15/09/2016 Question Time


David Dimbleby presents topical debate from Salisbury. The panellists are Anna Soubry MP, John McDonnell MP, Joanna Cherry MP, Quentin Letts and Alastair Campbell.

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Tonight we're in Salisbury, and this is Question Time.


Welcome to you, and to our panel tonight.


Conservative former Business Minister Anna Soubry.


and Jeremy Corbyn's close ally, John McDonnell.


The SNP's justice spokesperson at Westminster, Joanna Cherry.


The Daily Mail theatre critic and Parliamentary sketch writer


And Tony Blair's former Director of Communications,


Before we take our first question,


don't forget Facebook, Twitter, or text 83981 to comment


Our first question from Martyn Ball, please. Our grammar school was the


answer to our education mess? Anna Soubry? I am not sure I would


describe it as a mess. It is right that there are 1.25 and children


either in poor schools, or schools that need to improve, but I think it


is right to have a debate and it is right that we should look at new


options. In many ways, what the Government is putting forward is


something new, which is that existing grammar schools might be


able to effectively have satellite schools in neighbouring areas. I


will be very frank with you. In my constituency we have four secondary


schools. I don't think we even need or want a grammar school. One of my


schools is an outstanding academy that has benefited from the Academy


programme of the last coalition government, and I am a firm believer


in continuing with the Academy programme. But I think it's right we


have a debate about it. But I take the view that grammar schools are


not the silver bullet that I think some people think they are. But when


I look at my neighbouring city of Nottingham, and we have had decades


of bad Labour rule and poor schools, I want to know what the solutions


are going to be to make sure that every child, wherever they are,


whatever their background, that they all have the great school that every


child needs and deserves. That is the task. Will you vote against when


it comes to it? I don't go have a problem with... Take Lincolnshire,


which has the 11 plus. If there is a need, in a town like Newark, which


borders Lincolnshire, where we know there are parents who choose to put


their children into grammar schools in Lincolnshire, if they have a


satellite school there and it is seen to be a good thing to raise


what has been a problem in that town with its existing school, I wouldn't


have an ideological opposition to that. I would struggle if we said


that the solution in a city like Nottingham is to have grammar


schools. I look at what has happened in London and we have achieved huge


success in London by building up the Academy programme, by having great,


brilliant teachers, by putting aspiration into our schools. That, I


believe, is the real solution to making sure every child has a great


school. And not the grammar school as an absolute guarantee. I don't


think it's an absolute, and we certainly don't want to go back to


the system which existed when I was young, a long time ago. I took the


11 plus and passed. Lots of people failed and they bore that for the


rest of their lives, and that was wrong.


APPLAUSE I think that was a very heroic


effort by Anna Soubry to pretend that actually she thinks this is


anything other than a pretty silly policy. And she is absolutely right


and that is the indication she gave in the House of Commons. If you


watched the end of this programme last week it was announced that


Justine Greening was going to be on the panel. Although Twitter has said


I have come on to have a Barney with John McDonnell, I was hoping to have


a Barney with Justine Greening about this ridiculous policy. The reason


why... I honestly don't know why Theresa May is doing this. She has


no mandate for it. David Cameron was absolutely clear that he thought


this was a red great step. If you look at the countries that have the


best educated children, around the world there are three that come up


again and again. Finland, South Korea and the other one is... Never


save three! Finland, South Korea and Canada. And they have the most


components of systems. They understand that comprehensive means


all-inclusive. The point about selection, Theresa May is trying to


give the impression that everybody will be selected to go to a grammar


school. Selection means rejection. And the rejection that Anna Soubry


talked about, and I went to two grammar schools, and the rejection,


I think, does give people a sense of stigma that can stay with them


through their lives. This country has suffered for too long by having


an elitist approach to education. And we should finally give proper


comprehensive education a real go. APPLAUSE


I don't agree with Alistair. I don't think we have had an elitist


approach to education for a long time. And I can't see what is wrong


with selection. OK, that brings rejection, but we are a country of X


Factor and Britain's Got Talent. People are comfortable with the idea


of children advancing on merit. I can understand why a Labour are


uneasy about grammar schools, because if you have been brought up


doing Latin prep and start into a tight blazer you are less likely to


be a socialist. I don't know what they tight little blazer as to do


with being a socialist. That is what he wore. That is what I am still


wearing. But what I cannot understand is people in the centre


and certain people in the Conservative Party who are opposed


to grammar schools, because it strikes me they are about


aspiration, excellence, opportunity and about... Let me finish. And


about competition. And I think competition is very important. The


question was whether grammars are the answer to our schools mess. I


don't think that is even close to what is being proposed because there


are so many other types of school and they will continue. But if


people want grammars, if parents want grammars and if teachers want


to teach in grammars, let it happen. I am in favour of that, because it


strikes me as common sense, children, if they are in a class


with their own ability, are likely to hit off each other and do better


as a result. And I can't see why we can have selection on merit in


music, we can have it in games, why can't we have it with academic


excellence? There are a lot of hands up so let's hear from our audience.


