08/01/2016 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Kirsty Wark.

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Not the new politics of 2016 - in either Cameron's Cabinet,


From Trident to Europe, with major policy divisions


Also tonight: for better or worse politics.


This woman took an abortion pill in the one part


of the UK where abortion is still illegal.


She says, "Arrest me, charge me, or change the law."


We put that to Northern Ireland's Justice Minister.


The UK's Chief Medical Adviser says there's no safe level of alcohol.


One week I'm tolding drinking red wine will make my heart better. Then


I won't. I'm told to take strange drugs one minute and not the next


minute. The first week of 2016 has laid bare


the new reality of the way politics is being prosecuted


by the Government Collective Cabinet responsibility


has been all but suspended. Neither David Cameron,


nor Jeremy Corbyn is in control of their senior ministers -


a far cry from the heyday In the Cabinet and in the Shadow


Cabinet there are divisions on the major issues facing this


country that are deeper But is this a weakness


or a strength? Walter Bagehot described


the British Cabinet as the buckle that fastens on legislative part


of the state to the executive part. And starting in the 18th century,


when Sir Robert Walpole's first modern cabinet adopted a united


position to counter the power of the monarch and continuing


through the 19th century, as the growth of the state


demanded a coherent, unified government,


the British Cabinet adopted the convention of


collective responsibility. However much they disagree


in private, Cabinet ministers are bound to support


a united position in public. Any minister who cannot


support the agreed policy, has the option to resign,


and some have done so. The convention held for the most


part throughout the last century, but Liberal members of the national


government were allowed to vote And in 1975, facing a huge Cabinet


split, Harold Wilson allowed his ministers


to campaign on both sides But collective responsibility held


strong throughout the 1980s, when Chancellor Nigel Lawson


strongly disagreed with the poll tax in Cabinet, but held his tongue


publicly and on into the new century when high-profile ministers resigned


in protest at the Iraq war. I intend to join those


tomorrow night who vote It is for that reason,


and that reason alone, and with a heavy heart,


that I resign from the government. But public unity hid


private dysfunction. And when a new Coalition Government


took power, there was no longer even any sense of pretending


that the government was united. Even though he no longer needs


the Lib Dems to govern, he still has a problem


getting his cabinet to back him Like Wilson's Cabinet,


they will now be allowed to campaign on both sides in this


year's referendum. And Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn


is also having trouble enforcing Despite his Shadow Foreign Secretary


opposing him in the Syria debate, he stayed in the post


in this week's reshuffle. With Cabinet unity faltering


on all sides, is a convention of collective responsibility


a thing of the past? Well joining me to chew over this


constitutional conundrum is Sally Morgan, formerly a top


adviser in Tony Blair's Downing Street, Polly McKenzie


who was a policy adviser to Nick Clegg and Catherine Haddon,


resident historian at the Institute Sally Morgan it has been an


extraordinary week. Bizarre. You couldn't make it up, could you? We


will deal with the cabinet, but you have a Shadow Cabinet where Jeremy


Corbyn does not have authority. He does not have authority over the


Parliamentary Labour Party. That is the significant issue and the Shadow


Cabinet are a small section of that. Not only that, he has the


possibility of further revolt, we know he has talked about Hilary Benn


and we know there is many divisions there. Of course he is in an


extremely weak position. My guess is he will produce a cabinet more in


his own liking, but in the end. He has started to do that? But he is


more interested in the party in the country than in Parliament. How


important is collective cabinet responsibility for the government to


work. It is the way in which a Parliamentary party works in


relation to the Parliament and in showing that sort of strength of


purpose. Even though we know that in the past and as a historian you


know, it has been a pretension. Yes and not just at big moments like


1932 and 1975 when they had agreements to differ. But also you


see it in different ways. One of the Tennents of it is they won't talk


about cabinet meetings, but Ministers leak all the time. There


are ways in which ministers find to dissent that go outside the formal


practice. Talking of leaking when it came to the coalition there wasn't


enough leaking to keep Nick Clegg in the public's good books, or the


Liberal Democrat voters' books. Good books, because he turned over on so


many things. The period of coalition demonstrated people can disagree and


semi privately and the world doesn't end. Maybe if there had been more


briefing and more candour about the disagreements, then the Liberal


Democrats would haven't suffered so much, I don't know. They did suffer,


he did roll over on tuition fees. I wonder if it had been much more...


