09/02/2014 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


Andrew Neil and Mark Carruthers with the latest political news on the floods, plus an interview with shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna.

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morning, folks, welcome to the Sunday Politics. Rising flood water,


a battered coastline, the winter storms forced the Government to take


control. Is it hanging the Environment Agency out to dry?


Embarrassment for the Government is the Immigration Minister resigns


after he discovered he was employing a cleaner with no right to work here


for seven years. Ed Miliband promised an end to what he called


the machine politics of union fixes in the Labour Party,


And coming up here. We report from Sinn Fein's ard fheis in Wexford and


speak to party President, Gerry Adams. I'll also be talking to the


Shadow Secretary of State, Ivan Lewis. Join me in half an hour.


In London after two days of disruption in the capital the Mayor


Boris Johnson will be talking to ask about strife on the Underground. All


of that and after a week of very public coalition spats can David


Cameron and Nick Clegg keep the coalition show on the road? Two


senior party figures will go head to head. And with me, Helen Lewis, Nick


Watt and Iain Martin who would not know they Somerset Levels from their


Norfolk Broads, but that will not stop them tweeting their thoughts.


We start with the strange Case of the Immigration Minister, his


cleaner and some lost documents. Yesterday Mark Harper tendered his


resignation, telling the media he had discovered the cleaner who


worked for him for seven years did not have the right to work in the


UK. The Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said he had done the


honourable thing. I was sad to see him go, he was a strong minister.


Had he been a member of the public he would not have done anything


wrong, but he set himself a very high standard and he felt that


standard and honourably stood down. This would seem like a good


resignation, maybe unlike the Baroness Scotland one years ago on a


similar issue, but have we been told the full story? We wait to see that.


Labour have picked up saying he is an honourable man, that the reason


why he resigned is these very owners checks that landlords and employers


will have to perform on employees over their documentation. The most


interesting line is that, we do not require them to be experts or spot


anything other than an obvious forgery. The suggestion that there


is the document he was presented with originality, which he lost, was


on home office paper and was perhaps not entirely accurate. That is the


embarrassment. He is the minister putting through a bill that will


demand tougher checks on people and he himself did not do enough checks


to discover she was illegal. There is an odd bit where he involves the


home office later to check her out as well. He writes a resignation


letter and he has to hold himself to pay higher standard. He has done the


David Laws approach to this, resign quickly and he can come back. David


Cameron wants him to return swiftly to the frontbenchers. He is a state


school educated lad. He is the kind of Tory that the Tories are in short


supply of. He is a rising star. I would caution on this idea that it


is customary that whenever anyone resigns, it is always thought they


will come straight back into office. If only the outside world worked


like that. It is not, in a company if the HR person resigns, he is such


a great chap he will be back next week. There is a silver lining for


David Cameron is he has been able to move Harriet Bond up as he moves


everyone up. But nobody will see her in the whips office because she is


not allowed to appear on television. And if you three want to resign? Do


not hate you are coming back next week. But we will do it with honour.


It has been a hellish week for residents of coastal areas with more


storms bringing more flooding and after Prince Charles visited the


Somerset Levels on Tuesday the Government has been keen to show it


has got a grip on the situation at last.


For last weekend's Sunday Politics I made the watery journey to the


village of Muchelney, cut off for a whole month. Now everyone has been


dropping in. First it was Prince Charles on a park bench pulled by a


tractor. He waded into the row about how the floods have been handled.


Next it was the chair of the Environment Agency, Lord Smith, who


faced angry residents. Sought the river is out. That is precisely what


we are going to do. Where he faced, a resident, he did not need that


many. David Cameron went for a look as well and gave the region what it


wanted, more pumps, more money and in the long-term the return of


dredging. There are lessons to learn. The pause in bridging that


took place from the late 1990s was wrong and we need to get dredging


again. When the water levels come down and it is safe to dredge, we


will dredging to make sure these rivers and stitches can carry a


better capacity. The Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has not been


seen again because he is recovering from emergency eye surgery. In the


meantime the floodwaters rose ever higher. Some residents were told to


evacuate. In Devon the railway was washed away by the waves leaving a


big gap in the network. Look at the weather this weekend. If you can


believe it, the storms keep rolling in. What is the long-term solution


for flood prone areas of the country? I am joined from Oxford by


the editor of The Ecologist magazine, Oliver Tickell, and by


local MP Tessa Munt. Tessa, let me come to you first. What do you now


want the Government to do? I want it to make sure it does exactly as it


promises and delivers what every farmer and landowner around here


knows should have been done for years. First, to solve the problems


we have right now, but to make sure there is money in the bank for us to


carry on doing the maintenance that is necessary. Was it a mistake not


to do the dredging? When the waters start to subside does dredging


become a key part of this? Yes, of course. It is something the farmers


have been asking for four years. When you wander along a footpath by


a river and you see trees growing and there is 60% of the capacity


only because there is silt, it needs to have a pretty dramatic action


right now and then we need to make sure the maintenance is ongoing.


Oliver Tickell, was it a mistake to stop the dredging? If the dredging


had happened, the land would not be covered in water for so long?


Clearly it is necessary to do at least some dredging on these rivers


and in particular because these rivers are well above ground level.


They are carrying water that comes down off the hills well above the


level of the flood plain on the Somerset Levels. They naturally tend


to silt up. But the key thing is that is only a small part of the


overall solution. What we need is a catchment wide approach to improve


infiltration upstream and you also need to manage the flood plain on


the levels and upstream so as to have active flood plain that can


store water. This idea it is just about dredging is erroneous.


