rewrote the rules,


Peter Tatchell and Simon Hughes, face-to-face.


Can fairytales come true? Bradford fans hope football can help heal


their city. It has brought the city together.


It has been really unifying. Everyone is behind the club now to


be at Wembley is just dreams come true. I think there will be crying


on Sunday, I will be, and a lot of other people will be. It is


something beyond our wildest dreams. Whenever the Chancellor, George


Osborne, has faced criticism over his economic policies, and there


has been plenty of that, he has pointed, proudly, to his deficit


reduction programme and the glowing approval of the Credit Rating


Agencies. Not any more he can't. One agency, Moody's, says the weak


economic outlook is likely to extend into the second half of the


decade. What is a ratings agency, and why should we care? A credit


ratings agency is nothing more than a gloryied think-tank that gives


its opinion as to the -- glorified think-tank that gives its opinion


to a country, and it gives a rating depending on healthy it is. The top


rate is triple-A, then it is double-A, all the way down to junk


status. The UK has been downgraded by the triple-A status, by one of


the big one, Standard & Poor and Fitch haven't announced yet, but we


are on nothingive outlook. significant is neglect outlook?


is a forewarning that we will out look may be a downgrading. And


Moody's have done that, down to the second-highest notch. It was like


we did tell you if you didn't get your house in order and we are


acting. They are acting before the budget. Usually they wait until


after the big set piece events. They warned just before the Autumn


Statement that they might do something, and now the budget,


which is March 20th they are acting in advance of that. The words from


the Treasury is "this is a stark reminder of the debt problems


facing our country ". Or is it a stark reminder that George Osborne


isn't doing a good job? I spoke to one senior banker who said George


Osborne has two years to save his job. He staked so much of his


political capital on the triple-A status. The question is, what


happens now, what will the UK Government do. The budget is coming


up, as I was saying. Will they then stick to Plan A, or will they be


freed up, as it were, because they no longer have this Sword of


Damocles hanging over their shoulder. I spoke to Treasury


officials t doesn't looks a if they will move from a Plan A to Plan B.


They are talking about the fact that even though they have been


downgraded, they are downgraded to "stable" status, they won't be


downgrade in the future. That can't be said for the United States or


France. They are stressing the fact that there are major global


problems, the UK has to deal with a very weak eurozone, and potentially


weaker global environment where people aren't necessarily buying UK


goods and services as much as they would do. What is the detail of


Moody's thinking what are they saying? If you look at some of the


wording, it is all CRA, credit- rating agency speak. They talk


about the high and rising debt What that means is there is no


money under the mattress. They talk about the fact that cuts


and the austerity programme that we have seen over the last few years,


and are scheduled to go on until the near end of the decade, will


have a long-term impact on the finances of the country. What will


this do to the financial markets what will it do to the pound?


pound has had a pretty nasty Few months any way. In actual fact, the


markets tend to be a few months ahead of these rating agencies.


Sterling has fallen appreciably against the US dollar, the main


global currency, over the last few months. That is good for exporters,


but it is also a problem because the UK import as lot of products in


other currencies. They will cost more, that will push up inflation.


So we have seen the pound. The interesting thing is what will it


mean to the cost of borrowing for the UK Government. Bond yields,


that is the benchmark for the interest rate on UK Government debt.


Will that change? At the moment we are enjoying very, very


historically low rates of borrowing for the UK Government. We don't


know whether that will change T may do, but for now it is relatively


steady and still reel yiefly cheap. Thank you very much. Let --


Relatively cheap. Thank you very much. Let's get more expert


thinking, Megan Greene is from Maverick Intelligence, and we have


a guest from a think-tank, and Gillian Tett from the financial


times. Is there shock in New York? No. This is a politically


embarrassing thing for George Osborne, given how much of his


reputation, credibility is staked on maintaining the triple-A rating.


The reality is the club of countries downgraded is large and


growing by the day. Here in America, America has already lost its


triple-A rating from one rating agency. As a result the sense of


shock in the markets is pretty low. They have hardly reacted to the


news at all. So if there was ever a good moment to be downgraded it is


probably now, given just how many other countries have already


suffered that fate. Megan Greene, how damaging do you think this is


to George Osborne? I think it is hugely damaging politically. But in


financial terms I don't think this will be very damaging for the UK. I


think largely this downgrade has already been priced in. There were


rumours just a week ago. Does literally nothing change as a


result of this in practical terms? Gilts might go up a little bit.