Discussion about that outside cabinet if there had been dissent


the Liberal Democrats would not have come such a cropper? I think when


explaining the tuition fees debate at the start it was very much


sticking to the line of collective responsibility and this is the best


policy. It was only over the years that Nick Clegg started about it


having to be a compromise and people bought that more, there were for the


voters it was too late. What did it look like from your position in the


coalition? In a way it made sense, you have two parties in government.


And different manifestos. Yes and they brought them together. But at


the same time collective cabinet responsibility is partly about party


management and in which case you're managing two parties that is what


happened in 1932, they didn't want the liberals to leave and the only


way to do so was to give them that leeway to talk about their policies.


You talk about 1975, there was only a month between the negotiations and


the referendum. David Cameron faces a yawning period with some some big


beasts campaigning against him. Will that damage him and that whole idea


of collective cabinet responsibility for the Conservatives. It is a


tricky thing to manage N75 the problems they had were through 74


and Tony Benn pushing against that. In 2011 there was a referendum and


cabinet ministers were arguing against each other on platforms, on


the alternative vote and it was two parties, but the world didn't come


to an end, government carries on making decision and some of the time


ministers were campaigning. And whether it looks as David Cameron is


in charge. The Prime Minister said this was not going to happen and has


changed h mind because he can't deliver the cabinet, because several


members said they are not starting. That is like Harold Wilson. That was


weakness as well. I think it is weakness and not new politics. Going


back to your time with Tony Blair there was collective cabinet


responsibility, but we know now that it was a disaster inside and


actually incredibly corrosive. The public knew that. Wouldn't it have


been better if you had aired differences and not had been what


was a real diminution of cabinet? People say that, I don't think that


is accurate. There were big arguments within cabinet and that is


the right place if you're running government, you want to have big


rows. I remember big rows on cabinet meetings such as public service


reform. Give me an example of where somebody who backed down who was


really fighting. There was significant fighting on a range of


health and school reforms. But the rows did take place in cabinet and


you're right of course there was disagreement and Gordon Brown had a


level of disagreement. But cabinet took a decision and packed the


policy -- backed the policy clearly and you do need to have those


arguments. That worked in coalition. I wonder what the public makes of


this. We live in an age where there are leaks from cabinet and there is


pressure and people tweet, social media, the voters want honesty don't


they? Yes the public know when a politician is spinning them a line.


In the long-term within a party it festers the sense that you're only


sticking to the party line, because your being bullied by the boss and


if David Cameron wants to say the referendum was a fair fight, he has


to give the rebels as we assume they will be, the opportunities to


campaign. Where does that put the idea of a Jeremy Corbyn Shadow


Cabinet at the moment. Because when you say it is about the voters and


Diane Abbot said it is about the party people and the party, but


actually it I not just about the party, it is about the PLP and


members of Shadow Cabinet. I find the situation of the Labour Party


alarming, but it is part of a long-term project to slowly build up


a Shadow Cabinet that is cohesive. The cabinet, would that work in


government? The one he has now, no it would be chaos. The difficulty of


saying the public understand, in the end the public want to know what the


government is they're electing. One of reasons it did work in coalition


you had good arguments but you did reach decisions and stuck to them


and went out and... What Jeremy Corbyn and Macdonald said to Hilary


Benn is you rebel all you like, but from the backbenches. That is not


the new politics. It is very old politics in Labour at the moment.


How will this look this period in history? It is difficult to know.


These issues will be massive for the parties and it goes back to past


examples, the reason why collective responsibility was important, it was


about whether the parties would split and reform in different ways


as in the 19th century and lot is about party management, rather than


the strict constitutional issue. Thank you all very much.