The woman in red. I was just wondering, with regard to the towns


and cities that do not have grammar schools, the schools that are there


and not necessarily doing as well, why aren't we putting more money and


investing in those schools to support the children that have


learning difficulties, disabilities, mental health problems?


APPLAUSE That's exact the what we're doing.


The man with spectacles. The competition on the X Factor is for


entertainment, and 90% of that in the early stages is about


humiliation. And I think selection of 11-year-olds to take the cream


off the top, as the elites would put it, I think it is a scandal and the


debate should end right now. APPLAUSE


Two voices against, any in favour of more grammar schools? Yes, I am in


favour of grammar schools. I was going to the man behind. There is


competition here! Firstly, I went to a grammar school sixth form myself.


I think we need to remember that Theresa May's proposals are not just


saying there will be 111 plus and if you fail you have no chance of going


to a grammar school. There will be 12, 13 plus, so there is going to be


a bit of time, if someone does not pass their 11 plus. They can try


again the next year. I think it really does foster this idea of


aspiration. That is part of the reason why I managed to get into the


grammar school sixth form nearby. I just want to quickly go to a point


Alistair made about the divisions in our education system today. If we


are going to be talking about a lack of fairness in our education system


and rejection, why can't we talk about private schools and the role


they have? I agree with that. John McDonnell. Watch my lips. I agree


with Alastair Campbell 100%.! What, that new Labour was a great success?


He is at it again with spin, isn't he? New Labour never abolished the


grammar schools, did they? We prevented the extension of any new


ones. And actually, I frankly wish that we had. But that is a very


difficult opinion to hold at that time. Tony Blair took a judgment


that it wasn't worth the political aggravation we would have, but I


think we should have dealt with this once and for all. Outlawed


selection? Yes. All of the evidenced in straits that grammar schools will


benefit a limited few but will not benefit others and do not raise


standards overall. That is not just me talking. That is why David


Cameron opposed it, as Alistair said, that is what he said it was


taking us back to the 1950s. The head of Ofsted, the very person


appointed by the government to look at social mode to, the Institute for


education, all those international comparisons. This is the wrong way


to go. The right way to go is to recognise we have problems in our


education system, partly about underinvestment. Class sizes are


rising on a large scale. In addition, we have lost in this last


year or so the largest number of teachers from this profession that


we have lost in a generation, largely because of the intense


pressure they are under on a teaching to the test system we have.


If you look at where we have succeeded in the past in raising


standards, yes, look at what happened under Tony Blair,


education, education, education, under London challenge, where we had


some of the worst schools in the country. We put in resources, made


sure we brought in the best teachers possible, and now we have the best


schools in the country. And this isn't, as well, about rich and poor


areas. Some of the best schools in London, as a result of that


investment, are in the poorest boroughs. That is the way forward,


that is the way about investment and respecting the professionals within


the field itself. This is really dangerous, but I agree with John




Joanna Cherry, as an SNP MP you do not really have a dog in the fight


when it comes to it because this is about England, not Scotland. Yes,


David. Education is devolved. We will have to look carefully at any


proposals brought forward by the Conservative government at


Westminster to see whether they have financial implications for Scotland.


But we do not believe grammar schools are the answer to the


challenges of the education system. The challenge to the education


system in a democracy should be to give every child the best chance


possible of having a good education. It is natural for parents to want to


do the best possible for their own children, but the government has to


do the best possible for all children. And all the evidence shows


that children from low income families do worse in selective


systems. Kent has a selective system. Evidence shows that in Kent,


children from low income families are not doing as well as other


children. Theresa May, when she came to power, made a song and dance


about how she wants to represent working-class families. But in


relation to this policy which she has pulled out of a hat, the reality


does not match her rhetoric. Every country faces challenges with


education. We face a challenge in Scotland and Nicola Sturgeon has put


closing the attainment gap at the heart of our programme for


government. But the way we are doing that is to invest in all children.


We have doubled early life care, so there is double the amount of time


available for three-year olds and four-year-olds in preschool care, we


are investing ?700 million across the schools sector in all schools to


improve standards, and we are tackling the underlying social


inequality that means some children do not do as well as others by


tackling child poverty in the child poverty Bill. That is the way


forward, that every child gets the same chance. Does your experience in


Scotland in title due to vote on England and English education and


grammar schools in England? As I have said, we are at an early stage.


I have asked a direct question. You have talked about the proposals. Do


you think the SNP has a dog in the fight, or should it stand back and


say this is a matter for England? I can't answer whether the SNP has a


dog in the fight until I see the legislation. It will not affect


Scotland. Fit has implications for the Scottish budget, we will vote on


it but we have to see the legislation before we make a


decision. Let's hear from some members of the


audience, you in the striped shirt, please? I went to the local grammar


school after failing the 11 plus and 12 plus and finally passing the 13


plus and all through that period of time at 11, I felt like I was


useless, didn't deserve an education, that was kind of higher


than everyone else because there's only one grammar school in the whole


area so it's kind of amplified anyway. You know, I think with a


crisis in young people's mental health anyway, why are we putting


that pressure on 11-year-olds when we could be putting more money into


fantastic comprehensives? ! APPLAUSE.