Markets have priced it in. I think it will change the kalous for the


budget next month. First of all, today we have heard of the release


of the European Commission's forecast for the eurozone which is


dismal, and most of the UK's exports go to the eurozone. That


will impact growth. We have had the announcement about the downgrade,


previously we had thought the UK wouldn't let up on austerity,


because they would be worried about losing their triple-A ratinging.


Now they have lost it perhaps the Government will go ahead, and stop


front-loading austerity so much. I think that would be visible. What


do you think the reason is for this downgrade? Can we blame austerity


or the sluggish behaviour of the eurozone? It is a bit of both, as


always. If you look at the statement, which I only had a brief


glance at, they are talking about the UK economy having strong


fundamentals and being more flexible than a lot of other world


economies to absorb the shocks that we may see from the eurozone. So it


is a bit of both. I agree with Megan, financially it may not be


that big of a dee. But politically, of course, this -- a deal, but


politically, of course, this is strengthening the line of attack


for those who warn against austerity. Gillian Tett, do you


think there will be any material change in policy as a result of


this downgrading. Thinking in particular of the austerity


programme? I do think this downgrading in some ways does give


the Chancellor a little more wiggle room, if you like. As Megan pointed


out, having staked his credibility on maintaining the triple-A rating


and saying we have to pursue austerity at all costs. The fact


that the UK has been downgrade a bit by one of the rating agencies,


in some ways gives himly way, maybe, to step back a bit. I don't think


it is so much -- him leeway to step back a bit. I don't think it is so


much stepping back from Plan A to Plan B, it is stepping back to Plan


A-and-a-half. It is worth pointing out on the global stage, there is


growing signs of a backlash against extreme Austerty. It started in


Japan, the fact that the Japanese Government is pursuing stimulus


rather than just Austerty. And increationly on the continent and


in the UK, do we really want so much austerity that we will kill


off the recovery and make it even harder to get the debt burden


brought down. There is something almost perverse about George


Osborne clinging to central policy. Telling us all the time how


important triple-A is, when it disappears it gives him more


options and wriggle room? It could be positive for the UK's growth as


well. If you think towards the medium and long-term. The UK's


fiscal dynamic is worrisome, it doesn't look better than some of


the eurozone countries. Letting up on austerity could help the growth


model, and the UK could avoid a recession. It means it feeds into a


bigger deficit and higher debt burden going forward, which the UK


will have to deal with eventually. Is the rest of the world looking at


Britain tonight differently. Is anyone thinking they might not pay


off their debts? I still think that the global economic reputation that


Britain enjoys is quite strong. Again I think that's reflected in


Moody's statement. Of course there are huge questions around now about


the UK's ability to stick to this politically as well. As we heard,


there is a growing backlash against austerity, which is coming in from


the continent, and now potentially and politically affecting Britain


as well. For now, the global reputation in the UK is still I


fairly stable. We heard at the start of the programme some vintage


clips of George Osborne saying how important the triple-A credit


rating is. What is he saying tonight? It is a stark reminder of


the debt problems Britain faces, and the clearest possible warning


to anyone who thinks we can run away from dealing with those


problems. Far from weakening our resolve to deal with Britain's


debts. It should redouble our resolve to deliver the plan that


has cut the deficit by 25%, delivered a million jobs, but also


delivered record low interest rates for many families. What do you


think of that? He's right. This is a reminder that the UK has a huge


debt problem, and we will have to deal with it. This also gives him


wiggle room to avoid dealing with it right now. What do you think of


what the Chancellor had to say? has to say that. And I agree. He


has a very good point. The question is, is it possible to sell this at


the doorstep in future. The budget is only a month away. How much of a


rewrite will there be as a result of this? It is unclear at the


moment. I'm sure there are plenty of people inside the Treasury doing


