Andrew Neil and Mark Carruthers with the latest political news, interviews and debate. Andrew is joined by Nicola Sturgeon, John Mann, Seema Malhotra and David Davis.
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Morning, folks, and welcome to the Sunday Politics.
begins a new drive urging Scots to support what she calls
"the beautiful dream" of independence.
Tough talk from George Osborne ahead of his Budget on Wednesday.
The Chancellor wants us to live within our means.
Fighting talk too, from the man in his shadow.
John McDonnell wants to revive Labour's economic credibility.
And does Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party have a problem
Labour students at Oxford are already being investigated
And coming up in Northern Ireland: university will also face scrutiny.
Colum Eastwood as his home city hosts the SDLP conference.
The party leader will be live on the programme.
And with me three Fleet Street journos, living the dream.
Nick Watt, Julia Harley-Brewer and Tim Shipman.
For the rest of us, it is a bit of a nightmare!
So, four months ago, George Osborne sounded upbeat
Writing in the Sun on Sunday, ahead of Wednesday's Budget,
the Chancellor says the world is facing its most uncertain period
He says Britain has to act now, rather than pay later,
Let's listen to the Chancellor on the Marr Show a little earlier.
I think the world is a much more difficult and dangerous place.
My message in this Budget is that the world is a more
uncertain place than at any time since the financial crisis.
We need to act now so we don't pay later.
That is why we need to find additional savings,
equivalent to 50p in every ?100 the Government spends by the end
We have got to live within our means to stay secure.
That is the way we make Britain fit for the future.
That was the Chancellor earlier this morning. What did we learn? He is
preparing the ground for a very difficult budget. Why is he talking
about the difficult global economic circumstances? We have a significant
slowdown in China but it helps him in the EU referendum campaign. Why
risk leaving the EU when it is difficult economic circumstances? It
helps him with a budget. You need to expend why he was talking in the
July budget, the Autumn Statement, targeting a 10 billion budget
surplus by 2020 and now he will be talking back calories and ?18
billion hole in the size of the economy. Will he be able to meet
that surplus? He needs an alibi for that. All the global headwinds,
problems in the emerging markets, the slowdown in China, the
problems in the emerging markets, struggling to be overwhelmed. We
knew that back in July. struggling to be overwhelmed. We
changed. The struggling to be overwhelmed. We
Osborne is he is a politician. It is always about politics. It is not
ideal, coming into local elections, London mayoral
ideal, coming into local elections, giving a load of cuts to public
services and possibly tax rises. giving a load of cuts to public
reality is he is always looking at the long game and he does always
reality is he is always looking at play a brilliant politicians long
game. He is looking to 2020 and play a brilliant politicians long
not care. He also plays a bad shot game. Will it be a difficult budget
or will it be a steady issues budget? What is striking about back
in this morning, at least half of it budget? What is striking about back
was about the European Union and not the budget. The rest of it was about
was about the European Union and not been a difficult and dangerous time
for George Osborne and his teacher. He sat there and said, I am
for George Osborne and his teacher. going to sit in this chair and
mumble away. Who could he be talking about there? We were told week ago
that the subtext of the budget would be the dangers of Brexit and the
Tory leadership. It is not the subtext, it is the text. There is
hardly anything in it in terms of subtext, it is the text. There is
we just have another shout out subtext, it is the text. There is
the brilliant headline, genius political strategist clears up mess
made by genius political strategist. He may be nursing a little rabbit to
surprise as always! Now, if a certain referendum had
gone a bit differently, Scotland, would be an independent
country in just over ten days' time. Those wanting to leave the UK didn't
win that argument in 2014 but that It's the party's Spring Conference
in Glasgow this weekend, and we're joined now
from there by the First Minister Good morning. A pleasure to be with
you, Andrew. Had the referendum gone your way, we would be ten days from
independents. You will be taking a massive and unsustainable ?15
billion budget deficit, 10% of Scottish GDP. What would you be
doing to get that down? We would deal with it in the same way the UK
dealt with its deficit in 2009/ when they had 2.2% of the GDP. -- 2009/
2010. They will be building on the underlying fundamental strengths of
the Scottish economy. Our this goal position has been broadly similar to
the rest of the UK and, in some years, better than the rest of the
UK. Onshore revenues are growing at a faster rate than the fall in
offshore revenues. We have higher employment and faster productivity
growth. The economy is fundamentally strong and that would have been a
very good basis on which to become an independent country. Did you not
oppose most efforts of the British government to get the deficit down?
I opposed many measures that George Osborne has taken. I do not say we
should not try to get the deficit down. I have opposed and continue to
oppose the speed at which it is happening in the way in which it is
happening but no one would deny that countries want to get their fiscal
positions into a more stable condition and the UK is in right
now. The point I'm making is the Scottish economy is fundamentally
strong economy. Much of what I have said illustrates that point. Let's
look at some of the things you have said. You have said most countries
have deficits. Can you name another at Fat economy 80s after the
financial crash that has a budget deficit of 10% of GDP. You do not
look at just one year full if I go back to that -- two 2008, 2009, it
was double that of Scotland. Our this goal position has been stronger
but is not right now because of the particular issues. Is it not the
case that Scotland's deficit now is the highest in the European Union?
That is true, isn't it? In the year we had figures published in this
past week, we have a very difficult and challenging set of figures. It
is the highest. No country, whether the UK, Scotland or another EU
country, makes judgments about that this good strength of that country
on the strength of one year's goes. The point I am making is over the
past ten years, our fiscal position has been broadly similar to the UK
and coming summer beiges, has been significantly better. If you project
forward to the next five years, the future is much more important than
the past, onshore revenues are likely to Bath the outstrip the
decline in offshore revenues. -- basked in the outstrip. The North
Sea contains difficulties for those working in the North Sea and
economies on the North East of Scotland. The economy of Scotland is
fundamentally strong. Let's look at more than one year. You have said it
is a snapshot. Without oil revenues, and there are no oil revenues now,
without the revenues, Scotland has run a persistent budget deficit of
over 10% every year for 13 years. You have a systemic deficit problem.
