26/05/2014 Newsnight


26/05/2014

Jeremy Paxman is joined by a panel of guests to discuss the European election results, UKIP's next steps, the threat to the Conservatives and far-right success across Europe.


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Transcript


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There is no arguing with Nigel Farage's much trumpeted claim today

:00:10.:00:16.

that his party has pulled off something unprecedented. He is

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right, they have, but what does it all mean? The established parties

:00:20.:00:27.

dismissed the UK Independence Party as a one-man band, but now the

:00:28.:00:38.

bandwagon is really rolling. Will an upsurge of protest transform

:00:39.:00:41.

politics in this country, or is it just a flash in the pan? Bank

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holiday Monday entertainment from the latest incarnation of the

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political panel, because there is no over estimating the distress UKIP

:00:52.:00:56.

have caused the established parties. I think there are racist amongst

:00:57.:01:02.

them. The BNP has disappeared, so where has it gone? I have heard

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enough speeches from UKIP members to make me wince with embarrassment.

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And they are not alone, anti-integration and

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anti-immigration parties are on the march across Europe. Will the

:01:17.:01:19.

political establishment listen to them? David Cameron looks like a

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stunned mullet, Ed Miliband is ashen and Nick Clegg, who now has fewer

:01:29.:01:32.

MEPs than the Green Party, seemed suddenly to have discovered he has

:01:33.:01:35.

been wearing no trousers for the last six months. Most of us didn't

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bother to vote in yesterday's elections to the European

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Parliament, an institution we don't much like and don't much understand.

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But of those who did vote, the largest number expressed detestation

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of the whole European project. They weren't alone. All over the EU

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extreme right and hard left parties advanced at the expense of the

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centre. The peasants are revolting. First tonight, Laura Keunssberg's

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assessment. Can UKIP translate European success to Westminster?

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This report contains flash photography.

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On your marks, get set, only 347 days to go. The leader of the

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smallest party now fancies his chances in the big race next year

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and these people from Canvey in Essex are some of the voters who put

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UKIP in pole position. Until the main parties start listening, the

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indigenous population will go to UKIP. He says what we are all

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thinking and he has got a platform where we have not. You are

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frightened to say anything because they will say you are racist,

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frightened to say anything because are not racists. Nigel Farage

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grinning because his dream of topping in national vote came true.

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It is an earthquake, it is a remarkable result and it does have

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profound consequences for the other parties. Our game is to get this

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right, to find the right candidates, to target our resources on getting a

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good number of seats in Westminster next year. So, could he do it? Nick

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Clegg was cut back to just one MEP, two fewer than the Greens. The

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Tories were left with 19 seats, losing seven. Ed Miliband was beaten

:03:40.:03:45.

into second place. And Nigel Farage was out in front with 24, with 11

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extra on his side. In this area this week's results would send a UKIP MP

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to Westminster. But is this a quick howl of protest or something more?

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Would you ever vote UKIP in a general election? No, I would not.

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Although some of their policies have touched a nerve, I think they go to

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the extreme. It depends. If they stick to their word once they are

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in, then yes the trust will build up. But at the moment they are not

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setting me on fire. No one has achieved what Nigel Farage has

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achieved in 100 years. But turning that into Westminster seats will be

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much harder. But he can plot how to gain MPs. Whereas Nick Clegg, after

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a dreadful performance, is struggling to control his. They knew

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it would be bad, but not this bad. The Lib Dems are left with one MEP,

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what a senior figure described as a shocking night. Now a couple of

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backbenchers are calling for change at the top. A section of the

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electorate are not listening to Nick Clegg. It is unfortunate, sad and

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not deserved, deal with the world as we have got it. We said in 2010 we

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would do something exceptional, enter into a coalition, for

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exceptional reasons. To deliver the economic recovery, and just at the

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point when our big decisions are being vindicated, we are not going

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to buckle and lose our nerve and walk away. And labour was slapped

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into second place, losing the fight with Nigel Farage. This was not