Dredging is a part of it, but it is a catchment wide solution. Dredging


is only a small part of the solution he says. Yes, of course it is. But


look here. With the farmer is locally, the landowners, they know


this land will carry water for a few weeks of the year, that is not a


problem. But this water has to be taken away and there is a very good


system of drainage and it works perfectly well. In my area there are


serious problems because the dredging has not taken place. There


are lunatic regulations around were when they do do some of dredging,


the Environment Agency is asked to take it away because it is


considered toxic waste. This is barmy. We need to take the stuff out


of the rivers and build the banks up so we create protection in the


future. We have to make sure the dredging is done but make sure the


drainage works well and we have pumps in places and we have


floodgates put onto the rivers. We need to make sure repairs are done


more quickly. All right, let me go back to Oliver Tickell. Is it not


the case a lot of people on your side of the argument would like to


see lands like the Somerset Levels return to natural habitat? Looe I


would like a degree of that, but that does not mean the whole place


needs to turn into wilderness so it will remain agricultural landscape.


Everybody, all the interested parties who signed up to a document


called vision 2034 the Somerset Levels envisages most of the area of


the Somerset Levels being turned over to extensive grassland and that


is what it is best suited for. Let me put that to Tessa Munt. Have you


signed up to this where you will end up with extensive grassland? I have


seen it, but grass does not grow if water is sitting on this land for


weeks and weeks. What you have to remember is a lot of the levels are


managed very carefully and they are conservation land and that means


cattle are allowed to go out at certain times of the year and in


certain numbers. It is well managed. Do you accept it should return to


grassland? Grassland, fine, but you cannot call land grassland in the


flipping water is on it so long that nothing grows. It is no good at


doing that. You have got to make sure it is managed properly.


Drainage has been taking place on this land for centuries. It is the


case the system is there, but it needs to be maintained properly and


we have to have fewer ridiculous regulations that stop action. Last


year the flooding minister agreed dredging should take place and


everything stopped. Now we have got the promise from the Prime Minister


and I thank Prince Charles for that. Is it not time to let the local


people run their land rather than being told what to do by the


Environment Agency, central Government and the European Union?


The internal drainage boards have considerable power in all of this.


They wanted to dredge and they were not allowed to. The farmers want to


dredge that is what is going to happen, but they have signed up to a


comprehensive vision of catchment management and of environmental


improvement turning the Somerset Levels into a world-class haven for


wildlife. It is not much good if your house is underwater. The


farmers themselves, the RSPB, the drainage boards, they have all


signed up to this. The real question now is how do we implement that


vision? You give the money to the drainage boards. At the moment they


pay 27% of their money and have been doing so for years and years and


this is farmers' money and it has been going to the drainage boards


and they pay the Environment Agency who are meant to be dredging and


that has not happened. We have to leave it there. We have run out of


time. Last week saw the Labour Party


adopts an historic change with its relationship with the unions.


Changes to the rules that propelled Ed Miliband to the top. Ed Miliband


was elected Labour leader in 2010 by the electoral college system which


gives unions, party members and MPs one third of votes each. This would


be changed into a simpler one member, one vote system. A union


member would have to become an affiliated member of the party. They


would have to opt in and pay ?3 a year. But the unions would have 50%


of the vote at the conference and around one third of the seats on the


National executive committee. The proposals are a financial gamble as


well. It is estimated the party could face a drop in funding of up


to ?5 million a year when the changes are fully implemented in


five years. The leader of the Unite trade union has welcomed the report


saying it is music to his ears. The package will be voted on at a


special one of conference in March. And the Shadow Business Secretary


Chuka Umunna joins me now for the Sunday Interview. Welcome back. In


what way will the unions have less power and influence in the Labour


Party? This is about ensuring individual trade union members have


a direct relationship with the Labour Party. At the moment the


monies that come to us are decided at a top level, the general


secretaries determine this, whether the individual members want us to be


in receipt of those monies or not so we are going to change that so that


affiliation fees follow the consent of individual members. Secondly, we


want to make sure the individual trade union members, people who


teach our children, power via -- fantastic British businesses, we


want them to make an active choice, and we are also recognising that in


this day and age not everybody wants to become a member of a political


party. We haven't got much time. The unions still have 50% of the vote at


Labour conferences, there will be the single most important vote, more


member -- union members will vote than nonunion members, their power


has not diminished at all, has it? In relation to the other parts of


the group of people who will be voting in a future leadership


contest, we are seeking to move towards more of a one member, one


vote process. At the moment we have the absurd situation where I, as a


member of Parliament, my vote will count for 1000. MPs are losing...