That was what one prison officer said of a cell he showed


to the Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales -


an opinion which found its way into Nick Hardwick's final report


He said that prisons had deteriorated to their worst level


in at least a decade, with rising violence,


overcrowding and a rapid rise in the use of legal highs,


and, he warned, it could not go on like this.


He declined to apply for another five-year term and leaves his post


First, looking back, do you think at the last five years, what has been


the most devastating changes? Prisons have got a lot more


dangerous. There were more murders in prisons last year than there have


been for ten years. More suicides than there have been for two years.


There are two suicides a week. There are 550 self-harm Ings harm


incidents a week. And these are all much higher than they have been,


really since we began to keep recordses. It begs the question you


weren't able to make the impact you wanted. Things have started to


change, Michael Gove has started to make changes and we can claim some


credit that the change in policy came about because of some of the


evidence that we presented. But there are things you don't seem to


be able to get a grip of, one is legal highs. Legal highs is the most


serious problem facing the prison system at the moment. It is not only


dangerous for the people taking its, there have been about 20 deaths. But


the trade and the debt and the violence that comes about as a


result of that trade is destabilising prisons. Even well run


prisons are being destabilised by the availability of these


substances. And as ever the engeneral youty of how you get them


into prison. Yes it depends on the prison you're talking about. In a


big prison, where the perimeter maybe a mile, they come over in


drones and in cater puts and tennis balls. Prisoners will get themselves


recalled to prison stuffed with things in unmentional places. There


are other issues, one is also the question of radicalisation. You have


real fears about this. You need to take a sophisticated


approach to this. There are a small number of dangerous men in prison


who are trying to radicalise other. You have to make a distinction


between them and those that develop a genuine religious faith, that will


reduce the risk of them reoffending and gangs who are Muslims as well.


Let's talk about the transgender issue, that is something that has


been a much greater feature in the last two or three years. Managing


transgender prisoners is difficult. Do you think it has been done


properly? I think it needs to be done with a degree of sensitivity.


Some of the sea asides -- suicides we have seen reflects the difficulty


the prison has with anyone who needs different needs. Anyone, mental


issues, transgender. Give me an example? It is about where you put


them and recognising particular a when people first come into prison,


that is when the risk of suicide is greatest. Getting that decision


right, about how you place people, too often you put people where there


is a space. You put people in the wrong prison. How do you choose?