Why should you not look at oil revenues? Oil revenues are there and
have been contributing to the Treasury to the tune of ?300
billion. They are not there now. Without them you have run a
persistent budget deficit and have done for 13 years. I accept it is
the future that matters more than the past. If you look at the
projections for the next five years, our onshore revenues, remember more
than 90% of the Scottish economy comes from onshore and not offshore.
If you look five years ahead, onshore revenues are projected to
grow in the region of ?14 billion. That is many times before in
offshore revenues in that period. I am not denying the challenge of
North Sea and other countries. Norway is facing exactly the same
challenge. Because they are better prepared for it and have Stuart did
oil resources better, Norway, in the last couple of weeks true down on
its massive oil fund. The powers that independence would have given
as and we did not vote yes, we have had -- we would have had ability to
draw down on that faster. Why are onshore revenues growing less
strongly in Scotland than the rest of the UK? That is a long-standing
issue. One issue at the heart of that is growth in the heart of
London. We are seeing a narrowing in some of the long-standing gap there
has been between aspects of the Scottish economy and the UK economy.
If we take productivity, for a long time Scotland lags significantly
behind the rest of the UK. Over the past years we have close that gap is
it that can leave. We still lag behind our European competitors and
that is a problem. I am not standing here denying the challenges that the
Scottish economy has. In the same way you have been talking about the
Chancellor's budget and the same way the UK economy has challenges and
across the European Union, they have challenges. There are real strength
is in the Scottish economy. The real question should be how we build on
and accents are the big strengths. Revenues per person in Scotland
where ?10,700 in the years 2011, 20 12. They are now ?10,000, 700 ( even
with the growth in revenues. The offshore has offset that. We still
have a fundamental deficit problem. I am not denying we have a deficit.
The UK has a deficit. Take revenues per head of population, which is
what you decided to me there. In the most recent year, our revenues per
head of population are broadly similar to the UK. In every one of
the past 35 years, revenues per head of population have been higher than
the rest of the UK. I accept we have a challenge in the North Sea. I
accept that like all oil-producing countries, we have challenges about
how we transition away from oil and gas over the years to come, though
there is a great deal of attention in the North Sea. These are
challenges we should embrace and challenges we should be working out
how we face up to and address. Scotland is doing that and we'll do
that on the basis of fundamental strengths in our economy. -- will do
that. Scotland pays per capita about the same as the UK average. I am
talking about the current year. What I am saying is, you cannot judge the
economy in one year. It is similar in one year in 34 of the past 35
years and has been higher. That is the
years and has been higher. That is you are running a deficit, per
years and has been higher. That is capita spending is so much higher
years and has been higher. That is than in Scotland it is ?1400 higher
public spending per than in Scotland it is ?1400 higher
Westminster that is that build it is the difference between
Westminster that is that build it is and what you spend. -- fits that
bill. It is a deficit. The UK is in deficit in Scotland is in deficit.
It is twice as big! In deficit in Scotland is in deficit.
the UK deficit was twice as deficit in Scotland is in deficit.
year. In terms of the point about per capita spending, there are
year. In terms of the point about good reasons why someone who knows
Scotland good reasons why someone who knows
where one in five of the population lives in a row and remote
where one in five of the population I was Health Secretary for five
years. It cost more to deliver health services on an island or
rural community than it does in Glasgow. Westminster pays for that,
it makes up the difference. If you are independent you would either
it makes up the difference. If you have to raise taxes or cut spending.
What would it be? By how much would you raise taxes and cut spending? We
set a budget in you raise taxes and cut spending? We
every year. We make choices, sometimes these are tough choices.
every year. We make choices, would do that as well. The point I
independent Scotland would face challenges like other economies do.
independent Scotland would face We're in a fundamentally strong
position. Employment is higher than any other UK nation. Productivity is
growing faster. We have a number of key strengths in the economy. One of
the challenges is how we build on these strengths and get our economy
growing faster. We have a number of world leading sectors in our
economy. The fact is your deficit was ?15
billion, moving with oil revenues at 2 billion last year. This year oil
revenues are reckoned to be at zero so your budget deficit would get
even worse. Two cut your deficit to anything like acceptable levels you
would have to increase tax to 16% or cut spending by 14% or a combination
of the two, what would it be? We would deal with the deficit in the
same way the UK is dealing with the deficit and dealt in the deficit --
with the deficit in 2009/ ten. We would be in the same position as
many other countries but we would be in a position where we have got a
fundamentally strong economy. I wish Scotland have voted yes in 2014, if
it had done we would have spent the last almost two years preparing for
Scotland becoming independent. In a negotiation around independence,
there would have been discussions about assets, liability, the share
of defence spending, so that's what would have been the case if we voted
for independence. Looking ahead, we have a strong economy and the
challenge is how we grow it even faster. You accept surely that you
wouldn't be allowed to join the European Union with a 10% deficit,
you would have to agree to Brussels programme, correct? We are getting
into some ridiculous territory here and one of the most ridiculous
arguments. Scotland wouldn't have been out of the EU, we wouldn't have
been in the position of an accession state. It is a bit rich for anybody,
given where we are right now, with the prospect of being taken out of
the EU ahead of us, for scaremongering about the prospects
of that. With two weeks to go until independence, instead of increases
in public spending which you announced yesterday... They didn't
vote yes. But if it had been, you would have been looking at the list
of hospitals and schools to close, you would be the austerity party,
that's what you would have to do. That's ridiculous. Countries the
world over have deficits and deal with them. We would also have been
taking on the greater powers to grow our economy, particularly our own
short economy. Italy and Greece had 10% deficit and you know the
austerity they had to go through. I think this argument starts to tip
over into being incredible, we start to compare Scotland, with all of the
strength of the Scottish economy, to countries like Greece and Italy. I
have spoken about the fundamental strengths of our economy, not least
the fact we have had the longest period of economic growth since the
devolution. You have said all of that. Yes, we have challenges, but
Scotland has a strong economy. Then why do your revenues like you're
spending by ?2400 per person? -- lag your spending. We have a deficit
like many other countries... Nobody has a deficit like Scotland's. We
have a particular issue because of the fall in North Sea revenues. It
is an indictment of Westminster mismanagement that unlike Norway, we
don't have a massive oil fund to help deal with that. Westminster is
paying for your deficit, Westminster is paying for the difference for the
rest of the deficit, would you like to thank the rest of the people of
the United Kingdom for making up for the deficit you have got?