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enough to see them into Number Ten next year, but they sneaked ahead of

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the Tories. The Lib Dems were trailing by 7%. People will say, we

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are discontented with the way the country works. UKIP is determined to

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become a permanent party, but Labour and the Tories' combined share of

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the vote went up, although David Cameron faces pressure from the

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right. I see that as a demand for us to deliver and we have to

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demonstrate tackling education, reforming welfare and getting

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Britain's plays right in Europe are part of our long-term, economic

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plan. But the Canvey Island MP is now a moderate. David Cameron is not

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going to get away with that nonsense any more and the reason for that is

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that Nigel is holding him to account and the people of this country are

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backing Nigel. Not anything like everyone, not anything like yet, but

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Mr Farage has made the others fighting for a place worry about

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whether they are fit for the race. Well, to discuss whether this is the

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start of four-party politics I am joined by a four-party panel. Tim

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Montgomery, columnist for The Times. Miranda Green, the former press

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secretary to Paddy Ashdown. The UKIP deputy chairman Neil Hamilton. And

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Phil Collins, the journalist and former speech writer for Tony Blair.

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Neil Hamilton, you are deputy chair, do you really believe you can

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translate this into power at Westminster? Yes, we can. We made

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solid progress today and considering where we were two years ago nobody

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would ever say it would end up like this. We will have a very focused

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campaign for the general election next year. We have learned a lot

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from the elections in the last year. We will boil down the results of

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yesterday, and we know instinctively where our targets are. What do you

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think? I think it is a fantasy. Good. We have gone through the

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wardrobe in some kind of political Narnia. In 2009, UKIP polled 7% and

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fell back by 3%. This is bigger, for sure, but they will fall back again.

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The idea that you are going to sweep through Westminster I regard as

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fantastic. Tim Montgomery, there is a challenge for the Conservatives

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and it is articulating the question whether some sort of packed could be

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made. I do not think a pact would be sensible. People have been trying to

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paint UKIP as a racist and corrupt party, but they have failed to stop

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UKIP's surge. I think if the Conservative party tried to form any

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alliance with UKIP, it would hurt the Conservatives more than

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benefit. It does not rule out local accommodations were UKIP candidates

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might stand aside for Eurosceptics, but overall it would be a dangerous

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thing. Why are you shaking your head? Why would we want to shackle

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ourselves to a corpse. Your party leader did open the door to it this

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morning on the today programme. I was not up in time to hear my local

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MP. But there is no prospect whatever of any pact between UKIP

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and the Conservative party. When Jacob Rees Mogg floated this idea

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last autumn, I asked the chairman of the branch in his constituency to do

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a poll on UKIP members and 70% of them were against doing a pact. Only

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about 30% of UKIP supporters in the opinion polling we did last year of

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those who voted UKIP had previously voted Conservative. 70% either had

:10:09.:10:13.

not voted at all or had voted for other parties. We got 47% of the

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vote in Rotherham, one of Labour's safest seats, 32% in Hartlepool. We

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are taking votes from Labour in massive numbers. Every poll says

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your support comes more from conservatives than from Labour. The

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main effect of a good UKIP performance in a general election

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would be to deny the Conservatives power, which is maybe what you want.

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It might be your final reflections. You are in denial. A strong UKIP

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vote. The British people having a referendum on Europe that you say

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you want. I am interested in results where the Tory leader is

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campaigning... We have been trying to avoid intruding into private

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grief as you are a Liberal Democrat. You were enjoying it. It is all over

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for Nick Clegg, isn't it? I do not think it is at all and it should not

:11:27.:11:31.

be. The European elections are one thing, but people vote completely

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differently in a general election. Certainly it has been a horrible

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shock for the Liberal Democrat Party and it is a really bad set of

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results and also, unfortunately, it is cumulative pain because every

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year since entering the coalition and the Lib Dems have taken a

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beating. You completely miscalculated this. The results were

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what was expected. What did the Lib miscalculated this. The results were

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Dems do for you? They enabled us to have a debate on Europe. It was a