How did you feel at 13? I felt like, when I look at it


retrospectively, it was ridiculous, I felt that I finally got somewhere


that I finally deserved to be and once I got to university and was


surrounded by kids from public school, I realised, oh, actually


maybe we are all in the same place and there are plenty of wonderful


kids here who had comprehensive school education and I was obsessed


with something because of the surroundings that I was expected to


do. The woman in the second row?


I went to a grammar school. I don't feel it did me any better or worse


than any other school. There are a lot of children at that time that


came from all different social classes and backgrounds and they all


did equally as well. My concern with grammars at the moment is that a lot


of parents are paying for their children to have specific training


for this test and they are only passing because they've been given


specific training to get through the 11 plus. These children can get to


grammar school and then find Thirlwall out of their depth.


A brief point? These stories which are very interesting show surely


that those tremendous appetites for grammars, there is pressure on


grammar places, people want their children in them. Does that not come


out of these stories? They are tremendous equalisers of


opportunity. Social mobility is going the wrong way at the moment.


The grammar school system's not helped social mobility and I believe


very firmly that grammars could open up opportunities to kids from poor


backgrounds who've got the brainpower. It must be right. But 3%


of grammar school pupils have free school meals, 3% compared to 15 in


the States. Grammar schools could be dog that now, they don't. Kent and


Buckinghamshire, for example, huge counties. The attainment gap in Ken


and Buckinghamshire is twice as big as in Hackney which is one of the


poorest communities, as John said. You at the back there. We must keep


moving because we have a lot of questions. I seem to be the only


person in the room that went to a secondary school and failed the


11-plus and I'm proud that I did it. I felt that if I'd gone to a grammar


school at the time, I wouldn't have fitted in, that the education that I


got in the secondary school was just right for me. I was at the top of


the secondary school so I felt really good. It was a bit


patronising from one of the members to say, they had that for the rest


of their lives. Some do. Many did. Lots don't and every person is


different. If you are academically inclined, then you need a school


that can cater to that. If you are not academic, you need a school to


cater that as well. A lot of hands up, we can't obviously do the whole


programme on grammar schools, interesting as it would be, but


hands up in the audience for those who'd like to see in principle, more


grammar schools, and then I'll ask for those who don't, and how many


would not like to see more? That's a two to one. OK. Thank you very much.


We'll go on to another question, but before we do, we are in Sutton


Coldfield in Birmingham next week and Boston in Lincolnshire the week


after that. Come and join us. Go to the website address or you can phone


you will. Details at the end. Let's have another question from Olivia


Parsons, please? With the Labour Party currently tearing Riths apart,


is the SNP the only credible opposition to the Government? --


tearing itself apart. Alastair Campbell? The SNP is the Government


in Scotland and I think the way that the SNP became the Government has


lessons for the Labour Party. My real worry about the Labour Party at


the moment is that if we are not careful, we can go into frankly


oblivion. We have no divine right to exist. There were times, Joanna I


talked about this earlier, the Labour Party took Scotland for


granted for a long time, far too long and we paid a very, very heavy


price. And I fear that what's happening at the moment with the


Labour Party is that we are not reaching out beyond a fairly narrow


core. It's great that Jeremy and John and the rest of them have


brought in lots of new people into the party and there's a lot of


energy in there. But I worry that we are losing the things that you need


to do, both the policy agenda and the politics that actually allow you


to win general elections. What are you thinking of in particular? Into


politics has become, you are right about tearing itself apart and I


think that in a sense, I'm not saying there's only blame on Jeremy


Corbyn, but I do think this whole momentum thing has been incredibly


divisive. I think a lot of people in the Labour Party, who've been in the


Labour Party a long time, feel this is going back to a politics of the


1980s. There is a nastiness in the party which we haven't had since the


1980s and there's always been an element within the Labour Party that


prefers having power in the party to winning power in the country. You


need that. That's fine. But you can't have that as the driving force


in the party. Now, when I say this, and I guarantee now the Twitter


trolls will be straight in, he's obsessed with winning, he's a Tory,


I get it all the time. I'm obsessed with winning because unless we win,


the Tories can bring back grammar schools, unless we win, we wouldn't


have been able to have things like the minimum wage and Sure Start and


Steve luges to Scotland and peace in Northern Ireland and all the others


things that we did. You have to win power in this country. John talks


about build ago social movement. Social movements don't deliver the


things that a Labour Government did and a Labour Government in the


future can, so I do want the Labour Party to unite, but it has to unite


around something, a policy agenda an politics that we can actually go to


places like this. I can remember we went to Dorset south in 1997 not far


from here and the media said, this is just a stunt you coming to Dorset


south, you are never going to win this. We won it and held it. Not by


being hard left, not by saying, anybody who's a Tory is a bad


person. We are going to have to get Tories to volt for us, we are going


to have to get SNP people to vote for us, and a is how we win. And if


we don't understand that, and act according to that, I'm afraid I


worry genuinely that we are facing oblivion.