Westminster has a deficit of its own, it is ?1 trillion in debt. That
is not the deficit, that is the debt. That is why I said debt, I
understand the difference between deficit and debt, but it has
accumulated debt of ?1 trillion, it has an annual deficit just like
Scotland and many other countries do. It is actually 1.5 trillion,
even worse than you think. I was being kind to them, Andrew! You
should be kind because they are saving you quite a bit of money!
Does Labour have a problem dealing with allegations of anti-semitism?
The party is worried enough to have established an inquiry
into the Labour Club at Oxford University
where there are accusations that members used off-colour language
And the Sunday Politics has been told that the investigation
will look at new claims from another university.
It comes after an activist with controversial views was allowed
back into the party then promptly chucked out again last week.
Does Jeremy Corbyn's support for causes like the Palestinians
or Stop The War mean he's not tough enough when there are allegations
It's seen that way by some students at Oxford.
Last month the vice-chair of the Labour club there resigned,
claiming some members had a problem with Jews and used words like Zio,
a nickname for Jewish people that many find offensive.
It's now being investigated by the Labour peer Baroness Royle,
who is also looking at the wider issue of behaviour in
We understand she's now extended her investigation
to include students at the London School of Economics.
This week, they have been electing a new general secretary
One of the candidates, Rayhan Uddin, who's also
in the Labour group, has been criticised for some
Facebook posts that emerged during the campaign.
In one, he talked about leading Zionists wanting to take over
the student union to make it right wing and Zio again.
Facebook post: of language, writing in another
He has been referred to Labour's investigation
into student politics by someone who now works for an MP.
We've seen the letter they wrote, which said:
Because it was an older generation of activists that came up
at Prime Minister's Questions this week.
I was completely appalled to see yesterday that the Labour Party has
readmitted someone to their party who says, and I believe
that the 9/11 suicide bombers, and I quote, must never be condemned
and belongs to an organisation that says "we defend the Islamic State
He was referring to Gerry Downing, who had also blogged
about what he called the Jewish question,
after being readmitted to the party this week he was resuspended.
He reckons it's really a battle between different wings in Labour.
Well, Dan Jarvis and these people of course, obviously there's
the whole Blairite wing of the party and others, who have been absolutely
disgusted at the membership and the left-wing surge
in the membership and can't believe what happened.
And do you think they are using race and religion as a tool for that?
Whereas the Labour MP Wes Streeting says there is a problem
I think in certain parts of the British left,
there has always been a virulent form of pretty bigoted politics,
particularly in terms of anti-Semitism, which has been
an issue in some of our university campuses
There's also a mentality which I think has been epitomised
by the repulsive use of Mr Downing, which is not so much Stop The War
People who seem to hate their country more than they hate
And we have got to start sending a far stronger message that this
is simply not acceptable in the modern Labour Party.
Jeremy Corbyn's supporters, like those in the grass roots
campaign group Momentum, say none of this is fair on him.
Corbyn comes under the most incredible level of attacks and one
of the things that he's attacked for is his long-standing commitment
to anti-war, anti-imperialism, peace in the Middle East.
And I think that's where some of this comes from.
He does absolutely condemn anti-Semitism, he has time
There is not a shred of anti-Semitism in his personal
make-up, in his moral make-up or in his political make-up.
And as for Labour's investigation into anti-Semitism among students,
Let's speak now to the Labour MP, John Mann, who's chair
of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism.
Is there an anti-Semitism problem in Anti-Semitism Conference.
Is there an anti-Semitism problem in the Labour Party? Of course,
Is there an anti-Semitism problem in why these issues have got attention.
It is not a big problem, why these issues have got attention.
problem when it comes to racism needs to be dealt with. We have been
here before. I can recall 30 needs to be dealt with. We have been
ago when there were extremists trying to ban Jewish societies in
some of the universities, and we clamped down on them very hard then
and they weren't in the Labour Party but it is the same kind of people,
the same ideology. Some of that has crept into the Labour Party and it
needs to be removed. Why has it come back? People could write big
academic books on why it has re-surged but what we have seen in
history is that anti-Semitism never seems to go away. But why in the
Labour Party has come back? People have obviously chosen to dissociate
with the Labour Party in the growth of membership, some of those people
have attitudes that are very outdated and prejudiced. There is no
space for them in the Labour Party and the reason that is important is
because I am getting young Jewish activists posturing whether the
Labour Party is the place for them in terms of their support, their
vote and their activity, and we cannot tolerate a situation where
any part of society doesn't feel that a major political party like
the Labour Party is not the place for them, which is why prompt
effective action and vigilance on this is required, including from
Jeremy as the leader of the Labour Party. Is the Labour leader doing
enough? Or the fact he has talked about his friends, Hamas, Hezbollah,
and shared platforms with people who have been very hostile to Israel and
so on, is that a disadvantage? Is it encouraging anti-Semitism or is it
not relevant? I have met Jeremy recently to discuss anti-Semitism in
the Labour Party and it is clear to me that he does not tolerate or
support it but what he has to do is follow that free with actions and
ensure that others in the Labour Party follow it through with actions
because the kind of thing, the atmosphere that is being created in
Oxford University is not a one-off. This has been happening elsewhere as
well. While these can be seen as small incidents, if you are the
young Jewish person who is impacted by it, it is not small for you and
it is magnified in the universities, which are pretty tolerant places and
rightly so, if there is in tolerance to any particular group and to
Jewish students. We are not prepared to have that in the Labour Party,
there has got to be action, it has got to be led from the front and it
has got to be decisive action. There is no space for these people in the
Labour Party or is there space for people in any way excusing their
actions. But there is an inquiry into what has been going on at
Oxford, but is your party doing enough about this? Because I
understand these inquiries may be subsumed into a much bigger inquiry
into bullying and so on. What is your feeling? It is action by
results. If there is a decisive action, there will be an almighty
row which wouldn't be helpful but the idea that those of us who fought
over decades, challenging anti-Semitism and other forms of
racism, are going to accept other than the highest of standards in our
own party, well I can tell you it is going to happen. There are many of
us who will only accept absolutely the highest standards. We are not
prepared to tolerate any form of anti-Semitism or any excuse for it
in the Labour Party or anywhere else in society. But in our own party
absolutely not and therefore there has got to be action, words are not
good enough. Historically the Labour Party has done well from the Jewish
vote. The Jewish vote over time has tended to vote Labour. If this
anti-Semitism continues in your party, are you in danger of losing
the Jewish vote? We prepared a report ten years ago on a
cross-party basis that highlighted anti-Semitism in all of its aspects
including from the right but also what was described by some as the
new anti-Semitism on the left. It is not new but it had been dormant for
a long period of time. People have been accustomed to the Labour Party
and that part of the left being highly tolerant to everybody. That
has got to happen, you cannot have a progressive party of any substance
in politics if it allows any form of intolerance and therefore we are not
prepared to have second-class citizens, second-class form of
racism allowed in the Labour Party. Anti-Semitism has got to be
challenged, including anti-Semitism on the left, and so robustly and put
back in the dustbin again. That is my intention in the Labour Party. I
am looking forward to Jeremy and the National Executive being decisive,
removing the anti-Semites, going into where there is intolerance and
explaining what is anti-Semitism and why we are not prepared to have it
in our party. Thanks for joining us this morning.