They still have a lot of power. I am a member of the GMB union and the


Unite union, also a member of the Fabians as well so I get free votes


on top of my vote as a member of Parliament. We are moving to a


system where I will have one vote and that is an important part of


this. You asked how many people would be casting their votes. The


old system, up to 2.8 million ballot papers were sent out with prepaid


envelopes for people to return their papers were sent out with prepaid


turnout. The idea that you are going to see a big change... Even if


your individual party members. In one vital way, your purse strings,


your individual party members. In the unions will be more powerful


than ever because at the moment they have to hand over 8 million to


than ever because at the moment they fraction of that now. They will get


to keep that money, but then come the election you go to them and give


them a lot of money -- and they will have you then. They won't have us,


as you put it! The idea that individual trade union members don't


have their own view, their own voice, and just do what their


general secretaries do is absurd. They will make their own decision,


and we want them to make that and not have their leadership decide


that for them. Let me go to the money. The Labour Party manifesto


will be reflecting the interests of Britain, and the idea that somehow


people can say we are not going to give you this money unless you do


this or that, we will give you a policy agenda which is appropriate


for the British people, regardless of what implications that may have


financially. They will have more seats than anybody else in the NEC


and they will hold the purse strings. They will be the


determining factor. They won't be. Unite is advocating a 70% rate of


income tax, there is no way we will have that in our manifesto. Unite is


advocating taking back contracts and no compensation basis, we would not


-- there is no way we would do that. How many chief executives of the


FTSE 100 are backing Labour? We have lots of chief executives backing


Labour. I don't know the exact number. Ed Miliband has just placed


an important business person in the House of Lords, the former chief


executive of the ITV, Bill Grimsey. How many? You can only name one?


Bill Grimsey, there is also John Mills. Anyone who is currently


chairman of the chief executive? With the greatest respect, you are


talking about less than half the percent of business leaders in our


country, we have almost 5 million businesses, not all FTSE 100


businesses, not all listed, and we are trying to get people from across


the country of all different shapes and sizes. Let's widen it to the


FTSE 250. That is 250 out of 5 million companies. The largest ones,


they make the profits and provide the jobs. Two thirds of private


sector jobs in this country come from small and medium-sized


businesses, and small and medium-sized businesses are an


important part of a large companies supply chains. So you cannot name a


single chairman from the FTSE 250, correct? I don't know all the


chairman. Are you going to fight the next election without a single boss


of a FTSE 250 company? I have named some important business people, but


the most important thing is that we are not coming out with a manifesto


for particular interests, but for broader interest. Let me show you,


Digby Jones says Labour's policy is, "if it creates wealth, let's kick


it" . Another quote, that it borders on predatory taxation. They think


you are anti-business. I don't agree with them. One of the interesting


things about Sir Stuart's comments on the predatory taxation and I


think he was referring to the 50p rate of tax is that he made some


comments arguing against the reduction of the top rate of tax


from 50p. He is saying something different now. Digby of course has


his own opinions, he has never been a member of the Labour Party. Let me


come onto this business of the top rate of tax, do you accept or don't


you that there is a point when higher rates of income tax become


counter-productive? Ultimately you want to have the lowest tax rates


possible. Do you accept there is a certain level you actually get less


money? I think ultimately there is a level beyond you could go which


would be counter-productive, for example the 75% rate of tax I


mentioned earlier, being advocated by Unite in France. Most French


higher earners will pay less tax than under your plans. I beg your


pardon, with the 50p? Under your proposals, people here will pay more


tax than French higher earners. If you are asking if in terms of the


level, you asked the question and I answered it, do I think if you reach


a level beyond which the tax burden becomes counter-productive, can I


give you a number what that would be, I cannot but let me explain -


the reason we have sought to increase its two 50p is that we can


get in revenue to reduce the deficit. In an ideal world you


wouldn't need a 50p rate of tax which is why during our time in


office we didn't have one, because we didn't have those issues. Sure,


though you cannot tell me how much the 50p will raise. In the three


years of operation we think it raised ?10 billion. You think. That


was based on extrapolation from the British library. It is at least


possible I would suggest, for the sake of argument, that when you


promise to take over half people's income, which is what you will do if


you get your way, the richest 1% currently account for 70 5% of all


tax revenues. -- 75%. Is it not a danger that if you take more out of


them, they will just go? I don't think so, we are talking about the


top 1% here. If you look at the directors of sub 5 million turnover


companies, the average managing director of that gets around


?87,000. Let me narrow it down to something else. Let's take the 0.1%


of top taxpayers, down to fewer than 30,000 people. They account for over


14% of all of the income tax revenues. Only 29,000 people. If


they go because you are going to take over half their income, you


have lost a huge chunk of your tax base. They could easily go, at


tipping point they could go. What we are advocating here is not


controversial. Those with the broadest shoulders, it is not


unreasonable to ask them to share the heavier burden. Can you name one


other major economy that subscribes to this? Across Europe, for example


in Sweden they have higher tax rates than us. Can you name one major


economy? I couldn't pluck one out of the air, I can see where you are


coming from, I don't agree with it. I think most people subscribe to the


fact that those with wider shoulders should carry the heavy a burden. We


have run out of time but thank you for being here.


Over the past week it seems that Nick Clegg has activated a new Lib


Dem strategy - 'Get Gove'. After a very public spat over who should


head up the schools inspection service Ofsted, Lib Dem sources have


continued to needle away at the Education Secretary. And other


senior Lib Dems have also taken aim at their coalition partners. Here's


Giles Dilnot. It's unlikely the polite welcome of these school


children to Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and his party colleague