APPLAUSE. John McDonnell? We have to win. We


have to win. No-one's arguing that we don't have to win, we have to win


elections and we have to ensure that we have the broadest appeal. We have


to recognise the political times in which we are in. The reason Jeremy


Corbyn got elected leader is because he reflects a movement right across


Europe and America as well, people have been through the crash of 2008,


people have experienced the austerity over the years and wanted


something different. People who wanted a straightforward politics as


well without spin and triang layings. We had straightforward


policies. It was straightforward. Let me finish. Let me finish. I


think that's what people voted for when they eelected Jeremy to be


leader of the party. And at that point in time, we'd lost a general


election, we were between seven and ten points behind in the polls. What


then happen suicide that we won't every Parliamentary by-election and


increased our majorities, we won every mayoral election, we matched


Ed Miliband in the local council elections at his highest. So you


were on course to victory? Let me just... Hang on, these long lists...


Let me finish this point, overtaken the Conservatives in the polls so we


were laying the foundations, I believe, for electoral victory in


due course and were bringing together the party left, right and


centre. The Shadow Cabinet that Jeremy appointed was from left,


right and centre. What went wrong because you are now clearly not


leading the polls? Fair enough, fair enough. The lesson we have got to


learn very clearly is that people will not vote for a divided party.


What happened is that a group of unfortunately people within the


party weren't willing to accept Jeremy's mandate, they launched what


was effectively a coup and we have had a couple of months of absolute


distraction. I'm interested in one thing, do you think the country as a


whole has moved to the left? You make no bones about saying you are a


Marxist, your reaction to the capitalist. I'm a Marxist, I'm


honest with people, is that what the country wants from a Chancellor of


the Exchequer. I'm a socialist. Marxist is the words you used. Why


did you say I'm a Marxist? I was demonstrating a prediction of the


capitalist crisis at the time. I'm honest with people, you said, I'm a


Marxist. I was saying I was predicting what would be said in


terms of the economic crisis. You said, I'm a Marxist. Go on YouTube


and you can watch it. APPLAUSE.


And I'll tell you something else. I was predicting what was coming. You


are a very nasty piece of work and I shall tell you this as well, let me


tell you what's happened... Let me finish. Let me tell you what's


happening in Parliament, I don't agree with Labour MPs but there are


a number who're good and honourable. Decent people who believe in things


that I don't agree with. But they add value and they are elected, they


haven't formed a Government but they are there to do a job. The job they


are there to do is to hold my Government to account and to


represent those of you who're not Conservatives and make sure that


your voice is heard and democracy prevails. And many of these people


are frightened, so frightened, humiliated, almost terrorised by Mr


McDonnell and his gang, they will leave politics and that's bad for


politics. Absolute rubbish. And there is a final example of it,


ladies and gentlemen. You are being let down, as a democracy. We need


good, strong oppositions who're credible, who test Government, hold


them to account. APPLAUSE.


We are in the position of relying on the SNP to do the job of the


opposition. John McDonnell. It's shameful. You said he was a very


nasty piece of work. I think he is. You mange that, you need to justify


it if you have said that? There are colleagues of mine in the House of


Commons, Labour MPs, who are at the point of being terrorised by


McDonnell and his cronies. By who? They don't stand up to them. There


are women MPs who suffer day in and day out from misogynist unpleasant


sexist abuse on Twitter, Facebook, from people who apparently are


within their own party. There is a Jewish Labour MP, a woman, who is


living in a safe house because of the levels of anti-Semitism she has


to bear. It's a disgrace and it must stop and you, Sir, can stop it.


APPLAUSE. Alastair Campbell, do you... Sorry,


let me respond. Do you recognise that picture... I will let you.


You've not allowed me to spook. Let me make this absolute clear and we


have made it clear time and time again - we will not tolerate abuse


within the Labour Party, we've condemned it time and time again.


APPLAUSE. Every time there's been a level of


abuse that's been waged, Jeremy Corbyn's made it absolutely clear,


if we have identified the individual, they'll be out of this


party and suspended, simple as that. We are not accepting this smear


campaign that's going on from the Tories and others as well. We've


been working, over the last year, to unite the party, and we were winning


electorally and in the polls. Yes, a coup was launched by a small


minority who could not accept Jeremy's mandate. What we... We are


a small minority who could not accept the mandate. Jeremy was


elected on the basis of 59.5% of our members. We are now going through a


democratic election. Once that election is over, whoever is the


leader, whoever is the leader, we will unite behind. And we have been


effective opposition in terms of defeating the Tories on Tax Credits,


PIP, cuts for disabled people and a range of other things. What were you


saying at the back there? Who was shouting out about MPs?


It was 80% of MPs who had no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn. That


isn't what a minority. Alastair Campbell, do you recognise anything


of what Anna Soubry said in Labour? I said earlier, I will not get


personal, I said earlier I think there is a level of nasty nurse in


the Labour Party at the moment that is upsetting for a lot of people. --


nasty nurse. It is not necessary and it is not nice. I think it is


because there are some elements of the old Har left to have frankly


always hated the Labour Party who now have a big voice within the


Labour Party. That is a fact and I think it will turn the public off


once they know that is going on. But I also want to say something about


what John said about how this has come about. Because these members of


the Shadow Cabinet who, I don't even see this as a coup. I see this as a


group of people who were trying to make something work and who decided


over time that this isn't working and it's not going to work. And I


look at what this government is doing. I look at something like


Brexit. OK, there has been a referendum. I was, as was Anna


Soubry, on the losing side, but I know and I still feel this is


potentially a disaster for the country, and I see no opposition. I


don't see the opposition with a strategy. We have a strategy. I


don't see it. And when John talks about, we have two Unite, yes, we


have to unite, but we have to be clear what we are uniting around.