head scratching now it is worth making one point. When George


Osborne came to power, one of the reasons he used such very tough


language, was because there was a widespread concern that the UK


would suffer a big market crisis. Someone like the big bond investors


here in America, was predicting that the UK was sitting on a bed of


nitroglycerin, and about to explode dramatically in the gay way the


Greek bond market exploded. That hasn't happened, and it gives the


Chancellor more wriggle room in the budget. As you heard in the


programme earlier, British bond yields are at rock bottom lows at


the moment, they haven't soared yet. There is a little more flexibility


than people might have thought originally. We have I will luded to


this, -- eluded to this. That the eurozone will carry on declining


for another year and the light at the end of the tunnel gets further


away. Who will Britain export to? That is the big concern. Far and


away most of Britain's exports are going to the eurozone, some are


going to emerging markets. Not nearly as large a percentage of


exports as in other countries like Germany, for example. Britain's


entire plan for returning to sustainable growth is to shift away


from domestic consumption, towards exports. It can't do that when its


biggest export markets are contracting. Thank you to my guests.


30 years ago this Sunday the people of Bermondsey in south London went


to the polls in a by-election. The Labour candidate, Peter Tatchell.


The Liberal candidate, Simon Hughes. Mr Hughes won with a 44% swing. But


it is the campaign which still resonates. It was dirty. Very dirty.


Peter Tatchell's homosexuality was ridiculed by his opponent and some


on his own side, including a rival, real Bermondsey Labour candidate.


The Liberals put out a leaflet saying the election was a


"straight" choice. Tonight, three decades later, Peter Tatchell and


Simon Hughes will be face o face again. Here are some images of the


campaign. The Liberals are in a state of


political his tearia, since Friday's poll revealed them in


second place and closing on Labour. -- hysteria, since Friday's poll


revealed them in second place closing on Labour. Who are you


going to vote for? I don't vote. Why don't you vote? Because I don't


know nothing about politics. snag is that Liberals can also go


on a bit. That's what we often. have something to do, we can't


stand here talking to that lot. Peter Tatchell to do him justice,


has continued to recite statisticss and talk about policies. He remains


slight favourite on Thursday. But he's clearly worried, even


frightened at the campaign which is being waged against him. There has


been a lot of mud-throwing in the campaign, some of it sticks. There


has been an unprecedented campaign to discredit myself and the Labour


Party. We have eight complaints about fabricated stories into the


press complaints council. Some of the mud has obviously stuck.


Peter Tatchell, leaving aside what happened to your accent! What are


you rembering, you are quoted as saying it was one of the darkest


periods of your life, like living through a low-level Civil War. It


sounds awful? I think that the Bermondsey by-election was probably


the dirtiest and most violent election campaign in Britain in the


20th century. Is that his fault? will come on to that in a minute.


It was certainly the most homophobic election campaign in


British his treatment I can remember at the time some people


made the comparison between myself and the villification of Oscar


Wilde, saying this was the most sustained homophobic villification


of any public figure since Oscar Wilde in the late 1890s. That aside,


what I know personally is that I had personally suffered during that


campaign over 100 violent attacks while out canvasing. What did


people do? There were 30 attacks upon my home. More than 30 death


threats. What did they do to you physically? Punched, kicked, spat


at. It was, I had to steel myself to go out on the doorsteps to knock.


Not everyone responded in that way. There were many wonderful, open-


minded people, who supported me, or at least gave me a hearing. But the


scale of hatred and violence, which seemed to coincide with the tabloid


campaign, was truly horrific. I remember an old man, who was a


refugee from Nazi Germany, I remember knocking on his door and


he said he never saw anything like it since he left Germany in the


early 1930s. Thankfully our society has moved on. I would like to think


that, in particular home -- the particular homophobic campaign


against me caused such a public revulsion, that when Chris Smith


the Labour candidate came out the next year got a much more


sympathetic reception. And he didn't get the tabloid stick I got.