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miscalculation. It was not. Sometimes you actually have to do

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what you believe in. We are watching across Europe and extraordinary

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thing this weekend, which is the anti-European parties sweeping the

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board. The idea that a smaller British party... It did not happen

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in Germany. The idea that a smaller British party could have avoided the

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tide... Nick Clegg is not part of your problem. There is a sense it

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was not a town all night for an Nick Clegg. But neither of the other two

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main parties have a platform for victory. Nobody here has got a

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platform for victory. If there is one party that you would bet on

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being part of the game after the next general election result it is

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probably the Liberal Democrats. And the way the Liberal Democrats

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traditionally fight elections in a very targeted way where they are

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very popular locally gives them still a very good chance of keeping

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around 40 seats, which would be a very respectable result. The reason

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you guys did so well appears to be because of immigration, a focus that

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you had on people's concerned about it. How will that play out until the

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general election? You will find a bidding war as politicians try and

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stay still some sort of message. It is very difficult when you have this

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thing, the voters have said something, but what have they said?

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You will get policy suggestions. Reducing the time people can have

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benefits, for example, but nobody knows the answer. It is not just

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simply about immigration, there is more to it. David Cameron said he

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had to practice to get immigration down. He said that in 2010. He has

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to do more on immigration. What the Conservative party has to do is it

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has to be the party of Government. What this election shows is people

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do not seek Ed Miliband as a Prime Minister in waiting. They do not see

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Nigel Farage as a Prime Minister in waiting. This is a protest vote. At

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the general election people will choose a Government and that is

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David Cameron's strongest card. He looks like a Prime Minister and he

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should not pursue populism. He should be the father of the nation,

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the guy who takes the tough decisions. It may not go down enough

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to help the Conservatives win, but that is his best strategy. The

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Liberal Democrats have to carry on with the coalition and carry on

:15:12.:15:17.

confident that a general election will deliver a completely different

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set of results in these elections. The problem I think is whether there

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is so much panic on the backbenches, on the Liberal Democrat

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and the Tory side, that it starts to destabilise the coalition. I think

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they will not panic. Nick Clegg has had the courage of his convictions

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and David Cameron has no convictions. He is scrabbling around

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for strategies to disguise the impetus of the UK government being

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in the EU, they cannot control our borders within the EU. 485 million

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people in Europe have the right to come here, there is no way of

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stopping them. The government has put forward a number of sticking

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plaster solutions to be struck down by the European Court, and we will

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show that the British government, the political class of this country

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has no answers to the problems affecting people in their daily

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lives will stop they are not interested in party games, they are

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interested in cost of living, which is being increased. I have to cut

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across you because we have no more time. Thank you very much.

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The electorate's enthusiasm for UKIP was at least partly based upon its

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claim not to be a normal political party. For the complaint now is that

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mainstream politics is the province of pygmies. No-one ever accused

:16:44.:16:46.

Michael Heseltine of that. And the UKIP vote represents a wholesale

:16:47.:16:49.

rejection of his ideas about both this country and Europe. Tarzan has

:16:50.:16:54.

retreated to his lair in the country much of the time. And it was there

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that I found him earlier. I asked him whether the mainstream parties

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should listen to UKIP voters. You should always listen but you

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should interpret what they have said. What I see very clearly is

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that people have had a terrible time. The consequences have been

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very painful and for many people still are, people find a focal point

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of their discontent. You think they are a flash in the pan?

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Not as Matt agree as you put it because you're sceptical -- because

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your scepticism has been there from the beginning. If you say to me, are

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they going to be a major force in the next general election? The

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answer is, no. They have clearly repudiated a particular and users of

:17:53.:17:58.

yours. You have to interpret, what they reviewed it in? The European

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Union. -- what are they repudiating. I do not believe that. It is the

:18:05.:18:09.

place to go to protest about certain things that have been happening

:18:10.:18:13.

which they associate with Europe. But the real problem is the

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recession. Whenever you get a recession of the sort, mid-term

:18:18.:18:23.

results find a protest point, it used to be the Liberal Democrats.