schools minister David Laws would be so forthcoming right now from the


man in charge of schools Conservative Michael Gove. Mr Laws


is said to have been furious with The Education secretary over the


decision to remove Sally Morgan as chair of Ofsted. But those who know


the inner working of the Lib Dems say that's just understandable. When


you have the department not being consulted, it would be possible for


him to not publicly comment. The remarkable thing would be if he


hadn't said anything at all. We should be careful to understand this


is not always part of a preplanned decision. There is a growing sense


that inside Number Ten this is a concerted Lib Dem strategy, we also


understand there is no love lost between Nick Clegg and Michael Gove


to say the least, and a growing frustration that if the Lib Dems


think such so-called yellow and blue attacks can help them with the


election, they can also damage the long-term prospects of the Coalition


post 2015. One spat does not a divorce make but perhaps even more


significant has been Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander's


recent newspaper interview firmly spiking any room for George Osborne


to manoeuvre on lowering the highest income tax rate to 40p. All this


builds on the inclusion in Government at the reshuffle of


people like Norman Baker at the Home Office and Simon Hughes at Justice


people who are happier to publically express doubt on Conservative


policy, unlike say Jeremy Browne who was removed and who has made plain


his views on Coalition. It is difficult for us to demonstrate that


we are more socialist than an Ed Miliband Labour led party. Even if


we did wish to demonstrate it, doing it in coalition with the


Conservatives would be harder still. Nonetheless a differentiation


strategy was always likely as 2015 approached, so is there evidence it


works? Or of the work we publish shows the Lib Dems have a huge


problem in terms of their distinctiveness, so attacking their


coalition partners or the Labour Party is helpful in showing what


they are against, but there are bigger problem is showing what they


are for. And one Conservative MP with access to Number Ten as part of


the PM's policy board says yellow on blue attacks are misplaced and


irresponsible. At this stage when all the hard work is being done and


the country is back on its feet, the Lib Dems are choosing the time to


step away from the coalition. That is your position, but do you suspect


coming up to the next election we will see more of this? I think the


Lib Dems are about as hard to pin down as a weasel in Vaseline. And


with the public's view of politicians right now, and wants to


be seen as slicker than a well oiled weasel? And we have Lib Dem peer


Matthew Oakeshott and senior Conservative backbencher Bernard


Jenkin. Matthew, the Lib Dems are now picking fights with the Tories


on a range of issues, some of them trivial. Is this a Pirelli used to


Lib Dem withdrawal from the coalition? I do not know, I am not


privy to Nick Clegg's in strategy. Some of us have been independent for


some time. I resigned over treatment of the banks. That is now being


sorted out. But what is significant is we have seen a string of attacks,


almost an enemy within strategy. When you have Nick Clegg, David Laws


and Danny Alexander, the three key people closest to the Conservatives,


when you see all of them attacking, and this morning Nick Clegg has had


a go at the Conservatives over drug policy. There is a string of


policies where something is going on. It is difficult to do an enemy


within strategy. I believe as many Lib Dems do that we should withdraw


from the coalition six months to one year before the election so we can


put our positive policies across rather than having this tricky


strategy of trying to do it from within. Why does David Cameron need


the Lib Dems? He probably does not. The country generally favoured the


coalition to start with. Voters like to see politicians are working


together and far more of that goes on in Westminster then we see. Most


of my committee reports are unanimous reports from all parties.


Why does he need them? I do not think he does. You would be happy to


see the Lib Dems go? I would always be happy to see a single minority


Government because it would be easier for legislation. The


legislation you could not get through would not get through


whether we were in coalition or not. The 40p tax rate, there


probably is not a majority in the House of Commons at the moment,


despite what Nick Clegg originally said. It does not make much


difference. What makes a difference from the perspective of the


committee I chair is historically we have had single party Government


that have collective responsibility and clarity. The reason that is


important is because nothing gets done if everybody is at sixes and


sevens in the Government. Everything stops, there is paralysis as the row


goes on. Civil servants do not know who they are working for. If it


carries on getting fractures, there is a bigger argument to get out. If


it continues at this level of intensity of the enemy within


strategy as you have described it, can the coalition survived another


16 months of this? It is also a question should they. I never


thought I would say this, I agree with Bernard. Interestingly earlier


Chuka Umunna missed the point talking about business support.


Business is worried about this anti-European rhetoric and that is a


deep split between the Liberal Democrats and the UKIP wing of the


Tory party. That is really damaging and that is something we need to


make our own case separately on. Do you get fed up when you hear


constant Lib Dem attacks on you? What makes me fed up is my own party


cannot respond in kind because we are in coalition. I would love to


have this much more open debate. I would like to see my own party


leader, for example as he did in the House of Commons, it was the Liberal


Democrats who blocked the referendum on the house of lords and if we want


to get this bill through it should be a Government bill. We know we can


get it through the Commons, but we need to get the Liberals out of the


Government so they stop blocking the Government putting forward a


referendum bill. And put millions of jobs at risk? I am not going down


the European road today. It strikes me that given that the attacks from


the Lib Dems are now coming from the left attacking the Tories, is this a


representative of the failure of Nick Clegg's strategy to rebuild a


centrist Liberal party and he now accepts the only way he can save as


many seats as he can do is to get the disillusioned left Lib Dem


voters to come back to the fold? The site is we have lost over half our


vote at the last election and at the moment there is no sign in the polls


of it coming back and we are getting very close to the next election. I


welcome it if Nick Clegg is starting to address that problem, but talking


about the centre is not the answer. Most Liberal Democrat voters at the


last election are radical, progressive people who want to see a


much fairer Britain and a much less divided society and we must make


sure we maximise our vote from there. We know what both of you


want, but what do you think will happen? Do you think this coalition


will survive all the way to the election or will it break up


beforehand? I think it will break up beforehand. Our long-term economic


plan is working. The further changes in policies we want to implement to


sustain that plan are being held back by the Liberal Democrats. When


will they break up? It has lasted longer than I thought it would, but


it must break up at least six months before the election. Do you think it


will survive or not? The coalition has delivered a great deal in many


ways, but it is running out of steam. It depends what happens in


the May elections. If the Liberal Democrats do not do better than we


have done in the last three, there will be very strong pressure from


the inside. You both agree. Television history has been made.