Labour's Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell ran Jeremy Corbyn's
leadership campaign on a platform fighting not just austerity,
Now though, he wants to be the new voice of fiscal
responsibility, and says he's going to re-write
In a moment we'll be talking to John McDonnell's number two,
the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
But first let's hear what Mr McDonnell had to say
It is a wider ambition then just Labour's fiscal credibility.
I want to try to restore credibility to economic policy-making generally,
not just within the Labour Party but across politics too.
We have had too long, for example, the last six
years we have had fiscal rules which have not been met,
I am trying to encourage a better economic debate.
What I have said is quite clearly, when we go back into government,
we will eliminate the deficit, reduce debt, and will
ensure that is supervised independently by the Office
And Labour's Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Seema Malhotra,
Welcome to the Sunday Politics. You would balance current spending with
revenue and borrow to invest. How does that differ from Mr Brown and
Mr balls? You are right about there being two key parts to the new
fiscal credibility were all. In a sense, this builds on very much
where we have been before. It also responds to the criticisms that were
made of Jaws -- George Osborne's this school charter where he was
criticised for tying his own hands and not allowing for investment. --
fiscal charter. There are two key differences. It makes it more
explicit, that there should be independent voices. We have said we
want the OBR to be an independent voice around deficit reduction
targets, and also reporting directly to Parliament. The second area is
that we want to make sure there is the opportunity for investment and
also, if there are difficult times, like we had in 2009, when monetary
policy does not seem to be working, it gives an opportunity for fiscal
policy to work alongside. It builds on but has two key differences. Mr
Brown defended his rules as well when times got bad. It was described
as being austerity light. This must be as well? It has been developed
and the reason... It is not about austerity. It is a framework that
will allow us to make spending and tax decisions in the future. It
responds to the criticisms, the universal criticisms of George
Osborne's this dull charter. -- fiscal charter. It says we need to
invest for the future. I understand all that. Mr Brown and Mr Balls also
wanted to invest and that was criticised by the Shadow Chancellor
as austerity light. If that were austerity light, this is steroid to
-- night as well. We're in a situation where George Osborne is
blaming everyone but himself. -- this is austerity light as well.
George Osborne's Member of Parliament for the Tory Party has
said, what we have seen our warm words. He has talked about
investment and an export led strategy. This is built on debts,
household debt. How much is public investment? Around 30 billion, if
you take into account the difference in spending. It is 34 billion in
public spending at the moment. It should be much higher. How much more
should it be? It should be higher. There is no excuse for what George
Osborne has done. I am not asking about Mr Osborne. I am asking about
your policy. 34 billion at the moment, rising to 40 billion by 20
20. How much more would it be? It focuses on where it needs to be
regarding GDP. You need to have a good level of investment so you are
creating jobs for the future. What I am trying to work out is what this
means in hard cash for investment, how big would investment be under a
Labour government? It is clear that George Osborne has been cutting
investment. It was around 3%, 3.5%, and is now 1.4% in terms of
infrastructure. If you want jobs of the future coming through, if you
want to turn around the situation where young people... By how much
more would public investment increase under this formula? What we
have said is you need to make sure that we have a balance of where the
economy needs investment so we can get tax receipts and growth for the
future. We had economists saying that George Osborne, if you talk
about fairness in the future... I am here to talk about the labour policy
and not that of George Osborne. Nor has there been balanced growth. If
you want a balanced budget, you need to balance growth. Let's talk about
labour. John McDonnell has talked about the difference between
short-term and long-term investment. What is the difference? What we have
said as she want to see investment that will see us having a big stake
in the future. If you want to look at energy investment, you are
talking out about -- about 20, 30 years. It is about supporting
companies, entrepreneurs and supporting the long-term growth for
the country as well. If you're talking about rail, roads and
infrastructure, you will be aware, I am sure, of the reports that showed
recently we have fewer buses than 2010, our rolling stock and trains
are in poor condition, people are taking longer to get to work and the
trains are more crowded. That should be a wake-up call to George Osborne
he is not working in the interests of the British public and people are
asking if the decisions are based on political interest and not on the
country's future. You would balance current spending, day-to-day
spending. At the moment there is a deficit. What would you cut to
balance current spending? There are two things. The first is about
spending decisions and the second about tax receipts. We are arguing
that if you want to see tax receipts grow, George Osborne has seen them
for in regard to productivity growth. What would you cut? We would
want to see that growth increases in that you see an increase in tax
receipts. You cannot spend if it is not within your means. What would
you cut? You cannot spend if it is not within your means. What the
announcement from the Labour Party is about is how we earn our way in
the world and survived in a competitive economy. We will leave
it there. Thank you very much. It's just gone 11:35am,
you're watching the Sunday Politics. Hello and welcome to Sunday Politics
in Northern Ireland. Coming up in the programme:
Colum Eastwood gets a home town welcome, but can he face down
the challenge of Sinn Fein? We've got our voices back and we are
getting stronger by the day. The SDLP is back in the conversation.