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UKIP did not make any running about the recession. They talked about the

:18:29.:18:35.

question of immigration. But the concern about immigration, which

:18:36.:18:40.

again is a complex issue, it has been there for a long time, is a

:18:41.:18:44.

problem of recession. Because the argument was that these foreigners

:18:45.:18:51.

are taking our jobs. Has immigration been good for this country? Hugely

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good, throughout the centuries. We have been the Gateway for wave after

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wave of huge talent. One of the big problems we face today is a skills

:19:03.:19:06.

shortage. Where are you going to get it? It is naive to say they will all

:19:07.:19:14.

come back to work. The unemployed do not have the skills of a modern

:19:15.:19:19.

economy. Surely the Conservatives would have done better if they have

:19:20.:19:25.

brought down immigration to 100,000 people a year. If it could be done,

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which they are trying hard to do, and I have no complaints. If I was

:19:31.:19:35.

in the government, I would try to help. How do they go forward? Keep

:19:36.:19:42.

your nerve, that is the first thing. George Osborne has played a blinder

:19:43.:19:48.

in coinciding economic recovery with political context. We are now seeing

:19:49.:19:55.

the economy recovery Dashwood cover, but as yet not rising living

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standards -- the economy recover. You will find rising wages and

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rising living standards to coincide with the election. Should David

:20:08.:20:12.

Cameron bring forward the deadline by which there is a referendum on

:20:13.:20:17.

future membership of the EU? Certainly not. Getting an agreement

:20:18.:20:22.

would be hard but to think you can stampede 27 other countries into

:20:23.:20:26.

agreeing what you want in a matter of months and get the legislation

:20:27.:20:29.

through is simply wrong and irresponsible. He would be crazy. He

:20:30.:20:35.

would be crazy to try to rush it because that will just create

:20:36.:20:41.

alienation on the continent. Secondly, to bow to

:20:42.:20:45.

alienation on the continent. demanding, which is, tell us exactly

:20:46.:20:49.

what you are going to demand. So your view is, hold your nerve, don't

:20:50.:20:50.

worry about this, it your view is, hold your nerve, don't

:20:51.:20:56.

expression of anxiety and discomfort that people feel as a consequence of

:20:57.:21:02.

economic circumstances. This is about recession. You don't think

:21:03.:21:09.

UKIP voters are racist? I think there are racists amongst them, the

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National Front has disappeared, so where has it gone? I have heard

:21:14.:21:18.

enough speeches by UKIP members to make me wince with embarrassment.

:21:19.:21:24.

But they will try to keep themselves away from the association. Should

:21:25.:21:31.

there be a pact between the Conservatives and the Liberal

:21:32.:21:35.

Democrats? Split the Tory party? That would be mad. It would be

:21:36.:21:41.

constituency by constituency. The principle that the Tory party is

:21:42.:21:44.

associated with the undercover approach and attitudes of much of

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the UKIP party would be quite unacceptable to a huge swathe of the

:21:50.:21:53.

moderate one nation Conservative party. Would it be acceptable to

:21:54.:22:03.

you? No. You do not have a vote as a member of the House of Lords! But

:22:04.:22:09.

you could not rate -- which you could not vote Conservative if there

:22:10.:22:15.

was a pact? It would be very difficult. I am doing the political

:22:16.:22:19.

thing because I sit on my bottom and do not vote? I could not vote the

:22:20.:22:24.

other parties, so do I opt out? It would be very difficult. Much better

:22:25.:22:31.

to tell you the truth now and to do everything in my power to support

:22:32.:22:34.

the official Tory position, there will not be a pact. David Cameron

:22:35.:22:40.

made it quite clear, William Hague, George Osborne, they are absolutely

:22:41.:22:45.

right. There will not be a pact. Under any circumstances? Under any

:22:46.:22:54.

circumstances. Thank you very much. Thus far, our coverage of these

:22:55.:22:57.

elections has confirmed the prevailing prejudice about the

:22:58.:22:59.