You are watching the Sunday Politics. Coming up: I will be


looking Hello and welcome to Sunday Politics


in Northern Ireland. A magnificent opera house, a cast of hundreds and


plenty of standing ovations. No, it wasn't the last night at the Proms,


it was the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis. He's led the party for more than 30 years


and despite a difficult year for Gerry Adams, there's no doubting his


popularity as Sinn Fein's leader. But is it time to think about who


will succeed him? There is no contest for the party leadership at


the moment. It is entirely hypothetical. When it comes to the


time when the party has to choose another party President, they will


do so and what they will have is what they did not have in my day is


a range of people. Plus, he's the Labour spokesman on Northern Ireland


and he's not happy with the Tory approach to sorting our local


difficulties. Ivan Lewis will join us live from Dublin. And joining me


to share their thoughts on all of that are the author and commentator


Susan McKay and the BBC's former Ireland correspondent, Denis


Murray... With elections on both sides of the border just months


away, Sinn Fein's annual conference was well-timed to rally the party


faithful. But despite the upbeat mood in the conference hall, the


problems facing the party in Northern Ireland were never far


away. Martin McGuinness called on those he described as "sensible


people within Unionism" to use their influence to secure a deal on flags,


parades and the past. Our Dublin Correspondent, Shane Harrison,


reports from the ard fheis in Wexford... Welcome to Wexford and


the sunny south-east, but not very often this weekend. The rain was so


persistent at one stage that there was concern that the river might


flood, so pardon the unintended pun, but at the ard fheis, Sinn Fein was


hoping to persuade floating voters in advance of the elections in May I


have is of the elections. There was an orange alert for the weather.


Orange alert was another theme throughout the conference


proceedings. The ard fheis took place in the Wexford Opera house and


delegates heard the Deputy First Minister criticised the Unionist


parties for their failure to reach an agreement with nationalists on


the Haass proposals. He said the Unionist parties were dancing to the


Orange Order's tune. The current difficulties are real and they are


not insurmountable. My commitment and the commitment of Sinn Fein to


the process and to the institutions is absolute. The ard fheis heard


Martin McGuiness say that the issues could not be drawn out until after


the May elections, while Gerry Adams offered to meet the Orange Order to


discuss their concerns. Delegates were optimistic that there would be


an agreement with the DUP. We can all agree it would be better if the


Executive were working in a coordinated fashion in terms of


addressing the issues they are failing to address at the moment.


The DUP need to realise that communities are moving on without


them. They are moving ahead of the Executive in terms of delivering on


cross-border issues, communities working together and the DUP need to


catch up. Grassroots unionism understand that there is a situation


in government and that some point somebody will have to blink and I


think the DUP will have to realise from their own grassroots that the


ordinary people in the six counties want a government to do the work.


Gerry Adams has been President for over 30 years and a leading


republican for over four decades. In the last 12 months he has been


criticised in the media and by politicians, mainly in the Republic,


following a programme on the Disappeared and questions about


passing on information about his brother, a convicted child rapist.


The ard fheis rallied around him. A relentless campaign of vilification


against Gerry Adams in this State is a disgrace and it shoots stop


immediately. Of those who were not even born when Gerry Adams became


leader, want him to stay on. When Gerry Adams puts his name forward,


they will elect him President. Will you make him President for life? I


am not sure that the rules will allow for that, but I am certain


that each time it Gerry Adams contests for the position, we will


vote him in. The ard fheis ended without a song from the fat lady,


but with lots of applause for the tall, slim, bearded man. Shane


Harrison reporting from Wexford. Our Political Editor, Mark Devenport,


has been speaking to the Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams. He began by


asking him about Sinn Fein ruling out re-negotiation of the Haass


proposals when surely that's precisely what's going on at


Stormont? We should be doing our best as political leaders, who ever


we represent, to serve all of the people and the fact is these issues


are not going away. We have to deal with the past, we have to deal with


issues of identity and contentious parades and we will deal with them.