And our guests of the day after a fascinating week of politics
are Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan from Ulster University
and Professor Pete Shirlow, Director of the Institute
of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool.
'This party has a new feel and a new spirit about it.
'We are a party full of new people and new ideas.' The words
of the SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood, as he addressed party activists
yesterday at their annual conference in Londonderry.
So is this the moment the party's climb-back to the glory days
We'll hear live from Mr Eastwood in a moment,
correspondent, Stephen Walker, was in Derry to look
at some of the key tests the new SDLP leader faces.
The timing of this conference and the location is no accident.
Political party gatherings generate publicity, and on this occasion this
meant live television coverage on a Saturday evening. Two months away
from these assembly elections, the SDLP hope this event will kick-start
their campaign, and give them an electoral boost. So, after four
months as leader, how should we assessed Colum Eastwood? The
difficulty is that the SDLP didn't get much of the bounce by getting
him as the leader, and they have improved, he is slightly more
popular as a leader, but he has been overshadowed by Arlene Foster, and
has a lot of work to do between now and the election if he wants to
actually cement the numbers that he have, to grow, to get more seats. In
May, he fights a fight in his own backyard. Martin McGuinness has been
brought in as one of three Sinn Fein candidates in foil. They obviously
think that bringing Martin McGuinness back to Derry is a great
strategic move. I would have the same most people in Derry will be
asking if that was the case then why he hasn't been representing the
place for the last 20 years customer why now? There might be a bitter
cynicism about that. So who will win this big political battle between
Sinn Fein and the SDLP? To some observers, the result in this
constituency inmate could end up defining Colum Eastwood's
leadership. This is ground zero for the SDLP. If he can see Martin
McGuinness off and Sinn Fein off here then he will have
McGuinness off and Sinn Fein off victory on May five, maybe if they
even lose other seats like in Belfast, the fact that Sinn Fein
will have put the best man they have forward, and column has held with
the seats, that will solidify his leadership over the next few years.
So how many seats will they win in May? I think it is foolish to
So how many seats will they win in their seat, and I know that the
electorate will give us a chance on the 5th of May and we will see a
number of us return. Are you worried your colleagues might use your
seats? -- lose your seats is too have always worked hard to get seats
in election. We have worked hard, and we hope that people will reward
us for our efforts? What can he achieve? If he can hold onto the
14th then he will be success. If he gains in Fermanagh, then so much the
better, but he stands a past brick of going down to 11 seats, and that
would cast a shadow over the future of the future. Last fight he won, it
was the biggest of his life. This time the stakes are higher,
Let's talk live now to Colum Eastwood from our Foyle studio.
Thank you very much for joining us on the programme. Not surprisingly,
you have a tub thumping on the programme. Not surprisingly,
the party faithful for your speech last night was that had you expend
that way your messages received less enthusiastically? I think have a big
job to do doodle to be enthusiastically? I think have a big
Yesterday was the start of that. The SDLP are setting out a new vision
for a new Ireland and I think it was very exciting Derry. Anyone around
Sun column's hall yesterday noticed the SDLP, noticed the buzz and the
new field of excitement that we have. We are ready for a fight, with
a huge new team of people, have. We are ready for a fight, with
talented people, I can win seats right across the north and I think
we will. We will begin to change our politics
we will. We will begin to change our because people are fed up of
we will. We will begin to change our years of unbroken DUP and Sinn Fein
control of the Executive with very little being delivered so I think
people want to see politics moving on to a
people want to see politics moving accountability. You aim is anybody
banshees in accountability. You aim is anybody
Fein last night. You are of course fishing in the same pool for
Fein last night. You are of course Only difference the FDA -- had you
differentiate the SDLP and Sinn Fein? Our passion is
differentiate the SDLP and Sinn Ireland work. -- making Northern
Ireland work. Makes more sense than Sinn Fein's record in government.
They have a poor record in charge. Nothing has happened in the
government for nine years without the Sinn Fein and DUP agreement.
They have cut university places, thousands of young people are
leaving our shores to find work. 37% of the people going to university
had away to Britain, and most never come back. That is the legacy of
this executive, that the executives's legacy of the DUP. And
Sinn Fein. We will invest in the economy, we invest in skills and
infrastructure because we can understand that you can't build an
economy based on one tax rate alone. With the greatest respect, your
fingertips are all over the legacy of the Northern Ireland legacy of
the last 20 years. Former leaders of your party have been finance
minister, social development Minister, environment Minister... If
you are found wanting in any of these clear areas, the SDLP is as
lovable as anyone else. The SDLP were in government when things got
done, but we did not pull down the Executive, it was other parties from
other sides. We have now had nine years of unbroken devolution that is
a good thing. I think anyone would however tell you that it hasn't been
a delivery. It has been stopped start politics stop it has been
about people making an argument about who should be First Minister.
They don't deliver for Northern Ireland. We have had one ministry,
and with that ministry we have done a lot of good things. We would like
to have more influence in this executive, and that is why we are
going to set out our stall and a manifesto very soon and one for
election. We have an election, and we are going into a programme for
government negotiation, and then we will see of the other parties are up
for making the real change at Northern Ireland needs. Did you
perhaps reveal your hands due to rate and extent in talking about the
conditions that need to be met for the SDLP to go into the Executive
based on signing up to the programme for government? You gave away your
entire hand last night. I don't think I did. In fact you will see
when we produce the manifesto in the coming week that we have a lot more.