European Parliament. We have been parochial, because, as is evident in

:23:00.:23:02.

the pathetic turnout, most people in this country think the elections are

:23:03.:23:05.

irrelevant. But right across Europe, such voters as could be bothered to

:23:06.:23:09.

vote turned out to endorse men and women who loathe much of what the EU

:23:10.:23:15.

claims to stand for. They include a Polish politician who thinks the

:23:16.:23:18.

Parliament so corrupt, it ought to be turned into a brothel. Chris Cook

:23:19.:23:22.

is in Paris, where the Far Right are on the march.

:23:23.:23:28.

The European election results suggest something has been happening

:23:29.:23:32.

beneath the surface of the continent's politics. New parties

:23:33.:23:37.

are on the rise in lots of countries and one word is being used to

:23:38.:23:43.

describe their effect. Earthquake. In France, they have had the most

:23:44.:23:47.

shocking results of all, the Front National, and extreme anti-immigrant

:23:48.:23:53.

party, got a quarter of the votes. It won big.

:23:54.:24:02.

Marine Le Pen's success mirrored strong showings by antiestablishment

:24:03.:24:08.

showings from the left and right in other countries. In Denmark and the

:24:09.:24:13.

UK, Greece and Spain. France's Front National has had good days before.

:24:14.:24:18.

Even so, this was a big shock. The Front National is very different

:24:19.:24:25.

from UKIP in Great Britain. UKIP is against Europe, against immigration,

:24:26.:24:31.

like the National Front. But it is libertarian. The Front National, it

:24:32.:24:39.

is a fascist party. In the classical sense of the term. It is a rejection

:24:40.:24:49.

of Europe. But it is above all a rejection of French elites. The

:24:50.:24:58.

Socialist Party of Francois Hollande hopes for an economic recovery to

:24:59.:25:03.

win back voters. The French people are not racist and xenophobic, I do

:25:04.:25:09.

not believe that. I believe the people are fed up and they need hope

:25:10.:25:14.

again and they will have hope if we get the figures right. Which are not

:25:15.:25:17.

just figures but people, people get the jobs. If unemployment falls,

:25:18.:25:23.

will people come back from the Front National? It is not clear. One of

:25:24.:25:27.

the distinguishing thing about voters of Audi macro is they care a

:25:28.:25:33.

lot about immigration -- Front National. They do not care much

:25:34.:25:40.

about unemployment. Maybe national elections will bring back the

:25:41.:25:45.

antiestablishment voters to the old Potters -- parties, or perhaps the

:25:46.:25:49.

answer is in Italy where a new mainstream Socialist Party Prime

:25:50.:25:52.

Minister successfully fought back against the outsiders. It is a

:25:53.:25:58.

message of change. He is very young, 39 years old. I could tell

:25:59.:26:07.

you standards, exceptionally young. -- I Italian standards. People want

:26:08.:26:12.

to give him trust. His predecessor has been in Parliament for over a

:26:13.:26:18.

year and he must be perceived as somebody who has protested a lot of

:26:19.:26:22.

and done very little. What effect will these new outsiders have? They

:26:23.:26:28.

are so varied they will struggle to unite in the European Parliament,

:26:29.:26:31.

who is going to side with Germany's National Democratic party?

:26:32.:26:37.

Considered to be neo-Nazis. And these new outsiders might drive the

:26:38.:26:39.

old parties further together. If there was not a Brussels

:26:40.:26:44.

establishment before, there might be one now.

:26:45.:26:47.

Joining me from Paris is Noelle Lenoir, France's former Europe

:26:48.:26:50.

Minister and now President of the think tank Cercle des Europeens. And

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down the line from Brussels is Daniel Hannan, a Conservative MEP.