There is a process of change underway and sometimes it strikes me


that it is quite difficult to be a Unionist leader, because they come


from a history of no, never, no surrender and now they have to


embrace equality and embrace other qualities which are almost foreign


to the Unionist philosophy. All they can do is delay, but they cannot


stop a process of change, the political landscape, the 1-party


state has gone, the 2.5 parties state in this state has gone, so


changes happening. If there is not a dealer by the time of the elections,


have you got any other alternative? We will continue to make process and


engage with all sectors of society, I actually think that the Unionist


leaders are well behind were popular opinion, including popular Unionist


opinion, while they may reflect the elitist or committed political core


that we all work with, you but you have to see beyond that and Martin


McGuiness said quite wisely to Michael Nesbit, if you have got 90%


of A.D. , then close the deal. We are uncomfortable with aspects of


this, we would argue that it could be strengthened in certain aspects,


but you cannot in this negotiation get it the way you want. This will


not be the Ulster, Don't, it is going to be a compromised --


covenant. The British Government needs to make it clear, the Irish


government has said it wants to see this implemented, the British


Government needs to do the same. Do you think it David Cameron was wise


to big that speech calling for people in England, Wales and


Northern Ireland to make their voices known in relation to Scottish


independence? That is his business. We decided to stay out of the debate


on Scotland because that is a matter for the people of Scotland. The


affairs of this island are matter for the people here. He is the


British Prime Minister, he will say whatever he says. I made a point to


one of your colleagues, and I will make a broader point, the use to be


a British Empire, now we are it. That is what it has been reduced to,


almost from ruling the globe, they are now reduced to this,


thankfully. There used to be a certainty for those who would


support the union that it would be there for ever, the North was


described as being as British as Finchley, but that has gone. People


need to wake up, it has gone. The union is now conditional, one of the


big achievements of the Good Friday Agreement is that it is a matter for


the people to decide and we want to urge that debate here, whatever the


people of Scotland do, that is a matter for them, but the debate


here, we want to encourage that. You said that the UK is hanging by a


thread, if Irish republicans were two to -- to take some encouragement


from Scotland, is the reverse true, if there is a no vote, it may have a


negative impact on your campaign for border poll. No, there is an


integrity to the awful negative impact of British Government rule on


our island. I say that with respect to people from the Unionist


tradition who have a sense of Britishness, or whatever, about


their right to that and their identity, no one can argue that


British Government involvement in our affairs on partition or the


development of sectarianism or all of the divisions, we talk about the


last 30 years of conflict, which thankfully is behind us, but think


back over the centuries. It has never been good for us. Those people


within unionism who are sitting back now and saying, will we have another


summer like last year? Will we have idiots running around the city


centre with union flags around them, besmirching their own flag and


breaking the law and inflicting sectarian pressure upon small


communities or can we not just be like people everywhere, that we


welcome this summer, or we can all relax and have a good time? Martin


McGuiness made clear that he has no intention of putting himself forward


to succeed you as party President, will the next leader be based in the


Dail rather than an MLA? That is up to the party. When I first stood as


party President, I did so reluctantly. At that time, I did say


that I thought that the party President should come from the


south. We have such a range of talented people. Do you still think


the party President should come from the South? Yes, but I am mindful


that there is no contest for the party leadership at the moment. It


is entirely hypothetical. When it comes to the time when the party has


to choose another party President, they will do so and what they will


have, it which they did not have in my day, is a range of people, both


men and women from Donegal to Wexford, across the country, of


bright intelligent, smart and very energetic people and what we all


share, all the different ages that we have, we still share and idealism


and have an energy and commitment. Thank you. Gerry Adams talking to


Mark Devenport in Wexford. Joining me now are the BBC's former Ireland


Correspondent, Denis Murray, and the commentator Susan McKay... You're


both welcome. Sinn Fein made the point repeatedly over the weekend


that it is an all island party, but this was a speech for two quite


different electorates. It was almost like two speeches and the vast bulk


of it was for the audience in the Irish Republic. I covered in ard


fheis for years and the bulk of the speech was always about the


struggle, about the North, about that question. Now, it is almost


despite Gerry Adams's insistence on an all island party, it is almost


like you do not have to talk about Northern Ireland, it is resolved.


The Republic is where Sinn Fein can increase the vote. There was that


line in the speech, offering to reach out to the Orange Order and


meet the leadership to discuss identity, but over and above that,


there was not a huge amount about unionism. There are other quite


significant things. A lying about the Orange tradition, been an


important part of our history. He is making the right noises, but when he


says about idiots in his speech. The people who are doing that, you may


see them as that, but that passion goes very deep with them. Is it


about setting out his stall for further growth in the Republic? Sinn


Fein is on the rise in the Republic and they will do better and better


for the meantime, but they underestimate the resilience of


Fianna Fail. They have the biggest appeal of those least likely to


vote. They are popular with young men, working-class young men, they


are unpopular with women and middle-class voters. They are going


to have to work on that constituency and obviously Mary Lou McDonald


would make a huge difference if she was leader. Is that looking more


likely? Gerry Adams is terribly damaged. He has looked damaged.


Because he is there among the faithful, but certainly he is


damaged. If he talks about a toxic culture in relation to issues like


child abuse, it will not wash because the party has been shown to


have a toxic culture itself in that regard. He does need to go for the


party to have a wider appeal. He is hopeless on economic issues in the


Republic. Mary Lou McDonald has performed strongly on that. It must


be said that the party did back the disastrous Fianna Fail bank


guarantee which underlies so much of the economic crisis in the Republic.