To ask of this programme for government negotiation. The SDLP set
out very clearly last night that we want to see investment and
infrastructure and skills, and the economy turning round. We want to
stem the tide of emigration. We don't want to see our young people
leave and never come back. That is what we want to see in this proposal
for government. We have plenty more proposals. You named the specific
present last night, showed us the colour of your money. He made it
very clear that there was requirements for commitments to
distribute in jobs, economic infrastructure, fiscal powers...
What did you not tell us that we would have yet to hear? I think it
would make no sense for us to go into the next mandate and say we
weren't going to invest in infrastructure, University places,
we weren't going to try the economy around, because it is not good
enough that thousands of a young people use Billy Magaluf our shores.
You have said that the background is shrinking is a and you want to make
all these investments and critical and keeps you enter the executives,
where will that money come from? But you will have the disinvest
somewhere. We have large pot of money that we can use. What this
executive is doing is spending ?700 million, ?700 million that should be
used, ring fenced for investing in infrastructure but they are using
that to get rid of civil servants. That is not the proper use of our
money. It is happening, you can't stop it. Civil servants had been
made redundant, left the employment, you can't get the money back again.
The point is is that is one example about how the Executive don't think
strategically about what they can do. This will be a negotiation which
we look forward to, and the SDLP is running for government. We are
putting forward a manifesto which you will see in the coming weeks
that will be full of good strong plans for investing in the public
sector, and the economy, and I think we will see the colour of other
people's money at that point, whether they will be prepared to do
this. This is a departure for politics in Northern Ireland. I
don't think government so far has been good for politics. Let us talk
about social issues come up on one particular issue that SDLP looks
socially liberal a lot less than Sinn Fein. Let's take self Belfast,
Claire Hanna abstaining on the particular issue in there. Fearghal
McKinney dead toe the line. What does that say to a middle-class
nationalist motor in south Belfast, someone unsure about voting for Sinn
Fein, but is hearing a very mixed message from the SDLP? What
precisely does the SDLP stand for? Well, when you look at what we did
on that day, there was two amendments that were ill thought
out, that legal advice told us wouldn't work, that doctors told us
wouldn't be helpful to them. We decided we could not support those
amendments at that time. That was quite clear, and we also said that
we need to see guidelines to deal with the issue... Who got that right
on that day? Who, Fearghal McKinney or Claire Hanna? The SDLP's position
was clear. Claire Hanna was not wrong. There are many got it right?
The party position is, and I'm telling you it now, as the party
leader, the party position is that we could not support those
amendments because they did not make sense legally, didn't make sense
medically, and it would not have worked. So what is the voter to make
of that? You say that the party position is what Fearghal McKinney
adhered to as party leader, Claire Hanna did not, but you tell me she
was not wrong. You can't have your cake and eat it. You are
interviewing me and telling me my position with our position is clear.
Maybe you should tell Claire Hanna because she doesn't seem to know.
She does know. I have written to Martin McGuinness, Arlene Foster,
Simon Hamilton was I have asked them to bring forward guidelines to deal
with this issue and we are told they are coming. They have not come to
the Executive yet, I look forward to them, because I think this is a very
important issue, a sensitive issue and one that we need to handle
sensitively, and we need to make sure that the Irish do their job
properly was protecting life. -- Irish doctors. They may ask you how
do you hope to turn around the juggernaut of nationalist votes
moving from the SDLP to Sinn Fein under your leadership? Since 1998,
your vote share has fallen from 22% to basically 14%. You have lost
84,000 votes, and at the same time Sinn Fein has gained 35,000 votes.
How do you turn that around? I think I set out last night that the SDLP
has for a long time now spends too much time looking back. What we will
do now is look forwards. We want is that adds a new vision for a new
Ireland and to do that we started last night. People will come with
us, and it is a long-term plan, I am under no illusions. It is a
difficult challenge, and that is the way I ran for leadership. I think
they can turn it around. I once people to see a renewed SDLP because
they know when the SDLP does well, Ireland's does well. If you can come
back with fewer than 14 seats, your leader shall be under pressure. This
is a long-term plan. I think we will do well in this election, I would
put numbers on it, but we are developing a long-term plan for
these feature of the party and the future of the country and I look
forward to doing that. What thank you for joining us.
Cathy, did the fightback start here? Yes I think it did. I think that one
of the things a party leader's stage is measured upon is how good they
are as a rate. The delivery of the speech was much more than previous
party speeches from the SDLP. There was a good thing. That is the
optics. That is the optics. The public narrative with the SDLP for a
long time has been old, dated, stale. There were a lot of young
people there yesterday and I saw that myself. Maybe the public
narrative is not necessarily keeping in step yet with the changes that
the new party leader has made, and to pick up on the point about
whether he had declared his hand too much in terms of what he would do
with programme for comment, I think you do a very clear red line there.
That we can assume that if Colum Eastwood and the party don't get
what they want, from these negotiations on the programme for
government, they will go to opposition and declared that had
earlier because when the negotiations were going on and the
changes were being made to John McAllister opposition Bill, they had
a very influential role in that helping to the opposition. The SDLP
would not have done if they hadn't gone into opposition seriously. Do
you think declaring their hand in the way that they did last night was
a wise thing, a masterstroke or a foolish thing to do seven or eight
weeks from an election? Column will gaze at the minutiae. People don't
vote for minutiae. He needs a very clear message on certain things, so
if we had this ministry would stop this, or we would reduce waiting
lists, or we would invest in universities. One simple message.
Sinn Fein have a simple message. We a want a united Ireland, that their
politic. The one thing he does have is that he is leading a generation
that is very active, very clean, and will knock on doors, rally the
support base that they need. His fundamental problem is unlike Sinn
Fein he is trying to couch voting voters who are from a wide spectrum.