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Daniel Hannan, what do you think is happening in Europe? For a long

:27:03.:27:09.

time, the Euro establishments described anyone who had any

:27:10.:27:15.

democratic or constitutional or economic objections to the Brussels

:27:16.:27:18.

racket as anti-European, xenophobic antinationalist. And in a horrible

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way, that prophecy has become self-fulfilling, they have stoked

:27:24.:27:26.

the phenomenon were complaining about. Years ago, you will remember

:27:27.:27:32.

doing this programme in the 1990s, he pleb would come on and say, these

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countries together, forcing them to use the same currency and have

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policies they can't vote for will create a backlash -- people would

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come on and say. Would you accept that, Noelle Lenoir? Daniel Hannan

:27:48.:27:55.

is a very brilliant MEP but he does not know French politics. In France,

:27:56.:28:01.

according to the polls, 73% are in favour of the euro. Most of them,

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66%, they are pro-European. According to the results of these

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shameful elections. The Front National is not comparator will to

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UKIP. In many respects. -- is not comparator will. The issues are

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different in different countries. In France, the Front National gathered

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mainly the votes of the workers and the low level because they are

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afraid, and the unemployed. More than one out of four young are

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unemployed. That is really a protest vote. Some of these votes are

:28:41.:28:48.

racist, Zenith phobic -- xenophobic and anti-Semitic, we have a

:28:49.:28:50.

tradition in this respect unfortunately. But the electorate

:28:51.:28:56.

does not change so much. And with regard to the Euro, there is a

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rise... The French, most of them wish the Eurozone, the group of the

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eight team countries -- 18 countries sharing the Euro, we need an

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integrated Europe. Daniel Hannan, what do you make of that quite stark

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difference? I completely agree. Marine Le Pen has positioned herself

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even to the left of Francois Hollande on a lot of economic

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issues, whereas her Father tended to be against welfare scroungers and so

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on, she has been in favour of an increase in spending, more

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nationalisation, more protectionism. In many ways, it is wrong to call

:29:44.:29:47.

the Front National far right, they have little in common with the

:29:48.:29:52.

mainstream right on a number of issues. They are very socialist.

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What I think is that France is in a state of anxiety and frustration

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with a political class that, whoever is in power, has delivered high

:30:05.:30:08.

structural unemployment, immobiliser, the French state... You

:30:09.:30:19.

cannot carry on like that. -- immobilisation. The money has run

:30:20.:30:26.

out. It is not just France. We have seen angry reactions in a number of

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the afflicted Eurozone countries. Is there any common thread? In France,

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he, Denmark, in Greece, a number of places where support is going to

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parties that are not part of the traditional European project --

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here. Look at the Netherlands. These parties are different but the thing

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they have in common is they are against the single currency, and who

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coming new to the argument would not eat? The only reason the old

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establishment parties are still in favourite is their fingerprints are

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on the murder weapon. -- would not be. You are shaking your head,

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Noelle Lenoir. The French are very much aware that if we are able to

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borrow on the international market at a very low rate, under 2%, it is

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because of the Euro. Second, I think that the results in the member

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states are different because we have still, in spite of the European

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Union, our national identity. Look at what happened in the Netherlands

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went them -- when the most Federalist party obtained a splendid

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result. And in France, you have a contradiction. We have a young Prime

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Minister, Manuel Valls, who wants to diminish public expenditure by 50

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billion euros. He has high popularity ratings as the French are

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very dissatisfied with the government and they wish to change

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because they know we are declining if we do not. There are

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contradictions. If you were advising the Council of ministers tomorrow,

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what would you say was the one lesson they should take away from

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these results? Return more power to national Democratic institutions.

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This centralisation of power has resulted not only in aid Democratic

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backlash but in a xenophobic backlash. People are not just

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blaming Brussels but other countries. Noelle Lenoir? Have

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conviction or go out. Be strong, have a clear message and held an

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integrated Eurozone. Thank you. That's it. The sweetie jar is empty.

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Back tomorrow. Goodnight.

:33:04.:33:06.

Jeremy Paxman is joined by a panel of guests to discuss the results of the European elections, UKIP's next steps and far-right success across Europe. Plus, Lord Heseltine on the threat to the Conservatives.


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