What is interesting in the leadership debate is that there has


been virtually no difference on policy. The most common expression


used by Owen Smith is, I agree with Jeremy. So the issue is not around


policy. We have turned those arguments around. We are an


anti-austerities party, we have red lines in terms of the Brexit


campaign which is unanimously agreed, and we are campaigning. We


are distracted by a leadership election that should never have been


brought about. APPLAUSE


Joanna Cherry. The question was, is the SNP the only credible opposition


because Labour is tearing itself apart? I think you have the answer


to your question. We have seen Labour tearing itself apart on the


panel this evening. I don't care whether John is a Marxist or a


socialist, I don't care whether people are nasty to each other or


not. We are grown up and can cope with acrimony. What I care about is


whether or not the Labour Party is forming an effective opposition to


this Conservative government and it is patenting the clear they are not.


They are simply incapable of doing it. -- it is patenting the clear.


Earlier this summer, when we had the result of the European referendum


campaign the government were missing in action, but so were the official


opposition. The only person who had any sort of plan or strategy was the


SNP leader, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon. You don't


have too agree with us but I think you can agree that she had a plan


and the strategy and she is carrying it through. Three months later we


still do not know what Theresa May's plan is. She says Brexit means


Brexit but has no idea what Brexit means. The official opposition


should be harrying government over that, cross examining them, holding


them to account for the shambles and lack of policy they have. Instead,


they are fighting amongst themselves like a bunch of student politicians.


Jeremy Corbyn doesn't even raised the issue of... If you would let me


speak, because you had a long time to speak earlier. Jeremy Corbyn


seems incapable of asking the Prime Minister about Brexit, the biggest


crisis facing the country at the moment. He does not want to bring it


up, I suspect, because he does not really believe in the European


Union. It is left to the leader of the SNP at Westminster, Angus


Robertson, to interrogate Theresa May repeatedly about what Brexit


means. Does it mean we will stay in the single market, will you need a


Visa to go on holiday to Spain or France? Does it mean that pas


sporting for financial services will be taken away, damaging the City of


London and the financial sector in the city of Edinburgh, which I


represent. She is not able to answer these questions but it is not Labour


are asking those questions, it is my party. I want to pick up on what


John said... I want to come to Quentin Letts. As you can see, it is


interesting in Parliament at the moment and to be a sketch writer is


bliss. In the House of Commons, the SNP at ten a lot. They talk a heck


of a lot but they are fairly parochial and they are not listened


to much, I don't think. That is very harsh. The Commons is more nuanced


than that. There is opposition on the Tory benches. In public life,


opposition comes from different quarters. Not just in Parliament


but, there I say it, from the BBC's sometimes, from the establishment


blob. There is opposition to the government and look at its


difficulty with the grammar schools proposal. It would be wrong to say


the SNP is the only opposition. I have a bit of a soft spot for Jeremy


Corbyn on a personal level. But there is this paradox in Labour.


Corbyn seems to be quite honest in some way 's. He has a certain


lascivious glint in his eye that I quite like. With his Steptoe


haircut, I think here's an interesting, likeable figure. But at


the same time, there is this Momentum lot who are unpleasant with


their views on Israel and the way they have been treating some MPs. I


would give a warning to John. I went this week to see a tale of two


would give a warning to John. I went cities, and that shows the French


Revolution, a fascinating production. But road spear, a leader


of the Revolution, came unstuck and got killed by his revolutionaries.


Let that be a lesson to you, my friend. If you get into that extreme


revolutionary behaviour, you get the reign of terror, and that is what I


think is going to happen. The reign of terror. I see it in front of me.


Who shall we go to? The man in the pale blue shirt. I think it is


indicative of the state the Labour Party is in when it takes a Tory MP


to defend Labour MPs from abuse from within their own party, and it takes


the SNP to argue against the Tory MP. It is a scandal that you have a


party so divided against itself and six to represent ordinary people by


doing the work it does. You have the point that Quentin Letts made,


Jeremy Corbyn went to an event for Labour friends of Israel and did not


mention Israel or Jews once. He stuck to his steel.