Thank you both for now. The Shadow Secretary of State, Ivan Lewis, is


meeting the Tanaiste, Eamonn Gilmore, in Dublin today. On a


recent trip to Belfast, Mr Lewis warned that three years of


consecutive elections could lead to a period of 'timidity or political


paralysis' in Northern Ireland. Reacting to the failure of the Haass


talks to break the deadlock over parades, flags and the past, he said


that 'standing still' over the challenges that remain would 'mean


going backwards'. Ivan Lewis joins me now from Dublin... Thank you for


joining us. You are due to meet Eamon Gilmore later today, you were


at the ard fheis over the weekend. You have been critical of the


Tories's handling of politics here, what would you do differently if you


were in charge? Flags parades and the past are issues which are


outstanding issues connected with the peace process. If you looked at


the evolution of the peace process, every stage of that process, the UK


and Irish governments have been heavily engaged, directly meeting


the parties, trying to help find common ground. The parties must


maintain leadership but that lack of engagement we have seen,


particularly from the UK Government has come home to roost with the


failure to reach agreement in relation to Haass. Theresa Villiers


disputes that, she says she is engaged and waiting to step in if


requested to do so. Eamon Gilmore made a similar point. I have been in


this job for five months and every Northern Irish politician I have met


has talked about, clearly, the sense of the Secretary of State who is


disengaged. When have we seen David Cameron make any comments about the


Haass talks? In the end, of course it is right that we must allow


devolution to work, we must encourage Northern Ireland parties


to take responsibility, but the issues we are focused on our


directly, issues connected with the peace process and if you look at the


past, the UK Government is massively central to dealing with the past in


Northern Ireland, as is the Irish government. If you look at any


outcome from Haass, there will be financial implications, in terms of


any new infrastructure required to deal with the past, there will be


legislative issues, in terms of devolving -- getting rid of the


Parades Commission. The British and Irish government have direct


involvement. Are you saying that you would have called all of the parties


around the table and you would be chairing further Haass


negotiations? That sounds very paternalistic that we would be


calling in the parties, we would have been having over a long period


of time intensive discussions. They would have been private and


discreet. We would be trying to identify the common ground. Last


week, the Secretary of State did an interview where she said there would


be some resources potentially available to make any agreement on


the past work. Prior to that, she said there would be no resources.


Subsequently she said she had been misquoted and would still be no


resources. There is even a lack of clarity. The Prime Minister has been


absent entirely from the discussions. What is perhaps not


helpful to moving forward is to have an end to the bipartisan approach,


to have a shadow Secretary of State sniping at the Secretary of State


who says she is doing her best? It is not me who arrived in Northern


Ireland and talked about the disengagement of the UK Government,


it is all the political parties who feel the same. If they all feel the


same, they are either involved in a conspiracy or telling the truth. Of


course on questions of security and many other issues, not welfare and


jobs and growth, but on security, we will maintain our bipartisan


approach. Can I ask you about the Ballymurphy families who have had


their demand for an independent panel backed by the Taoiseach in


Dublin? The families are waiting for a meeting with David Cameron, where


do you stand on that demand? I shall certainly be meeting them for the


first time next week in Belfast. There are questions to answer, I


will certainly meet with them and engage with them and clarifying our


position on the nature of any enquiry, but of course, David


Cameron should meet with the families. Ivan Lewis, thank you.


Now, let's pause for a look back at the week in politics in sixty


seconds, with Gareth Gordon... Could the row over a new chief constable


calls political fallout? If you do not get your way, is this a


resignation matter? I think you are straying beyond the remit. Should


Protestants learn the Irish language? I believe it is part of a


republican agenda. Eventually they will try and make it the same as


English. In a free country, people are entitled to learn whatever


language they wish and to practice whatever language they wish. Has the


GAA done enough to calm fears over the new Casement Park? There are


things we could have done better. I take responsible a day for that.