He is also looking at a fundamental problem in terms of those that don't
work. Those 35,000 votes that have gone to Sinn Fein... Those who have
would be back was at once you go, you don't go back. The 35,000 that
are still sitting out there, that he to capture. If you look at that
group through statistics etc, that group sits right across the
spectrum, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, United Ireland, staying
within the UK... He has to catch up a awful lot of people who think very
differently. That is a real challenge for him, Cathy, he has to
be all things to all members in Derry where Martin McGuinness is
coming back to challenge him, he has due out green Sinn Fein, but where
else where he wants to pick up transfers from moderate unionists he
wants to extend the hand of friendship in that direction for
that a difficult trick to pull off. They tried this in the past which
ended up with just one minister in the Executive. The SDLP have a
serious question facing them. If they want the possibility of having
only one minister again, and we can say, well, you were part of the
institutions, it's as much of your fault as the DUP or Sinn Fein's
fault, lemon oratory partner in that executive the party will then have
to consider do we want to do this all over again? Or do want to do as
it every measure go into opposition, hold the two main parties to
account, and then come back stronger in the next election? And you had
the leader say that, that this is a long-term strategy. I don't
necessarily think that they want to grab it by May. Very briefly, he's
got 14 seats at the moment. Do you think he will come back with
something in and around that, and how dangerous for him is it if he
comes back with ten or 11? There is a lot of opportunity between now and
May is for a bit of a bounce. He is articulate, confident, and you will
be secure in that longer term strategy. He is catching a large
electorate. They will be difficult. Let's pause for a moment to look
back at the week gone past, The Republic has a new speaker, but
still no sign of a government. The truth of the matter is is there a
policy on ideological blocks against us entering a Fianna Fail
government. There is a strategic block from Fine Gael entering
government. At Stormont the Fed minister urges vigilance furs and --
following recent dissident activity. The environment Minister apologised
for comments he made about abortion at a women's event in Londonderry.
His party colleague had enough of the affairs committee. Order, order!
Order! The DUP Ian Paisley was fined for driving without insurance, and
in County Derry, here where the Healy-Rae 's! There's no bride,
there's no groom, there's not any engagement ring.
Gareth Gordon there, featuring Peadar Toibin
and the unmistakable Healey-Raes, and we'll stick with the story
in the Republic, continually evolving day by day.
Some say regardless of the many twists and turns, this has only one
outcome, which is Fianna Fail and Fine Gael swallowing hard
and signing up to serving together in a grand coalition.
That's what my guests thing. Is that the inevitable outcome of the
wheeling and dealing taking place at the moment? As you told us, Fianna
Fail wants another election and they want it soon, and they want the
basis to be there like success, and what they have seen in the last
election was their return, Fianna Fail returning must more robustly
than anyone expected. In several constituencies they could have
picked up another seat. If he had another election, I think it is
right, they would gain more seats, people see that they are back, they
are confident, and have a role to play in Irish politics. That is
important, but the issue is within the party is that there is an old
guard which will not share file with Fiona Gale they want not to move
forward. Increasingly, another election could be really on the
cards. We will speak to Kathleen Justin a second.
Let's hear what Lisa Chambers and Peadar Toibin had to say
when I spoke to them about this on The View on Thursday night.
There is a core chip happening between the two political parties at
the moment, and for many members it will be unseemly for the two parties
to get together too quickly. They will waiting period of time before
they actually do that. There is a policy, and ideological block from
entering a Fianna Fail government, there is only a strategic block for
Fianna Fail and Fine Gael entering a government. Right from the start
there has been a rotation of government, either Fianna Fail Fine
Gael in government. They are worried that if two of them were to get
together in government on this occasion that that will be the end
of the process, that we would change politics in the south once and for
all. That is one opinion and I would reject it categorically pulls up if
that was the case, the two parties and address. For all sorts of God
did reason, there are two parties not just because of policy. Largely
to do with history. Our membership base is very different. There is
still a government in place, there is no chaos out there, we have a
decent government, continuing to do its work, and any pressing matters
needing to be dealt with will be dealt with in the chamber.
Interesting to hear those two very different perspectives on what is
happening. Happy what are your thoughts? Having what we can do at
this point is all we can do is describe at Billy Mager what will be
happening was we don't know what will be happening in a few months. A
grand coalition, a majority of Fianna Fail, a coalition... Belgium,
I think holds the world record for not having a government for a length
of 19 months at one point. 500 and something days. They were only
forced out of political deadlock at the time because the international
money markets and financial markets had basically indicated that they
would downgrade the credit rating of the country if they didn't form a
government. So it is a long time. In reality, just briefly Peter is that
we could come back with add similar kind of numbers is and you wouldn't
be any further forward. I think if they do business together, there are
different structures. They are different level parties. You can
fiddle about in the margins, but at some point there is Fianna Fail
being more attractive in the past in terms of drawing people together,
Healy-Rae's father was helping in the past four example. There is a
potential for them to come and many more seats to do that. We will both
see. They for years to come. Thank you very
much indeed. Now it is back to Andrew.
So, what's in store for us this week?
Well, just the small matter of George Osborne's Budget.
Another EU summit and the political diary's jam-packed with
Let's hear more from our Political Panel, and we're also
joined by the Conservative MP, David Davis.
100 days to go. Where are we at the moment in this campaign? Just on
polling, we are balanced with a large number of uncertainty. What
has happened in the last few weeks has been dominated with the flow of
events. Turkey has dominated peoples minds and that is what will happen
for most of the next 100 days. Events like that will force people.
Turkey is about security and immigration and so on. That is a
potential backdrop. If the Turkish deal begins to fall apart and the
migrant crisis continues, which almost certainly it will, that is
the kind of backdrop that is probably more helpful to your side
of the referendum than the other one? It is not an accident, a
structural outcome of the Schengen zone and the weakness of the eastern
border. On other fronts, the financial front, you have the Euro
structurally driving events. It seems to me the balance of
probabilities in the next 100 days will be those sorts of things are
actually going to favour a Brexit. For years and years, Mr Cameron, Mr
Osborne, Mr Hague and so on have been spewing out Eurosceptic
dialogue. Now they praise our membership of the EU! We cannot
survive without the EU. Doesn't that risk jarring a bit with the
electorate? I think it is absurd. We have a situation where the Prime
Minister gave a big speech at Chatham House. He said can if you
could not get the reforms, he would consider the alternative. Everything
was on the table. In two options can he would consider campaigning to
vote to leave. Now we are told if we left Britain, virtually
catastrophic. Plagues of locusts and we will probably all die. You cannot
say in November I will leave if I do not get my reforms and now say our
country will collapse. That cannot be true, otherwise he would have
been willing to leave the EU and risk economic collapse. I think it
is scare tactics by Project Fear and it has been very damaging. People
like me want Brexit but it is very damaging to the Conservative Party
and unity. Howdy you see the campaign going? It has been largely
dominated by the Vote Remain rather than the Vote Leave. Vote Remain
have chucked a lot at Vote Leave. Many reports have been pumped out.