The Labour Party is moving towards being an organisation of protest,


not an organisation with the ability to pursue power and policies through


Parliament. You only need to look at the 80%. If you cannot lead, you


can't win and you can't achieve anything. The first line of our


constitution is that we exist to be a force in Parliament. This is why


the MPs are so important, the PLP is so important, and they are being


sidelined. Does Tony Blair bear the principal blame, over Iraq and other


things in his own private behaviour subsequently? Do you think that the


Blair years, your years, that this is what follows because of what they


were? I certainly don't put everything at the door of Jeremy


Corbyn. That would be really unfair. They're right issues going back to


when we were in power, Iraq being the most obvious in terms of policy,


but also tuition fees which were difficult for a lot of people. We


lost support, but don't forget we did win an election after Iraq. The


second thing I would say is that I think what Tony Blair always tried


to do was to understand that most people are not living in the


political bubble that we live in. I think he always had an understanding


of that and I think there is a danger at the moment that we are


losing that. I think we focus far too much on that Tony- Gordon thing


was very damaging. I think that led to a training of talent. We did not


bring on talent in the way we should and could have done. -- it led to a


training of talent. I think a lot of people feel Hacked Off with


inequality and they are looking for something very, very different. My


point is that they should not be looking for something that


different. Take the personalities out of it, do the sort of politics


that we tried to give to the country. Wait a minute, John. It is


a disaster for the Labour Party. Nauseating. Because you are the


person, above all else, who created a political environment where no one


believe a word a politician said. APPLAUSE


You lost 5 million votes in that process and set us up to fail. The


reason Jeremy was elected was because they wanted some honesty


back in politics again. Look, John, I have come on here tonight to be as


nice to you as I possibly can. The feeling is mutual. I will tell you


why, because I care about the Labour Party. I really care about the


Labour Party and I worry that you and yours are destroying it. And


what's more, I actually worry that you don't even care. You took us to


the edge and we are trying to restore honesty and confidence in


politics that you destroyed. It is just unbelievable. It is


unbelievable that we win three general elections, do things like


the minimum wage, and all he wants to do... Which we supported. And you


took us to Iraq. I understand why newspapers like the Daily Mail wants


to trash Tony Blair, because we won elections and they are a right wing


paper. I understand why the Tories want to trash new Labour, because we


beat them three times. But when the Labour Party is doing it, it is


utterly ridiculous and it is part of, I am afraid, the revolutionary


posh boy madness that has taken this party over. Rubbish. Unbelievable.


You don't deserve to win. You took us to this crisis. The problem is


with politicians going at each other like they are five-year-olds in


school, frankly. Then we have this stigma around politics and young


people my age will not go and vote because they see these politicians


and are not inspired by them and do not believe in them, because they


are going at each other. They have nothing to say apart from tiny


little Dix, like Facebook videos of Theresa May, who can make the


biggest dig at each other. I am personally inspired by Jeremy Corbyn


because he is honest. Because he goes into Parliament in a suit which


did not cost hundreds or thousands, and he did not claim that money. He


did not claim that taxpayers money and he just tells the truth. And I


think he is truly inspiring. And for you to have a dig at him... I am not


having a dig at him. I actually think Jeremy, I agree with Quentin,


I think he has a lot of qualities. What I find extraordinary, and what


you are seeing tonight, I think Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Party is


not necessarily the problem. I desperately want the Labour Party to


win a general election. The problem is that there are elements within


the Labour Party who actually don't, because they want the Labour


Party... That is not true. That is just not true. Can I just say


something? In the first part of the programme we debated Grammar schools


and I think we had a good debate. Nobody was personal, nobody was try


to make a cheap political point and it was a genuine debate. So forgive


me, I think you are wrong when you say politicians do not have rigorous


debate. Secondly, the idea that my colleagues where thousands of pounds


worth of suits, I don't know where you got that from. Doesn't Jeremy


have the smallest expenses? I think you are missing the main point. You


started this whole debate and you went at John. You started it.


APPLAUSE. I will vote for that man because


this man I blame, not Jeremy Corbyn. That is abuse I don't tolerate. What


is interesting now is that we've got the largest political party in the


whole of Europe and it's as a result of who, large numbers of young


people coming into politics. That's good. Inspired. That was translating


into electoral successes until this happened three months ago. We will


come back together, we will unite because we agree on the policies,


whoever is the leader will unite behind with discipline and we'll


start winning elections. APPLAUSE.


Alastair Campbell, one thing, why do you seem to have it in for John


McDonnell but not Jeremy Corbyn? I don't. While I was sitting here,


trying to do my best to be constructive about how the Labour


Party might go forward... Oh, come on... He suddenly goes on about


losing five million votes and how we are the problem. I don't have it in


for him at all. Can I just say one thing. Ordinary member...


85 out of 89 polls prior to the so-called coup, we were behind. In


the other four, we were neck and neck, so he's just not telling the


truth about this. I think viewers can decide for themselves who's got


it in for whom as a result of watching this. But I want to go on


to another question. I'll take a point from you madam in the middle?


Jeremy Corbyn is a very nice chap, but honestly Mr McDonnell do you


really think he can lead the party... Yes, he can he's a new type


of leader, the sort of leader that we now need, someone who's


completely honest as was said, no spin, no triang layings, has been


able to unite the party on the policies because there is no


difference on policies and I think he's the type of leader that people


will respect. We have had enough of these big leaders.


APPLAUSE. Go on, then? One point from you, in


the grade suit? Alastair Campbell's hit the nail on the head, the point


is, he designed New Labour, they got elected, all right it was a


disaster, but they got elected. Excuse me! So you win three times.