What the policy should be, you make an individual decision based on the


circumstances of that individual. You have been critical about the


impact of private providers in prison. We know there have been


seven members of staff suspended tonight because there has been a big


investigation on Panorama, and the treatment in a youth prison fell far


short. I haven't seen the footage for Panorama, but if the account is


a true, it is a disgrace. But the lesson we should learn, if you put


vulnerable people in a closed institution, they are at risk. And


too often the authorities, the systems take their eye off that


ball. You may not have known about Medway, but Raines broke, a secure


training centre, the contract was taken away from G4S last year. Don't


you think you should be looking at that series of contracts much more


closely? We did pay attention and we were looking at that very closely. I


think... I don't think, what we were saying was contradicted by others. I


don't think the right lessons were learned. I don't manage any present,


and I think there are questions to be asked about wider lessons from


Raines broke, which we set out in diesel, were not learned. I think


the accountability for that... Does the government not have enough


power? I think there are issues. The directors, as they are called, have


the authority to run it. I think there are questions here for the


company. Too many private companies in the prison service in England and


Wales? I do not think it is a question


Wales? I do not think it is a have these problems in the public


sector as well. The managers and people in more senior positions need


to be accountable for what happens in the places they are responsible


for. Thank you for joining us. The panorama programme will be broadcast


on BBC One at 8:30pm. In Northern Ireland


abortion is illegal. The 1967 Abortion Act does


not extend to that part Therefore, anyone who performs


an illegal termination could be Last month a High Court judge


in Belfast ruled that Northern Ireland's position


was incompatible with Human Rights Legislation, and now


the onus is on the Stormont Assembly But women in Northern Ireland


who wish an abortion have been defying the law by buying pills


which are sent to them, to bring on a termination,


thus risking prosecution. One such woman, Suzanne Lee


is in our Dublin studio. Also joining us is Northern


Ireland's Justice Minister David Good evening to you both. First of


all, Suzanne Lee, how many women do you think in Northern Ireland have


taken the abortion pill question what I know you have been involved


in talking to people. What is your estimation? I think it is very hard


to gauge how many people have taken it, because where these pills come


from, they do not release figures of how many people get them because


customs are shut down. For a lot of people it is their only option,


their only way of getting an abortion. I know that when I go to


meetings or... There's even been times when I have been walking down


the street and women will come up to me and tell me that they've ordered


pills, that they've had an abortion. I'd say this happens three or four


times a month. It was a very difficult decision,


I'm sure, for you to go public about this. I just want to take you


through what actually happened. You had an abortion pill sent to you in


Northern Ireland. Did you actually take it within Northern Ireland?


I go to college in the Republic of Ireland, where abortion is also


illegal. But you cannot get the abortion pills sent here because


customs will seize it. So I ordered it from there. But the law is if you


procure noxious substances to induce an abortion, that is what the crime


is. So, do you believe you broke the


law? You must have known when you took this pill that you might be


prosecuted? There is a possibility you would be prosecuted?


At the time when I was pregnant it was always in the back of my mind.


What I was doing was illegal but I didn't want to be pregnant so much


that that just wasn't high up on my list of priorities. Yes, it is


illegal, but no, I don't want to be pregnant, I can't afford to be


pregnant. It just wasn't the right time. So in a lot of ways, it's the


strange double-edged sword where you worried about prosecution but at the


same time you're so relieved not to be pregnant.


David Forde. Technically presumably Suzanne could still be prosecuted?


That is a decision for the police to consider, the Public prosecution


service. They are not issues for the ministers to decide. It is a


possibility, a legal possibility? I wonder if you have sympathy with


Suzanne's plight? One can have sympathy with the


plight of an individual, but Minister's roles are to carry out


their duties and individual sympathies are an issue. The


consultation I conducted last year was around the issue of allowing


abortions in the case of fatal abnormality because of the concerns


people had for the women stuck with the dreadful diagnosis. That would


not necessarily be the case for Suzanne and other women who have


taken the abortion pill? I accept that is not the case, but I'm


talking about where I have expressed sympathy for individuals, where it


showed there was willingness on the part of Minister to say it was a


difficult issue. Do you think the Stormont assembly should come up


with legislation that changes to come within the parameters of human


rights legislation? Is it time for Northern Ireland to move now? I


conducted a consultation which began last autumn, over a year ago, on the


issue of allowing abortion in the cases of fatal Faizal abnormality,


rate, and incest. That is when we should act. I put that in a paper to


the executive, because as a minister I have to get executive approval


before I can seek to legislate. The suggestion that we should legislate


in the case of fatal feet all -- abnormalities in foetuses. I hope I


will have a discussion with fellow ministers eventually on the 21st of


January, at the next state and executive meeting. On the question


of change to the law in Northern Ireland, do you think there is


appetite for changing to the 1967 abortion act, which is in place in


other parts of the United Kingdom? I think there is very little appetite


to change to the 1967 abortion act. I think there could be a sufficient


appetite to legislate in case of the issues we're talking about, fatal


abnormality in foetuses, where there is no life to protect. In the case,


as you heard, of Suzanne, that means that really for people who do not


face these different things, which are sexual crime, and fatal


abnormality in foetuses, it would hold a heavy prison sentence


question mark yes,. But the reality is I can only operate where I get


the acceptance of a majority of the members of the executive, and you


just had a discussion about difficulties within single party


governments and Cabinet ministers disagreeing. I am a minister where


there are four different parties with different views. Suzanne,


nothing being discussed in terms of human rights legislation will make a


difference to many women in Northern Ireland who do take the abortion


hill. I wonder what you feel, public opinion... David Forde is talking


about the fact they are a multiparty government in Northern Ireland. Do


you accept a lot of public opinion will not be on your site in Northern


Ireland? I think that outwardly a lot of people in Northern Ireland


would say that they don't agree with abortion, but privately they would.