They are in danger of using up all of that arguments for the race has
got going. It does look fairly balanced. Some polling has suggested
it leans a little towards the remaining side. Whenever people like
David or others say it is all Project Fear, for the silent group
of people and families with children who are not paying that much
attention, if you talk about fear at all, there is a slight sense of
maybe there is something to be fearful of after all. It works a
bit, I am sure it does, but for how long question that when the Danes
had their Euro referendum, the same thing happened. Eventually people
were going in for the mockery, as you were, saying we're going to have
a 17 foot high fence between us and Germany. That destroyed the campaign
for the one thing that has happened is the credibility of the Government
are doing has slipped quite a lot in the last few weeks and it is partly
because of the exaggeration. You have two friends getting slightly
nervous of it, slightly afraid of it, worrying about the risks. On the
other hand, they are starting to say, do we really believe all this
nonsense? That is the undetermined fact. It has not been a reasonable
debate about facts. Is it too early to see who has been nudging ahead?
What is significant is that David Davis has a tie in the colours of
Vote Leave. The other one is a green tie with black writing. This is an
issue of taste. I think what we are learning is the Brexit side is
winning skirmishes. The reason they are doing that is because they are
an insurgency. With an insurgency, it has six Cabinet ministers in it
and that is exciting. You will clearly set the news agenda. The
battle in the overall war, you would assume that Remain is nudging ahead
because the polling after the Prime Minister Pozner Diehl said voters
were impressed by that. Vote Leave have an incredibly simple and
incredibly powerful message. Take back control. You may well find that
message is so simple and so clear that that might achieve a cut
through. Is the queen on the Brexit side or not? I do not think anyone
is questioning she is a Eurosceptic. Even at the palace they are not
disputing that and the complaint may have made about the story in the Sun
newspaper last week. People have said she has in making these
comments for some time. Cabinet ministers have told me they do
similar things. This woman puts the mother bubble things -- the
Commonwealth above all things. She defends the laws and traditions of
this country as well. Not Brexit necessarily but Eurosceptic? That
seems incontrovertible. The palace and Number 10 are not disputing that
at all. It is great to have the Queen onside but I would like her to
have one vote. She does not have a vote at all. Is this more within the
Tory family question is it more bitter than you thought? Will it get
more bitter as time goes on? Even if Mr Cameron wins, he may find it hard
to put it together again. I do not think so. It is robust, pretty
robust. To some extent he sets the tone himself if he is rude about
Boris, there is a backlash. Some say he regards Boris in the same way he
regards Ed Balls. A scan and he cannot stop picking at it. This is
outside the house and takes quite a lot of poison out of it. It is
robust and fears. People are taking it incredibly seriously. How is
Boris doing? Pretty well. What is his real value? He draws attention
to the issue and adds credibility to it. He makes the odd mistake and
everyone forgives him for it. On balance, very useful and important.
What about cross-party appeal? The Government began by emphasising the
security implications of staying in, saying we needed to stay because of
security. I think they have found that a tough argument because people
do not associate EU with security. They will move on economic arguments
now. The problem with economic arguments is they are nowhere near
well-defined as clear and cut -- clearly cut as they were in 1975.
They want to make a big picture argument. David Cameron got this
deal on the Friday in Brussels. At 7:30pm, George Osborne was on the
today programme making a massive destiny economic security argument.
They know you cannot focus on the nitty-gritty of that. You have to
make the big picture argument. It is potentially a mixed picture. David
was saying earlier there is a major crisis in the Eurozone in the next
few months, then that could be difficult. You have the opt out full
stop when you are in government, there was an opt out from Britain
having to join the euro. There is a major crisis. Two European summits
in one week. That was not the case when we voted in 1975. The common
market was seen as a successful, economic unit that we needed to
join. The atmospherics are very different. For 20 years, it was the
most successful economic unit, until about the early 90s. Since then we
have got nothing. That is what people are seeing. We are moving on
to the economic arguments. We have the budget which frames it. They're
going to see Barack Obama coming here towards the end of April.
You'll be making the argument and doing several events, as I
understand it. He owes him a favour. Basically, what you're going to get
as a return to the security argument. Returning to where we
started this debate, you have got a situation where events will often
favoured the out side but the control and ability to stage managed
different moments is with the governments. -- the Government. They
published a letter with generals on it and have not signed it. One of
the generals came out this morning and said he was supporting the
Government. It is from the Scottish referendum playbook. That worked. We
saw Nicola Sturgeon struggling an hour ago, to explain basic, fiscal
point about an independent Scotland but that is why Scotland voted to
stay in the UK. You do not know whether the Government will have
that element of certainty. As things stand at the moment, are we in or
out? The last time I was here I cautiously gave numbers. I would
still cautiously stay in. Depressingly I feel we would remain.
In with a suppose so vote. None of you overly enthusiast take. We are
right on a knife edge in terms of public opinions. We live in a world
where the consensus opinion these days is usually wrong.
I'll be back next week, same time same place.
Remember if it's Sunday, it's the Sunday Politics.
Andrew Neil and Mark Carruthers with the latest political news, interviews and debate.
Andrew is joined by Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism John Mann, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Seema Malhotra and David Davis MP.
On the political panel are Julia Hartley-Brewer, The Sunday Times's Tim Shipman and Nick Watt from The Guardian.