Between the end of the campaign and Chris Smith, why weren't you


crushed by this? I felt it was important not to give in. I felt if


I ran away and hid it would give comfort and sucker to all those


people who did those terrible things. Although I was standing on


a broad Labour platform of social justice and equality for all. The


home folkic part that have campaign made me resolve to devote more


energy to fighting for gay rights, so no other person would have to go


through what I went through. Simon Hughes, you have apologised


publicly and privately to Peter Tatchell before for anything you


did wrong. What was it you did wrong? I got caught up in a


campaign that had the attitudes that Peter described. Peter has


always been very fair afterwards. Wrote a book, I haven't had time to


write the book. Wrote the book and made clear the two major targets


were his own then party, the Labour Party, which gave him a really hard


time. We were both paradoxically on the same side, attacking the old


Labour Party in Bermondsey, I would never had won, had the old Labour


Party not run the place as badly as it did, and also the press. Which


was despicable. It is without doubt that we benefited from that. Until


three weeks before the election. Were you just the passive


beneficiaries, or did you do things, which in the cold light of day you


wish you hadn't? In the cold light of day, if I had been in charge and


wanted to rewrite it, we would have had leaflets which wouldn't have


had "it's a straight choice", although that was regularly used in


all by-elections before and afterwards without any sexuality


import. There was one event which Peter referred to when people went


out canvasing with badges making fun of Peter's sexuality, in fact,


I gather they were gay liberal activists and they were told to


take them O there were some things that shouldn't have happened. I'm


clear it was a disgraceful campaign in terms of homophobia. I have


tried, particularly, to make sure that in my time as MP I have done


nothing to set back the cause of gay equality and equality, and I


have worked with Peter and others, and there is time when we were on


the same site. Section 28, Tories bringing in repressive legislation,


and Labour abstaining, it was myself and others on a committee


trying to challenge the Tories. I have tried to keep up that campaign.


And Peter and I were talking now making sure we have a policy to


give asylum to people in 24 country who if they went home would -- in


their country if they went home they would suffer because of their


sexuality. You were candidate about your sexuality later in life. I


spoke to someone that I would be speaking to you both, and they said,


the closeted gay man won, and the open gay man lost. Is it as simple


as that? I think this issue is about more than homosexuality. If


you look at the range of policies I was attacked over. I was described


as extremist because I supported policies that are now mainstream.


National minimum wage, comprehensive equality law, gay


rights, and a negotiated political settlement in Northern Ireland.


These are all mainstream policies. When I advocated them then I was


demonised as extremist. In many different way, not just gay issue,


on a whole range of issues, our society has moved on. That is to


the credit of the British people. To pick up the wider politics, I


like Pete e I come from the radical left of politics. I found myself


active in local politics in Bermondsey before the by-election,


before Peter was even suggested as a candidate, let alone selected.


The battle was on basic issues that mattered to people. It was about


jobs and the Docklands Corporation taking over people's democratic


rights. It was about housing, grim, badly repaired. It was because the


Labour Party had failed in the inner city, which Peter was attacks


from within the Labour Party and trying to change, and I was


attacking from outside as the other radical party, that they were on


the agenda. Most of the election, until Peter was selected three


weeks before, homosexuality was not a key election issue. The other


things were the issues, the development of dockland and housing.


On the policies, just as a politician, you lost a safe Labour


seat. How many was it down to sexuality or other aspects of you


or the politics? I feel very guilty and sad that I lost a safe Labour


seat. I have to take responsibility for that. But the choice for me was


hardly there, because I found that almost at no point during the


campaign was there media reportage of the policies I was fighting. I


was demonised as a Marxist with a militant tendency, I was opposed by


the militant tendency, I didn't support them, they didn't support


me. It was really difficult to get a fair hearing. I think a lot of


the voters did actually not know what I stood for. They had this


caricature. That is why at the beginning of the campaign, the


opinion polls gave me 47% of the vote. Three weeks later it was


completely reversed. I had, I didn't have 47%, Simon did.


interesting thing on the way it was for most of the time it was battle


between old and new Labour, not us. Peter Tatchell and Simon Hughes,


thank you both. From West Yorkshire to Wembley,


thousands of Bradford fans will make the journey this weekend.


Hoping to witness their low-ranking side triumph over a team 71 league


places above them. The official prize, the League Cup. But for


Bradford, it is not just about the silverwear.


It was a tragedy so harrowing and shocking that it has become


interweaved with the identity of both the city of Bradford and its


football club. In 1985, 56 supporters were killed when a fire


engulfed the main stand, fuelled by the accumulated litter below.