Does the Education Minister O one of his critics an apology? Because I


would not write to him, because I wrote to the permanent Secretary,


that he should punish me. There are many injustices throughout the world


and meeting him on the latter is not one of them. Gareth Gordon


reporting. Denis Murray and Susan McKay are still with me... Picking


up there, what is the perspective from Dublin on this spat between the


Secretary of State and Ivan Lewis about how much the British


Government and Irish government should or should not be involved in


the political dialogue regarding Haass at the moment? The Irish


government is nervous about dealing with criticising unionism and since


that unionism is clearly responsible for the failure of the Haass talks


to be agreed at this point, that is difficult for them. Eamon Gilmore


has indicated that he will support trying to get the proposals


implemented, but in a timid way. I think it will be seen as welcome


that the shadow Secretary of State is saying things, pointing out the


dithering that Theresa Villiers has done. She has been a week Secretary


of State. Your thoughts, Dennis? The way the talks ended was not


pleasant. Richard Haass meant his deadline. Tony Blair kept moving the


deadline back. Those talks were about ending the conflict, these


talks are about trying to deal with the post-conflict situation and the


problems. I do not see how you revive those in any meaningful way


until after the elections and then you're into the marching season. It


remains a challenge. Thank you for joining us. That's it for


Londoners who otherwise may not have a voice. Both of you, thank you so


much. Andrew, it is back to you. Can David Cameron get a grip on the


floods? Can UKIP push the Conservatives into third place in


the Wythenshawe by-election on Thursday? Is the speaker in the


House of Commons in danger of overheating? All questions over the


weekend. Let's look at the politics of the flooding. Let me show you a


clip from Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, earlier on


the BBC this morning. We perhaps relied too much on the Environment


Agency's advice. I apologise. I apologise unreservedly and I am


really sorry we took the advice of what we thought we were doing was


the best. The Environment Agency is being hung out to dry by the


Government and the Government has taken over the running of the


environmental mess in the Somerset Levels. It is turning into a serious


crisis by the Government and even more so for the people who are


dealing with the flooding. There is no doubt that what has been revealed


is it is not just about what the Government did or did not do six


months ago. What is being exposed is an entire culture within the


Environment Agency, fuelled often by European directives about dredging


and all manner of other things, a culture grew up in which plants were


put ahead of people if you like. All of that is collapsing in very


difficult circumstances by the Government and it is difficult for


them to manage. Chris Smith would save the Environment Agency is


acting under a law set by this Government and previous governments


and the first priority is the protection of life, second property


and third agricultural land and he is saying we are working within that


framework. It is an edifying spectacle, they are setting up Lord


Smith to be the fall guy. His term of office comes at the end of the


summer and they will find something new. But the point Lord Smith is


making is that dredging is important and it was a mistake not to dredge,


but it is a bigger picture than that. I am no expert, but you need a


whole skill solution that is looking not just bad dredging, but at the


whole catchment area looking at the production of maize. It is harvested


in autumn and then the water runs off the topsoil. You see the


pictures of the flooding, it is all topsoil flooding through those


towns. What you have got to have in the uplands is some land that can


absorb that water and there are really big questions about the way


we carry out farming. Chris Smith was meant to appear on the Andrew


Marr show this morning, but pulled back at the last minute. There must


be doubts as to whether he can survive to the summer. Where is the


chief executive of the Environment Agency? I agree with Nick that Chris


Smith has been setup in this situation. David Cameron went to the


Somerset Levels on Friday for about half an hour, in and out, with no


angry people shouting at him. You to a farm. It is agreed he has had good


crisis. But we are seen as being a London media class who does not


understand the countryside. You can imagine David Cameron in a pair of


wellies. If this was happening in Guildford, it would not have dragged


on for so long. Looe it is interesting how they are saying the


Environment Agency has put words in front of everything else. The


great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria thinks people should be


sacked at the whim. He is talking about how the Environment Agency


spent ?31 million on a bird sanctuary. It turns out the bird


sanctuary was an attempt to put up a flood defence system for a village


which has worked. That village has been saved. They compensated some


farmers for the farmland they were not going to be able to farm and put


a flood defence system further back to protect this village and then


they built a bird sanctuary. It was not ?31 million to create a bird


sanctuary, it was to save a village and it worked. But in 2008 the


Environment Agency was talking about dynamiting every pumping agency.


There was a metropolitan mindset on the part of that agency. If it does


what Owen Paterson, who is now off in an eye operation, suggested a


plan to fix this, they will find a lot of what they want or need to do


will be in contravention of European directives. The Wythenshawe


by-election. There is no question Labour is going to win, probably


incredibly convincingly, one poll showing 60% plus of the vote. It


would be surprising if Labour was in any threat up there. The issue is,


does UKIP beat the Tories and if so, by how much? The latest poll was


showing it in second place as nip and tuck, but the feeling I have is


UKIP will do better. And they have got a great local candidate. The


Tories have not parachuted somebody in and they have got a local man in


and that will help them. We have all been waiting to see if the Tories


lose their head, but they might go chicken earlier than that. Will UKIP


come second? It looks like that. A poll this week showed that Labour is


way ahead and UKIP possibly second. But it is an important by-election


for UKIP. If they do well in the European elections, they should


still be on a roll. They did really well in by-elections last year. If


they do not do well, is it because they are not on payroll? Or in


Manchester they have a fantastic leader of the council? Will UKIP


come a good second? I think they will and if they do not, it might


suggest Nigel Farage is losing its slightly. One thing to look out for


is how little Labour are attacking UKIP. Their election strategy relies


a lot on UKIP taking Tory votes. But it could also take Labour votes.


Particularly in the north and we shall see. The results will be out


on Thursday night. The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bird: ,


his interventions have become more frequent and something was strange.


Have a look. I am grateful to the honourable gentleman. Order, the


Government Chief Whip has absolutely no business whatsoever shouting from


a sedentary position. Order, the honourable gentleman will remain in


the chamber. If we could tackle this problem. I say to the honourable


member for Bridgwater, be quiet, if you cannot be quiet, get out, it is


rude, stupid and pompous and it needs to stop. Michael Gove. Order.


You really... Order. You are a very over excitable individual. You need


to write out 1000 times, I will behave myself at Prime Minister 's


questions. He was talking to the Education Secretary and it is not


1000 lines, it is 100 lines, at least it was in my day. Is he


beginning to make a fool of himself? There was only one over excitable


person there and that was the speaker and he is losing the


confidence of the Conservative MPs, but he never had that in the first


place. But he is an incredibly reforming speaker. He has this


strange idea that Parliament should hold the Government to account. It


will never catch on. It means very frequently there are urgent


questions. The other day he called a backbench amendment on the


deportation of foreign criminals. He could have found a way not to call


that. He is a real reformer and the executive do not like that. That is


true and he has allowed Parliament to flourish which has given us room


to breathe at a time of a coalition Government when Parliament has more


power. That is all that Government when Parliament has more


power. That is all that enough to overcome these increasingly mannered


and some of them may be preplanned interventions? The last one was last


week, and last week the speaker had a rather stressful week with the


tabloids. Something is clearly up. I think it is a real shame. I think


many of us when he was elected did not think he would make a great


speaker and there are people like Douglas Carswell and Tory rebels who


have said he is a fantastic speaker. He has given the Commons room to


breathe and he has called on ministers to be held to account when


they do not want to be. What do you think? He is seen as anti-government


and he is pro-backbencher and that is what people do not like. People


like Douglas Carswell are actually very strongly in support of him. We


carry the interventions every week on Prime Minister 's questions and


we see them every week and they are getting a bit more eccentric. If I


was having to keep that under control, I would be driven slowly


mad. But his job is easier than mine. But if you look at his


deputy, Eleanor Laing, she is very robust, but she is calm. Chap who


does the budget is excellent. We are on throughout the week at midday on


BBC Two. We will be back next Sunday at 11. If it is Sunday, it is the


Sunday Politics.


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