I think because abortion is illegal, there is this huge stigma attached


to it. It is not easy for people to come out and say I have had an


abortion, or I support abortion because the parties in Stormont


don't want to address that. Surely the role of the people in Stormont


is to represent the people of Northern Ireland. Essentially what


they're doing is ignoring half the population, sweeping us under the


carpet, hoping they do not have to listen to us and will not have to


deal with us. I don't want their sympathy, I want the right to


control my own body. They're not going to give that to me. I wonder


what that means to you and other women, who are considering this


path. You are actually presumably in contravention of the law and know


that. What will that mean for you? Because I know what I've done is


illegal, and I know that Stormont aren't going to address it, the only


way I can see going forward, is for me to make the law on workable. I've


done this, it's legal and I continue to provide abortion pills for other


people that need them, which is also illegal. I'm tired of hearing bears


no appetite for it. Nobody has ever asked me. Thank you both very much


indeed. At the start of a new year,


when people naturally incline to alcohol abstinance,


or at least a reduced intake, after the excesses of the festive


season, the news that there is no healthy way to drink alcohol,


is like kicking a man or woman 14 units a week is the absolute


maximum for all, according to the Chief Medeical Officer


for England, but unless you, like Nigel Farage, are contemptuous


of what he calls the new "puritannical guidelines," is yet


another new health campaign going to curb your enthusiasm


for the demon drink? Here's our Temperance


Correspondent Stephen Smith. For years and years TV news has had


a desperate craving for stories about how much it's safe


to drink and smoke. Wait a minute, if we all stop


smoking, they'll double You may as well finish that one,


it will soothe your nerves. Once upon a time we could just do


what Pathe News did, and take the word of detached


industry insiders on the risk In my opinion, to single out smoking


as a causal agent, is, on the evidence today,


completely unjustified. Thank you very much,


sir, for your help. Thank you very much for letting me


put our views forward. You better have a cigarette


before you go. VOICEOVER: The chemicals you inhale


cause mutations in your body... But surely the Government's


anti-smoking messages have hit home. I think it's helped a bit,


I think largely what helped is the fact there was


a change in legislation. It became much more expensive,


though I think basically the cost People are much more aware


of the risks, but also it's If you can't smoke on the train,


the plane or the restaurant, then you've got to go and huddle


outside, and that's not really So what chance today's new guidance


on safer drinking? The Chief Medical Officer says it's


been driven by science. Well, that since the first time


in over 20 years we've done a significant scientific review,


and it's very complex, There are short-term consequences,


and preventable mortality. Bringing all of that together,


what we now have are guidelines for low risk drinking,


which is 14 units in a week, spread over two, three, four days,


for both men and women. In the unlikely event that you've


been anywhere near a unit of alcohol this evening, you may be grateful


for that clarification, One week I'm told that drinking red


wine will make my heart better, another time I'm told drinking red


wine won't make my heart better. I'm told I should take all sorts


of strange drugs one minute, The medical advice is chaotic,


all over the place, comes from everywhere, you never know


what the credibility I think it's a pity that


someone with as big a title as the Chief Medical Officer


of Health should say things that are so extreme, that they will


immediately make people say "I'm not Mrs Thatcher's former PR guru


thinks his successors show little savvy about getting the message


right on health. I think it has to be done


with particular skill, and I don't think this government,


or any other government, particularly not the current


Labour Party, has any skill or any belief in the requirement


for there to be a decent Now, I'm going to show you three


things, and you've got to tell me Well, you seem to know what to do


with that one all right. Remember - coughs and


sneezes spread diseases. This campaign apparently helped


a baffled Britain come to terms with the invention


of the handkerchief. When you look back at public health


campaigns, there is remarkably little evidence that they


make a big difference. The other thing which is very


difficult to factor into this is the emotional and psychological,


and therefore physical benefits of being with friends


and having a good laugh. So, if you kind of banned


all alcohol, would you get rid of that entirely or would we go


on sipping cups of coffee I don't know, I think that one


is very difficult to quantify. That is all we have time for. We are


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