Family parade today is a different place. With memories of one of


sport's defining tragedies still very real. On Sunday, the


concluding chapter of a rather astonishing fairytale. Bradford, in


the final of the League Cup at Wembley. This is a story that goes


way beyond football. It is a story of community and tribalism, and an


increasingly fragmented world. The assistance provided by the


Bangladeshi community to traumatised fans in the aftermalt


of the fire, was a profound -- aftermath of the fire, was a


profoundly unifying moment in a city scarred bi-racial tension. You


say people knocked on your door and you opened the door what happened


next? They asked for me. I said what help. They said water or


cloths. People were united and felt sorrow about this thing. But racial


tension has flared since, with running battles between whites and


Asians, just a few hundred yards away from the ground in 2001.


Community leaders have come together to find solutions. But


what does "community" actually mean in a city with such visible ethnic,


religious and racial differences. What role does football have to


play? Every Saturday if you come round on a Saturday you will see


Bradford City fans, walking down the street, saying hello. There is


no an no sirity amongst the people that come here. There is not a


perfect solution to solving any of the issues. But football is a way


of engaging. A female fan wore the hijab to a match against Aston


Villa in the semifinal of the League Cup in January. Many are


describing the cup run Asim bowlic of a newly-united city. It is an


alluring narrative. But are things quite so simple? The proportion of


people from these different backgrounds vr suss the proportion


in the ground is -- versus the proportion in the grounds is not


the same. You want to see more people from different backgrounds


in there. This football club, it is an English football club with her


ridge, but it should be for the whole community no matter where you


come from. No matter where you come from, Bradford City should be


considered yours. Before the influx of Bangladeshis and Pakistanis in


the 1950s and on words, central and eastern Europeans were already in


Bradford. In these streets a few yards away from Valley Parade,


Poles, Ukrainians were once central to the city's industrialisation,


and many of their descentants will be at Wembley on Sunday. This area


we are standing in now was probably built by wealthy business people,


who came pleeing the Jewish pogroms -- fleeing the Jewish pogroms in


the 19th sent treatment they carry oud their work, built mills, traded


in wool and all that sort of thing. All of the various communities


rallied around the club after the fire in 1985. Representations had


been made to Bradford City, warning of the dangers posed by the litter


under the stand. But the city didn't want to turn against the


club. Bradford had already lost one of its two clubs, Bradford Park


Avenue, to liquidation in 1974. They didn't want to lose another.


think that a football club like Bradford City, there is a certain


vulnerability to it. It is important that Bradford City always


has a football club in the league. We lost one in the 1970s. It is an


important thing to have that club there. That does sometimes lead


people to protect it in that sense, as you problems, to say let's leave


it and keep it as it is. The meaning of football has


undergone profound changes in recent years. Particularly in the


top flight. Clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea are baubles of


global capitalism. But despite the transformation in the economics of


modern football, its meaning amongst fans is still recoginsable.


It is about identity, and shared experiences.


Bradford City has endured a rollercoaster ride in recent years,


suffering repeated relegation and near bankruptcy.


But more than 30,000 fans will make the pilgrimage to Wembley this


weekend, many of them Asians and eastern Europeans. They have


probably changed their red and white and blue and yellow colours


to the amber and claret. We will have people watching in the youth


club down here on the big screen. In the centre we will be watching


the game. We will be making sure we are behind Bradford. The last time


they won a trophy was in 1911, that was when they won the last trophy.


I will be crying on Sunday a lot of people will be, it is something


beyond our wildest dreams. It would be spurious to suppose a


glorified kick about at Wembley could solve the complex problems of


social integration. But perhaps it provides the sign post. At its best


football shines a light on the connections that bind us together,


in a fragmented world. For a club and a city that has endured tragedy


and conflict, that could almost be revolutionary.


We will have a look at tomorrow's front pages then Review.


Do join us for a feast of film, ahead of the Oscars on Sunday with


our guests. We were talking about some stand-out films and heart-


breaking performances and the ones the academy has left out. Join us


A grim week for one of the BBC's most important programmes, Richard


Bryers, died at the weekend, and it is said the animator of the show


has also died, he was 91 he won an Academy Award and a BAFTA, he will


be most remembered for the dog and the pink cat and the birds who are


laughing. They are not laughing tonight. Rhubarb was reeling with


laughter, together with the fish wearing moon fish bones. I do


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