This is your opposition. You want us to elect a disastrous... I'm old


enough to remember the dark ages of the Labour Party in the early 80s


which the young people don't remember. That's where we are going.


As for the SNP being a credible opposition, let us remind ourselves,


they've got 56 seats with 1.4 million votes and a system that I


allows that is something that needs to be changed.


APPLAUSE. We need to move on.


I'd like to come back on that. What do you want to come back on? The


gentleman's point in the audience. Which point? The point that's just


been made. What about the SNP? The SNP Government in Scotland has the


highest popular mandate of any Government in Western Europe. This


lot with their in-fighting, their dividedness, are never going to


achieve anything like that. You are a product of the system, nothing


more. Sue Allenby, please, come to the rescue! Why can't we leave the


European Union now? Why can't we leave the European Union now? We


voted for it, we should leave. Quentin Letts? I would just say we


have all got to go and have supper afterwards so it will be very


interesting, the people with the inform-fighting, the public have


spoken. The people voted to come out. That was in June. We haven't


even had anything from Whitehall so... 17.5 million people voted for


Brexit, I think 13.5 voted for Tony Blair in 97 so that gives you the


scale of the vote, it's a big mandate there and the people are


impatient. I think that they're right to be impatient. I don't think


it can happen immediately because you want to try to negotiate some


sort of trade relationship with the EU. It might happen, it might not,


we might come out of the single markets, we might stay in it under


certain terms, I don't know, but it's right to give the politicians a


bit of a chance to come up with a deal. But I have no doubt that the


article 50 is going to be buttoned some time next year and I think we


are going to be sailing out of the EU and hallelujah, I'm very glad


about that. People get cross with Theresa May for not telling us every


moment what is going on. I think that is a little unrealistic. I


think if you are going to be a good poker or perhaps a good bridge


player in Salisbury, I think APPLAUSE.


Was that terribly prejudice? ! I think the message is going to get


into Brussels' head despite the resistance there, that the British


people are very clear on the issue of freedom of movement and I don't


think that that will be accepted by our politicians. Lastly, the


attitude in Brussels at the moment there's lots of rumpy-pumpy going on


and that will be more realistic. Now who is being parochial? ! Sue


Allenby, what is your concern about this, you say the vote happened in


June? Voted in June, no information's filtered out. There


are 17.5 million people wondering what is going to happen and why it


can't happen sooner than later and we hear from Theresa May that it may


not happen for a long time. But nobody knows why exactly. And do you


think there may be some backtracking going on, deliberately? Who knows.


Or do you think they are trying to work things out? What about you?


Brexit is like something out of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, it


means whatever people want it to mean, it's just a word and for some


it means staying in Europe having trade agreements, for some it means


copping out and there are various flavours in-between. Until that's


decided, we are stuck with this vagueness which will carry on and I


suspect we'll never leave and I hope we don't. We should stay in.


APPLAUSE. Joanna Cherry?


You were applauding him, do you agree that we should never leave?


The electorate I represent voted to stay in. Every local authority


region in Scotland voted to remain so my duty as an SNP MP is to try to


get the best possible deal for Scotland, recognising Scotland voted


to remain. To answer the lady's question, the reason we can't leave


the European Union now is because the leave campaign sold you a pup.


It's not easy to leave the European Union. In order to start the process


of leaving the European Union, we have to trigger article 50. Before


we do that, we have to have some sort of a plan. The Government has


no plan, the leave campaign admitted the day after they won the vote that


they had no plan. Theresa May doesn't know what Brexit means. As I


said earlier, she can't tell you whether it involves staying in the


single market, keeping passporting for our vital financial sectors in


London and whether it will mean that we'll all have to pay to go abroad


on our holidays, she's not able to answer those questions. She says


Brexit means Brexit doesn't she. Quentin tried to lead you up the


garden path by being rude, making you think that Brexit is easy, they


are telling you a pack of lies. APPLAUSE.


Don't just take it from me. Look at the case of Greenland. Greenland has


a population the size of Croydon. No disrespect to Greenland because the


fishing industry is very important in my country as well. The only


important industry in Greenland is fishing, a population the size of


Croydon, it took Greenland three years to leave the European Union.


It took us nine years to negotiate the current trade deal we are


negotiating with Canada and it's still not been finalised. Nicola


Sturgeon said in a speech yesterday that in evidence to a committee for


the Scottish Parliament that this Brexit vote could lead to a decade


of uncertainty. Your Government is not being honest with you. They are


not able to tell you what Brexit means and they don't have a plan.


These people in Brussels that Quentin so deprecates, they have all


their negotiators in place, they are organised and ready to go, they want


Britain at the negotiating table, Britain can't come to the


negotiating table because Theresa May doesn't have a plan, the leave


campaign don't have a plan and you were sold a puck by the campaign.


APPLAUSE. Joanna, are you therefore concluding


it's not going to happen? Very brief because you have had a long say,


just yes or no? I think it's going to be difficult. I'm a democrat and


respect the fact that the people of England and Wales voted to leave the


European Union. Yes or no is it going to happen? I can't answer that


question. Anna Soubry? Is it going to happen? The thing is, we have


said, or I've said for example that obviously I accept the vote and the


people have spoken and, during the whole of the campaign when people


like ourselves and Alastair and Joanna, they were trying to persuade


people to vote to stay in the European Union. We made it clear


that if we voted to come out, that is what we'd get, that we'd leave.


Joanna, I agree with what she says when she says that the trouble is,


this is fiendishly appallingly complicated. It is not as simple as


just walking away from it, even invoking article 50, you've got to


lay the ground work. There are other problems as well. We have elections


in Germany and elections in France and indeed in other countries in the


EU. That also will play a huge part because obviously Merkel will be


wanting to sort out matters in her own country. Frankly, the idea that


we are going to be top of her wish list is just the stuff of the


fairies. So it is going to take time, it's going to take effort and


what I do believe we now need is, I don't believe we want the running


commentary, as Theresa May's rightly said. But I do think we need a plan.


Most importantly, those people that led the leave campaign who sit in


some of the highest offices now of Government, people like Boris


Johnson, people who persuaded the people across the United Kingdom to


vote to leave the EU, they must be held to account.


They must deliver. APPLAUSE.


All right. What about holding to account the people who said remain


on the grounds that if we voted to leave there'll be a DIY recession


which there doesn't seem to be? We haven't left yet. They said the


economy would collapse. They said it as soon as the vote happened. We


didn't say that actually. Alastair Campbell? We haven't had an


emergency budget? David you are right on that and that shouldn't


have been said but please, I'm delighted when we have... But you...


This is important, we haven't left but we have had good figures but we


must not kid ourselves that, as we move into an increasing period of


uncertainty, we are apparently going to trigger article 50 early next


year, then I fear that we'll enter periods of great economic concern. A


couple of minutes. Alastair Campbell and John McDonnell? It's so


complicated this. What was awful about that dismal dreadful


campaign... Which one was that? Vote leave on Thursday and by Friday


we'll have ?50 million going to the National Health Service, it's


dismal. It was a lie. You've now got to go through interlocking


negotiations covering how do we leave, our Free Trade Agreement with


the rest of Europe, interim cover while that's going on, how we enter


the WTO, the World Trade Organisation as the UK not the EU,


54 3 free trade arrangements that we have to make with individual


countries where now we have them with Europe and an arrangement on


foreign defence and arrangement policy. Canada's got 300 full-time


trade negotiators. David Davis stood up in the House of Commons the other


day and said proudly, we are going to have 180 civil servants working


on this. It's pathetic, there wasn't a plan A and that's why there isn't


a Plan B and they are making it up as they go along.


OK. Only 30 seconds left now. John McDonnell, what about Owen Smith's


idea that Labour could reapply to join the EU in the election, is that


on the cards? No, we have had a referendum. As much as I regret it,


we have to respect the decision and we have to very quickly now create a


new relationship with Europe. We need to get on with that. The point


that's been made is, we might not have had the recession hit us


immediately but investment decisions are being made now which will start


hitting us next year, right the way across the economy. That uncertainty


is impacting the economy already and it will hit us even harder so we've


got to get into the negotiations fast, make sure we secure access to


the market, we protect EU citizens here and UK citizens in Europe as


well. We have got to try and get the financial services passport as well


and we need to protect the employment and environmental


regulations. That's the red lines that Labour have set out. Actually,


we are meeting on a regular basis now and the socialist and Democratic


Parties across Europe to try to get the best deal we possibly can. We


have to respect a decision but we've got to get new certainty that a new


Europe that I think will take some of the benefits of the EI and


overcome some of the perceived disbenefits of the EU that motivated


people to leave. One last word from the woman there? Part of the EU is


considered being European because Switzerland, they are not part of


the EU, they have a thriving economy, but you would call them


European, so I don't understand why MPs and members of the public are


saying, oh, because we are going to leave the EU, we are no longer going


to be European if we are going to cut ties. Are you happy about the


way things are going yourself? I mean, being a 16-year-old when the


vote happened I could haven't my voice heard. Now you have it heard?


Now I am, yes, but it was quite frustrating. We wanted you to have


your voice heard. We voted for you to have your vote. We must stop. But


do you feel happen pay with the way things are going -- happy? I'm


probably one of the few youngsters that would have voted leave. You


should be on the panel! APPLAUSE.


I don't know whether there's an age limit for the panel, I don't think


there is. The country voted for Brexit and I'm


the only Brexiteer. It's the end of the programme, I'm


afraid. We are in Sutton Coldfield next week. The week after that, we


are in Boston in Lincolnshire. There is the address on the screen. You


can call us or go on the website. My thanks to this panel here and all of


you who came to Salisbury to take part in this edition of Question


Time. Until next Thursday, from all of us here, good night.


David Dimbleby presents topical debate from Salisbury. The panellists are Conservative former minister Anna Soubry MP, Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell MP, the SNP's justice spokesperson in the Commons Joanna Cherry MP, the Daily Mail's Quentin Letts and Tony Blair's former director of communications Alastair Campbell.

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